Sunday, 29 July 2012

On The Topic Of Being Something And Not Being Something

Earlier I was just reading around a bit on some websites when my eye fell on a scheduled event involving someone involved with LGBTI topics, or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Intersex. Seeing that 'I' there and realizing what it stood for almost immediately made me feel uncomfortable as I realized that it applied to me, and why we even differentiate between those things. I so want to not be intersex or anything else which implies being a wrong existence by the definition of a large part of the world population. Merely existing implies that I have to suffer because others want me to. My own country wants to force major surgery on me, withhold proper medical diagnosis and treatment and trample over my basic human rights. The Dutch constitution's first article says that Dutch citizens are protected from discrimination based upon any criteria, including race, gender, etc. My own government has repeatedly decided since the 1950s that those who are not heterosexual and not strictly male or female are undesirable entities.

I do not want to be something controversial. I do not wish to be something others hate. I do not want to be an existence despised by my country's own doctors, psychologists and politicians. And yet it is inevitable unless I kill myself right here and now, terminating the controversy.

Being something or not being something makes such a huge difference, even though in the end we are all just human beings. I like to forget that I am intersex. I like to just think of myself as a human being. Not as a woman, man, intersex person, or something else. Just a human being with a thirst for knowledge and social contacts. And yet it gets thrown at me. I get beaten around with it. It haunts me. It's everywhere. Yes, I do participate with media interviews in which I tell my story, but in the end that's just so that I can get rid of it all. So that I can just be a human being.

I yearn more than ever for the legal cases against the Dutch hospitals to proceed. First the case against the VUMC via the medical disciplinary committee and then the personal injuries case against four or five Dutch hospitals. I want the national and foreign media to report on it constantly, and for the Netherlands to be unmasked as a hateful, persecuting country, no better than the National Social German Workers' Party [1] of the 1920s which sought to eradicate unwanted elements from society. Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. In this case it involves the eradication of anyone born with ambiguous genitals as the Dutch government and medical system denies that such individuals have the right to exist in their original form, and have no say about whether or not they receive surgery to 'correct' this.

When I put my recent positive events in acquiring a proper job and now nearly getting my own place to live in next to the above horrors it makes for a very peculiar contrast. I'm not sure how to look at it myself. On one hand I'll be considered very successful, having survived the past years without running up any debts while getting a well-paying job at a well-respected employer. On the other hand I feel too much alike those survivors rescued from Auschwitz [2] by Soviet troops in January 1945. Hollow-eyed, skin folded loosely around a starved, bony frame, with incomprehensible horrors imprinted on their mind's eye. It's like being in the midst of a black tornado of pure Chaos. You can't see anything but shapes while you get tossed about and hit by random objects against which you have no defense. There's no peace to be found. And that tornado will always be there inside you, turning day into night, joy into horror, pleasure into pain.

On Thursday I'm doing TV recordings for a Discovery/TLC documentary of four parts titled 'TLC Over...' or 'TLC About...' in English. I'll be featured together with my girlfriend in the fourth part which will probably be broadcast by the end of October. The topic of that fourth part is about taboos in sexuality, relationships and the like. If back in 2005 the VUMC's gender team had treated me normally and offered me reasonable options after properly diagnosing my hermaphroditism I would not have participated with this documentary. I'd probably not have been asked. I would not have had my personal website like I have it now, or this blog and its many hefty posts. Yet it all did happen and it is all there, and now there is no way to not tell my story and to not let others help me deal with this Chaos inside of me.

Anything to survive.



Friday, 20 July 2012

Even When Things Go Right Exhaustion Still Takes Its Toll

After over two months of job searching and spending hundreds of Euros on traveling around the Netherlands for job interviews I finally managed to land myself a job. Earlier today I went to my new workplace to sign the contract and meet up with some of my new colleagues. This does begin a very stressful period for me, though. Not due to the work, but because the job is at at the Media Park in Hilversum, which is currently a 2-hour train journey from where I currently live. Moving is essential.

As I'll be starting on August 1st this gives me just over a week to find a place to rent, make sure it's fine, sign the paperwork and move there. As city to live in I have picked Almere, as it's quite ideally situated relative to Hilversum where the job is and it should be easy to find something to rent there. Furthermore I know this city well and have always liked it most of all Dutch cities. Despite my previous, lesser experiences in Almere I'm still looking forward to moving back there. I'm not looking forward to arranging the whole place and moving thing, though. Any help there would be very welcome.

On top of this I also have a photoshoot in Amsterdam for Grazia magazine due to an earlier interview I did for a new article in late July, and on August 2nd I'm doing TV recordings for a Discovery/TLC documentary, also in Amsterdam. This all makes it a hectic period, and having a smooth transition from where I currently live to Almere would be extremely welcome.

