Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You Can't Complain About Cramps

One of my father's stories that I have always, always hated is one from his days in highschool. The assigned-females of the student government were trying to get equal rights and treatments- and the assigned-males responded with "If you do, then you can't use your periods to get out of things" and that any difference that having high estrogen rather than testosterone causes would be ignored as well.

And that they backed down proves that women want to be treated as second class citizens and that they'd rather be given the "privilege" of getting off class (which actually means a lower quality education, particularly for people who have a difficult time self-teaching, putting them at an even greater disadvantage) than the privilege of being treated and seen as a human being.

First, hormones are a big deal. Hormones effect most changes in your body. Adrenaline, the hormone that can allow people to do super-human things in times of crisis, is a hormone. Hormone imbalances in the brain can cause you to have severely limited or altered functioning. In terms of sex-related hormones, your levels effect a ton of things such as fat distribution and loss/gain, ability to gain muscle, even height when you're still not past puberty. They also have a good deal of effect on how you think, based on evidence from trans men and women who have started hormones (one trans man tracks the changes testosterone had on him emotionally/mentally. Here's one just from 3 months:
It's been much harder to notice the little subtlties that I once noticed. I think sometimes I notice them, but I don't appreciate the importance of them anymore. I've been trying really hard to take notice of the little things and really think about what they mean. Similarly, it's much harder to multi-task. I've found myself much more methodical and more withdrawn from socializing with perfect strangers. For example, I'd much rather be in a quite library putting books in order than helping customers at a video game store. I've always had this personality, but it's definitely more intense now.
Plus, the differences between assigned males and assigned females who aren't taking anything that would effect their levels and are not intersexed are, like every other difference between the sexes, generalized. There are cis women with high testosterone levels and cis men with low, just like there are cis women who can outlift an average man and cis men who couldn't outlift a weaker woman. But, there are physiological differences between having high testosterone/low estrogen and low testosterone/high estrogen (and fairly big differences between hormone levels in people with ovaries over the course of a month). And those should not be ignored.

Now, for the part that makes too many people squeamish: periods. People's periods are, depending on your social group, not really talked about. I've seen a lot of instances where a cis woman had a genuine disorder related to her menstrual cycle that was literally disabling every time she menstruated- but she spent years with no idea because people don't actually talk about what it's like. I've also seen cis women who will go to the doctor to find out if they have a problem with that and a nurse will discount them as being whiny because "we all have to go through that"- assuming that everyone's cycle is identical to their own.

We also cannot forget that society was built by cis males for cis males- at least western society- without taking the needs of cis females, trans males, trans females, intersex people, or non-binary people into consideration. At times they created laws with the explicit intent of continuing to keep non-cis males as second-class citizens. In the 1700s, (perceived/assigned) women in the US were not taught to write as "there was no reason a woman should know how to write"- limiting their ability to communicate their thoughts in a permanent manner and making it so that most literature was, inevitably, produced by (perceived/assigned) men. One of our much hailed Founding Fathers, John Adams, found the idea of agreeing to his wife's request to "Remember the ladies" in laws to be laughable, referring to the thought of women's rights as the "despotism of the petticoat"- or tyranny, if you aren't sure what despotism is.

It is very probably that things would be different had society been built by women for women, or at least with women in mind and with allowance for them to ask for their own needs to be met. Perhaps, rather than weekends, we would have a week off of work every month- or maybe only having one day weekends and a mini-vacation that was actually a time to rest rather than a time to have to do work that your boss expects you to do in your spare time without pay. Maybe medicine would have developed to actually find out when menstruation actually has a serious impact and how to better fix it (I believe we're working on it) and assigned-females would feel empowered to talk about their period and how awful it is without being told that they're just being whiny- so that, if there is a problem, it can actually be fixed. Maybe we would have figured out much, much sooner how to keep people who give birth from dying and, today, focus on how to make them comfortable rather than on how to control them (trigger warning: equates people who are capable of giving birth with "women", erasing both the gender of those who do give birth and are not women and those women who, for whatever reason, are not able to give birth).

But that is not the case. Instead, we live in a reality where health concerns that are either specific to mis/assigned females or not prevalent in mis/assigned males (everyone with breast tissue can get breast cancer, including cis men, yet it's still seen as a "woman's disease") are only just now not being dismissed. And, still, the ones that are most talked about are ones that "diminish" a woman's sex appeal. There are a great deal of diseases that can effect women and cause them extreme, even lifelong pain, yet we focus on the ones that cause them to lose their hair or breasts. It's as if we still haven't gotten out of the disgusting idea that a mis/assigned female is defined by zir ability to attract a man and bear his children or to act as a sex object for male fantasies- rather than by who ze is.

It is very, very possible that some of the mis/assigned females on that student council had extreme period pains that genuinely caused them to be unable to do classes sometimes- and refusing to acknowledge the reality of that would have been extremely problematic, the same as telling a person with the flu that they have to go to school despite barely being able to stand upright because "Well, I don't think the flu is as big a deal as you say it is". The argument of "You are only allowed equal rights if we're allowed to ignore your physiological needs" is no argument. It is really saying "We are so opposed to you being treated equally, but we are sick of you asking for it so we will throw you this moldy bone and find a new way to mistreat you".

