Saturday, 28 April 2012

Well Drat, I Think I Fell In Love...

One of the things I mentioned a while ago was that I might actually end up meeting someone nice to start a relationship with now that I'm meeting more people through my media exposure and such. Truth to be said I put little faith into that statement myself and continued to proclaim phrases such as 'single for life' and that I'm supposedly immune to trivial emotional pursuits like 'love'.

I did meet a number of new people the past few weeks, including this guy I had a drink with. Another was this girl I chatted with for a few weeks afore she dropped by so that I could take a look at her laptop and fix some stability issues. As we talked like that, face to face, I did feel something, but ended up dismissing it as just a flight of fancy without any relevance to myself or the situation at hand. Before she left again I admitted to this feeling for some reason and she told me all bluntly that it's called 'love'. I decided to give this possibility some thought. That was on Monday.

Last Thursday I went to Hilversum for the TV recording of the BNN show 'Spuiten en Slikken' I'll appear on next week Sunday with my human interest story. I had agreed the day before that she could come along as a kind of mental support, something I was grateful for looking back on that day.

Long story short, I met up with her in Deventer, we had a drink before we'd leave for Hilversum and we had a talk. We both went into that lounge bar single, and came out as a couple. There's little to be said about why we decided on this beyond that it just feels right. We are so much alike that it shouldn't be humanely possible, share similar experiences and are both crazy enough to appreciate each other's company while offering the other something much needed. That she makes my heart melt like drops of ice on a flower's petals when exposed to the spring sun's rays when my gaze falls upon her eyes also plays a role.

Drat, so much for my 'single' streak.

The rest of that Thursday passed by rather quickly thanks to... well, I guess I can call her my girlfriend now, right? *fritters nervously*

At the BNN studio things got a bit hectic and messy due to the recordings of episode 9 and 10 having been switched around that day so that I got there later, and with about an hour of delay added so that my segment wasn't until some time before 11 PM. It was really interesting, though, with an actual audience sitting there in the studio. Not that I felt uncomfortable or the like, but it made it feel more... grand, I guess. The partial striptease at the end of the show right after my segment did feel a bit... sudden, though. I felt no inclination at all to look at it, and it did make me feel uncomfortable. I do not enjoy looking at (almost) naked people, especially not in public. It was a good interview I did, though, and I hope that they keep everything in the broadcast.

On the way back I was glad to have my girlfriend along with me. I felt really drained at that point and amidst the confusion of having missed the train we were supposed to have taken home and having to arrange a taxi to even get home I felt like throwing in the towel. In the end I agreed to have her escort me home, which was a good thing as I could barely walk straight any more after leaving the taxi. I must have made an awesome impression :P

All foolishness aside, it's an amusing period this week where I am beginning to realize what is meant with terms such as 'love-struck fool' and how exactly this 'love' sensation is supposed to turn one's brain to jello. Though I think I'm still staying fairly rational about it and I'm grateful that my girlfriend mostly acts like a rational person as well (insert dodge from said person's fist here), it's bemusing to note how a fleeting thought of something related to one's girlfriend or boyfriend can turn one's legs all giddy.

That said, it's a stark contrast with the sensation of near-panic I constantly felt due to my traumatic disorders. It's still there, but having made this big change in my life and connecting it with someone else's life in such a fashion has brought me (and her, I hope) some much-needed peace and happiness.

It's also very motivating, I must add. I have set a goal of two months during which I'll have to find my own place and get my life really on track. It's about bloody time.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Rush, Responsibilities And Tragedies Of Fame

Well, I guess it is slowly sinking in at this point... I'm now a well-known figure in the Netherlands. With the impending publication of my story and current issues in influential Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad there's no denial possible any more that this is turning into something huge and it all will have my name attached to it.

With this all I feel both an incredible lightness and a terrible heaviness descending upon me. On one hand institutions like those scary hospitals which made my life a living nightmare can no longer touch me, and my insurance company will soon realize that discriminating against intersex people was not the smartest thing they have done. It's an incredible feeling to so lightly brush away those concerns.

