Sunday, 28 April 2013

Dreams: Relationships And Sexuality

Yesterday while taking a nap due to feeling exhausted and somewhat sick, I had a nightmare, one in which I had somehow met this guy and I found myself in his room which I knew to be inside his mother's house. I never saw her. The guy was kind of lonely so I wanted to help, yet throughout this all he exhibited a weird mean streak. Only afterwards did I realize that he had just been cruel. I eventually managed to sneak away and hide in a pile of firewood ("becoming the wood"). I woke up from this dream with one of my arms crossed over my chest, and both hands more or less clenched into a fist and my heart pounding like crazy.

Today I felt very agitated and depressed. After deciding to go take a nap again I got to my bed where something inside me kind of snapped. I felt so frustrated that I began to hit myself on the head over and over again until it started hurting so much that I could only drag myself into bed where I fell asleep. I then had another nightmare.

The initial part of the dream I do not remember well. I was apparently in the house in which I grew up, and yet it wasn't really. It was more light and spacious. There was something going on with food. Dinner, I think. I didn't feel like eating yet, until at one point I told my mother that she could warm up some of the pasta for me. Shortly after that I decided to go upstairs to my room. Nearing the top of the stair I could see that my room's door wasn't fully open as I had left it, but slightly ajar. Pushing it open I went into my room, which again wasn't really like my room of the past. Again more light and spacious. To my left was my bed, but in it was already someone. A woman. First she looked like Jeri Ryan, who was wriggling about under the blankets, seemingly amused. As I got closer and slid into the bed as well, she changed into a more African looking woman.

The moment I first saw a woman in my bed I didn't really feel anything, it was more a matter of observing a fact. Sliding into the bed next to her I found it to be a comforting thought to be next to her. Nice and cozy. Lying next to her she suddenly proposed getting intimate with me, which caught me by surprise. Working in my head through the logistics of such a thing, I found no problems there. Preparing, I had just changed from fully clothed into wearing the same but my pink pyjama pants instead of my jeans, when my mother came into the room to tell that dinner was ready. At this point I thought it would be a good idea to lock the door, so I got out and wandered over the other side of the room where I knew that the key probably was. I didn't find it, however.

Meanwhile the woman was just wandering about near the bed, talking with my mother or such. Her presence didn't incite anything negative, which I think meant that she was supposed to be there. Maybe she was my girlfriend after all. I decided to ditch the locked door idea and walked back over to her. My mother and the shadowy male figure I had sensed near her had left. As the woman and I came close we embraced. As we stood there, I started trembling. The really bad kind of shaking when you're either nervous or anxious enough to nearly bolt away to safety, or stricken with fear. I held her tightly as I said to her in a trembling voice that I felt so nervous, more than I had ever felt before. The image then suddenly distorted into nonsense.

As I woke up from that nightmare, I found both my arms firmly crossed on my chest and both hands tightly clenched into fists. I was crying.

Thanks to today's nightmare I think I now know what yesterday's nightmare was about, namely my experiences living together with that person. The second nightmare was for me a frightening look into how traumatizing sexuality has always been to me. I have actually experienced such trembling before with a real-life experience, though I chose to ignore it at the time. In the nightmare I chose to finally admit to myself that there's nothing which fills me more with terror than the thought of sexuality. I have just been forcing myself to try and accept it as something normal, while further damaging myself that way. My experiences the past months more so.

This all taken together it seems quite clear where some of my worst traumas are, and the worst roadblocks on the way to recovery. It's in some ways infuriating that a good, healthy relationship could be so beneficial to me, while the possibility of such a thing happening is sheer random chance. I could run into the perfect person tomorrow, or never. Maybe a plan B is in order, with a shrink specializing in sexuality poking and prodding me. Maybe.

Or maybe that's plan C and plan B is to become a bloody hermit.


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Planning My Pride Photo Award Debut

Today I got a message from photographer Eric Brinkhorst informing me that he'd like to plan a photography session for the Pride Photo Award really soon now to fill up the series as the final submission date is May 31st. It's going to be quite excited to see what will end up in the final series in the end. While a lot of things you can plan yourself, there are a few variables, such as when the first public hearing against the VUmc's gender team gets planned and what the response from that surgeon on my final surgery will be. Both would provide excellent material for the series, but there's no way to know whether any of them will work out the way we hope and whether they would occur within next month.

I felt pretty heartened by the response from Pride Photo Award (PPA) so far, with them spending an actual news article on their site on my story. I think that having a successful submission to PPA could mean a lot to intersex people in general. It would not only inform a large number of people that we exist at all, but also of the major horrors we have to suffer due to medical and political ignorance and will will. My hope is that the series works out well and gets into the top 5 at the PPA.

As far as the surgery goes, I doubt that it'll get into the series, as physicians are very busy people. I was supposed to be contacted by the surgeon this week, but with just one more day to go, I think it'll take longer. Probably far into next month. Even then I expect a rejection, as that is the only response which would be consistent with this world I was born into. Deny, crush, extinguish. Fatalistic, maybe, but based on years of cruel experience.

Then the public hearing. This may actually work out, as I received a response from the VUmc's lawyer via my own lawyer's office to the hormone level results I had put in as new evidence for my case. That the disciplinary commission is sending this now may mean that they are preparing to set a date for the public hearing. I really hope that this is the case and that the hearing is next month. Not just for the PPA series, but also to move this case ahead at last. This waiting is killing me.

