Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Child of Slaanesh: being an intersex wargamer

I want to get serious here for a moment and post something very important to me.

Death threats and erasure

I deleted and edited some of my previous posts because I was receiving scary threatening emails, and I needed to minimize my exposure to knuckle dragging sickos.

The main one that I removed was my official coming out to my fans, where I explained that I wasn't actually male, that I was born intersex and had started hormone replacement therapy.

I realise now that it was a mistake to delete those posts.  One bunch of dumb-as-shit assholes threatening my life did not outweigh the hundreds of wonderful supportive comments I received, and most importantly, the one fan of my blog whose life it deeply effected.  A reader explained to me that thanks to my post, when his daughter came out as transgender a few weeks later, he was armed with the information he needed to understand her and get her the help she desperately needed.  <3.

Foolishly, I allowed fear to get in the way.  I started on the right track, challenging war gamer's transphobia on Frothers, addressing homophobia and sexism and kicked off the 'paint it purple day' painting challenge to help educate people.  But the horrors in my own life combined with the threatening emails downed me.

 I am going to stand up again and own it.

Blogger will not allow me to reinstate those edits in the correct dates as far as I can tell.  Therefore I will shortly reformat the post as permanent page people can link to.

Iatrogeny what-a-ma-thingie?


Okay, for those of you who missed all this stuff, here is the gist:

I am an Iatrogenic intersex person.

Intersex refers to anyone who does not fit the medical definitions of male and female, but fall somewhere between the two.  We come in many, many varieties, with variations occuring in sex chromosomes, internal and/or external reproductive organs, hormone levels, secondary sex characteristics and so forth.  Basically, humans are very complex.  Our sex is not absolutely male/female- but we come in shades.  I am a shade (possibly an ink wash or glaze).
Iatrogenic means 'caused by treatment' aka 'someone fucked up'.  I was made intersex by an anti miscarriage medication (Diethystilbestrol- a synthetic estrogen) given to my mother whilst I was rockin' out in the womb.  I started developing as a boy, but by second trimester I was flooded with synthetic estrogen- so from that point onwards I developed as a girl.
Many intersex people, like myself, appear to be one sex externally when born.  Many of us find out when we hit puberty, have surgery or like me, try to have children.  Some of us are revealed to be intersex only in our autopsy.


Me at nineteen- androgynous, confused and suicidal

When I was diagnosed, my whole life suddenly made sense.  Why I was androgynous, why I had no adam's apple, why I couldn't grow a beard, why lesbians would get confused around me, (and why I preferred dating them to straight girls), why I had menopause like symptoms, why I so violently reacted to mysogyny and why no matter how many times I tried to understand masculinity by reading and rereading Stephen Biddulph books- it just made no freaking sense to me whatsoever.

However, when I was diagnosed, my whole life not only made sense, it fell apart spectacularly.

Long time followers of this blog will have seen me battling with depression over a secret 'condition', become sick and finally recovering quickly after I started HRT.  I came out after that, and announced I was changing my name to Delaney and using female pronouns now.  Before long, my marriage ended, I became homeless, I was in hospital with a suicide attempt, was rescued by a women's refuge programme, found a job in Melbourne and rebooted my life thanks to you all donating to my gofund me. (Thank you <3). And then the threats started coming in.

If you want to watch a brilliant documentary on intersex science





Transgender as well?


Intersex people can identify as male, female, neither, both or as intersex.  I identify as female.  This isn't a choice.  Let me explain...

Because brains develop in third trimester when I was bathed in female hormones, it constructed itself with the hardwired assumption it would be running a female body.  We call this gender identity.  It cannot be 'corrected' because it is actually correct already- it would be impossible to regrow that brain structure, in the same way you cannot regrow a tree trunk but keep all the branches in the same postion.  I have a bad case of girl-brain.

Because my gender identity is hard coded female, but doctors (incorrectly) assigned me male- well that by definition makes me transgender.

I could not survive the crushing gender dysphoria (an extreme unhappiness with one's incorrectly assigned gender).  Few people can.  The suicide rate for sufferers is (just counting children and teens getting treatment alone) around 48% just by the age of 20- though in reality it is much higher.  Yes folks, young children kill themselves.  That is how bad it feels.  Being transgender is not a joke, it's quite life threatening even before you encounter the dangerous assholes you meet who haven't got a clue what a sex chromosome actually does and refuse to read books.

