Thursday, 29 August 2013

On The Harassment Of The Invisibly Wounded

Try to imagine going through a very traumatic event. Feel free to imagine anything you like, be it a car crash into water and nearly drowning, your love of your life dying, getting assaulted and/or raped, witnessing the murder of a close friend, doing a few tours in a battle zone as a soldier or medic. Anything. Feel like you got through the event and had lots of time to reflect upon it. Feel the weight of it on your mind.

Now imagine someone telling you to get over it, to leave it behind you. How does that make you feel? Does it feel like genuinely good advice, or does it make anger well up inside of you? Does it make you feel frustrated and sad?

In most cases where a person undergoes a traumatic event no physical scars remain, and the person appears to the outside world to be healthy and capable. They can not see inside the head of this person. They can not see the brutal images and horrors inside the soldier's mind playing over and over. They can not see or experience the unimaginable images inside the rape victim's mind as she flinches back from a single touch or hug. They can not experience the sickening, desperate fight for survival of a drowning person. To them there aren't the eternal tortured images of humans cut up by bullets, the total violation of one's mind and body or the realization that there is no more air to breathe.

Maybe it's simply perfect innocence which underlie many of such comments, but it's also possible that it's more an automatic exclusion by the environment so that they do not have to imagine even a subset of the traumatic experience. See the countless scathing remarks thrown at rape victims as an example, as well as the denial that anything might be the matter psychologically with them. It's easy to show that you are in terrible pain when your arm or leg is cut up and bleeding. When I had an accident as a child whereby I suffered a head injury people around me were in an absolute panic, even though in the end it was just a mild concussion and a some nasty cuts and bruises which left me with no ill effects.

Looking back at my experiences during the past nine years I can still see everything and feel every insult, even humiliation, every moment of frustration and agony. The endless confusion and loss of any sense of identity was especially brutal, combined with the continuous brainwashing. I honestly can not comprehend in any fashion why the Dutch physicians, psychologists and politicians thought I had to go through this hell. How am I not to equate what was done to me with the experiments performed by Nazi doctors at concentration camps? Actually I think that their experiments at least resulted in some scientific data. What was the point of my suffering?

"Just ignore it, you got what you wanted with your new passport, right?"

No. That's akin to telling the prisoners at Auschwitz after the Red Army freed them that were now having a jolly good time since they had accomplished all that they cared about, being surviving and escaping the horrors of the place. Just leave it all behind you and start your new life. No worries, right?

Actually, that's not quite an accurate comparison. With the Nuremberg process many survivors of the genocide found some peace, even if none of them were ever able to shake off the memories of the horrors at that place. In my case some of those responsible are now facing a process as well next month, but I know that there most likely won't be any punishments. No acknowledgement of what has happened to me and many others like me. There won't be peace for me and the nightmare will stay alive.

I recently had people I hadn't seen in a while comment on how healthy I look now compared to a year ago. This surprised me. Inside my head I don't feel healthy at all, with a constant struggle to convince myself that it's not time for suicide just yet. In addition to almost constant lower abdominal pains I'm stressed beyond belief about so many things, from being cut off from most of my belongings, the resulting issues with the tax office which have to be fixed, the hearing against the VUmc, the moving to Germany and getting my belongings back. I don't even want to talk about how depressed my upcoming birthday makes me feel.

I guess I do seem healthy enough from the outside. Nothing of the turmoil inside my head is visible to the outside world. I'm not bleeding, expelling unusual bodily fluids or displaying other symptoms indicative that the abdominal pains I suffer are anything but psychogenic in origin. I'm sure there'd be enough people who'd gladly start a relationship with me right now, as all they see is a pretty young woman who just needs a few hugs.

I honestly don't know whether anything will fix me to the point that these horrible thoughts and memories cease haunting me. Next month I'll hear whether the German surgeon has any interest in helping me. To get actual medical help which will once and for all put an end to the 'is she intersex or not' debate would be most helpful. I very much doubt that there's any psychological help which could help me heal, however. Maybe that's something which is only possible after the medical help. First the fixing of the original issue, then dealing with the other damage, so to speak.

I would wish the horrors I see inside my head only on my worst enemies.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A Lesser Form Of Suicide

Yesterday I decided to and withdrew from all social networks, including Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Things had been moving in this direction for a while already, but with my worsening emotional condition I was left with no choice. Suffice it to say that without suppressing my emotional side to the utmost of my capabilities I wouldn't be alive right now to type this. Things have become too critical.

