Saturday, 30 July 2016

In the days that remain to each of us

Form is nothingness. Nothingness is form. All that has colour and shape will one day disappear.

Such is the inevitability of mortality and the progression of time, whether it concerns a flower, a human being or even a mountain. The celebration of life is simultaneously the acknowledgement of death. In this the only distinguishing thing is how each of us self-aware beings handle the briefness of our existence.

To simply ignore it; to submerge oneself into the shallowness of human societies, to perhaps accept that life cannot accept without death. This is one way. It is also a way which forbids the questioning of one's own mortality and along with it the very definition of one's self. What's mortal about us are our bodies. What will vanish one day is that which is material. All that which has colour and shape will one day return to nothingness.

The simple conclusion I drew as a child when I found myself struggling with the inevitability of my own death, was to realise this simple truth. While my body as it exists today will die - just as it is busy dying every single second - that part of me which is actually 'me', being my memories and the resulting personality, is not bound to this body or even this particular brain.

Essentially my conclusion back then was that immortality is merely a technological and scientific challenge. It was this realisation which drove me so strongly over the past decades to pursue software and hardware development, quantum physics, classical physics, biology, artificial intelligence and many more topics which would likely prove to be useful at some point during this project.

There is not, and cannot be, any forced decision in such a matter of whether one seeks to embrace mortality or to reject it. I know many people who are vehemently opposed against the idea of immortality, as it clashes with their perception of the world as they know it. Yet similarly, I know many others who share my view. People who can see beyond these mortal shells and perceive what truly makes us who we are.

In all of this there is an inherent tragedy: much as it has throughout human history, the concept of free choice has been mostly a bald-faced lie. To have free choice one needs to be simultaneously capable of reasoning, be in possession of the relevant facts and be free to act upon the conclusion one reaches. As far as I can perceive, the embracing of mortality is to give up on one's humanity, to allow oneself to be extinguished.

We only have the briefest of moments on this planet, in this universe. A moment during which we must either choose our destiny or to let others choose it for us either through us relinquishing the choice or by having it forcefully denied to us. Even if we had a full hundred years to dedicate ourselves to the question of whether we would embrace immortality, or accept nothingness, it is doubtful many of us could reach a conclusion during that time.

Is one truly happy living less than a decade, or is it just what we tell ourselves? Is to face the prospect of sudden death or a slow, painful death through disease or age something which truly makes us into who we are? Would we lose something important if we could live century after century, millennium after millennium with nary a care for such mortal matters?

My personal view on this is that such matters only concern a mortal body and by abandoning such worries the mind can be freed to pursue the exploration of the universe and all the knowledge it contains in earnest. I am firmly convinced that the only way to better, maybe even save humanity is through immortality.

Yet as stated earlier this is not a decision which can be forced upon anyone. Just as those who embrace mortality shall not judge those who embrace immortality, the same is true in reverse. It would hurt to see some lives be extinguished, but in the end a truly free choice has to be respected.

That is one of the things which makes us human, after all.


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

It's complicated

For a while now - about two weeks apparently - I have been thinking about many things I could write a blog post about. Lots of self-important, grand topics to make statements about, after all. Maybe try to convince people to help me again to find a new house and generally become happier. But the thing is that none of that is actually meaningful.

I just tried to write a few paragraphs, but none of them worked. I'm simply too tired to make sense any more. The past days I'm struggling with depression, nausea, assorted other pains and especially today unrelenting thoughts about suicide. I'm terrified that I'll soon try to commit suicide again, and that I am powerless to stop it.

I can picture life fading from my body after a successful suicide attempt, and this is a picture which frightens me. I don't want to keep living, but to end things like that is wrong as well.

For the past... months? Years? I have begged people to help me find a place to live where I do not have to feel terrified and hated like in this current apartment, but that was pointless. Next I'll try paying people to find a house for me. Hopefully that will work and I can remove one major stress point from my life.

The stupid thing is that things aren't even going that poorly. I will likely get my medical situation resolved in a matter of months. I have a fun, well-paying job. I have places to hang out in this city with people I know. My hobbies are enjoyable, with a lot of successes especially in the electronics and FPGA-related projects. Yet I feel terrified as I lie in bed and hear the upstairs neighbour stomping about, or hear the heating system tick up a storm during cold days.

There is also the landlady threatening me on a regular basis with legal action because I have the nerve to complain about dirty, rusty water, excessive noise from upstairs and from the heating system, as well as other issues. I hate this place. I want to escape.

...I guess that's basically it. Just this stupid, run-down crappy apartment with a hateful landlady which is ruining my life at this point. The horrible situation with the Netherlands got resolved by me paying in the end for the honour of getting beaten up by the police, with about 25 people ultimately donating about two-thirds of the fine [1].

I don't really have an issue with paying thousands of Euros to someone who'll help me find a great place to live if it means that it buys more happiness, allows me to sleep peacefully without earplugs and reduces these feelings of depression and suicide.