Regenerating


Hormone replacement therapy is true magic.  Your cells actually don't know what sex they are supposed to be- hormones lock onto receptors on the cell and activate male or female codes DNA sequences.  You literally regenerate into a different person hidden within your genome!  It's like being a timelord in slow motion.

HRT is magic: features softened with an extra fat layer, shifted muscle mass, atrophied jaw muscles, soft skin, fatter lips... And weirdly I now look a LOT like my sister.  Oh, plus a fringe that I really should do something about- that isn't HRT, that is being a miss lazy bum

It's been several years since I started replacing my old cells with fresh female ones.  By this stage there isn't a speck of me you can look at that is male.  Not a hair on my head, a cell of my skin, a freckle on my face.  Sure, my bones will take five more years to cycle, but meh- everything else is great.  I look, feel and even smell female (I can even get away with wearing a trade show t shirt two days in a row and smell fresh as a daisy :p).  I no longer 'sweat', I 'glow'.  ;)

Life now


These days, I go about my life as a regular Jane.  People call me 'miss' or 'ma'am', I use female toilets and changing rooms and no one bats an eye, I pay more for haircuts (dammit) and old ladies ask me if I have found a nice husband yet (no.  Thanks.).  None of my clothes have fucking pockets and it shits me to tears.

Oh and those confused lesbians I used to fancy?  Well now I date lesbians.  I identify as a lesbian (though if you look like Tom Hiddleston or Alexander Skaarsgard- rowr... Clearly I am not THAT gay).

I am a welcome and valid member in feminist groups.  And I even lived for twelve weeks in women's only refuge when my life fell apart.   I went through IVF as a lesbian couple and had nurses trying to remove me from the hospital until they realized I was actually the spouse and biological parent.  And I am now a mother to a beautiful son.

In other words, my life is a woman's life.

That said, I will always be intersex and transgender.  And I refuse to deny that fact.  It isn't something I had any choice over.  But it is something I am willing to risk my life over.

To wrap this section up, I just want to remind you that I use female pronouns (she, her, bitch) and legally use the title Ms (mizz).  My passport says female, my medical details say female and I had to have a doctor confirm this to get a letter to get those.  So suck it up, fuzzball, I am a chick.

Slaanesh and wargaming intersex


Games workshop has literally demonized my kind for decades now in the form of the Slaanesh Chaos faction.  Slaves to Darkness is packed full of 'hermaphrodite' references and the wonderful Tony Ackland made some pretty cool illustrations that do not depict hermaphrodites but actually what we call 'gynandromorphs'- creatures that are half male and half female- literally split down the middle.



Humans, incidentally, cannot be hermaphrodites.  Scientifically speaking, 'Hermaphrodite' means an organism that can reproduce as both male and female during it's life.  Frogs and Snails and Fish can do this... but humans are mammals- our hormones fight each other for dominance, so we can be intersex and some of us can reproduce as one sex- but never hermaphrodites.  Sorry, I know for some of you this will make Slaves to Darkness grate on your precise, syntactically correct minds.  :P

Jes Goodwin sculpts a chaos gynandromorph (not a hermaphrodite) one boob and a bulge oh how we laughed- at the time.  Of course it isn't very funny to me now.

Look, I actually love Slaanesh and collect all the models because I find them smoothly familiar, and also very sex positive.  I approve of removing hermaphrodite references but keeping the sex positive stuff.  Also, as I have demonstrated with SCIENCE- everything GW ever wrote is incorrect...  Though we *do* have lobster claws and an insatiable draw to chaos... but we are not hermaphrodites and gynandromorphs.

I will leave you with a lovely gynandromorphic Minotaur Tony Ackland drew.  God, I adore this man's work!  He is the pencil master.

 Thank you for listening, and we will return to normal service shortly with miniature painting.






39 comments:

  1. Well, I learned something today. I knew that some of these concepts and situations were complex, but I didn't appreciate quite how complex they could be.

    That suicide statistic is awful and we have to do more to help people, instead of treating them as problems to be fixed or, worse, freaks.

    On the plus side, it's good that things seem to be turning around for you, and it's brilliant that in sharing your experiences you've helped at least one person through a difficult time of their life. Well done you.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank-you. I am glad you learned something!
      Here is a bombshell for you.
      All men start in the womb as female, and transition to male through hormone exposure. (Two 'baths' of androgens (testosterone for example) are released by the testes).
      Testes form from proto-ovaries, and will actually grow into ovaries if left to their own devices- however the SRY gene on the Y chromosome usually triggers the gonad to become... Well... Balls.