In my fantasies I am contacted by a enthusiastic surgeon who wants to examine me for that surgery which he thinks will restore full functionality of my vagina. I also hear that the public hearing is early next month. In those fantasies I can finally shed off a lot of the impossibly heavy burden resting on my shoulders.

In reality, however, I'm left a bitter, overly sarcastic person. It's not who I want to be. It's what life has made me into. As someone once said, only fairy tales know happy endings.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

An Overload Of Wrongness

Despite the fact that humans are quite irrational beings, they still seem to hold firmly on to the belief that all actions and thoughts are still somehow governed by reason. There is also the belief originating from this initial belief that every human being is capable of complete self-control. Suffice it to say that this is as far from the truth as one can be. Case in point is that of a post-traumatic stress disorder - or PTSD - which is a crippling psychological and neurological disorder which completely shorts out one's capability to reason before it has a chance to act.

Knowing something and feeling the same about it are two separate things. Sometimes they align, but more often they don't. With conditions like PTSD they can go so out of whack that there's no stopping it. I can say without exaggeration that PTSD is the worst thing I ever incurred and that the thought of living with it untreated seems quite unbearable. What keeps me going is that the coming time things will happen which will soften the traumas at the root of the PTSD and thus reduce the stress.

This morning I was just sitting there, working, when someone started talking with another person about the latter guy's girlfriend. While logically this shouldn't do anything to me since even if I did know the people in question it still shouldn't matter to me. Instead I began to experience a sensation akin to physical pain or severe discomfort. Continuing to listen to the conversation was impossible. I became beset by a feeling of... wrongness. Everything I heard was wrong. What was happening was wrong. I had to shut it out. Do something about it, but I couldn't.

Even after walking away and finding a calm spot I found myself unable to control my emotions. I was overcome by this massive sense of frustration, pain and anger, all targeting eventually the root cause of the wrongness: this body I inhabit. It's exceedingly hard to not give into the urge to then assault, maim and even murder one's own body. I have complete understanding for war veterans who struggle to live a civilian life again. The sense of wrong must be agony to them.

It's all conflicting emotions, reasoning and thoughts. The sense of wrong where there is no wrong. Every PTSD episode is another attack on one's sanity and another step taken towards ending one's tortured existence. Having to never experience or even better know this overload of wrongness must be bliss indeed. I'm not sure I'll live long enough to ever experience it again.

After withdrawing from the situation in which the episode started it usually takes about an hour for me to regain my senses, although I'll feel numb and emotionally worn out for a while longer. It will also reinforce for me the underlying traumas and the associated conclusions, no matter how misguided. Should I really be considering relations between men and women to be evil and wrong? Of course not. Is being intersex something akin to torture, best ended swiftly and mercifully? Of course not. There should be nothing keeping me from living a happy life.

And yet... the undercurrents of the brain, where the subconscious lives and emotions reign freely, there such logic doesn't hold. There is just the pain of past experiences. The memories of all that happened and the concrete conviction that all that will happen again. The frail conscious mind is no match for it.

No match at all.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

Wishing I Could Leave This Prison

Two nights ago I once again dreamed a dream which seems to reoccur regularly for me. In it I am in a bare prison cell; its walls painted white. There's a window to my left. This window I can just open, but I can not crawl through it. People pass by on the outside, who all know me and they ask me things. When the next hearing is and such. I can talk to them, but never ask them to help me escape.

The door of my cell is open, and I know that I have free passage through the entire prison building. Thus I leave my cell and wander through the completely abandoned building. There are always the same white and light-grey hallways and rooms. I never encounter a single soul. As I wander through the building like this it feels peaceful, with its sunlit rooms, but it's also exceedingly lonely. A part of me wants to leave the building; join the people outside, but I know I can't do that. There's no way out of the building.

Actually that's not quite true. There is a way out, and it's via those court cases. Defend my case successfully, gain redemption, be set free. I just have to wait out these endless days until the next hearing, as those people outside my cell's window keep asking me about. I wish I knew.

Thus I wait. In my dream and in reality.


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Shedding Tears For Those Who Were Struck Down

My initial response to the reports of the bombings at the Boston Marathon a few days ago was one of reluctance and hope. Reluctance about accepting yet another report of violence, and hope that it would not be too serious. The reality of the event soon became clear to me, however, with each subsequent news report and fact updates.

The thing with such reports is that one's mind tries to shut it out, and with good reason. There's something absolutely troubling and hopeless about the aftermath of an attack like this, regardless of whether it takes place at a market place in Iraq or an international event in an American city. The focus on harming innocent people in order to further selfish goals is beyond infuriating. It drives one to the edge of despair at the realization of so many lives destroyed or forever ruined.

The images of the Boston bombings are burned into my mind, same as for those of other bombings I have seen. There's something savage and brutal about the aftermath of an explosion like that, before one even considers the victims of it. From the gruesome details such as torn off limbs which one's mind can still ignore as being something innocent like a doll's limbs, to ripped apart bodies and those unfortunate enough to still be alive.

All of it just resonates inside your mind as being wrong, shaking the very foundation of your being. For someone like me it doesn't just resonate with that which makes me a caring human being, but also with the memories I had to suffer over far too many years. The stark contrast between a moment of innocent happiness when one is standing there near the finish line, cheering on a loved one or just enjoying the moment, to the sudden turmoil when one finds oneself lying there on the ground with the blast's shock wave still ringing in one's ears. Only to realize with a sudden feeling of numb panic the grievous nature of one's own injuries and forever remembering every single detail of one's surroundings as shock takes over.

