Friday, 29 November 2013

And So It All Comes Down To This

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep I became aware that I wasn't in any state to fall asleep, as I listened to the heavy beating of my heart, each beat heavy and pronounced. This morning the same as I'm just sitting here, with my heartbeat alternating between a regular slow rhythm and the heavy, laboured beating indicative of severe anxiety. Together with the dull headache and feelings of nausea it induces, memories of those endless hours spent in hospital waiting rooms, or awaiting the result of some test. It was a few years ago that I first became afflicted with regular and severe episodes of hyperventilation, to the point of passing out.

The general feeling I have at this very moment is one I can only describe as 'terror'. It's a level of anxiety one would associate with a group of soldiers going into battle. Any second may be fatal, without ever knowing where the danger came from. In my case it's not a bullet, but a phone call, a letter, email or such informing me of something which will yet again make my world collapse around me, same as the earth-shattering pain of getting hit by a bullet in one's leg. The pain blossoming inside your head as everything else just crumbles to dust. The whole world is pain.

It's been nine years since this war started for me, fighting what turned out to be a war against an invisible enemy. While at a glance it seemed I was going to hospitals to consult with specialists who diagnosed me, instead it was from the beginning a bitter struggle for survival. Yet every time I made a move, a counter-move was made in the form of another assault on the core of my resistance. I was mistaken in my struggle, I was deluding myself, they were trying to help me, but I needed to stop resisting. It was all in my head, but they would help me get better.

The German reinforcements in the form of diagnostics which supported my theory that I do not have a biological male body were brushed aside. Inside the Netherlands only Dutch medical law and diagnostics count. Thus the war continued, year after year. As my mental health kept degrading the enemy didn't relent but pushed forward. Every hospital I went to in the Netherlands may have come up with a different diagnostics, but they all pushed me towards accepting that I was nothing but a boy, a conclusion which went in against everything I knew about my own body.

It was a futile war, which I had to flee from in the end. The irony is that right next to the repressive country of the Netherlands are a number of liberal countries where I would have had support right from the beginning, avoiding war altogether. Why didn't I see this before? Hind sight is 20/20, as they say. It's what makes remembering things so incredibly painful. If only things had been done differently.

Not that the Dutch physicians, politicians and psychologists don't deserve most if not all of the blame. They are working in a system which systematically denies and eradicates anyone who isn't 'normal', after all. Despite nine years of requesting help, lobbying and anything else I could think of - requiring me to relive all my experiences up to that point over and over - it was all futile. I don't see the Netherlands changing at all, if ever. I'm glad I have filed this discrimination complaint against my health insurance company as maybe it will lead to something, but in the end it's just another sign of the tragedy that is human rights for minorities in the Netherlands. It should never have been needed in a free and tolerant society.

This year will be the brutal conclusion to my time in the Netherlands. Being forced to restart everything from scratch in terms of money and possessions, in addition to seeing my final chance at seeing justice done or questions answered burned to the ground. I'll forever be left with the questions of why I had to be treated like this, even if I know rationally that discrimination and racism are never based on sound reasoning, but unfounded, emotional responses. I must have appeared to the Dutch physicians as a freak, something they had to 'fix' as soon as possible, in the only way they could think of.

I honestly would prefer to stop thinking about the how and why of the past nine years. It's all been so horrific. Much like how a war veteran prefers not to recall those images of too many battlefields and their horrors, so too would I prefer to forget about it. It's what leads me to avoid anything on the top of gender, intersex and related. While I do not hate my body, I still can not live with how society has treated and continues to treat me. To watch a documentary or read an article on the topic therefore is impossible, as it is merely a way for me to relive the nightmare. I hate intersex because of society. It has traumatized me in ways I am not even aware of, but which I'll surely find out in the coming years, same as the Vietnam veterans for whom the true nightmare only started years after they got back home.

I hope that I can get some real PTSD therapy once I'm in Germany, or at the very least find myself in an environment in which I can learn to deal with it. Maybe that way I can finally learn to put this war behind me, forget about the battlefields of the Netherlands and allow myself to let the memories of the horrors I have seen and experienced fade away. I'd like to feel like a human being again.


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