On the other hand you do get people pulling at you from all sides. It's essentially the same old story I have read over and over in the hundreds of books I have read in my life so far. A commoner rising out of nothing through fate into a situation where he or she is given command over a place, situation or group of people. In this particular case it's me becoming the singular face of so-called intersex people, but also humanity as a whole.

You get people who try to gain fame or wealth through you. You get people suggesting and manipulating. You get people trying to take advantage of you. You are constantly forced to remain vigil in order to filter out what is an honest suggestion and what isn't. Who can be trusted and who can't. Naivety has no place in this all. There's no room for softness either. I'm now a leader. It's expected of me that I know what I'm talking about and will take clear, decisive and correct decisions. It's an incredible responsibility.

The tragedy in the title of this post refers to all that which I had to surrender and now have to regain. I lost seven years of my life and 15 years before that due to this ignorance about intersex. It should never have become such a major part of my life. It's not relevant enough for that. I never wanted to become important or well-known in the world because of this. As a child I wanted to be that incredible scientist who makes life better for everyone. It's an ironic twist of fate that I'd end up in this situation now, where I will hopefully improve life for the better for millions, in a way which no one could have predicted.

I have put up a timeline of pivotal events in my life to this point at Even as a brief, succinct summary it expands into over two pages of text, indicating how much of a struggle it has been. Reading it, or worse, writing it makes me experience it all over again. The renewed hope every time with its flame crushed over and over again until the very dramatic year of 2011 when things reached a crescendo and culminated into the first few months of 2012 which were more akin to the final struggles in a long war with a triumphant yet weary return. All in all it took more years to win this initial war than it took for the Second World War to start and end in Europe. Quite a sad comparison point as you'd think that human rights would be a crucial point in Europe considering the atrocities committed in the name of righteousness in the past.

A tragedy can also be found in my exhausted financial resources and the horrendous effect it has had on my family, with my father having pretty much disowned me, contact cut off with the rest of the family, my mother who is stressed to the point where we regularly end up exchanging words, and a general feeling that I really should get my life back in order at this point.

Finding my own place to live and the financial resources to afford this is one of my top-priorities at this point. There are many reasons for this. The primary is simply that I can not get a family doctor here in the city of Rijssen, also known as one of the most conservative cities in the Netherlands, and thus can not get new medication and such without very unpleasant struggles at best. Another reason is that my mother doesn't pull it any more. Recently I had this girl over whom I had met through a recent TV broadcast and it nearly came to blows as while I wish to rapidly build up a social network this conflicts with the privacy and rest my mother desires.

As it's her home where I live now I can do nothing but try to move as soon as possible. Sadly it's the one thing where I'm still powerless and together with my depressing financial situation responsible for most of the stress, crying and suicidal thoughts I'm still experiencing. It tastes like failure that I'm poor, jobless, without income and technically homeless while stuck in a situation which makes me feel unhappy as my financial situation ever worsens.

It makes me wonder how the hell I'm supposed to get out of this nightmare.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

My Insurance Company Discriminates And Other Agony

Today I finally learned from SKGZ, the organization negotiating on my behalf, that my insurance company (Unive, refuses to fully cover the electrolysis therapy I need to remove the excess facial hair I suffer from. Unive's argument is that intersex and thus my own situation is technically and medically so far removed from the other conditions where it is fully covered (like transsexuality) that they feel justified in denying me this. SKGZ has no powers to force Unive to do anything. The latter even refused to obtain non-binding advice from the organization for health insurance companies, as they feel completely justified in their opinion.

I have sent the relevant documents to my lawyer, Yme Drost, who will hopefully know what to do with it. It does tie in with the case against the Dutch hospitals, as the denial of intersex seems to be at the core of things, with discrimination of intersex individuals as a result. It also means that my battles in this matter are far from over. In the case of Unive I need to win as they owe me thousands of Euros I have already spent on this electrolysis therapy. While I could have opted to not undergo said therapy, the negative emotional impact of that decision would have been severe. Even today having excess facial hair still forms a major obstacle in social interactions for me.