At that moment there's just the pain, slowly burning through the numbness of shock. The worry about loved ones and the rush to save those struck down. I'll never forget those images. Not of those with only mild injuries lying on the ground as they got treated. Nor those of people with both legs blown off with just most of the bone still poking out. The moment when we all uncomfortably realize that we're just spirits inhabiting fragile shells of flesh.

Afterwards the anger takes over, as well as the frustration, feelings of hopelessness and despair. To me in many ways following the aftermath of this bombing is somewhat akin to reliving my own memories of what has been done to me. While shrapnel didn't tore away the flesh on my bones, a similar kind of damage was done inside of me. As the victims of the Boston bombings and their families go through the torrent of emotions following the event, all I can do is sympathize with them. I can feel their pain as it's my own as well.

The tears I'm shedding now aren't tears for my own pain, but theirs and mine. Together with those tears there is also the hope for them, me and everyone else that things will improve. That nothing like what any of us went through will ever happen again.

I can not turn back the clock on my own life. Nor can I turn back the clock on what happened in Boston. All I, they, anyone can do is face the future with raised heads, as tears stain our cheeks.


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Story Of My Life

The past few days I have been thinking about many things to write about on my blog. Today as well. There are so many things and thoughts which pop up or trouble me either constantly or when they get triggered by something. I'm not sure that kind of reactive writing is what I need, or what is most useful to you, my dear reader. Hence I figured that maybe a more meta kind of post might be more appropriate.

One item I wanted to write about today was a post I would have titled something dramatic involving how I do not feel that I really have a body. How my experiencing of the world around me is quite surreal. How when I was a child I'd look forward to growing up, yet that this would not happen. That I looked forward to puberty, but that it turned into a both disappointing and extremely confusing and painful experience. That thanks to the extreme brainwashing by Dutch specialists I further lost grip on any kind of self-image and connection with my physical body.

That I have experienced the pleasures of connecting with someone I truly cared about, when I could feel what my body feels, but that those moments were rare and that I feel that I'll never experience such a thing again due to the damage suffered the past time. How absolutely and outrageously frustrated, disappointed and angry I feel at the fact that I will never be able to experience a relationship with a loved one. The depth of my jealousy at those who have such a relationship, and how the intense pain of it makes me want to run away and bury myself. Kill all feelings.

It would have been an intense post for sure. Heavy writing and large amounts of drama, all trying to perhaps futily allow others experience the depths of my mental agony. To gain understanding for the torturous choice between cutting myself literally off from sexuality in every form, or to continue to allow its existence despite everything pointing towards it only being there to cause me agony. I don't think that I could ever bring across my thoughts and feelings there to someone who has never experienced anything alike.

Thus I won't write about it. All you get is the bare summary above. Does it mean anything to you? Probably not. To me it resonates with what I feel inside. To those not like me it just leads to tired advice and equally tired expressions of keeping up hope.

What I did do today was work. Working on this iOS application project for my new employer. I'm beginning to like the work more and more. Just having a solid source of income is more than welcome, it strengthens me to take on everything else which comes along. Such as handling a communication from one of my lawyers regarding the situation surrounding my apartment. Which seems to be proceeding quite well now, by the way.

Much of what I do outside of my work these days feels odd due to that same matter. Not having access to my home and most of my possessions means a lot of improvising and buying stuff anew. It's kind of like camping out in the wilds, only without a set date on when one will be returning home.

Still, today I managed to acquire a new supply of my medication for the hormone therapy I'm undergoing for the rest of my life. It's good to have that settled for a while again. I'm also relieved that yesterday my awesome friend Trevor came back online after having been gone for a few days. Turns out that the part of Canada he lives in suffered a major ice storm, causing power lines to fail. I imagine it must be very... quiet to be without power for a few days straight.

I'm getting more and more enthusiastic every day about making Trevor and my company Nyanko into a success. This means bringing out video games and applications this year. Establish a name and get enough revenue going to make the two of us feel like our efforts were worth it. For me there is not too much I can do yet at this point, as I am still stuck with this old laptop from 2007 which has trouble running even basic applications, let alone 3D modelling and image editing programs such as 3DS Max and Photoshop.

My new laptop should be arriving early next week now. Its specs are quite a match for the desktop system I have at home, with an Intel 3630QM quad-core processor at 2.4 GHz base, 3.4 GHz Turbo speed, 8 GB base RAM and an nVidia GTX660M video card. The display is a 17" full-HD TN LCD (matte), which should be sufficient to do real work on, even if I still miss my two 24" IPS LCDs.

At the very least it should be much faster to compile large projects on the new laptop than on this old one. A regular release build of my WildFox browser takes about ten minutes currently. On the new CPU it should be less than a minute. That's what you get when you go from a slow AMD TK-53 (Athlon X2) dual-core CPU at ~1.7 GHz to a quad-core, modern CPU at 2.4+ GHz. More cores, higher per-core speeds and higher IPC (Instructions Per Cycle).

So yeah, I'm absolutely a geek. No lying about that. The past weeks I feel the energy and motivation returning to work on various software, hardware, AI and robotics projects again. Now that I also have money to spend freely there's nothing really holding me back to undertake at least some of them the coming time. Others will have to wait until I have a home again.

And thus life continues like a dream tinged at the edges with the deep black and red of a frightful nightmare. I wonder which one I will wake up from first.


Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Peace Of Damocles

"Does not Dionysius seem to have made it sufficiently clear that there can be nothing happy for the person over whom some fear always looms?"