      You where a girl once too, breifly and you transitioned using male hormones!

      How is that for a head-fuck?

      Delete
  2. Stay strong. You have the support of all the people that matter! IMO the only thing to be done is to keep getting the information out there and eventually attitudes will change, even if a few generations have to die out to take there outdated prejudices with them... sadly this will include our own.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. We are making leaps forward, and have come a long way. However, one of the greatest enemies of reason is Rupert Murdoch- note his organisations (Fox news, newscorp etc) regularly attack LGBTIQA people- especially transgender women, and encourage stupid, gullable people to harm us. He will die soon, I hope when that head dies, we don't get two more sprouting.

      Delete
  3. Hi Delaney. I have been a follower of yours since,I think v.near the beginning.
    I am a 46 year old transwoman living in the UK.I've just been for my second opinion today, and am now awaiting an appointment for surgery.
    I have been getting involved in local LGBTQI support recently including being on our local pride committee.
    Having lost my job of 21 years (CAD technitian) 2 months after "coming out", I have been trying to figure out what I'd like to do.
    I have found that there is a huge lack of education around trans and intersex issues and that local authorities are crying out for people to fill that gap.
    I was invited earlier this year into our local college to talk about discrimination and my experiences. And they have invited us back again next year.
    I've also appeared on and in the local newspaper on pride matches and get recognized a lot around town.
    I have to admit that until you told your story I did not know the difference between transgender and Intersex, so thank you for that.
    Also I'd like to thank you for standing strong and telling your story within this community. I am still reluctant to post on game sites because of the backlash.
    It amazes me how a group of people who are often laughed at for their hobby can be so nasty about another minority.
    I'd also like to take this opportunity to say how much I love your work and wish I'd been able to afford your beautiful chaos dwarves.
    Andrea
    Ps. I also collected slaanesh back in the day.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hey sister! Congrats on surgery consult- soooo exciting!

      With CAD skills, I would suggest tou consider switching to level artist for video games. Transgender and gender diverse people make up around 3% of the video games industry according to IGDA survey last year (vs the statistic of 0.6% populations- this is a massive representation). I encounter trans people all the time on projects- we had THREE working on Lord Of The Rings Online, and I struggle to think of a major AAA game I worked on that didn't have one. You'll have six months after surgery to retrain- a good place to start is a monthly subscription to digital tutors (pluralsight).

      Good luck!

      Delete
    2. I also visit schools and worked with several students who where struggling with gender. I have a lovely email from a trans man who tells me as a result of my visit he chose to transition and I saved his life. <3
      Sooo worth it.

      Delete
  4. Good on you. Explaining this must take a lot of work and even more courage, and having to deal with threatening behavior on top of that is no joke. You're an inspiration.

    The army of stupidity is tough to break, but they have to fail their morale test eventually.

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    1. Thanks, you have been a supporter since the beginning, it's good to have you in my shield wall.

      Delete
  5. Long-time follower here, too, Delaney, and LGBTQI ally.

    Sorry you're getting death threats, and equally sorry that you felt you needed to delete your coming out post as a result. But, hey, it's your blog, and you get to do with it what you want. None of our business.

    The haters are on the losing side of history. They know it, and that's why they're lashing out so viciously and so often.

    Stay strong, and keep fighting the good fight! You have friends out here.

    Jeff

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    1. Thanks Jeff.
      Haters are usually lashing out because of their own insecurities. One of the emails constantly tried to attack me using language used to demasculinize men- terms like 'you should be a real man' where used. It was clear to me he the sort of emotional abuse he had been subjected to that his masculinity was so fragile that he felt compelled to harass a complete stranger in a different country to confirm his own masculinity to himself.
      I cannot imagine how bad his childhood was. I can imagine what sort of father he had.

      I mean, don't get me wrong- he is a moron who chose to terrorise a woman. He is scum for his actions.

      Delete
  6. I admire your ability to express yourself and explain so eloquently the chaotic mess of trying to be comfy in ones own flesh, a journey I am still slowly walking along in between my other health stuff.
    Smiles and things. Jess.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Your blogs helped me make the decision to come out in the first place. I was glad I had you to message after I was diagnosed.