Today I was supposed to receive the complaint draft from my lawyer as well so that it could be submitted today to the  medical commission for it. As I haven't received it yet I'll have to see when I will receive it and when it will be submitted. I realize that my case has a fairly low priority, legally, yet every time it's postponed another day is a horrible emotional blow to me. It makes me question myself as well as my cause and wonder whether I'm being selfish, greedy and pushy. Or not.

The past few nights including last night I keep waking up from nightmares, generally with my heart racing and my fists clenched so tightly that my nails are almost digging deep enough to draw blood. Little remains of those nightmares in my memories but the sensations of being somewhere, in a situation where I can only feel sheer terror. Sometimes I'm running from something, sometimes not even that. I'm still not sure whether sleep or wakefulness is worse. Cue a discussion about the sweet release of consciousness in death. I hate being suicidal.

Only truly positive thing of note which happened today is that I'm having an interview for Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, pretty much the most well-regarded newspaper in this country when it comes to journalistic integrity and in-depth articles. With the publication in it I will pretty much have reached the pinnacle of the media already as far as newspapers go. I do wonder what it'll truly mean in the end.


Monday, 16 April 2012

The Long Road To Understanding And Freedom

A few moments ago I read a post by someone on Google+ who asked me whether I want to watch the BBC documentary on the intersex taboo which is being shown on Belgian TV today. My answer was and still is no. Even just thinking about that documentary makes me feel so incredibly sad and filled with agony. I just want to cry, scream, yell, punch things, destroy everything including this hateful body of mine in a single blast of pure anger.

To immediately evoke Godwin's Law right off the bat, asking me to watch a documentary on the sufferings of intersex people is akin to asking a prisoner of a Nazi concentration camp, or Khmer Rouge persona non grata to watch the brutality inflicted upon fellow victims of those respective regimes. It basically amounts to a form of psychological torture.

It's extremely hard for me to read, watch or hear anything related to intersex as pretty much anything involves the ignorance, brutality and mindless violence and human rights violations inflicted upon those unfortunate enough to be born into a body which isn't 'acceptable'. In that sense the Khmer Rouge or Nazi comparison really isn't that far-fetched. Whether it's through executions, concentration camps or forced surgery, they all violate human rights in such a fundamental way that it is almost incomprehensible that such a thing could still be allowed at this point.

Then again, it took the Dutch government until 2002 to even admit that the Nazi regime also murdered many homosexuals as part of their genocidal policies, previously only admitting to Jews and (grudgingly) gypsies. Covering up atrocities isn't an uncommon thing for the Dutch governments or many other Western and non-Western governments, it seems.

It is only now during the last few weeks since the legal recognition of me as a hermaphrodite and by obtaining the legal right to change my legal gender to 'female', without having to conform to the aforementioned forced surgery the Dutch medical and political systems are still totally fine with, that I'm beginning to realize what a major victory it really is. While my intent was only to prevent the humiliation I had to undergo every single time I had to identify myself, its implications are far-reaching. In essence it's the foothold required to begin to break down this atrocious system.

Today I was featured in Dutch TV show 'Koffietijd' on one of the more popular commercial channels [1]. It was kind of fun to be traveling to the western part of the country again. After arriving safely at the studio I noticed two things above all. The first was that no one really understood what I am aside from the people I had talked with before. The lack of awareness is still astounding, though people did remember the newspaper article when asked about it. This is what I mean when I say that such documentaries like the one I referred to earlier are virtually useless, as they're too easily forgotten and do not leave a lasting impression.

The other thing I noticed was how greedy the media uses my story, albeit in a quite respectful fashion. The show started off with a brief overview of the topics they'd cover, whereby a shot of me walking towards the entrance of the studio (recorded earlier) was used right off the bat. Then they put me in a shot for the next segment announcement, yet again as a teaser. The segment I was featured in was completely at the end of the show, and I was given far more time than any of the other guests. The interview itself also went very well, with the two hosts asking just the right questions, making for a very enjoyable and informative experience.