So did Cicero [1] describe the weight of holding a position of power and the constant fears it brings with it. The same fears keep anyone awake who carries great responsibility and worries. There's always this lingering fear of what might come next, spoiling any joy one could experience in life. Maybe that's why so many people in a position of importance seem to lose themselves in psychopathic, care-free behaviour. It's either that or to go insane.

No peace can be experienced and no joy felt until the sword is finally removed, although strengthening the attachment of the sword to the ceiling can help immensely with removing much of the fears. Similarly one can make life more bearable by reducing the strength and number of those fears which keep one awake at night.

Drawing parallels with my own situation, I can feel the burden of a few items crushing down on my shoulders; some more heavily than others, yet together enough to bring down a person less accustomed to bearing the pain.

What weighs most heavily on me at this point has to be that of the idiotic decision to start an impossible relationship which blew up in my own foolish face, leaving me with only legal recourse to get back the place I used to live in. A place which I could rightfully call my own for the very first time in my life and which I will not get back until justice has run its course. Every time I'm assaulted by the memories surrounding this and what occurred before I feel more tired of it all and more resentful to the person who happily inflicts this all upon me. I pray that this torture will end soon, somehow.

Beyond that weight there isn't just an assault on my home, but also on my very body and psyche. Next week I'll probably hear back from the surgeon I contacted this week about his thoughts on whether he can help me in any fashion with restoring my body to its intended state. Aside from three German and one Dutch physician I have had dozens of Dutch and foreign physicians and surgeons reject me in a number of rude manners. This all makes me beyond apprehensive about what the answer will be this time. I expect another rejection and the inconceivable pain and agony that accompanies it. I literally am risking my very life by gambling on this surgeon. Because I have to. Because I want to. Because there's no other choice. Because I still have hope. Because I'm desperate. Because I hope for salvation.

I still laugh a few times every day. I even feel somewhat joyful at times. Yet they're mere moments, instantly followed up by a feeling of loneliness, despair, sadness and fatalism. The best I can do is to laugh bitter tears at my own life, which I stumble through akin to a court's fool.

Here's to this fool turning into a bard.



Thursday, 11 April 2013

Finally Becoming Myself

After my surgery in Germany back in October 2011 the medical madness I had been caught in since early 2005 finally came to a halt. The answers to my questions had been found and for a while I could move forward again. I'd never have to deal with such fundamental questions about who and what I am ever again. Yet a small detail remained like a remnant after you pull out a splinter, only to fester and become impossible to ignore.

Today I went out to buy a new swimsuit. Just a regular one-piece Speedo one for competitive swimming since I love pushing myself to the limits of my skills in sports. Years ago I already determined that I can wear a swimsuit without anyone noticing anything about me which would point towards me not being a regular female. This all doesn't bother me too much. Heck, men follow me with their eyes when I'm at the pool because I qualify as attractive for a female. I have nothing which should even begin to bother me there.

And yet there is still that little something. When a photo is taken of me while wearing a swimsuit such as today I often feel horrified while looking at the resulting photograph. Is that really me? It seems like I'm a guy wearing a swimsuit... or not? I'm not sure... Maybe... I can look at myself in the mirror like that and feel pretty okay, but on a photo like that, something just doesn't match up yet. And I know it has to be inside my head.

There, I said it. While I'd hardly say I'm crazy, I'm still left with something which is nagging at me. Festering as I said before. It's what's keeping me from truly seeing things the way they are and finally fully accept my body for what it is. Right now I still feel very much torn between something which one could describe as 'male' and 'female', but which is also different from those two stereotypical things. It makes me feel in constant emotional pain.

With the 2011 surgery most things were resolved, true. Yet one thing was left unresolved, namely that of my female side. It was determined now well over a year ago that I have indeed a vagina. The reports from three different German hospitals seem to indicate that it's also quite functional, and my own findings do indeed agree with this. Yet after the surgery nothing was done with it.

I did want to have it too resolved, and part of me hoped that someone would come forward now to take care of this little matter now that the battle was over and I had been acknowledged. Yet no such thing happened. My own attempts to find a surgeon who would look at this failed one by one. Painfully enough I'd get rejected by most using the excuse that they don't do sex-reassignment surgeries, even though what I asked for isn't even in the same league.

Now, the surgeon I mentioned before which a friend had contacted and found to be willing to help me. I did mention that I would contact him and see what would result from it. Today I finally worked up the courage and re-opened the medical circus of madness for hopefully the last time by sending an email to the surgeon's assistant. My request was to send the relevant medical files to them by email, which was granted. Again I felt strangely happy at how the response email phrased that the surgeon would do his utmost to find a way to help me using his abilities.

So there you go. I did it. Hopefully this won't all just end up in another disappointment, and this will truly mean the end of all and everything medical I'll ever have to endure in my life for a very long time. One more surgery to restore what is now hidden to how it should be, thereby resolving these emotional and psychological knots inside of me. I can not possibly imagine what this means to me. I think that only people who have gone through something similar can understand how much it means to feel whole.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Death And Renewal

As I'm sitting here, looking out of a window at sunlit trees and other green, I can only really consider all that is happening right now part of something akin to the seasons. I have had my autumn as I embarked on my quest to find answers, or maybe even before it already. Then the long winter as every chance and opportunity just dried up and shriveled away, until a few dots of light signaled the end of winter. Now it's finally time for spring.