And it says volumes that anyone could take people refusing that as evidence that any group wants to be abused.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Damage of Socialization

(warning, I think this post is fairly cis-centric and seems to take "assigned and socialized with the expectation of being female" to mean "woman", but getting into that with trans people is a big barrel of complicated that I'm hoping to tackle later so I can't blame anyone.)
From Another Post About Rape
Women who are taught not to speak up too loudly or too forcefully or too adamantly or too demandingly are not going to shout “NO” at the top of their goddamn lungs just because some guy is getting uncomfortably close.Women who are taught not to keep arguing are not going to keep saying “NO.”
Women who are taught that their needs and desires are not to be trusted, are fickle and wrong and are not to be interpreted by the woman herself, are not going to know how to argue with “but you liked kissing, I just thought…”
Women who are taught that physical confrontations make them look crazy will not start hitting, kicking, and screaming until it’s too late, if they do at all.
Women who are taught that a display of their emotional state will have them labeled hysterical and crazy (which is how their perception of events will be discounted) will not be willing to run from a room disheveled and screaming and crying.
Women who are taught that certain established boundaries are frowned upon as too rigid and unnecessary are going to find themselves in situations that move further faster before they realize that their first impression was right, and they are in a dangerous room with a dangerous person.
Women who are taught that refusing to flirt back results in an immediately hostile environment will continue to unwillingly and unhappily flirt with somebody who is invading their space and giving them creep alerts.
People wonder why women don’t “fight back,” but they don’t wonder about it when women back down in arguments, are interrupted, purposefully lower and modulate their voices to express less emotion, make obvious signals that they are uninterested in conversation or being in closer physical proximity and are ignored. They don’t wonder about all those daily social interactions in which women are quieter, ignored, or invisible, because those social interactions seem normal. They seem normal to women, and they seem normal to men, because we were all raised in the same cultural pond, drinking the same Kool-Aid.
And then, all of a sudden, when women are raped, all these natural and invisible social interactions become evidence that the woman wasn’t truly raped. Because she didn’t fight back, or yell loudly, or run, or kick, or punch. She let him into her room when it was obvious what he wanted. She flirted with him, she kissed him. She stopped saying no, after a while.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fetishizing Non-European Cultures

My gender makes it difficult to have any interest in European languages. They are difficult, genderwise. The best Spain & German could do to make "gender neutral" language was to change a/o to @ (spain- Latin@ vs Latino/Latina) and capitalize the 'i' in female words (German- Pilotin becomes PilotIn). I don't think French even has a word for "it" and just uses 'he' (I zoned out in class and looked into it for all of 1 hour this summer, correct me if I'm wrong). Europe is just very, very, very bad with gender. And this has grated on me even before I realized I was a non-binary. It also makes me hate English with a passion- not just for gender, but for how flipping impossible we have made it to speak without either erasing/othering/discriminating against a marginalized group or being completely incomprehensible to the lay person. Although that might be a problem in all lanugages.

At first I thought that I just hated languages- then I found Icelandic and fell instantly, truly, and deeply in love. This love has only deepened- every time I'm reminded that you can avoid using pronouns and make the adjectives neutral, that hetja mín (female noun) can be used to refer to a werman and it's still a deep complement (lit. "My hero!"), that some the word for human being is female. And I've found other languages as well- I believe Japanese is much better about gender as well, I've heard from a few non-binaries that it's easier to be referred to or talk about people without revealing gender or it being obvious you aren't. Russia also has adjectives and even verbs that bend easily to gender, including neuter, and using gendered nouns that don't bend to the person's gender is common and, again, not misgendering. China... it depends. Thailand- I'm hesitant, the view of trans women is either good or bad, and I really want to know which (they are lumped in with gay men and drag queens as "ladyboys" and "kathoey", lit. "not man" and not seen as women but something else- not nice to gay men either) is either good or bad, and I really want to know which.

And it's possible it applies to the indigenous people who Europeans completely fucked over when taking over what is now the "Americas" as well, as they held trans people in a bit higher respect than the white people who feel they "own" the country did, and I don't even know about Africa or Australia (same thing in terms of being fucked over by Europeans, though) because they're erased in our USA-centric, Euro-centric, White-centric curriculum. I also don't think it's as easy to find resources for studying it- aside from Thai & Icelandic, all the languages I've listed are taught at my college and it's easy to find resources on them. For at least 2 languages in Chinese, too. (There are at least 10 spoken languages in China)

Russia, Japan, Thailand (as well as what are now the Americas, Africa, and Australia)- they all have something in common. They're not European and, for the most part, the people there aren't white. Except Russia. I think, I actually have a hard time keeping track of all the distinct cultural identities we've erased and shoved into "white" to reinforce our privilege and which we aren't counting as "really" white to, again, reinforce our privilege.

With Japan, I've seen too many white anime "fans" who go around completely butchering the Japanese language (this is at least part of why I used to hate Japanese with a passion- my knowledge of it was "NARUTO CHAN IS SUGOI KAWAII DESU NE BAKA GOMEN NASA~I"). And, at least Americans, don't really have the greatest track record with Asian women. I don't know where the line between admiration and appropriation is- does anyone? Do I just like these languages because, to my white European ears, they sound "exotic"*? Am I assuming that they'll be better about gender because I'm idealizing the culture as being so "unusual" and "different" to European culture rather than being aware of the reality? Am I just an Asiaphile trying to justify this?

I actually don't know, it's hard to tell. I've seen people of color complain when white people use something from a non-white culture because, too often, it's appropriation (hint: If you don't know the country, just the continent, you might be appropriating). Does that include language?

* Japanese, Thai, Korean, and everything else that I've never been raised on sounds a bit like nails on a chalkboard to me. (I'm getting better with Japanese because I'm listening to it more- but at first it was painful) Sooo, hopefully not?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Misassigned At Birth

I'll be honest, I don't like the term transgender. It's incorrect- it implies our genders cross something when, with the exception of multigender and genderfluid people, they really don't. It works with transsexual in a way- most people do see their sex crossing over to the other. I know a neutrois who now considers itself "transsexed" because it finished transition.

But our language is difficult and trans people aren't accepted enough for me to figure out a viable alternative (although, of course, it's hard to find one that works for everyone no matter what you do). As I mentioned before, my definition for transgender is "an adjective describing a person who’s gender (part or all of it) does not match the sex they were assigned at birth". And I've been thinking about it- and I kind of like the idea of misassigned at birth. I've seen a few trans women say "the doctor should have said "it's a girl"." and, as I've been pointing out a bit lately, not all trans people feel that their body is wrong- just how people perceive them. Misassigned works better for me.

Aside from bodily issues that transsexual deals with, a big problem for trans people is that they were assigned and raised and, in no small part due to this socialization, are still perceived as the wrong sex. It also helps that a lot of people can have issues with the idea of "assigned-____" because too many people assume that it's a correct assignment (doctors know everything, right?). Misassigned emphasises the mistake that was made, that the assignment was not correct.