This whole experience yet again outlines how this issue should be addressed; it isn't something for a documentary, but something which should be brought close to the people. As people learn about other people and events they are very skilled at filtering out what is essential to them. They will generally only remember a documentary with the emotional investment of watching a fictional movie, or less. For them to realize that the issue is actually real and could happen or has happened to their own children, friends, family and so on, that takes something which gets through that filter.

I will be frank and say that I find it hard to associate with many intersex people. This is not so strange as I find it hard to associate with many people, regardless of their further physical or other specifications. This is another human quality I am not unique in. This does however mean that in order for the intersex taboo to be made a topic of discussion a single person has to become the topic of extreme controversy, whereby that person is intersex and has undergone systematic abuse by the medical and other systems. That person also has to be easy to identify with for the average person. If it's possible to dismiss that person for some reason, such as an overzealous drive for attention, wallowing in self-pity, questionable facts, questionable habits, or other undesirable traits, that person isn't suitable. This person also has to be willing to completely surrender any semblance of privacy.

At this point it appears that I am this person. Despite accusations by some to the contrary, I am generally well-liked, easy to identify with and not afraid to show that I'm just a human being like everybody else. I'm not special and wouldn't think of or consider portraying myself in a fashion which doesn't feel like 'me'. I do not want to lead the intersex movement, I do not want to be intersex and do not really care about it. I just want to live like anyone else. Yet due to the medical and government policies I have been forced into this role and am trying to do the best I can in this tough situation. Heck, even just typing this paragraph has made me question the factuality of what I just wrote. I'm so uncertain about myself that I could almost be called human :)

In the end there's still a very, very long and extremely tough road ahead of me. The judicial acknowledgement was a mere stay of execution and doesn't bring me out of the danger zone when it comes to finances or suicidal urges. To get out of this situation where I'm still very much at risk of getting fatally triggered, and taking my own life as a result, will take a lot more work. As I wrote before, I'm beset by feelings of terror, panic and urges to inflict lethal harm upon my body to end those feelings pretty much every waking moment. The best I can still do at this point is to put it all to the back of my mind. Yet the true freedom where those feelings and resulting urges are completely gone isn't within reach, in sight or even theoretically possible at this point.

While the media therapy - as I call it - is doing miracles for my energy levels and my general mood and I'm not dissatisfied with the levels of media attention so far, the realization of how bloody long this path still ahead of me is is almost enough to make me lose hope. It's not easy to walk down the same path alone for so many years. Hopefully I'll get some companionship soon.



Sunday, 15 April 2012

Please Buy My Games And Other Assorted Updates

On Thursday I released a new game for the Android platform, titled Heimen no Heiwa (平面の平和), which translates to 'Tranquility of the Planes' in English. As you can see in the picture it's a relatively simple game in its appearance. The marble is rolled around the playing field by moving the phone or tab, whereby each black circle vanishes upon contact. The level ends when all circles have been removed. The level also ends when the marble leaves the playing field. Having played it myself I was amazed at how much it appealed even to my own desire to conquer this game, and how difficult, sometimes even evil it is. As each level is dynamically generated I can only blame the universe for making it so hard for me. And solar radiation.

Heimen no Heiwa can be bought on the Android Market. See the game's page and more screenshots and details at my company's website:

At this moment I'm mostly working on TileWars together with my awesome friend Trevor. With some luck we'll be able to release this game on Steam by the end of next month. I'm also always looking for ideas for simple, original mobile games.

Moving on, yesterday I did a very interesting interview for Dutch monthly magazine Viva. The interview plus photoshoot ended up taking about five hours total, which is probably a new record. It was quite fun, though. The journalist (Adeline Mans) was very nice and I managed to more or less stick to a chronological detailing of my story. After the interview of two hours the make-up artist (Tynke Jeeninga) who had arrived a few moments before that with the photographer (Wout Jan Balhuizen) set to work on making me look pretty as I said goodbye to Adeline. The prettifying and photoshoot ended up taking a few more hours, but I feel it was worth it. The make-up was done very well, and it was the most fun photoshoot I have had in a long time, probably since the Grazia shoot back in 2009. The article is scheduled to be published in the May 23rd issue.