Today was indicative of this more than ever before. Aside from working on what has to be one of the best jobs one could wish for, I had a few communications today which make it clear how far things have changed. One of these was a response from Janet Green from Accord Alliance, a US organization claiming to support the intersex cause. I had updated her recently about how things had gone for me since we last talked, about two years ago. She was very happy to hear how things had changed, and expressed her understanding for how much energy fighting for justice takes.

Another communication was with Dr. Bowers, a US surgeon. I had contacted her late last year to ask her whether she would be able to help me with my last surgery. It took many months to get a first response, which was rather negative. She basically denounced me for having the nerve to sue the Dutch hospitals, insisting that they too had just done their best. This led me to write a response:

"Dear Dr. Bowers,

I'm sorry to hear about your objections. If you had read up on my story in any manner you'd have realized that the issue was not between my previous providers and me, but between the Dutch and German providers, each of which had drawn a completely opposite conclusion. In the end it was the German conclusion - of me being intersex - which turned out to be the correct one. Demanding satisfaction from those who cost me years of my life due to incorrect diagnostics and other failings then is nothing more than the reasonable course of action. I'm sure you would agree with me on that.

Attached you'll find an example of an MRI scan made a few years ago which clearly shows the relevant details. Three German hospitals have independently confirmed me as being intersex (hermaphrodite) based upon these and other MRI scans in addition to further examinations.

The reason why I contacted [you - red] was because of others telling me about your work with women who had suffered genital mutilation. This made me think you'd be a passionate and caring person. I do however at this point not feel any inclination to pursue any further relations with you in order to get any kind of medical procedure performed. The first duty of a healthcare provider is to consider the patient's needs and concerns. I do not feel that this has been met in any sufficient manner in my case.

Thank you,

Maya Posch"

Her response:

Terribly sorry you feel this way towards my response. I think if, in hindsight, you re-read my words, you will find the compasssion (sic) and sincerity for which I am known.

On the other hand, medicine as a specialty, is challenging. It faces each of us, caring and compassionate as we may try to be, with challenges and nuances, that are often as vexing as they are fascinating. Your condition is delicate, unusual and subtle. While I agree with the ideal that listening to you and searching further in the face of conflicting information would have been the proper course for your Dutch providers, I do not feel that your response to sue and hold those persons accountable, is either socially responsible or personally moral. Those of us in the trans community search, often in vain, for providers of even the most basic care and medical ser5vices (sic). Responses and attitudes such as you appear to hold only compromises the willingness and resolve of  future potential providers to offer that care and to reach and understand"

With this last exchange another lead fizzles out, but I honestly do not feel too bad about it.

I still have to contact that other surgeon I talked about yesterday. It's hard for me to make that step to once again contact a hospital and specialist about this issue. Much harder than I had anticipated. I spent part of today simply crying because of the pain and confusion I felt as countless memories resurfaced. Of sitting hyperventilating in waiting rooms, anxiously awaiting another denial and careless dismissal. While I can put myself over it, I do not wish to damage myself further, psychologically. Yet I still need that surgeon who'll help me to finish what I started.

Finally, I got mailed a link today to an article on the Pride Photo Award site. It's a news article about the exposition I talked about yesterday, and contains a huge section about my story and the questionable idea of performing genital surgery on infants and children. I felt pretty happy about it, as though I'm already making very positive waves. Here's the article (English version):

Excerpt: "Children like Maya are born almost every day. Medics and parents choose whether the child should have male or female genitalia, which are then  (re)constructed surgically. "But how can they know if their children will identify as that gender", Brinkhorst wonders."

Here's to a beautiful spring and even better summer.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

I'm Somewhere In There

Yesterday was terribly exciting. Or maybe not. I did my usual working on the iOS application project I'm assigned to, then went to visit this photo exposition thing for a Dutch photography award, called 'Zilveren Camera' (Silver Camera), which had a tie-in with the Pride Photo Award for which I'm applying together with the Dutch photographer Eric Brinkhorst. Ergo my pictures and story were put up there as well.

While I had nothing bad to say about the two photos of mine on display there, nor the NRC newspaper article accompanying them, I didn't really feel like I should have been there at the event. It was mostly people talking about the award and along with me not knowing anyone there beyond Eric, there was also nobody seemingly recognizing me or wanting to show they had recognized me from the photos there. In the end I just wandered around a bit aimlessly before leaving. I also really didn't like the works of one of the winners of the Zilveren Camera, who specialized in photography bordering on child pornography. I found it to be pretty tasteless at any rate.

On my way back from the exposition I felt pretty uncomfortable. Beyond having some of my traumas triggered by seeing the child nude photography and getting ignored I felt I had to question my desire to participate in the Pride Photo Award event. Wouldn't it just lead to more ridicule? What would I truly accomplish with it? It took me until this morning that I realized that while the Pride Photo Award is useless to reach the common folk, it can nevertheless serve to inform others about the existence of intersex. Ergo I decided to press on with it.

This morning I went to a local beauty salon for my usual hair removal therapy, with Eric accompanying me to make some photos for the Pride Photo Award series. There I learned from the beautician that she couldn't really say whether this method actually is effective. Since it uses waxing as a start followed by an IPL flashing using the device generally used for rejuvenation, it shouldn't have any effect. Yet the beautician I was at before claimed that it had worked for another client of hers. Who to believe, I guess. I do hope it's effective at any rate.

After the treatment we went into the city so that I could pick up a few electronics items, including a USB hub for use with my new laptop since it only has 3 USB ports. We also got some ice cream, which is a good idea now that the weather is finally turning towards spring from the 'ten degrees too cold for this season' kinda feeling. Once home I saw that I had received the money I had earned last month and used it to order my new laptop along with a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. I can't wait to finally switch to a proper system to work on again.