Like I said- it won't work for everyone. Some trans people don't think they were misassigned. But I hope it's a step in the right direction.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I was reading over an article about a woman of color dealing with reactions to her taking care of her children (varying from "his he yours" to complimenting how good a nanny or babysitter she is and asking if she can be hired) or asking a racially diverse family "Where did you adopt [your child]?". To "is zie yours?": mixed feelings here- if the question is "are you really his mother or did you adopt him/is he a step-child?": that's busted, because an adopted/step child can be just as much yours as a "biological" child, and because it's probably at least a bit race based (if they looked the same, no one would assume the kid is adopted). People assuming she's the nanny? Busted. But if people just ask if a kid is the adult's rather than assuming? Not so much. One homophobic person replied demanding to know why it's okay to not assume a person is straight because "What? You think I look butch?!"- busted. Which allows for an excellent way to start my post. The difference between "Is this a "traditional" family or two mommies?" and "You’re one of the most prompt babysitter’s I’ve met.".

The question "Is it a "traditional" family or two mommies?"- is showing tolerance, depending on the tone ( a sarcastic or "two "mommies"?"- not so great) and reaction to "two mommies". The doctor is showing that zie is accepting of same-sex couples having children together and is (hopefully) non-judgemental about the fact that some children are raised by two parents who are not hetero. Not only that- but it makes no assumptions*. It isn't calling the person a lesbian- it's keeping an open mind because you can't tell sexuality by looking at a person. Assuming that everyone you meet is straight  does damage.

The statement "You’re one of the most prompt babysitter’s I’ve met"- is showing intolerance. Or, at least, close-mindedness. And it makes assumptions. It's assuming that an adult who is not close enough to the skin tone/facial structure/hair color or quality of the child cannot be the child's parent, because two people who aren't obviously of the same race couldn't have had a child. It also assumes that she couldn't be related to the child in any way- not even by friendship. That this person who is darker than the child couldn't possibly be a good enough friend of the "white" family to be taking care of the kid.

Next is intent or "what are they really asking". For example, "Is zie yours"- on the surface, tame. But not when the real question is "Is zie your biological child?" (as opposed to adopted/step/kidnapped/whatever the person thinks) and can be followed up with "Where did you get zem?" (because you couldn't be related to a kid with that much darker/lighter hair color/skintone/eyes than you!) or "I mean really yours" (because only biological children are REALLY yours). Obviously, this is pretty messed up for the same reason that assuming the person is the nanny/babysitter is- it's clear that the asker doesn't believe that mutli-racial children exist and doesn't think that a parent who doesn't look "enough like" their child is "really" that child's parent.  But sometimes the question is asked because the person is aware that  they can't exactly tell family dynamics just from meeting people and asking avoids complications that assuming creates- and then it isn't really a bad question.

Next I'll go with entitlement. Take this scenario: Person 1: "That's a really cool bracelet you have. Where did you get it?" Person 2: "Actually, it's a really long story and I'm just not up to telling it right now and I don't really know you well enough, sorry." And person 1 replies in one of these ways: 1. the person says "Oh, alright, if you ever feel comfortable telling me then" and leaves it at that. 2. the person demands to know what the backstory is, pestering the person about it.

If the response is the first: That's good. Person 1 is respecting Person 2's wishes. If the response is the second: VERY BAD. The person clearly feels entitled to this knowledge about Person 2- regardless of how Person 2 feels. (and, if Person 2 relents, it's very possible that zir right to making these decisions will be further attacked by Person 1 saying "I don't get why you didn't just tell me that in the first place") This one really depends on your relationship- but if you have a close enough relationship, you know what questions you are and aren't allowed to ask already.  This guide is pretty much for near strangers. And when you don't know someone well, you have no right to know anything about them that they don't want to tell you

That said, I hope we have a pretty decent grasp on good vs bad questions. Good: Respecting the person, not making busted assumptions, not having an underlying question that you can't ask because it's offensive. Bad: Disrespecting the person, making busted assumptions, having an underlying question that you can't ask because it's offensive. That said...


Ask about anything and everything! Ask about pronouns! Ask about orientation (when relevant) rather than assuming straight! Ask about personal space/contact limitations! Ask about acceptable/unacceptable labels to use for the person!  If you don't know: ASK!

And this goes to people being asked, too. If a question makes you uncomfortable: Ask why it was asked. (and don't make busted assumptions, either!) if a person asks you what your sexuality is- don't assume that they think you "look gay", maybe they just don't want to add into the bustedness of heteronormativity. If someone asks you your pronouns- don't accuse them of saying you look like a [opposite gender], maybe they just realize that you can't tell a person's pronouns by looking at them. (you can guess correctly 90% of the time, but you can't know).

For the world to be a place where privilege no longer hurts people (especially regarding things that aren't visible)- we need to ask. We need to stop assuming things. Don't assume everyone is straight (or even sexual), don't assume that you know someone's gender & pronouns from looking at them, don't assume that they have the same education/views/experiences/abilities/needs as you, don't assume that one aspect of anyone's life/personality necessarily determines how they feel in any other part of their life, don't assume that a person in a wheelchair or with a seeing eye dog or anything else needs your help just because they're in a wheelchair or have a seeing eye dog or anything else and you aren't. Just don't assume!

But we also need to be in a place where questions CAN be asked. I do NOT mean that you have to answer every question- I already made it clear that people 100% have the right to say "I don't want to answer that". But reacting violently because someone doesn't assume something? That's not going to get us anywhere (and, of course, it's mostly privileged people who do it- because privileged people are allowed to get offended when a person asks them something that attacks their privilege and are also allowed to demand answers and get offended when we don't get them).

*okay, well, it does. It assumes a monogamous relationship in which the two partners have binary genders. Baby steps....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Transgender and Crossdressing

Disclaimer: I'm not a crossdresser, crossdreamer, nor a drag ace†. Clue by four.