Today I have been mostly working. Somewhat on the TileWars level editor, also on setting up an example in order to replicate a bug found in the WebKit webpage rendering engine. Without much luck so far, I may add. It's rather annoying that a persistent bug in my WildFox browser is seemingly caused by some kind of edge condition in the WebKit engine and/or Qt wrapper for said engine. I also intend to resume finishing my other Android game, Bizarro Arkanoid soon. Thanks to Heimen no Heiwa I have been able to hone my AndEngine/Box2D skills some more and will hopefully be able to put up another Android game for sale very soon now.

Tomorrow my life coach (Elsa Rothengatter) will be dropping by. She'll be helping me pick some clothes and such for my TV appearance on Monday. It's still a bit of an uneasy thing for me, I guess, to have someone I'm supposed to rely on. It's been the same with my psychotherapist before that and with teachers at school before that. Being independent and feeling that I'm expected to solve things myself are just how I'm wired. This even though I can admit that I sometimes really do need others. It's a hard thing to rely on others, more so after having dealt with so many years of abuse and betrayal. Trust is a very easy thing to lose, yet so incredibly hard to regain. Accepting help is so very stressful for me at this point. I do feel I should allow others to help me, though.

Finally, on Monday I'll be traveling to Hilversum during the early morning hours for my first live appearance on Dutch national television. The show in question is called Koffietijd and is broadcast on RTL4 from 10 to 11 AM. I'm really looking forward to this event. Later that day I'll also get a phone call from my lawyer, Yme Drost, regarding the last details of the formal complaint against the VUMC hospital. Said complaint will be filed early next week, kicking off the first of many complaints/lawsuits against the Dutch hospitals in their abhorrent treatment of me and other intersex individuals. While a quite technically involved case, it's nevertheless fairly clear and cut. It will be interesting to see what the VUMC comes up with in the month they have to respond to this first complaint as it'll set the tone for the coming legal pursuits.

More fun is that on Monday I'll also be dropping by a men's clothing store here in Rijssen to buy a particular item of clothing of a specific designer and send it to this British girl who wishes to give it to her boyfriend for his birthday as he has the same name as this designer whose clothing is only being sold in the Netherlands. I know this girl only via IRC and to be honest I barely knew her before this, but now I know a great deal about her. It's funny how things work sometimes in social contacts. I'm also glad to help someone out like this. I'm a strong believer in doing nice things for other nice people :)

So yeah, that's just over a week compacted into a few paragraphs. A week ago around this time I was working on Heimen no Heiwa and now it's finished. TileWars is rapidly heading for release as well after starting the project in late 2010. My medical quest has nearly come to an end and I'm in a situation at this point I would have killed for even half a year ago. Things are changing rapidly and even though I can only admit that I'm still suffering from strong suicidal feelings despite everything, at the very least it has been reduced to a strongly uncomfortable, panicked feeling with only occasional bouts of crying and feeling utterly miserable. Maybe even that will pass some day.

At this point what I need most of all is to have that place of my own and financial independence as the lack of this is responsible for about ninety percent or more of my current stress levels. I'm trying, but I may need some serious help from others here as well. Please?


Saturday, 7 April 2012

Still In Survival Mode: The Emotional Risk Of Bankruptcy

After the recent ruling in my favour on having my legal gender changed people seem to assume that I'll be happy now, with all of my goals reached, and nothing left to seriously trouble me. I'm really not sure why people would think such a thing.

Seven years of fighting against hospitals with the preceding years being extremely uncomfortable and confusing as well. The impact of it on one's life goes far beyond the need for legal recognition and such matters, which in the end are mostly just abstract things. The impact on my life which is mostly being ignored is that of never really having engaged in social contacts and the subsequent lack of friends, and above all the lack of a career with the resulting lack of financial resources.