A few hours ago I also received from Yme Drost's office the response my insurance company Unive had sent to Yme in response to his earlier letter to Unive in which he demanded that they'd start fully covering my hair removal therapy since my situation is very much comparable to that of transsexuals in this area. Unive's response was that since SKGZ has previously judged that my situation and that of transsexuals are not comparable that they do not have to cover it.

The next step here should be then that Unive will have to defend their view before a judge since SKGZ has no general legal jurisdiction but is more of an advisory body for health insurers and their clients. I'd very much like to see this issue finally see being resolved. I started trying to get this procedure I need to remove facial hair growth back in early 2011 and still haven't accomplished anything there, over two years later. Nothing would please me more to see Unive having to get back on their words, to make life easier for intersex individuals in the Netherlands and others as well. Me getting back the thousands of Euros I have spent on hair removal therapy so far would be nice too.

Oh yeah... in between all that there's me as well :) Just another person trying to live her life amidst evil companies and uncaring politicians, dodging obstacles in a worse-than-a-jungle society.

This week I'll try to contact a surgeon a friend contacted for me. This surgeon might be willing to help me with the last issue I have towards feeling like my body is finally complete: having my female side restored by opening up the existing vagina and creating labia. This really is something which doesn't benefit anyone but myself. It's a highly personal thing, yet I still feel the need to share it because it too is part of the list of items I tried to get fixed for over eight years now. Having this last issue resolved will mean for me that there are no remaining medical issues and a general feeling of calmness where there are now turbulent emotions.

Any woman with a condition which results in a non-functional vagina can probably agree on the severe psychological issues this causes. It's no different for me as a hermaphrodite. Losing one side of oneself might as well mean losing everything in a sense.

Here's hoping that this, too, will soon be a thing of the past.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

All The Stuff You Didn't See

Looking back at the things I have written about on my blog the past months I have to admit that there's a lot of formal stuff on it, but very little about me as a person. I think that this is a bit of a shame, as originally I had set up this blog to share my daily happenings as well as larger events with the world. Much of this is of course due to the changes which happened during late 2012, when I got my first job as a developer.

Considering those five months I spent there I can honestly say that I'm more glad than ever that I landed the job I currently have. My previous working place was extremely demotivating and also didn't match up very well with the other demands my life places upon me. I'm not suited to working from 9-5 at an office, partially because it goes in against how I work, partially due to the curbing of my freedom in setting my own schedule, and partially because in software development there's precious little reason to spend time at an office when you can do the same work from anywhere.

Anyway, as a result I had to cram in media events, hospital appointments, legal hearings and heavens know what else into the few paid free days I got offered. This didn't leave much time to... well, live. In addition to a relationship going from bad to terrible, various uncertainties about financial and legal matters and trying to help a person who just didn't want to be helped it seems as though I kinda just didn't quite _live_ during those months.

Now that I'm out of it all, with the relationship over, me having gotten an awesome job at a great German company which allows me all the freedom I could wish for, and the ramping up of various events media and legal-wise which will both further break down the tyranny of the legal system against all those who are born 'different' - as well as inform the average person about what the hell intersex is and how the heck they could have missed something so extremely common - it's hard for me not to start feeling more myself. More... human, I guess.

Sure, from yesterday until a few hours ago I had a continuous migraine, and I regularly suffer from mild migraines for the past months now, but I think that's just the stress of the past months coming out of my system. I actually am beginning to feel creative and motivated again. I want to go back to working on fun things, as well as write again on my stories, such as my Ocarina of Time-based Zelda novel, the Viral Desire survival-horror novel and the semi-autobiographic In Between And Neither. Maybe I'll even start work on my autobiography.

I have plenty of ideas for games as well, Android and PC. This in addition to various ambitious software projects I have underway, such as the VHDL compiler I'm writing and the now rapidly progressing WildFox browser project. The latter I'm especially happy with. I'm hoping to replace all other browsers I use with it pretty soon now. Sure, it still needs a few more features and some debugging love, but I'm actually using it for the past few days on this old laptop, and it's a breeze of fresh air compared to bloated Firefox and Chrome.

With money coming in now I am also able to get that new laptop I talked about before. It should allow me to go back to doing 3D modelling and such. I'm also of mind to play around with programming that custom CPU architecture in VHDL again. It's good to be creative, even if I have just shown myself to be a total and utter geek :)

I'm looking forward to returning to my apartment in Almere soon. While it's going to take some adjusting to live on my own with no one around, I think I'll be fine. I should be able to get everything which suffered due to my absence quickly in shape again.

A last thing I wanted to talk about are the movies and games I enjoyed lately. I recently watched the second Silent Hill movie, which is based on the third instalment of the game series with the same name. It was a quite good movie, capturing well the atmosphere of the game, and definitely not a bad movie version of the game's story. I also watched it in 3D, which looks quite good with this movie since it was filmed in 3D.

The 3D effect with the second movie I watched recently watched was even better: The Hobbit, the first part. I watched the High-Frame Rate (HFR) version, which uses 48 frames per second instead of the usual 24. All I can say is that I'd recommend people to always watch the HFR version if possible. The motion is just so much smoother especially while panning and during action scenes that it makes non-HFR movies look cheap. The movie itself is quite enjoyable as well, and I will watch the second part when it comes out.