Imagine what social networks and much of human society contains: constant reminders about gender, sex, sexuality, relationships, transgender and medical things. Many of them triggers for my PTSD and other assorted traumatic disorders. To expose myself to them means constant agitation and worsening of said traumatic disorders. As there won't be any medical or psychological help forthcoming for the next weeks, months or decades, I'm left with no other choice but to cut off exposure to said triggers as best as possible. I'm the only person both willing and able to help myself.

If I want to keep living I have to do this. To revert this decision would mean emotional destabilization to the point where I'll not just be committing social suicide.

I want to keep trying to live, even if I have to sacrifice everything for it.

I hope that those of you who do care about me, if even a little bit, understand this decision.


Friday, 23 August 2013

Article In Belgian Newspaper De Standaard This Weekend

Tuesday I got a phone call from a journalist from Belgian newspaper De Standaard, asking me whether I would want to participate on an article about intersex, related to the recent decision in Germany to allow for a 'third gender', aimed at giving newborn intersex infants a chance to pick their own gender instead of forcing one upon them. I agreed to this interview, which took place on Wednesday. A photographer dropped by later that day for a few shots as well.

Yesterday I received the draft article to allow me to check it for factual correctness. Beyond a few small items it was good. Brief, but good. Beyond me two other people were interviewed, one anonymous Belgian person with the XXY intersex condition and one person who likes to swap between male and female roles. I didn't read their sections very thoroughly as I find it unpleasant to read about gender-related issues. Reading my own section was tough enough already.

From the photographer I heard that the article will be published this weekend in the magazine accompanying the newspaper, spanning a fair number of pages. I'm not sure whether I'll receive a copy as well, though I did request one. If I receive it I'll scan it in as usual for placement on my website.

While on one hand I'm glad that I'm definitely in the media's focus with this issue, find it very hard, nay impossible to come to terms with the apparent fact that this is my story. My words. My life and situation. It doesn't make sense that a person like me would be treated like this by Dutch physicians. What would be their reason for torturing me and inflicting permanent psychological damage? They aren't supposed to be twisted sadists.

I should be this smart girl hacking happily away at her current pet project, while fluttering around like the social butterfly some say I am. I shouldn't be literally on the run from persecution, literally fleeing to a country which actually acknowledges my human rights.

It all doesn't make a lick of sense. The only sense of comfort comes from this soft, gentle voice telling me that there's always a way out of this confusion and pain. That there is no need for me to keep suffering. All it takes is a bit of courage.

With every new attack on me as a person, my intersex condition and my safety and livelihood, I find it harder to ignore the promise of its velvet embrace.

This is going to be it, then? I don't know... I am still waiting for a response from that German surgeon. Somehow the medical side of this tangled issue has to be resolved. That restorative surgery would do that once and for all. Moving to Germany is nice and all, but if I take the same pain and frustrations with me, not enough will change to actually enable me to enjoy being alive. Right now I outright hate so many aspects of life and being human that the thought of me being a happy individual with nary a thought of suicide seems like a ridiculous proposition.

I'd like to see it changed, but I - an individual - can do nothing about that. That's all up to others. I do not get to decide about this life, beyond ending it.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Cutting Through The Lies: Testosterone Levels

Today I received the data from my current GP's office containing the use of and dosage of the testosterone blocker I used to take called cyproteronacetate. This is relevant for the disciplinary case against the VUmc gender team next month, due to their insistence that they measured a (total) testosterone level of 21 nmol/L (normal male level: 9 - 38 nmol/L according to WebMD). I knew this couldn't be right and thus did a fact check.

The facts are as follows: I took 25 mg a day of cyproteronacetate to reach a total testosterone level of 0.7 nmol/L. The dose for male to female transsexuals is twice 50 mg a day, as listed in multiple places including the VUmc's own website [1]. This means that I was taking 25% of the full dose one'd take with an average (~22) testosterone level. Carrying through the calculations, this would mean that I couldn't have had a testosterone level of more than 22 * 0.25 = 5.5 nmol/L. The German biopsy of the testicles which showed them to be undeveloped offer the explanation for this low level.