The past days it's becoming more and more painfully clear to me that if I do not find a source of income soon, my life will turn into a far worse hell than ever before. Bankruptcy, the dissolving of my company, applying for welfare, being forced to apply for any job I somewhat qualify for while scraping by each month financially. The Dutch welfare system has been less than stellar for many years already and is being cut back even more this year. While it's a horrible situation to end up in for the average person, I fear that the emotional impact due to my existing traumas will trigger the worst kind of response in me, namely suicide. I'd no longer be able to deny that my life has completely failed.

I have been taking steps back in my life for years now. Financially, socially, in my surroundings (living in the Dutch bible belt now...), in the years still ahead of me which I might be able to spend living. It'd be the ultimate admission of failure.

I have tried my best to stave off bankruptcy, but beyond desperately trying to run my own company I have no other means of earning money. 'Equal opportunity' is a heap of excrement when it comes to reality. Equal opportunity companies like Microsoft and Google only extend equality across 'boring' employees. Why do they hire transsexuals and the occasional intersex person? Because they do not make a fuss, and do not have a background story like I have. They're invisible. I'm too risky, too unknown. Regardless of how much of a brilliant software developer I may be, no one will ever hire me. I have tried applying at dozens of jobs in a number of countries, but now I know that there's no point in ever trying again.

At this point I'm still trying to release products which may actually get me some money, including the donation route via an open source project like my WildFox browser ( Yet the truth of the matter is that in the short time span allotted all I can make are sub-par programs which nobody will spend money on. I do not have the time left to produce that amazing product everybody will want to buy or donate for.

Since 2010 my best friend Trevor and I have been working on a game engine and a first game called TileWars. It's nearing the final stages of completion, yet it will still take at least a month to get it into a playable state. It looks good, has to be fun to play and I hope it'll sell a lot of copies. Yet I have to look at my bank account's current state and realize that while in the past I have somehow managed to survive financially, it seems very unlikely to work out now. People obviously aren't donating to the browser project, the few Android applications ( I put online aren't selling at all, and my insurance company still refuses to pay back the about five-thousand Euro they still owe me.

I do not wish to admit defeat, but at some point even stubbornness isn't going to do it. Fighting against the suicidal moods I'm dealing with at this point is like trying to keep my head above the water's surface of an ocean while all my muscles are cramped up. So much easier to just let go.

Above all I hate being depressed like this. I hate the self-mutilation. I hate the pain. Yet I'm fighting an impossible battle here. Give me a break already...


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

It Seems I'm Not That Irrelevant After All

Last week the court approved my request to have my legal gender changed from male to female. As you probably gathered by now it's been approved, setting a major precedence in the process. It re-evaluates to a significant extent when a legal gender change is possible in the case of intersex individuals, as well as firmly establishing the existence of intersex and hermaphroditism in Dutch law. While the medical protocol denies that 'intersex' is the right term and advices surgery to 'correct' this 'disorder', legally 'intersex' is now the proper term and surgery is decidedly optional.

The fall-out of this decision has been one very happy personal injuries lawyer who got exactly what he needed and for me a very busy Sunday and Monday with one newspaper interview (Algemeen Dagblad), two radio interviews (VARA, Q-Music) and a TV interview, which can be watched (with English subtitles, check the 'cc' button) below. Today has been very quiet so far, with zero interviews, but I hope that now and with the impending formal complaint against the VUMC hospital in Amsterdam being filed later this week the point has been reached where the momentum will carry this issue onwards without any active effort from my side.

In all of this I must add that while I will admit to feeling 'happy' about it all, it is exceedingly difficult for me to accept that the 'survival' period is now over. Part of me fears that I'll soon be forgotten again and with it the intersex tragedy. Another part worries about me being financially still on the verge of bankruptcy. While I do feel a lot better about things already, there's still a long road ahead of me before I can sit back one day and realize that I really, truly made it.

Tantalizingly close is possibly worse than completely out of reach.