It's often easy for me to forget how much better my life in Germany is than it used to be in the Netherlands. Much of this may be attributed to me suppressing most of the negative memories of the latter. This week it became quite apparent to me just how much I have suppressed there when I got a call from one of my Dutch lawyers, regarding my appeal in a case started last year. At the realization that this case still hasn't been closed many associated memories came flooding back. Most of them exceedingly negative.
Being intersex in the Netherlands has to have been one of the worst nightmares I ever had the displeasure of experiencing. There's no medical help, politicians couldn't care less about you, there's no awareness in the population and generally you get the feeling that you'd be better off crawling away into some dark corner and quietly dying. As things went for me, I decided to not give into the dismissive, often scornful attitude by Dutch physicians and psychologists, bearing accusations of just being transgender, crazy, delusional and what not. When I got confirmation of my intersex condition by German physicians in 2007 this boosted my intention to get to the truth.
Looking back I probably should have given up on the Dutch healthcare system far, far sooner. Beyond one single Dutch physician (a urologist) at the MST hospital in Enschede, I didn't find a single Dutch physician who acknowledged my intersex condition. While I haven't found surgical help yet in Germany (or elsewhere), the diagnoses by independent German physicians at about five different hospitals are all consistent with each other, acknowledging my intersex condition and the presence of female genitalia while missing parts of male genitalia. This seems like a solid foundation to build a life on, rather than the scattered, wildly differing 'diagnoses' by Dutch physicians.
Maybe I could have avoided suffering the mental traumas I went through in the Netherlands if I had done things differently. Maybe then I wouldn't be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which are the DSM-IV traumatic disorders I have been diagnosed with so far. It's hard to say what would have made a difference, yet I did get my official name and gender change through the Dutch legal system, which did make my life a lot easier. I'm not sure how I'd have felt if my passport at this point still referred to me by my old (male) name and as of the male persuasion. I had to explain my official ID not matching with my appearance so many times over the last years already before those changes went through.
That said, it's still hard to accept how easily my official name and gender change went through the Dutch legal system. In both cases my lawyer was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was, having expected a hearing or further evidence. With my first name change apparently all it took was including a photo of myself in the request to support the claim that I wanted to change my first name to a female one due to my feminine appearance. With the gender change the surgical findings of a vagina being present by the German surgeon - who also performed the required orchidectomy (castration) - the Dutch court in Alkmaar found no issues with my request based on a 1980s Dutch law aimed at intersex individuals by whom the gender assignment got botched.
I said 'hard to accept', because of how difficult the other cases went when I wanted to address the inhumane way the gender team of the VUmc hospital in Amsterdam and my insurance company Unive had treated me up till that point. For the former I went with my lawyer Yme Drost through a case at the medical disciplinary commission in Amsterdam, but my complaint was rejected. They had treated my case properly, despite the years of physical and psychological abuse and the ignoring of my obvious intersex condition, or so the commission decided. Similarly for the case against Unive at the human rights commission in Utrecht. Despite ignoring my request for full coverage under the same laws as transgenders (similar situation), the commission ignored this and Unive finally denied my request saying that the facial hair growth I wanted coverage for was 'too light to be noticeable', while looking at photos taken over four years after starting treatment.
Finally the current appeal I'm dealing with. In the original ruling I was absolved of most of the responsibility for what happened , but I would still get a criminal record and would have to pay thousands of Euros to the owner of some small statues who where present in the room where the incident happened, all of them uninsured. I appealed this ruling on the grounds that a) it was an alternate, DID personality fragment which did it, b) my DID is the result of years of psychological and physical torture and c) the GP's office where the incident happened triggered the incident themselves by refusing to make good on promises they themselves had made. I can only see myself as a victim in this case. There's nothing I could realistically have done to prevent the incident.
I also suffered a lot of punishment due to that incident already. The arrest by the police being quite brutal, with my mother observing that despite me cooperating, they were using a lot of force against me. I got beaten, had my head repeatedly rammed into a car door, got sat upon, forcefully stripped, denied of any comfort and forced to spend an entire night and most of the next day in a holding cell, unable to sleep and falling apart mentally. I still have neuropathy in my right hand due to the handcuffs being put on far too tight and regular pain in my right knee from the bruised bone I suffered there from the beating, probably when they threw me onto the ground. Memories of this regularly haunt me. It's why I'll not pay a cent to anyone as an admission of guilt. I have to pay over a thousand Euro to my lawyer for this appeal, but at least that's aimed at justice, instead of giving into the travesty of justice that is apparently the rule in the Netherlands.