      Keep fightin' babes

      Delete
  7. Delaney it really sucks to here that you have been getting threats, and how they have made you feel. With things lately seeming like they are heading in a positive stable direction, I am rooting for you. I hope things get to be the way you want them to be. As for all the scientific stuff...LOL it really is an interesting read and learn something new every time you post something of this nature. I think it is really awesome how open you are with all this, just don't forget you always have people in the miniature community here supporting you. ;)

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    1. Thanks airbourne.
      I actually skimmed the science part here- I started to study it after diagnosis and already had an A level in human biology.
      It is amazing how rich and diverse intersex alone is.
      Congenital hyperplasia, Androgen Insensitivity, Guavedoches, Klinefelters syndrome (xxy), chimerism, mosaicism... I can go on about this stuff for aaaaaaaaages.

      It's fascinating!

      And yet, you never hear about this stuff in college or high school!

      I studied human biology at advanced level as I mentioned. I remember sitting in class when the teacher told me that "men have XY chromomes, women have XX and very, very rarely you get 'hermaphrodites' but they are so rare you needn't worry about them'"

      Everything she just said was incorrect- and I had no idea that I myself was what she was referring to.

      Imagine if I had the right information back then?

      Delete
    2. I missed out the 'always' in 'men always have XY and women always XX'- which is incorrect.

      Delete
  8. Thanks everyone. You are the best.

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  9. This is the first time I've commented here (I think) in spite of really enjoying the blog. This was a very informative, uplifting read and I just want to say you're pretty amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey thanks! And welcome to the crazy comments section.

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  11. Well said as always Delaney. As a biologist and school teacher I have always understood that humans are far more beautifully diverse than just XX and XY, I teach my students this in the genetics section in year 10. And as you know my daughter is transgender so this blog helps me and her. Keep it up and keep the paint brush flowing. Death threats far out, surely they have better things to do with their time. Mind you the suicide rate is what concerns me the most in the intersex and transgender struggle for life.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you so much Chris.

      Say hi to her from me :)

      Delete
  12. As always Delaney, you are a strong, brave and wonderful woman. It's so good to see you stand up, tell your story and inspire others.

    As a side note, I always found Slaanesh intriguing. I liked how the original designs mixed gender and species with other dimensional S&M fashion. As a young teenager my eyes were opened. It was accepted in the community as something new and cool. A very positive move.

    You are an inspiration Delaney. You make me feel better about my lack of testosterone growing up and no Adam's apple. I don't need to conform with manly stereotypes. We are all a little bit of this and that.

    Keep being you and we'll keep supporting you. Love yer work.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thats wonderul! Glad to have helped.
      It's ridiculous to think masculinity is something that somehow depends on features one has no control over.

      This is why I really hate 'play like you own a pair'- the recently removed slogan for Warmachine.

      Sexism aside (and women DO have a pair- but they are called ovaries usually), courage does not come from testes. and yet, men who have lost theirs through combat, accidents or illness- well they still feel like lesser men. This simply isn't true and it isn't healthy.

      Manhood is about responsibility. Setting aside childishness and selfishness.
      Coursge is about feeling terror, but chosing to place somthing else as more importantly than it.

      We need to fix the language men use on men, and all will benefit.

      Besides- adams apples must hurt if you accidentally knock them, right? And wind resistance? You and me are just streamlined for speed :)

      Delete
  13. Brilliant post. Nature/Science/Life is a Weird/Wondrous/Scary thing. Glad you have come through it with a 'glow'. Please, do carry on. :)

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  14. While your post was illuminating, it's sad that in 2016 you have to explain yourself. Fuck em. Keep on keeping on lass.

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  15. Hearing you have suffered yet more harassment from the drooling troglodytes out there got my temper flaring and I almost ranted and raved.

    But I sat back and took a few breaths, I'll keep this short...

    We all care about you and love what you do... And we'll always have your back ;)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I hardly ever post comments but this post of yours was very good and I wanted to offer words of support.
    Sadly most people out there are fairly ignorant and have basic cut and dried views. There will always be jerks who have prejudice attitudes.
    Good on you for standing up for who you are.
    The world needs a lot of educating.
    Good on you for putting out explanatory information.
    I am lucky enough to have a normal development.
    But that does not make me a better person or give me a right to judge anyone who is different.
    I do judge people.
    But I hope it's because of how they treat others not because of how they are made.
    By the way, your sculpting is cool.
    That is what led me to your blog.
    Did not expect to encounter such a personal disclosure.
    As long as you find happiness in life without stepping on others, then you go get your happiness.