This tackles one of the two points where the VUmc claims to have done proper testing for intersex. The other point is the physical examination, which is trickier, as it touches upon a third point: that of the MRI scans. The VUmc did not see anything out of the ordinary on the first set of MRI scans, and the disciplinary commission has decided that they too didn't see anything special on the MRI scans. This in direct contradiction with three independent German teams so far who all judged me to be a hermaphrodite.

Despite everything I have gone through the past nearly nine years, I still find myself unable to prove to the Dutch physicians that I am intersex. Part of me hopes that the current German surgeon I'm in contact with comes through on the surgery and that I'll have it next month, prior to the hearing. It might be the only way to win the case, depressingly enough.



Wednesday, 14 August 2013

No Justice In The Netherlands

Today I discussed the finer details of the case against the VUmc gender team at the medical disciplinary commission with my lawyer, Yme Drost. I came away from it with a pretty down-cast feeling. I didn't put my chances very high to begin with, but when an experienced lawyer puts the chances of winning a case at no more than literally just a couple of percent, you know there's little reason to feel upbeat. Today I received the news that the disciplinary commission has rejected the MRI evidence, claiming that they - too - can not see any evidence on it of me being intersex.

The relevance of getting something out of this disciplinary case is that it determines whether we'll have any chance at all of winning a personal injuries lawsuit in which I could actually receive compensation for the many years I have had to suffer. If the commission does not acknowledge any of the claims, there won't be any such case. It'd be end of the line. Do not go past Start, do not collect $200. The likelihood of this is well over 90%.

I'll still go through the motions, of course. If only for the possible media attention. Getting any kind of acknowledgement of wrongdoing, let alone any form of compensation for the years I lost and the psychological and physical damage I had to suffer, all that is quite unlikely. I'll have to get used to the idea that in about two months time my final chance to get justice for my sufferings will have passed. I don't think that'll be easy at all.

My hope right now is that I'll soon hear positive news from this German surgeon, and that he will be able to help me. Getting that surgery should mean the final, irrefutable evidence which would not only give me a real chance at getting justice, but also mean redemption. Redemption from all those years of false accusations by Dutch physicians, psychologists and politicians that I was just making it all up. Redemption from all the doubts and crushing lack of self-confidence. The occurrence of a bloody miracle.

A miracle is also what's needed to win this legal battle. At the rate things are moving there won't be justice and the VUmc gender team can move on with torturing others like me, as well as mutilating intersex newborns with forced genital surgery. It's maddening that I also see and understand why it's unlikely I'll win. Just don't admit the German evidence, discount it and you get complete unity among the medical evidence. It's just crazy old me. Alone against whatever the heck is behind nearly a decade of Dutch unity to brainwash and torture me. Down to the last moment.

I know that I won't be living in the Netherlands for any longer than absolutely necessary. Before the end of the year I'll be living in Germany. I know it can be done. It will happen. It's all I have left to hang on to. Germany as a safe haven. The final escape from the madness of the Netherlands. I doubt that I'll ever understand why an entire country felt the need to unite against me; why things happened like that, and why justice won't ever be served.

You can't fight the system.


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Sickening, Hopeful Uncertainty

My last post two days ago was filled with quiet despair and the certainty of no help from anyone. Maybe it's just how the universe works, but the day after I posted things started changing. First I got a response yesterday from the German clinic I had sent an inquiry to about whether they could help me. Yesterday I got the response, which was affirmative. The surgeon would like to see my medical file and the MRI scans using which he'll determine which type of surgery would be appropriate. After that he'd like to see and examine me in person. Of course I immediately sent the clinic the relevant files, which naturally are all from German sources aside from three MRI scans.

The first report is the initial MRI report from the first German clinic, followed by the reports from the clinic in Hamburg and accompanied by four sets of MRI scans spanning five years (2007-2013). While I do expect that this German surgeon will see the same things as the other three groups of German physicians, it's nevertheless an exciting and nerve-wrecking period for me. Not only about what the surgeon can see, but also what he thinks is attainable in my case. With some luck I'll end up learning many of the final details about my body and maybe even gain the normal sexuality which has so long been inconceivable for me.

It's odd how rapidly my mood changed upon receiving the response from the clinic. From a suicidal depressive mood and a general feeling of loneliness and misery suddenly I began to feel careful optimism and a loosening of the noose around my neck. Yet at the same time I began to feel somewhat nauseous at the thought that this might just be a repetition of what has been and possibly always will be. A repeat of the muddied, bloodied shards of innocent hope lying trampled on the cold ground.