"I would never want to be a woman. That would spoil all the fun of dressing like one." - Carly*

I don't know if anyone noticed, but I put up the definitions of the words I use (and feel free to mention if I need to add any more or you have problems with the ones I put up). I wanted to elaborate a bit more on why I define transgender as I do. Which is:
An adjective describing a person whose gender (part or all of it) does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender makes no assumptions about the person’s genitalia, sex, gender role, presentation in daily life, or anything else- only the disconnect between what the doctors assumed the person would be and what the person actually is.
Now, I know that's not how everyone uses it- particularly as an umbrella term. One thing that there tends to be some disagreement on is whether or not people who don't uphold gender norms (crossdressers, drag royalty†, etc) are included in this. And here's my take on it.

Some crossdressers and drag royalty are bigendered or genderfluid (or actually trans [wo/wer]men but haven't accepted that yet) or something along those lines- the "desire" they have to crossdress is the same as a werman or woman "desiring" to dress like a werman or woman, respectively. To me, that isn't really crossdressing. A bigendered maab who wears dresses to express her womanhood isn't "crossdressing" any more than a woman wearing a dress is- she's expressing her female gender by wearing clothes associated with females. The fact that she isn't always a woman or is also a werman doesn't devalue her female gender in any way. And even if this person is crossdressing, aka dresses like a woman when he's a werman even though he's a woman at other times, they still fit into trans because their gender both does and doesn't match their assigned sex- not because of the clothes. (of course, in the literal transgender sense of "across-gender", they might be the only ones who really are transgender, as they actually go across genders)

So what about the wermen, the people with only one gender and whose gender matches their assigned sex, who want to wear a dress? (or women who... whatever counts as crossdressing for women, I'm not really sure)

I don't think clothing has a gender. Now, yes, socially genders are assigned to clothing. But the bounds of what's considered "acceptable" for wermen and women are ill-defined and change with time. Are wermen who wear "skinny jeans" crossdressing? Are women who wear loose jeans? They aren't even consistent over all of US culture- subcultures, age groups, races, classes, and geographic locations can all have different limits of what is and isn't "acceptable" clothing for wermen and women, much less all countries. Is a werman who wears a kilt crossdressing? What about if he's wearing an unbifurcated garment designed for wermen? Now, people can obviously crossdress in the same sense as crossplaying- dressing up with the intention of dressing as a different gender, but I don't think it makes you trans any more than playing a character who's another gender  makes you trans.

A person can't express gender they don't have- I can't express my female gender by wearing a skirt because I don't have a female gender. Even if a werman (and, yes, this applies to women- but generally you hear about maab crossdressers and drag queens) is intentionally dressing to look like a woman, he isn't expressing his gender as a woman- his gender is still that of a werman. And, seriously, no one bring up the bi/multi-gender thing, I just spent a paragraph explaining that.

Similarly- I don't include otherwise cis people who have non-standard presentation/traits for the same reason. I don't think a werman who likes shoes is less of a werman than one who likes football (or that a person can't like both), and a woman who prefers playing rugby to getting her nails done isn't less of a woman either (and rugby players can enjoy getting pampered as much as anyone).

I also don't like the concept of clothes having a gender because people use it as a basis for discrimination. If a person is perceived as crossdressing, even if they're wearing clothing quite appropriate to their gender (just not assigned sex) or don't feel what they're doing is crossdressing, they can face a lot of problems for it. Last year a man was threatened with arrest for wearing a skirt in a courthouse (a skirt that would have been appropriate on a woman, based on the description). If that's what applying genders to inanimate objects gets us- I don't see any benefit in it.

For the time being; crossdressing, gender variant, and other people who have a gender that matches their assigned sex but don't entirely fit the gender roles/traits/expectations of that gender might  functionally fit in (at least with 'queer') in the sense that they can face trans- & homophobia for it, but I really don't like the idea that someone is somehow "less" their gender just because of the clothes they wear or the things they enjoy. And, of course, trans does not mean "less"- but why would we call a person who is otherwise cisgender "trans" just because of the clothes they like to wear? A person being trans implies that their gender is different than what cissexist society expects people with the genitalia zie had at birth to be, and that zie'll have a harder time being accepted as that gender because of that.  A maab werman has a gender that very much matches what society expects, people will rarely have a difficult time believing he really is a werman- even if he expresses that gender by painting his nails pink, strapping on 6" heels, and putting on a lovely dress.

It also causes confusion when it comes to trans people who have non-standard presentation or who enjoy crossdressing/playing, drag, etc. If a cis werman is transgender just because he likes to wear dresses (even if he does full-time)- what is a trans werman? Trans people already face far more pressure to fit their gender's roles/traits/expectations than a cis person is ever likely to face, saying that your presentation somehow effects your gender only adds to that.

*The quote is from "Too Much Information", a webcomic featuring a transvestite- Carly (born "Carl Lee"). It comes from this page, but I'll give a warning that I'm not sure if it's misgendering or not. It either says that he thinks Carly is a trans man, or that he thinks trans women are really men, Carly's reply implies the latter- and also mislabels the fact that trans women are women and says that they just "want" to be a woman, implying they're actually men or at least not "really" women. That 1-page slip aside, the comic is pretty cool- though adult and NSFW. I put it as a footnote to explain this, though.
†Drag Ace is a joke, but I like it. Basically my line of thought was "What would you call a neutrois in drag?", as most titles are gendered, and going over the face cards in a deck (one thought was "joker")- since 'ace' is slang term for an asexual, I liked it. Drag Royalty is because there aren't really non-gendered terms for queen/king, but both are royal titles. I think that one's more self-explanatory than ace.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Kimono sleeves"

Because I thought having a Dr Who scarf would just be the coolest thing, I got into knitting. And, because everyone and their uncle told me "Crocheting is easier" I got into crocheting and found out immediately after learning that there was absolutely nothing I wanted to do with it. So I found a book with a cool pattern. I still like the pattern- what I don't like is that the sleeves are referred to as "kimono sleeves". And, apparently, this isn't an uncommon term.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Color Blind

Some parents love to brag about how their kids are color blind- which is pretty interesting to me. Now, if you've got a kid with XX chromosomes who's colorblind, that probably is something worth bragging about because it's just so uncommon! And the rest of the time, well, I suppose it depends- like many things, colorblindness has its ups and its downs. My partner, for instance, has an easier time telling if colors clash or identifying two things of the same color but different hues than I do- it's pretty damn awesome. But they also rely on me for parts of video games where the colors are too close because, for a gamer, that's a problem. But it's pretty cool that parents are happy enough about their kids colorblindness to openly brag about it- hopefully it also means that they're willing to do work to help get more things, like video games, that their kids can see and enjoy as well as everyone else.