Finally, I enjoyed playing Mass Effect 2 a lot a while ago. It actually saddened me to lose two team members, though I was rather annoyed to learn that I lost most of my ship's crew because you have a time limit after they get kidnapped to get them back. Nobody told me, I guess :(

A game I didn't play, but of which I watched multiple walkthroughs, has definitely astounded me with its awesome writing. The game is called Bioshock Infinite and it's the third part of the Bioshock series. Truth to be told it's more of a spiritual successor, since it doesn't play in the same time period (1912 instead of 1960s) and aside from one scene there's never a direct link. That doesn't take away that it's an awesome game, however. The writing has such depth and brilliance that you literally have to experience twice. Once to get bedazzled by it, the second time to actually understand the depth and meaning of everything you see and hear.

Anyway, I'll be heading to bed now as it's nearing midnight :) I have to work tomorrow, then after dinner I'm meeting up with a photographer regarding our attempt at winning first place in this year's Pride Photo Award. All we need at this point is really the first public hearing against the VUmc's gender team to get the final shots to perfect the series.

Goodnight and see you all tomorrow :)


Friday, 5 April 2013

I Am Just A Human As Well

Today I spent most of the time working for the German company I started doing work for last month. I'm currently working on an iPhone application for the cultural department of the German city of Karlsruhe, updating the old codebase. It's my first major iOS application I'm working on and so far I'm learning quickly. I hope that my work is satisfactory to the boss of the company, as well as to my colleagues.

I'm feeling a tad uncertain about it because I haven't received the money yet for the hours I worked last month. My financial reserves are extremely low again, which makes me feel quite depressed. Not that I expect that I will not get any money, just that I have lived so long on the edge of bankruptcy, it's an all too familiar frightening feeling. There's also that I have suffered so much betrayal, that it's hard not let the memories overtake me. Some of you may remember how uncertain I felt before the surgery I had in Germany in 2011. It's hard for me to trust anyone or anything.

Anyway, I think that this will all be resolved soon. I can then use the money to buy a new laptop to replace the current one I'm using. This old laptop is a Packard Bell from 2007. AMD TK-53 1.7 GHz dual-core, ATi X1200 GPU. It was quite fine six years ago, but it's really long in the tooth by now. It can not run any new graphical applications, its memory of 2 GB is very restrictive, and the HDD is very small. As I won't have access to my dual-display, quad-core system back at home any time soon yet it's pretty much a requirement for me to get a good laptop.

As far as the apartment goes, I reckon I'd be okay with moving to a new place as well, although I'd need to prove somehow that I am earning sufficiently. That's likely the deal breaker the coming months assuming that I can earn sufficiently the coming time. So plan A is still to get the place back. Hopefully this month things will work out. I'm kinda sick of having to deal with such an unnecessary source of stress in addition to everything.

Regarding money... my lawyer Yme Drost recently sent a friendly letter to my insurance company Unive, regarding their refusal to fully cover the hair-removal therapy I am forced to undergo due to my intersex condition. They insist that my situation is not comparable to that of transsexuals who also need to have facial hair removed after switching gender roles. My lawyer and I both agree that this is false and that this matter falls under discrimination.

Unive has until early next week to respond. Failure to comply to the request to pay will result in further legal steps to be taken. At stake is many thousands of Euros I should be getting back from Unive. Money I could really use the coming time.

Getting out of all this madness, I'll be visiting a photography event in the city of Hengelo on Monday, to meet up with an acquainted photographer. It'll be good to be away from things for a bit.

In the end I'm only a human being. Between working almost every day for 7-8 hours, having to fight to regain my home, worrying about money and the future as well as dealing with all that my country and the people in it have done to me over the past years, there's precious little rest I get. I feel desperate at times when I wonder whether I'll ever be able to just... live.

I find some solace in projects I work on in my spare time, such as my WildFox browser project. It feels good to be working on something I enjoy and which others appreciate as well. I secretly hope that it'll grow into a big, successful project.

This year should see many issues resolved, but it'll once again wear me down to the bone in the process. Just got to hold on for a bit longer...


Thursday, 4 April 2013

What To Keep, What To Abandon

Depending on one's situation and future, one can be faced with one of life's most harrowing choices: what to keep, and what to abandon?

To those living an easy life - supported by one's environment - nothing has to be abandoned. They just float along on the current and no difficult choices ever have to be made. It's only for those who are torn from this easy current and forced to face the brutal, unforgiving side of society that this choice becomes impossible to ignore.

What to keep?

To be human means being both emotions and feelings as well as intellect. The latter helps one survive, the former is a liability; to be discarded gradually or immediately as the situation calls for it. To survive means being steel: cold and unforgiving. It does not co-exist with the softness and gentleness of a protected life.

And yet one needs both to remain human.

What to abandon?

Abandoning emotions and feelings can be most desirable. There are only two states one can be in: capable and incapable of feeling emotions. Leaving oneself even a small bit open to emotions means opening oneself up to hurt and psychological trauma. There's no middle road. Capable or incapable.

Yet one is still human.

To survive is to be steel, with an inlay of fine, blood-red webbing; a solid core pervaded by hurt and agony.

To survive is to be steel, once one gives up on being human.


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

It's Choices All The Way Down

Imagine a single speck of light in the midst of impenetrable darkness. Imagine that this speck of light has multiple choices: to move in any direction it desires. Now, doing so in any fashion will result in said speck of light bumping into another speck of light after some time. Upon this happening, the universe of choices essentially explodes for both specks: not only can they just move about however they desire; they now also have a multitude of choices regarding the other speck they just encountered. So many things they can do, so many results.

