Saturday, 7 February 2015

Anniversary: fleeing one's country of birth

Last month December was the anniversary of me leaving the Netherlands and settling in Germany. In that time I have been back to the Netherlands only once - early last year - and felt quite relieved to depart again. Having had a year to sort through both my feelings about my country of birth and my new adopted country, I feel at least pretty clear on the point that I have not a single shred of regret for leaving.

While the first few months in Germany I still felt some pangs of longing for certain aspects of my old life in the Netherlands, such feelings quickly faded and throughout the year as I began to both learn the German culture and its language, the feeling of being 'Dutch' practically vanished. There are less than two years to go until I can apply for a German passport and it's something which I am definitely considering. While my Dutch passport represents to me mostly the successful results of my war in the Netherlands - with the name and gender change - I do not see myself as being a Dutch citizen, nor do I feel comfortable actually using that identity.

It's not so hard to realize why I would feel this way when one looks back at the past decades of my life. While it may seem ungrateful and condescending - even pitiful - to condemn one's country of birth, the legacy said country has foisted upon me is nothing short of horrifying. From putting me through over a decade of medical and psychological agony, to mishandling my giftedness in every way imaginable, to blatantly ignoring my pleas for help. Doctors have refused me as a patient, tried to brainwash me into accepting a gruesome fate involving forced surgery, sent the police after me for a severe beating, and so on.

Psychologists have condemned me for faking being intersex, diagnosed me as having Asperger's/autism, laughed at my claims of having suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and held monologues to me in which they ridiculed everything I held to be true, including all that I had learned about my own body and what I thought would be the best course of action. I got put on anti-depressants and other medication, which only served to make me feel more miserable.

While trying to lobby for intersex acknowledgement and rights in The Hague, I was met by a massive wall of indifference.  Dutch politicians do not care about the subject as it doesn't net them any votes. The forced surgeries on helpless intersex infants is of no concern as they can simply point at the Dutch physicians and psychologists who created the protocols that enable this and say that 'they know best'. The Dutch Minister of Health put it roughly in these terms in her last letter to me.

In short, the Netherlands to me represents more than two decades of full-blown agony and both physical and mental torture. The only positive thing to come out of it all was that I got my official name and gender changed, with Dutch judges having absolutely no issues with acknowledging the simple reality that I do not have a man's body and that I am intersex. The latter change was of course enabled only because of German medical help. Despite having found that the German medical system is far from perfect during the last year, it still has earned a modicum of respect from my side for simply doing their duty when I asked them for help with a number of cases.

This year I started on the rewrite of my autobiography, as the previous attempt got stranded in me being unable to express myself and my story in a satisfactory way with the first attempt. While writing merely about the facts of my life is one thing, to actually recall the emotions attached to those events so that one can write it all down in a readable story is far from easy. I think that actually the first half of the story - leading up to my discovery in 2005 of my intersex condition - is actually the hardest, as it involves so many things I haven't really thought about or considered for so long. Going through my childhood, youth and puberty, with the endless pain of confusion, constant bullying and becoming deadlocked without any future.

Finishing my autobiography will be a positive thing, though. I strongly believe it will be so. Having put everything down on paper and having my story published for the world to read should really change my life in a myriad of ways. Not just by having some more weight off my chest, but also by feeling less victimized. Having had to suffer the ridicule, embarrassment and harassment from the Dutch physicians and psychologists for so long, now I have a potent weapon with which I can strike back to exact some justice.

Fleeing my country of birth was the ultimate attempt by me to keep my sanity and hopefully recover somewhat from the horrible traumas I have suffered over the years. It appears that in some ways this has worked out all right, with me being emotionally more stable and stronger than I have been in a long time, despite the so terribly long road I still have to walk before I can honestly say that I am recovering. Stopping the free fall was the first priority and after a long, hard year this seems to have been accomplished. Now I have to claw my way upwards again.

For this year I want to publish my autobiography. I am also working on a visual novel game which I hope will bring some attention to the plight of those who are born intersex. This game I hope to publish later this year as well. Both of these are ways to strike back at a seemingly uncaring society which has turned a simple biological oddity into such a flaming train wreck.

Further I have some people who claim to know some people who can maybe help me out, medically, though I'm not holding my breath on that one. Frankly, after a decade of pure survival, just being able to feel safe and somewhat accepted by my environment is already a huge step forward. The rapidly worsening of my physical symptoms, which I would assume are due to my intersex condition, are however a forceful reminder that time may be running out for me in a medical sense.

I have honestly no idea what my second anniversary will look like, or whether I'll even make it. Life is simply too unpredictable and aggressive for me to make any predictions like that.


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