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    1. Gotta get back into sculpting soon! Thanks for listening :)

      Delete
  17. Sorry about the arseholes, stay strong and good work!

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  18. This is a wonderful thing you've written here. I have several friends with developmental anomalies affecting their sex. (I won't say intersexed, as I'm not sure they'd care for the term. I don't know that there's any reason it should bother them, but in one case at least I think it might. Maybe more than one. But they are proudly not quite binary M/F sorts. Physiologically. Genetically.) I have friends who are several shades of trans. (Hell, I myself may be at least a bit queer to the conventional construction of gender. I was certainly called a . . . cigarette? . . . or some such often enough, and I'm far too fond of bright colors. And dark colors. And pastels. And rich colors . . . erm . . . what the heck does this have to do with gender? I think I got lost in my paint tray somewhere. Also I like ballet. And stuffed animals. And dolls. And I was willing to admit this as a young male. Clearly I am weird. And arguably foolhardy. Lucky enough to be comfortable with my sex and sexuality, but weird. And uninterested in socially constructed gender roles.) Some of both the sex/gender binary what? subgroups in my circle are even gamers. (Well, almost all of them actually. But I drug a few of them into gaming myself, so that's not really too surprising.) I have little doubt each of them would at one time have appreciated seeing something like this. All of them have struggled with the tortures we humans seemingly insist on inflicting on one another. Thank you for standing up and speaking out. If you don't mind, I'll bookmark this and point it out. Good luck with life and gaming. And for what it's worth, glancing through your strictly gaming stuff . . . I'm sorry I didn't see your blog sooner. You have some lovely stuff.

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  19. Thank you. Gender roles and gender are socially constructed things. Gender identity however is neurobiology.
    The part of the brain that tells you what gender you are, what body to be expecting at puberty and we think some of your sexual wiring may be effected too.
    We know this through a couple of studies, but also some pretty dark events. David Reimer's tragic life and death is a good example (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer)
    We should therefore challenge the social construct of gender and gender roles where it is harmful, but respect the seperate concept of gender identity.
    I grew up playing with He-Man figures and loving Star Wars- however I would have been equally happy playing with my sister Barbies until I was told off for it. I however strongly identified with Evil Lynn, Teela and Princess Leia- but had no idea why. So ultimately playing with male assigned toys was not the problem- it was having male assigned toys as a social construct that was. No matter what, I always wanna BE the female heroes and that is gender identity calling.

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  20. One concept people struggle with is that sexuality, sex and gender identity (and gender roles) are seperate things.

    The best example of this is the 'trans women are just really effeminite gay men', and I have people assuming I must fancy men because I present female.
    The problem with this is that cisgender (non trans) femme lesbians exist. They present female and are feminine, but fancy girls- not men. Clearly in them, sex, sexuality and gender presentation are different.
    About two thirds of transgender women also ifentify as lesbian, pan or bi. And certainly most of the girls I know this stat holds true.
    I present to the world as a somewhat gothic business woman for the most part, and I get hit on a LOT by guys who assume my sexuality because I am feminine.

    (However a seasoned lesbian would look at my fingernails, femme flagged fingerpolish, femme flagged jewelry and (soon) tattoo and identify me as most likely lesbian.)

    Yet sooo many people I encounter when they find out I am transgender assume I like gay men. This is funny, because it is absolutely the polar opposite of what I am attracted to and I am a polar opposite to what gay men want.
    I am a feminine female attracted to feminine females. Gay men are usually masculine males attracted to masculinity in males.

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  21. Hi Delaney...just landed on your blog for the first time. Not only am I blown away by your painting skills, but by the information in this post...I had no idea about pretty much any of it, which is a sad state of affairs really. However with brave folk like you standing up to the trolls, you are educating us all, and the world is a better place for it. Hopefully by the time my kids grow up, we will be in a world that accepts all. Well done again.
    best regards Mike
    ps I own some of your figures, which I must have bought direct, but never looked past the shopfront.

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  22. This was extremely educational for me on both intellectual and empathetic levels. Thanks for sharing your personal story.

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  23. Thankyou for the amazing post Delaney, incredibly informative, touching, and beautiful.

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