Oh, wait, what? They mean that their child "doesn't see" races?

Haha, oh, white people with our white privilege- we never cease to be a source of amusement! Oh, you don't see why that's silly? Well, first, because it's not true. You can't raise kids to be completely race-blind. Raising children by not talking about race, but talking about nebulous concepts of "we're all equal!" (without defining the inclusiveness of 'we') without actually getting down and dirty and using the "r" word? Doesn't work. Doing so produces racist children- and it's actually part of white privilege to be able to. Children of color? Painfully aware of race and where they stand (or they realize quick enough). White children? They see differences, but they don't know what they are or why, so speculate on what's up with these brown people with weird hair that no adults talk about.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Yes is the ONLY thing that means yes

"That's wrong- it's one of the most violating parts of this whole thing. It's like me walking in your bathroom while you in there with your pants down. It's the highest degree of disrespect." -Zakariyya (Zuh-CAR-ee-uh) pg 243, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

My college required "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" as summer reading. I've had a long history of stupid summer reading assignments (my last one, our professor said that he thought the book was trash). I'm still angry at my college for the wording of "What if Henrietta had been Henry?"- which I presume is supposed to be a cutesy way of saying "What if Henrietta had been assigned male at birth instead of female" (while also saying "It's completely unacceptable for an assigned-female to go by 'Henry', no matter what that person's gender", even though 'Henri' can be a nickname for Henrietta). So, I was not looking forward to it.

It was actually really good, I'd suggest it to everyone. One thing I adore is that the [white] author has done a good job at presenting the issue of race in a way that doesn't get white people's hackles up at being "attacked" by having their privilege pointed out. I now cringe to think of how absolutely stupid the white people in my 11th grade (~16/17 y.o) class were about the book we had to read- but I have to admit that opening a book by redefining 'racist' as "A white person who doesn't actively fight white privilege" (although, not in those words) and calling the Lion King racist because the black actors didn't sound black enough was not a great way to introduce white people to their privilege. And, of course, this is NOT a problem on the author's part. It's a problem on the part of the school who decided that a 301 level book was an acceptable way to introduce white people to the concept of white privilege- when most of us have grown up hearing people gripe about "reverse racism" and how affirmative action "just hurts white people".

One issue throughout the entire book, aside from race and class, is consent- namely, whether or not consent is required for doctors to take and test and sell our tissues (or inject us with cancer- that's cool, right? No reason anyone would say "no" to that).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

“Singular “they” and the many reasons why it’s correct” via Motivated Grammar

read the full post here
Suppose you were reading and came to the following line:
“She kept her head and kicked her shoes off, as everybody ought to do who falls into deep water in their clothes.”
Would you …
(a) continue reading, because that’s a perfectly acceptable sentence, or
(b) throw a tantrum and insist that the author is an imbecile speeding the wholesale destruction of the English language?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re probably answering (a). If you’re answering (b), I regret to inform you that you hate the writing of C. S. Lewis.

And if you’re the sort to answer (b), the sort of person who rages at the alleged grammatical buffoonery of your fellows, I’m sure it’s because you think you’re doing us all a favor, and that your condescending tone is justified because: first, you’re being helpful regardless of the tone you’re using; second, people only learn through negative conditioning, and so it is your duty, however unpleasant, to rub their noses in it to keep them from going on doing it; third, only a truly illiterate mouth-breather would be so moronic as to make such a mistake, and such imbeciles are below contempt and probably don’t even realize that you’re condescending to them anyway; and fourth, given the Heruclean effort you’ve put into learning the English language as impeccably as you did, it’s really only fair that you get to be a little self-satisfied and perhaps even gloat a smidge.

The only problem with this view is that all you’ve managed to learn about English is how to get your brain to release some satisfying endorphins every time you blindly regurgitate some authority figure’s unjustified assertion. You’re not helping; you’re just getting someone to pretend to agree with you long enough to shut you up. Or worse, you’re scaring people into submission to a point where they feel compelled to preface their speech with apologies for any unknown violence their words are committing against the presumed propriety of the language. Never forget, though, that language is the people’s. Your witless superstition will, by-and-large, be ignored by the speakers of the language, and the alleged impropriety will almost certainly win out in the end. Don’t mistake yourself for a brave defender of our language against the barbarians at the gates when, in truth, you’re nothing but a millennialist shouting about the end-times of the English language. Meanwhile, the world spins on, and the language flourishes, hale and hearty.

One great example of this situation is the shouting down of those who use singular they. I’ve wanted for some time to have one place to send everyone who complains about singular they, a single page that can debunk whatever junk they’re peddling against it. There’s been lots of great stuff written about why singular they is acceptable, but every time I want to smash the arguments against it, I have to waste time jumping through old Language Log posts and books and whatnot, so I figured I’d finally go about summarizing it all. Without further ado, here’s the evidence for singular they, and why you ought to stop “correcting” it.

This is a delightful read no matter who you are, and should be required reading for anyone who tries to use the argument that "singular they" is inaccurate. The full post goes on to point out 'singular they's historical usage, usage by good writers, acceptance by authorities, and a few other arguments used against this pronoun.

Personally, my view on singular they is this: As long as singular "you" is acceptable, so is singular "they". (yes, I do want to bring back thou)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why Adoption Hurts via Yoon's Blur

Read the Full Post Here
Do you tell a widow that she is being negative, ungrateful, angry, bitter, resentful if she still tears up or struggles with grief or sorrow over the loss of her first husband even after she has happily remarried? I would hope not.

Although adoptees--similar to a widow who has happily remarried--may have gained a family, you must keep in mind that the only reason they have so-called gained a family is that they first LOST everything. And when I say everything, I mean, everything.