I also really hope that it'll work out at this clinic, as it'll really help me in my efforts to migrate to Germany. A successful surgery at this clinic would make Germany into the absolute saviour to me from the gnarled clutches of the evil Dutch systems. While I'm very independent, I am nevertheless very respectful to those who do their jobs well, as well as those who support them. I'd have no issue with living in Germany after such a success story. If not, I'd have reason again to feel bitter, which would make things so much harder emotionally. A lot depends thus on the coming communication with this surgeon.

The other great thing which happened occurred today, when I received an email from the office of my personal injuries lawyer, Yme Drost. It contained communications from the medical disciplinary commission. They have decided that the case against the radiologist of the VUmc - Van Waesberghe - will be merged again into the main case together with the other three individuals. Considering how crucial the denial by the Dutch radiologists has been the past years that they could see anything unusual on the MRI scans, I feel that it is important that this matter be highlighted as well. Tomorrow I'll be discussing these recent changes in the case with my lawyer. The public hearing against the VUmc gender team will take place on September 24th this year in Amsterdam.

In many ways it's a cruel game which is being played with me and my feelings: dangling the resolution of my troubles right in front of me over and over again only to snatch it away again at the last moment. It has made me into an uncertain, doubtful and somewhat skittish person. And yet there's absolutely nothing I can do about it beyond hoping that maybe, just maybe this time things will be different...

I wouldn't count on it.


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Measure Of A Life

In the Star Trek episode "The Measure Of A Man" [1] the android Data together with his friends on the star ship Enterprise have to prove that Data is in fact sentient and deserving of the same rights as any human being. The argument from the side of a Star Fleet engineer is that he is merely a machine and thus property of Star Fleet with every right to disassemble and study him. The lengths to which Data and his friends have to go in order to conclusively prove that Data does in fact have a personality and the feelings and desires which come with it are astounding. It does however show quite well how hard it is to prove the obvious.

As an extension of this, consider the position of an individual in a society. Much like how Data showed that he cared about his friends and they about him, an individual can only exist as part of a larger whole. Within this framework there also has to be mutual care and attention, or individuals become cut off and wither away. While all too often things may seem blindingly obvious to an individual and perhaps a select connected group of individuals, the rest of the individuals are very likely to ignore it.

The classic example is that of starvation and abuse in poor countries. Everyone knows that it exists, but we all have made sure that it doesn't have to affect us in any way. The few times our conscience prods the rest of our brain, we just toss a few cents in some fund which probably directs everything to its managers plus local politicians and we can sleep soundly again. Closer to home we aren't devoid of easy examples, though. Consider the rampant poverty in the US, or the fact that one in every nine children in the Netherlands grows up in poverty severe enough to be denied clothing and sufficient food.

It's easy to not care. Yet by doing so it damages that which makes a society, as well as the individuals it cuts off this way. Every day there are countless individuals - yours truly included - who petition their abhorrent situation to anyone willing to listen in the faint hope that maybe this time someone will listen. The usual result is that vague promises are made, wishes and prayers send your way and your suffering and agony quickly forgotten by those who pretended to listen.

Curiously, there are individuals who can really fight for a just cause, protecting and saving countless others, while the large majority opts to not even bother with it beyond voicing their occasional voices of agreement that the issues in question are a bad thing.

I find myself thinking a lot about these things as I'm yet again forced to make up the balance of my own individual life. A life without a future is pointless. Do I have a future? I know that intellectually I have a lot to offer to myself and to the world. One of my biggest dreams is to develop a sentient android such as Data. I know I can do it. It's just a matter of time. Time I can only get if I find a way to somehow balance out the emotional side of me as a human being.

The past weeks the thought of committing suicide and death in general haven't been out of my mind very often. If offered an easy and painless death right now I'd be severely tempted. The way I see it, there's a spectrum between 'wanting to die' and 'wanting to live'. I'm somewhere halfway on the first part at this point. All due to experiencing so incredibly much pain every day due to this body. Due to this body and those of other humans as well as human society I have to be constantly reminded about everything I am not (male or female) and don't have (sexuality, relationships) or seemingly can't have (medical help, a place in society where I can feel at ease).