Now imagine a galaxy, nay, a universe filled with such specks of light, all with their own unimaginable number of choices. Do I greet the other speck, hug it, hit it, try to start a relationship, become friends, procreate to create new tiny specks of light, convince other specks to engage in violent conflict with other specks or other erratic behaviour for reasons unbeknownst, and in how far does it matter whether it's a logical, well-reasoned decision?

This, in a galactic nutshell, is humanism. It's literally choices all the way down from here.

Now, voices will most decidedly be raised in protest that humans aren't simplistic enough to be reduced to mere specks of light, albeit with a level of sentience. Here is where behaviour experts (animal and/or human) and psychologists meet common ground: little of human behaviour is founded in intellectualism, and most of it is of the complexity displayed by even basic multi-celled organisms, whether in possession of a central nervous system or not.

In the end the uncaring universe presents all of us organisms with choices, from which we get to pick. By playing it just right we can survive, gain the upper hand within a group, obtain breeding access to that most attractive baboon female, become a famous historical leader, or pick our nose while the others aren't watching.

Okay, so we humans then are apparently as organized as a bunch of single-celled organisms bumping about in a jar filled with mucky water?

Not too far from the truth, I reckon. True, certain patterns can be detected, but something like the organized movements displayed by certain groups of fish or birds are scarce. Only major sporting events and riots - in as far as they can be seen as separate events - seem to evoke any kind of organization within a group of humans. Beyond this the choices made every few milliseconds by every waking human individual seem to result in a system which even defies chaos theory, moving into something far more surreal.

Imagine a universe filled with specks of light where each speck cared for no more than itself and those part of arbitrary categories such as 'mate', 'offspring', 'friends' and 'today's rising fluffy pop star'. All choices made by every speck would in the first place serve the speck itself, secondly those in the most important categories, thirdly by those a ring down, and so on. In the resulting chaos and mayhem all specks are rapidly killed, incapacitated, driven to suicide or watching re-runs of 'As the World Turns'. All ends with a single lonely speck of light drifting around for a while until finally blinking out.

This is the second part of humanism: to prevent this scenario from happening. Those who care about others without being able to fully justify this, except that they know that it will improve the lives of others. Those who run homeless shelters. Those who labour to right injustice done to individuals or groups. Those who save that kitten found dying in a rainy park. Those are humanists in at least part of their being.

People who care, who fight to right things. People who want that their choices are beneficial to all where possible. It's a choice to do so, every few milliseconds again. It's easier to be selfish. Less trouble. Less responsibility. Yet being a human being should come with the responsibility to be a humanist; to make the right choices for all.

Let everyone of us be the brightest speck of light in the universe :)


Monday, 1 April 2013

Wishing I Could Just Be Human

It's quite a cliche of stories: a character whose main desire is to simply be human, but failing at reaching that goal due to that character's appearance, psychological/traumatic issues. Being physically different imposes a heavy tax on the character and its environment, even if said character is gentle and caring. Assumptions are easily made and reinforced, while observations get twisted.

Worse is a deep-seated trauma in a person's mind. Whether due to abuse, childhood neglect, conflict or a combination of these, it leaves thorny black roots deep inside that person's mind, slowly suffocating it with its putrid growths. The mood-swings, episodes of negative and fatalistic thoughts and outbursts of rage they cause will lead to that person's environment to avoid him or her. The label of 'crazy' is all too easily applied, and the character banished from society.

Today I had to experience yet again those growths injecting their venom into my mind, as the traumas I discussed before regarding relationships and sexuality got triggered very strongly. It's only now as I am typing this that I can feel its effect slowly vanishing from my mind until the next time.

All I want to be is a normal person with a body that is seen as 'normal' and not as a medical marvel. To feel like my giftedness has a place. To be a person whose body isn't the center of world-wide controversy. To see sexuality as a normal thing. To see a couple, especially a heterosexual one, as something normal and healthy instead of as an outrage triggering every dark thought my mind can come up with.

Yet none of this seems to be possible. The coming years I will have to keep fighting to establish that someone with an intersexed body like mine isn't an affront to society and everything that is holy. There's no guarantee that I'll ever feel that a body like mine is anything but something to be looked and poked at by the curious. I somewhat enjoy it when I interact with people who do not know about my story and just see me as a regular woman, even if I know that this is a fleeting thing.

I also feel tortured by the knowledge that I'm mostly woman physically, that I walk around with a more or less functional vagina, but that it is also closed off and that no physician is going to bother to help me with it. No one. Ever. In my nightmares I can see the leering faces of all those surgeons and physicians who have rejected, denied and ridiculed me. I feel humiliated. Violated. Yet I can only howl in sheer frustration. Another part of my humanity denied. More feelings killed off in self-protection.

After my first and possibly last relationship which was both traumatic and ended disastrously, I think I can finally get into many of the songs and stories written about bad break-ups. I also think that I agree that it will take a very long time to get over it. Combined with my other issues I feel safe to think that I might as well give up on the thought of finding that 'one person'. Just not going to happen.

Not having feelings and emotions would be nice at these times. Yet I feel torn in the knowledge that returning to the emotionless state I was in eight years ago would make me less human again, while trying to deal with these emotions and feelings I am going through on days like these can easily kill me.

Feeling this... thing inside my head, gnawing its way around, making me think things I do not want to think and feel things I do not wish to feel, it's almost enough to try and kill it, even if it would mean my own demise. I do want to live, but I do not want to feel this kind of trauma. I want to be human, but I do not want to feel this kind of trauma.

I wish I could just be human.