They have lost their original father, mother, grandparents, siblings, extended family. They have lost their language, culture, and country of origin. They have lost any connection whatsoever to their beginnings, to their identity, to the most basic elements of who they are. They have lost any knowledge of what happened and why.

I think adoption is very difficult to understand for anyone who hasn't been through it- especially transnational & transracial adoption which have their own complications and can make it obvious that you aren't "really" your adoptive parents' child/ren. This was a really good way of explaining why adoption hurts, even if you love your new family.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"We Are Human" via Resist Racism

Read the full post here
But they want a tour guide. They want to watch somebody bleed. Pain as entertainment.

“Can you share with us a time when you experienced racism and how you dealt with it?” she asks, her eyes bright in a flushed face. “What was the worse thing that ever happened to you?”

I stopped relating my experience when I realized incidents that cut me deeply became cocktail-party chatter for others. When I realized that doing so caused white people to have a sense of false familiarity with me. When I realized that they recounted my life as if it were their own, as if they owned it, as if they owned me. When I realized they did so not to make others feel my humanity, but to reinforce their belief in their own.

Picnic lunches beneath a hanging man.


And yet it didn’t really matter. I am reminded of this years later, when a white woman in an upscale department store glares and refers to two nearby children as “dirty little things.” She thinks they are mine and that I am not “controlling them properly.” I look to see two extremely clean, well-groomed, very wealthy appearing Asian children, a little girl and a little boy, who are laughing and talking to each other. I mostly hate kids and yet I can’t see anything wrong with their behavior. But I see it in her eyes.

Their reflection: Dirty. Little. Things.

I grow up to be an upstanding citizen who yanked myself up by my bootstraps. I did not waste my money on anything that I could be criticized for. No rims on the Cadillac. No car at all, for that matter. No luxury items, shitty food, second-hand clothing, no-name shoes and generic cereal and I did all the proper suffering, working long hours at lousy jobs while going to school.

So when I achieved what most people consider success, I bought the car, the clothes were new, I sometimes bought luxuries and I traveled to other countries. And I was an uppity person of color who got ahead through affirmative action and some other form of cheating because nothing I had was earned. Or deserved.

When I am flying overseas, I get stopped and questioned: How exactly is it that you have the money to travel?

I am suspected of criminal conduct simply because of where I am: A four-star hotel. A tony neighborhood. A professional conference. A business. The upscale department store. Any old store, for that matter.

I am suspected of criminal conduct simply because of who I am.

And I learn the hatred of white people who have less than I do. Who resent wealth and education and nice clothing and a beautiful home. Because somehow this is not how it is supposed to be.

Because I am not human.

Because they are not really colorblind.

Because we don’t really live in a meritocracy.

Because the content of my character has never influenced white people’s thoughts in the same way that the color of my skin does.

Because I can insist on my humanity until the cows come home, but it will mean nothing until white people discover their own.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Request: Womens’ prespectives on Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

I like The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert which, for people who don't know, is a movie about 2 drag queens and a woman who works as a drag queen making their way across Australia. For the woman, of course, it upholds the longstanding "tradition" of cis actors playing trans people (in this case, a feminized man rather than a masculinized* woman) In my non-female opinion, it's not a bad job. But, of course, I also know that some women have problems with drag queens and might also have a problem with a woman who's a drag queen. (and some drag queens have given them reason to have problems with them, although certainly not all)

I'm curious about what women actually think about this film and how it portrays them.

So, essentially, that's the point of this post- if anyone knows a woman who has seen Priscilla (or is one!) and can ask her to let me know how she feels about it- that would be awesome! (I also sincerely hope it's obvious that I'm not asking about how cis women feel about this- although their comments are welcome, I'd really rather hear from the women that are actually being portrayed here, thanks.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Who is it?

Before we get this post started, I'm going to say this on the pronoun "it" used for people: Yes, it is way too charged to be a pronoun to use when you don't know what the gender/pronoun of a person is- but it's still a pronoun that some people do prefer being called by. That should be respected.
Now, on with the show.

"Inspector, do you know if the killer was a man or woman?" -Journalist
"Well of course I know that! What else is there? A kitten?" -Clouseau (from 'the Pink Panther 2')

Because apparently the objections to 'it' actually run deeper than I realized, as a person has expressed that even "Is it a boy or a girl?" is dehumanizing. Now, unfortunately, the commenter has no public information on their blogger profile so I cannot send them a message to make sure that I'm not misunderstanding this (I also cannot send them a message asking their preferred pronouns, hence the 'they'- I'll happily fix it if someone who knows this person lets me know the right ones). I did ask in the comments why the person feels that asking "is it a boy or a girl?" about an infant is dehumanizing- but it's a personal blog and a post on an extremely sensitive issue so I can appreciate Helen not wanting to publish any comments she doesn't want on there. So all I've really got to work with is what the comment says, which is this:
I know that “it” starts bloody early (“is it a girl or a boy?” – whatever sex a child was assigned, they’re not a fucking ‘it’) and I hate “it”, it’s a cheap and nasty way to de-humanise someone.

This person is making it clear that if this child's preferred pronouns are 'it', which does happen, then that is unacceptable. The kid isn't even crawling yet- and already this person is setting limits to what its gender can and cannot be, what is and is not acceptable (along with the rest of society, so I'm hardly shocked). But, this person is also doing it while accusing other people of dehumanizing the child by using pronouns that express a lack of knowledge as to the child's gender or preferred pronouns (although the question does lead to the kid's gender and identity being heavily policed). So, basically, this person is complaining about other people being dehumanizing while possibly dehumanizing the child by saying its gender and pronouns are inherently insulting. (in this hypothetical the kiddo grows up to prefer 'it'- why not, I know enough people who have) And that's actually why I have an objection to people who get so angry whenever anyone calls anyone else 'it' and claim it's "dehumanizing" no matter what (even when a person calls itself 'it'- which was just busted).

Friday, September 24, 2010

No one gives a shit if you don't believe in gender

From shemale on livejournal.Some other points of her post:

  • Trans people are not cutting-edge theories at the frontier of feminism/gender studies/whatever.

  • Trans people are not under any more of an obligation to alter their bodies, gender identifications, or gender expressions for some higher goal than cis people are.