Tomorrow I'll start harassing the first real estate agents about some houses I have picked. If that works out I hope to visit a few locations and sign the lease contract the same day, get the key and plan the move for which I could use some helping hands. My brothers are likely to assist, but more hands make things easier :) First to get that place to move to, of course.

I can't wait to give that housewarming party. Even if the house will be pretty much empty with how little furniture I have. Maybe I should suggest that people can take left-over furniture with them if I can use it ;)

Anyway, my mood on this whole 'finding a home' thing hovers between careful hope and abject terror. I hope that it and the financial side of everything works out. I have nearly run out of money at this point and won't be very rich until my first paycheck comes in. At that point things should be fine, though... Being somewhat hopeful here. Most of all I just want to just curl up somewhere and cry myself to sleep. I'm so incredibly tired of everything and having to be strong and ready. Even if things are heading in the right direction for the first time in my life.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Looking For Intersex People; How Hiding Hurts The Cause

Yesterday a journalist from the largest Norwegian newspaper (VG) contacted me, with the question of whether I knew of any intersex individuals in Norway who might be interested in participating in interviews for a feature article on intersex people in that country. I sadly had to tell her that I do not know any such individuals, but that I will be asking around. Yet even posting a request on this to over 17,000 people on my Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts as well as the Facebook WISH group didn't seem to get me any results.

There are tens to hundreds of thousands of people in Norway who would qualify as 'intersex'. How is it possible that a journalist can not find any to interview? What's wrong about her then contacting me, a Dutch citizen, to ask for help? It seems pretty clear: despite there being so many intersex individuals and them not having many of the human rights others take for granted, they seem content with not sticking out their head. It's eerily reminiscent of how homosexual individuals 'didn't exist', until they finally grew a spine in the 1960s. No offense intended.

I know it's not easy to stand up and speak out when you represent a horrible social taboo. Whether it shatters the societal illusion that only heterosexuality is normal and anything else is a mental disease, or that the male/female binary is an absolute lie, kept going only through the mutilation of innocent infants to hide the truth, one can expect a backlash from those incapable of dealing with the truth. Yet the more stand up and speak their mind, the easier it gets for all of us. So please.

If you are in Norway and are intersex, or you happen to know someone who is Norwegian and is intersex, please let me know and I can bring you or that person into contact with the VG journalist.

Thank you!


Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sometimes Everything Is Black Or White

As I write this on this Sunday morning I feel mostly anxiety and apprehension. Last Friday I did the third and final interview for a job with a Dutch company. It's the furthest I have come so far. I could have heard back on it Friday already, but that day passed without a call from the recruiter. Now it'll probably be tomorrow that I'll hear back on it. After three rounds and passing two of them I should feel reasonably assured that things will probably be fine, but the lack of certainty about what is going to happen is very much there.

I can see many branching paths starting tomorrow. One is that I do get this job and end up working in Amsterdam. It'd be ideal in terms of ease of relocating, the legal and media things I have still to do in the Netherlands. If I do not get this job... well, I'm also applying for jobs in the UK, Sweden, Germany and Ireland. It'd probably mean that I'll be leaving the Netherlands and only occasionally visit it. It would be a much bigger, more uncertain change, even if I do intend to leave the Netherlands in the not too distant future.

Among all of this one thing is certain: getting a job and income this month would be an awesome thing. It'd give me so much peace and stability. It'd be unlike anything I have experienced in a long while. The alternative, of not getting a job for another month at least... let's just say that I already feel like a big enough loser. I often wish I had not made that choice seven and a half years ago to not go along with the hospitals. I could have been much happier. In a sense.

True, I'd still be registered as male, and have my old name. I'd also not have my hormone levels adjusted to a healthy level. I'd also not know anything about how my body is put together. I'd not have these legal cases against the Dutch hospitals which could spell the beginning of the end for the routine human rights violations against intersex individuals by physicians worldwide. Yet I could have had an education, a job, my own place... all the peace which one could find in personal success.

Looking back I didn't know that I would be making such an impossible choice: personal, fleeting happiness or sacrificing myself for a good cause.

Those involved in ending the reign of apartheid in 1960s USA didn't enjoy the ridicule and beatings or assassinations it involved. Nelson Mandela didn't enjoy being locked up for decades on Robbeneiland for protesting against the apartheid in South Africa. Gandhi and his followers didn't enjoy the abuse they suffered at the hands of the British to end the occupation of India. They all had but one thing in mind: to end an injustice for all, even at the cost of their own happiness and lives. In the end it's the only thing one can do.

Not that it's easy. Or makes you particularly happy even if you do survive it. The scars will not fade.

All I am hoping for now is that I can get a bit of both, having fought and won many battles already. Some personal happiness by just having a job and a taste of what a 'normal' existence would have been like. Not having to worry about going bankrupt, having my own place and stability. I'd have gambled, sacrificed, and come out the better for it.

It'd be like having a piece of heaven firmly embedded into my skull. And that's a good thing.