Wednesday, 13 July 2016

PTSD traumas: a fake world to believe in

What is the point of suffering a trauma? It sounds like a silly question, perhaps. Yet for countless people it is a question which dominates their lives. After everything is over and done with, the dust has settled and normalcy returns, with (possibly) justice served, nothing seems as poignant as the question of why one had to go through all of that.

Never will one be able to shake off or forget the feeling of rough hands grasping one's body, the smell and pulsating warmth of living entrails, the humiliation, the pain and the ease with which a life is snuffed out, with just the look of surprise left on a buddy's face as the sniper's bullet tears through his brain.

Suffering a trauma like that rips away the lies we are told and keep telling ourselves. It shows humans to be just lumbering machines of flesh, blood, bone and entrails. It reveals the machinations of human society and its politics to be the laughable yet very deadly game of children at a playground carrying live weapons instead of toy guns.

After the trauma has been suffered and the traumatic events officially concluded, there are the mutterings of sympathy from others, and the involvement of so-called professionals who have read books about trauma. Yet none of them will ever feel or experience what it is like. To see through the eyes of those who have seen too much. Those who have crossed the line of childish naivety and have seen what lies beyond.

Why did any of us have to suffer these traumas? In hindsight the answer is obvious: because this world of childish naivety and the playground games is the imperfect illusion, with cruel reality regularly savaging the innocent lamb. It is then up to the lamb to give up and die, or to turn into a wolf. It is the ultimate life's lesson.

With naive innocence cruelly slaughtered, there only remains the embracing of reality and the rejection of naivety. Human society is cruel and unforgiving. Humans can rarely, if ever, be trusted. Always expect the worst. Living is about survival. One can only rely on oneself and fellow survivors who found themselves in the same situation.

Many in human society live out their lives in this naive innocence and belief in humans as some kind of characters in a real life play. As if any of them actually matter. As if anything which happens in this make-belief world of humans actually matters. Yet reality isn't that kind. This is a tragicomedy in which everyone dies in the end.

Amidst all of this we are still expected to live and function as if nothing has happened to us. To pretend that we are still happy little lambs living our useless lives in completely naivety of the bleak truth. Any attempt to communicate our true thoughts and feelings are ignored, as regular people's brains are wired to blank out and ignore anything negative or unhappy. They are as likely to understand trauma as a fish can learn to breathe air.

And thus we remain; either we condemn ourselves to a life of lies as we pretend that indeed nothing happened to us, or we accept reality without the lies. The only survivable path there is a lonely and traumatic one. Yet it beats what awaits us on the other path: slow, cruel death through cancerous lies.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

LGBTI traumas: born in the wrong country

A country where homosexual football players are publicly humiliated on prime TV. Where violence against homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual individuals is commonplace. Where the mental healthcare system has no regard for those who do not fit into into the strict sex and gender binaries. A country founded on the principles of regressive, Calvinistic fundamentalist Christianity.

This is the country in which I grew up and lived for almost three decades. Nearly half of it was spent fighting against the medical and mental healthcare systems, as well as uncooperative politicians. Throughout those years I faced outright refusal by doctors and psychologists to acknowledge my intersex condition. Worse, they did their best to make me get back into the gender and sex binary by trying to make me believe that I was transsexual. Other doctors refused to treat me due to being intersex, or called the cops on me. Getting beaten up and humiliated by cops is the stuff of nightmares.

This country is the Netherlands. Of all the things I regret in life it has to be having been born into this particular country.

I do not regret being born intersex. I do not regret being lesbian. I do not regret being gifted. There's nothing wrong with my body, or with me as a person. In many ways I lucked out in the lottery of life with how I got started. However, all of it just could not overcome being born into the wrong country.

I wrote before about how grateful I am that the EU exists, that I could just get a job in Germany, move over and register in my new home country. Thanks to that I finally found the right doctors and other help for my intersex condition. Later this year I will learn what my options are for reconstructive surgery, to fix the closed-off vagina I was born with.

Leaving the Netherlands was the best thing I did in my life so far. I only regret I couldn't have been born in Germany or another country with a similar liberal attitude towards life.

Maybe I just suffered from country dysphoria without realising it for the longest time.

It should all be fine now.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Intersex traumas: don't call me a transsexual

Over the past decade I have had to explain on countless occasions what the difference between intersex and transsexuality is. To this day I find it quite astounding that there are people who fail to see the difference, or who assume that there's any overlap between the two. After all, one is about moving between a sex binary, while the other is about coming to terms with a non-binary body.

I have sadly had to deal for over a decade with primarily Dutch physicians and psychologists who didn't get this difference, refused to accept it, refused to acknowledge me as being intersex, felt it'd help me if they'd brainwash me, or a combination of these reasons. At any rate they insisted that I had to be transsexual, possibly falsified medical results to hide evidence of me being intersex (and ignoring contradicting German evidence).