I'm being persecuted in this country for having been born like this. I have lost many opportunities and wasted nearly a decade of my life on something which ultimately proved wasteful. As a result I feel a lot of resentment against this body. I have frankly no idea how I can balance this out in any fashion. Just putting it away and suppressing it as I have done for the past decades has proven to be traumatizing and impractical. This issue also seems to nullify the possible escape out of direct danger by moving to Germany. If I'm going to commit suicide anyway, or feel miserable due to the emotional meltdown, it'd be a lot of stressful work for something which ultimately was a waste of time.

Too little, too late.

As I described above, I have tried every way I could think of to poke and prod the others around me to make them aware of my immense pain and need for medical and psychological help. Naturally in the end few of them seemed to realize just how perilous the situation is I find myself in. Those who promised they'd ask around for medical help never got back to me. However, even just now when people who do want to help send me references to physicians I can only break out in tearful laughter. Doesn't anyone realize the horrible pain it causes me to go through the same cycle again and again. Hospital after hospital, physician after physician, surgeon after surgeon, psychologist after psychologist. Hope, crushed, pain, agony, numbness, reconciliation, careful hope, crushed... etc. Nearly nine years now.

There's a point where one becomes so cut off from other individuals and society with it that all one can do is wither away. I lack the energy to try and find new connections, new pathways. I know this. Some around me know this. In the larger picture it doesn't matter. I'm no more relevant than that African child who dies from starvation a minute from now. You never knew me. You never had to care about me. It's only fair. I can not prove my case that I do matter, that I am a life worth saving.

Just disassemble me and be done with it.



Friday, 2 August 2013

Convicted Of Vengeance Vandalism; Appeal Pending

Yet another installment in the case of the lawsuit which just won't go away. Two and a half years ago I lost control over myself when one of my Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) personality fragments took over control of my body. The result involved some broken glass and a lot of physical and psychological damage on my end: Today I finally heard the verdict: guilty of willful vandalism but due to the preceding circumstances no punishment beyond having to pay thousands of Euros to the artist whose uninsured statues were also damaged.

As the district attorney put it, he could imagine me becoming extremely frustrated due to the trouble with the hospitals and such, but he still deemed that I did the vandalism on purpose while knowing very well what I was doing. The judge went along with this. Salient detail hereby is that this was based on the incomplete psychological report from an NFI psychologist who examined me in January of 2012 for one hour and even mentions in said report that it is incomplete. The complete report on the same topic by my own psychotherapist, who has been treating me since 2009 and who deemed the event a classical example of DID, was completely ignored. This even though both individuals have similar qualifications.

Obviously my lawyer (Robert Speijdel) and me decided to appeal this decision as only full acquittal of any prosecution would be morally acceptable. While I did go to the GP's office and must have destroyed the items in question, I had no thoughts of vengeance or plans to destroy anything. Until the assistant behind the counter uttered those unfortunate dismissive words - setting off the DID event - I just was there to get that referral letter from the GP. Nothing else. The rest is a blur like watching someone else committing acts of violence. Then the horror of clutching my bleeding hand whilst sitting in the midst of my own blood, then the horrific pain from metal cuffs biting into my wrists, my head repeatedly getting beaten into a car door, a cop sitting on top of me and me being forcefully undressed.

The first appeal hearing probably won't take place for another half year. Before that I will undergo a second opinion by a trusted and independent psychologist. Then finally I should be able to fully put this case behind me in the knowledge that justice has been served in this one case.

At the hearing today two journalists were also present, of RTV Oost and newspaper the Tubantia. They were there after my lawyer had mentioned the case to me. It's a pretty juicy case after all and deserving of the eye of the public. It shows how rare cases like mine are being treated by the Dutch justice system after all. On which note, the man representing the artist cornered me after the hearing, mentioning to me on an incessant tone how much the artist was suffering emotionally and that there should be a quick end to this case. All I could tell him was that we were all here to see justice served and thanked him for his understanding.

Next month there is the first public hearing against the VUmc gender team in Amsterdam by the disciplinary commission. It's definitely a case I'm looking forward to more than today's case. Even if it's really annoying to have to deal with no fewer than four legal cases, all of which determine my life to some extent for the coming months and years.

Maybe by the end of next year all of those cases will have been resolved. Justice is among the slowest things on this planet, probably right after glaciers.