  • If a trans person does not present/experience/identify/etc. their gender the way you want them to, it is none of your fucking business, nor does it mean you can generalize about all trans people (or subgroup of trans people) from your experiences with and observations of said trans person.

All of them are worth a read, but this one I like the most:
Nobody gives a shit that you don't believe in gender.

You don't have to believe in something for it to exist, and perhaps the fact that you don't ever think about gender speaks more to your privilege than to the way that trans people are "perpetuating norms and stereotypes" or "supporting the gender binary" or whatever.
Gender in-and-of itself isn't a bad thing, it is just a thing.

It is the forced assignment of gender to people against their identification and the inequality between members of different genders that is problematic.

(and am I the only one a bit saddened/enraged that this was posted 2 years ago and I still feel it's incredibly relevant to how people treat trans people today?)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Binary-gender Privilege

I've been adding things to this list and it may not be up to date, to see the full list, please check HERE

You can reasonably expect that...
  • words to describe your gender not only exist in every natural language, but are commonplace
  • characters with your gender commonly appear in fiction as more than just a joke, and are often mentioned in serious non-fiction
  • everyone is aware that people of your gender exist and have met people with your gender
  • words exist to describe your sexuality and to describe people attracted to those of your gender, and most people have heard those words
  • there is a way to pass as your gender, and roles/clothing/actions associated with that gender that you can use if you wish to be read correctly
  • people will not have to "get used" to using your pronouns, as they use them for people on a daily basis, and will not tell you that your pronouns are "too hard" or treat them as some sort of novelty
  • no one will say that humans can not have your gender, or treat the words and pronouns you use to describe your gender as an insult
  • you can expect to find safe spaces for people of your gender
  • in gender-based safe spaces, it is obvious if people of your gender are welcomed/allowed or not (from the One With No Name)
  • it will be obvious which bathrooms, locker rooms, and facilities to try on clothes people of your gender are allowed to use (from the One With No Name)
  • you will not have a hard time finding a partner who has heard of your gender, much less one who understands and accepts your gender and pronouns
  • you will not have to educate people about what your gender is to have any hope of having that gender respected, because they have grown up around people who have that gender
  • when you see a gender therapist, zie has dealt with people of your gender and will treat you with respect
  • if your body is not "normal" for your gender, surgeries exist to help fix it and you won't be denied them due to your gender
  • you do not have to create an entirely new legal sex to be legally acknowledged as your gender
  • if parents raise a child as your gender, people will not consider this abuse
  • people do not think it's okay to tell people of your gender that asking your child to respect your gender and pronouns is wrong because no one has heard of your gender
  • from a young age, you are aware that people with your gender actually exist and will not have to go looking for or invent definitions that fit you. -(from AlextheSane)

I thought we needed one. I'm sure I'm missing some, critique is welcome & encouraged. Although some are somewhat binary trans specific, the fact that much of cis society doesn't accept trans genders can limit the amount of binary privilege they actually enjoy, but it's still there.

For example, with pronouns- a woman who doesn't look like a cis woman will not always have her pronouns respected, but she can still expect that people are accustomed to referring to people as 'she' and 'woman' and other words associated with her gender, and she won't have to deal with people struggling to add new language to their vocabulary to describe her gender. Also, in terms of safe space, women who happen to be trans are often excluded from so-called "women only" spaces (and let in trans men)- which erases their gender, but it's still blatant that, by all rights women should be able to join women-only spaces; however it can be difficult for non-binaries to tell if they'd be welcomed or accepted even in trans-only spaces.

Monday, September 20, 2010

This is What a Male-Bodied Person Looks Like

via This is What a Man Sounds Like. (highly related to this site, which I linked earlier, and suggest everyone also read.)
Male is a modifier, a word used to describe things that pertain to men. I am a man. Therefore, I, a man, have a male body, and I am a male-bodied person. My uterus, my clit, my soft chest, and my rounded hips are all part of my male body. Of course, other people have different body experiences, and I speak only for my own experience.
Often, people call me female-bodied when they’re addressing my experience of misogyny. Since I was raised as a girl, and I am a non-passing transman, I experience a lot of misogyny. I definitely got sexist street harassment when I lived in Boston. Similarly, people are likely to assume that I don’t know what I want when I go into a bike shop, or when I go dancing, that I’m a follow. Misogyny isn’t fun, but I don’t aspire to take on male privilege. That doesn’t make me a female-bodied person, although it does indicate that people perceive me that way. A more appropriate way to address my experience of sexism is to talk specifically about the experience and what’s going on, rather than to tell me what my body is like. For example, people could express their views of street harassment along with my expressed experience and analysis of being street harassed.

Another reason people try to call me a female-bodied person is in dealing with shared body experiences, like menstruation. In that case, instead of saying “women” or “female-bodied” folks could say “people who menstruate.” That avoids defining people by one biological process. It would also be important to never tell anyone about their own bodies. I experience menstruation, but I can only speak for my own experience, so I would not assume that other people experience the same thing. So, for example, I would not say, “The Diva Cup is great for women,” nor “The Diva Cup is great for female-bodied people.” I would say “The Diva Cup is great for me when I’m on my period, and it might be good for other folks.”

The third reason people assign me as female-bodied is to put me in a category of people who were socialized as girls, based on the way I act or relate to others. It’s true: I do tend to take care of friends and devalue my experiences and needs in comparison with others, at least in part because I was raised as a girl. Although the perception of my body by others led to me being raised as a girl, it is very important that no one tries to teach me about my own experiences. If I locate my learned behavior of devaluing my own thoughts and feelings, I will say those tendencies came out of the systematic devaluation I experienced from being socialized as a girl, not being “female-bodied.” So, if we’re talking about socialization, let’s talk about socialization, but let’s not blame it on bodies, and thus, injure by assigning.
Read More

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Strawbreaking (via the Letter Z)

Anyone who wants to sign, comment here: http://sheisz.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/straw-breaking/.
Whereas those factions of cisgender people by sanction of state or sanction of religion, either by explicit or implicit means, or by inaction:

  • have trivialized and ridiculed transgender people for the satisfaction of cisgender people,