Quite a nice list so far, I'd say. Traumatic disorders, lawsuits which further put me away as a liar and common criminal and general hostility among the healthcare 'professionals'. Another thing I sadly have as a Dutch legacy are stalkers. I'd say I have about five or six of them, with some given up or merely on a break. It's hard to say exactly. Some of them prefer to harass me directly, trying to break my spirit by pointing me at the 'fact' that I don't know what I am exactly, insisting that I'm merely a boy pretending to be a woman and really, really confused. Others stalk me excessively, one even going so far as to con me into renting an apartment together, then grooming me to behave like a couple while psychologically and physically torturing me.
When I escaped from that situation this stalker then saw fit to steal every single belonging of mine I had left behind as I fled the place in early 2013. Returning a few months later with a moving van to confront this woman and to claim back my belongings the apartment was empty aside from her own few meagre belongings. My mom was present there as mental support, but she got attacked and hit a few times by this mad woman. My mother decided to not file an abuse claim with the police - who were also present - as she didn't see the point of it. I had lost everything I owned and with Dutch law as it is, it could not get marked as 'theft' because it wasn't done by a stranger. Go figure that one.
Anyway, this particular stalker got my computer plus medical files and everything else I had. She broke into my email accounts and that of my mother, using the information and (confidential) email addresses to send emails to journalists, my current boss and others with supposedly incriminating evidence based upon the stolen files. She pretends that I'm a scammer, forcing others into accepting my (delusional) attitude of being intersex. To what goal I'm not sure. They are rambling, incoherent, poorly formatted works of many pages. However, if anything this harassment merely makes people more sympathetic towards me. Nobody believes a word of such a stalker's claims, instead worriedly informing me about it, recognizing the potential danger of having such a stalker. Maybe I should be thankful to these stalkers in a way?
How to deal with a stalker? Good question. It really depends on the type. Some of my stalkers are the insidious, remote type who just enjoy watching you squirm and get miserable. Those are easily ignored. Those who really want to destroy your life by targeting those around you are trickier, but as I have demonstrated so far, being open and honest means that people will never believe a poorly written, rambling mail over your story. I can truthfully say that I have never lied at any point about what I know to be the truth about my body and intersex condition. I was raised in the belief that honesty lasts the longest and gets you the furthest. I will always adhere to that.
I have had to assure some journalists and others already that I'm not too worried about this latter type of stalker. Their attempts to discredit me are obviously ineffective, yet they persist, which suggests a certain kind of insanity. Some expressed worry that I might get physically attacked by one of them, even murdered. It's not impossible, but unlikely as it'd fully expose them for the lunatics they are, something they are afraid of. They prefer to hide behind anonymity, even though they aren't even nearly as anonymous as they may think. With both stalking and slander a (criminal) offence, they're just one mistake away from seeing their life ruined. If they have a life at all.
It's a lot to deal with, that's for sure. One might conclude that most people in the Netherlands must be mad, raving lunatics at this point. I'm sure that's not true, for most of them at least :)
Yes, there is still confusion regarding my intersex condition, but the 'I could be just a male' option got crossed out many years ago already. To address it again would be just daft. As for me strong-arming physicians and psychologists into diagnosing me with an intersex condition as also gets suggested at times, I wish I could do that. Then I wouldn't be dealing with severe psychological traumas, or be suffering through a lengthy lawsuit because fools trigger my DID even after being warned about it. It'd also means that German physicians are 100% susceptible while Dutch physicians are immune. Go figure that one.
I'd love to get closure on what the exact condition is of my female side and have surgery to accomplish what is possible. This regardless of the exact outcome. If only because it'd give me insight in what it is exactly I go through every month, with abdominal pains and extreme sensitivity/soreness in the vaginal and groin region. To live another 70+ years or so without having any clue about what is going on seems like utter madness to me.
At any rate, despite having suffered for a decade at the hands of the Dutch healthcare and political systems, I'm at least grateful that my sacrifice hasn't been in vain, with me having raised the level of awareness of intersex in the Netherlands and worldwide in a considerable fashion while exposing the many issues with the current Dutch treatment of intersex cases. As a humanist I know I have to be aware of what's good for humanity as a whole. I believe that my actions have made a significant, positive contribution to this, which makes it all slightly easier to bear.
Here's to leaving unpleasant legacies behind as quickly as possible.