At this point, over twelve years later, there is no question any more of me being intersex. Yet I am left to struggle with the legacy of all those years of physicians and psychologists trying to 'prove' to me that could not possibly be anything other than a guy and/or transsexual. My passport at the time said that I was male after all, and I preferred a female role, ergo transsexual. Simple, right?

This despite the increasing amount of evidence that my body's phenotype was that of a female. Despite the best attempts by specifically the Amsterdam VUmc hospital's gender team to falsify blood test and other results to make it appear that I was a normal male, I learned through further blood tests, the hormone therapy and surgery with subsequent biopsy of the testicular tissue that I was not and never had been male.

Yet the memory remains of all those years spent looking at myself in the mirror, trying to make sense of what I saw. Some days I thought I looked female, while other days I could only conclude that I was looking at a male. I honestly did not know, but needed answers. I was however convinced that I was not transsexual beyond this brief initial week before I learned that this 'intersex' thing existed. The issue was with my body, not my mind.

As I managed to explain to a physician after a number of appointments, for an intersex person there are no answers for what's at point 'A', namely about what this body is that they inhibit, let alone what they should feel about it. This in comparison to a transsexual person, who knows point A - being the male/female body which they dislike - and point B being the inverse binary body they wish to get.

What's this point 'B' for an intersex person? Only after learning what point A is can one begin to think about that. Maybe there doesn't have to be a transition at all and point A is totally fine. One cannot know. Yet while one merely desires to figure out A, physicians and psychologists are hammering on point A being that one is a regular guy and that one should want to get to point B, being to become a gal. This isn't particularly helpful.

There never was support for me as an intersex person. Just constant, never-ending abuse and harassment. Denial that anything I thought I knew about my own body could possibly be right. Denial that the MRI results from Germany meant anything. I was fighting against the threat of forced transsexuality.

I'm a woman. I have always been a woman.

I have a normal natural female hormone level. I had my first menstruation at age 11. I have ovaries, a vagina and a typically female skeleton. There's nothing about me which would even begin to suggest that I am or have ever been a regular guy. Or a guy in any sense of the word.

This has to have been the most agonising thing about the past twelve years: trying to find that modicum of understanding and acceptance of what I am. Instead I mostly found myself constantly defending myself against doctors and psychologists who had to keep hammering on this one singular 'fact' they loved so much: I was a guy and wanted to become a girl. I had to be transsexual in their eyes. Whether I wanted to or not.

My identity as an intersex person was irrelevant to them. They never cared about it. All they wanted was to wipe it, brainwash me until I accepted their lies of me being a guy who wanted to get his dick cut off to become a pretty girl.

To this day I am not certain whether they were truly that naive or evil, or whether it was all meant to get me as an intersex person to embrace 'normalcy' and undergo a sex-reassignment surgery as a way to get me a belated 'normalisation' surgery, the genital mutilation surgery they perform routinely on intersex infants every day.

As a result, 'transsexuality' as a word only holds memories of terror, of pain and agony. Of fighting an impossible fight against a Medical Establishment who I could never dream to win against. Subsequently, when someone then refers to me as 'transsexual', or implies that my intersex condition is in any way, form, or shape related to it, it essentially makes that I am back in that horrible period again.

I hate transsexuality, because it is one of the prime triggers for my post-traumatic stress disorder. I hate transsexuality, because it is the prime reminder to me of my suffering and helplessness, of why I lost over a third of my life so far to something so utterly senseless and damaging.

And yet I cannot seem to get away from it. No matter how much I try to be just a woman and just a hermaphrodite, something which should have nothing to do with my life any more just keeps haunting me.


Saturday, 2 July 2016

Why I'd kill to not have been born intersex

There are two main reasons why I'd do pretty much anything if it meant that I could redo my life, but with me having been born as a regular male or female.

The first one is an obvious one: having to live with being a freak. More subtly put, how is one supposed to feel or receive any feeling of kinship with or from others when one is something which looks like a woman, but also isn't? The feeling is like that of being physically handicapped, without an actual handicap of such type. It is limiting and makes it hard to impossible to understand or be understood by others.

My life would have been so much easier if I wasn't born a freak.

The second are the collective memories and traumatic experiences having been born intersex got me, courtesy of over a decade of physical and psychological torture, brainwashing and worse. Even after I get that final reconstructive surgery and can live in the full acknowledgement of my intersex status, I will forever be tortured by these memories, traumas and the unending, torturous question of 'Why?'.

Being intersex has shown me just how ugly human society is. What it means to be a minority in society and be forced to literally survive in said society. Without being intersex I could have remained ignorant of such matters and knowledge.

My life would have been better. I wouldn't have attempted suicide and probably remain suicidal for the rest of my natural life as I struggle with chronic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Being intersex isn't the problem here, but society has made it abundantly clear that I am unwanted.