  • have majority and systematic control over our transgender narratives,

  • have committed crimes of casual abuse against transgender people,

  • have committed crimes of psychological warfare against transgender people,

  • have sought to censure transgender people for expressing the desire to be treated with the same respect afforded cisgender people

  • have sought to inspire and incite violence and maltreatment against transgender people

  • have committed crimes of deprivation of liberty and crimes against humanity against transgender people

  • have committed crimes of murder against transgender people, and

  • have the desire of eradicating transgender people as a whole

Whereas those factions of cisgender people, nation states, organized religions, and religiously motivated groups have refused to address the above and take action to rememdy the above in a serious and timely fashion

Therefore, be it resolved that signatories or adherents to this document do solemnly declare war against those factions above and those States and organizations sanctioning and/or harboring them, and that signatories or adherents take any means necessary or desired (that would not be in themselves criminal acts) against those factions, States, and organizations with an end to the cessation of the crimes listed.

via the letter z. And, as Z went on to add:
I had to deliberately make it vague: for one reason, I don’t want the feds on me for incitement to violence, or whatever, hence the “without committing crimes” clause. The broad goal is to make those cis people who would see us exterminated know that they’re going to have a fight on their hands, and we’re not going to take it any more. I know that this is pretty much the attitude and goal of everyone who’s already in the fight, so this can be construed really as a message for cis people — we’re already engaged in the war, and cis people to know that they are the agressors in this war, and we’re fighting back and why. And it is something for me, at least, that makes it easier to deal with the news of the continued warfare against us, I suppose.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dear Every[wer]man

From here:
When we complain about men raping, abusing, harassing, and refusing us our human rights, and you come back angrily with “But some men aren’t like that! How dare you imply that I might be like that.” Do you not think that the problem might come from the very fact that you are angry at us for complaining, rather than angry at your fellow boys and men for this enduring misogyny? Instead of being furious that we point out that many men do act this way - including men these women trust completely - be angry that there are men that will treat your mother, sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend badly purely because they are female. Not only that but they are giving you a bad name, not us.

This applies to everything of the "But not all of us are like that!", as I mentioned on Genderbitch's post. If you ever feel the need to pull out that defense, maybe you should re-evaluate: rather than being offended that people in your community are doing this, you get defensive and accusatory towards the people being harmed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Transgender and Crossdressing

Disclaimer: I'm not a crossdresser, crossdreamer, nor a drag ace†. Clue by four.

"I would never want to be a woman. That would spoil all the fun of dressing like one." - Carly*

I don't know if anyone noticed, but I put up the definitions of the words I use (and feel free to mention if I need to add any more or you have problems with the ones I put up). I wanted to elaborate a bit more on why I define transgender as I do. Which is:
An adjective describing a person whose gender (part or all of it) does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender makes no assumptions about the person’s genitalia, sex, gender role, presentation in daily life, or anything else- only the disconnect between what the doctors assumed the person would be and what the person actually is.

Now, I know that's not how everyone uses it- particularly as an umbrella term. One thing that there tends to be some disagreement on is whether or not people who don't uphold gender norms (crossdressers, drag royalty†, etc) are included in this. And here's my take on it.

Sexuality, Sexism and Why I Care

As I'm extremely loud about- I am asexual. I don't experience sexual attraction and, beyond that- I don't want sex, I don't have sex, I don't particularly want to hear if anyone else has sex but I accept that they do. So it might be a bit strange that I support the pro-sex movement, seeing as, by all rights, you'd think I'd be happy if everyone were ashamed of their sexuality and never talked about it, right? Wrong.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Write-ins included "Ze/zem/zeir/zemself" and the nebulous "Baked goods pronouns!"

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It is hot. Really, really hot. And I've been doing more exercise than I have in years. It's not hard to believe that I've been sweating a lot (and drinking a ton of fluids). I've also been hanging out in my room shirtless. I even went to the bathroom (co-ed) shirtless, but no one really saw that so whatever. I want to go outside like this as well, but the scars make me self-conscious. The nipples probably look a bit weird, but from afar I doubt that's as big a deal as the giant red slashes across my chest. But it's really nice to do this anyways.

I still have to moisturize the scars. A lot. Like, 3/4 times a day. I don't know if the heat is exacerbating it or what, but I do. So, yeah, top surgery tip: stock up on moisturizer.

I also got weighed for the first time since surgery. 122 lbs. Prior to surgery my weight has been consistently between 126-132 lbs for about 5 years. So there you have it, a good 4-10 lbs. [insert pun about "weight off your chest"]

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gender and the Binary

During the talk I had with Milla the other day, I started thinking about what gender would be like without the binary. And before I go on- let me make something clear. When I say "without the binary" I do NOT mean "without wermen and women", I mean "without the idea that everyone must be either a werman or a woman. Not both, not neither. One. Or. The. Other." (as well as the cissexist binary which says "and what you are is based on your genitalia" and "breaking gender roles makes it okay to mistreat you").

Thursday, July 29, 2010


AVEN, the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, is a good resource. The wiki is wonderful and everything else is a pretty cool 101 resource. But the forum? Not so great. It made me uncomfortable for awhile, but I could never quite put my finger on what. Thankfully, Kaz did it for me. (emphasis added)
Because most minority groups, they have their spaces where everyone is going to be on their best behaviour and try to do educating of the clueless and then they have their spaces that are minority-and-clued-up-ally-only where people can let off steam and clueless privileged people who wander in can expect to get blasted. AVEN is trying to be *both* the great centre for education and visibility (in the name!) and the centre of the asexual community, and when you think about what that means it’s clear it can so very easily lead to shutting down of opinions that aren’t nice clean friendly we-all-love-sexuals-really and forcing all asexuals to be nice and polite.

AVEN is a Public Relations site designed to educate and spread visibility of asexuals to sexuals. It is not a support forum designed to create a safe space for asexuals to talk about their problems and experiences without fear of being silenced. Unfortunately, to the detriment of the entire community, it tries to be.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Then Why Does Misgendering Matter?

Also known as: "It must be so nice to be comfortable in either social role (even though you say you aren't)" and "I don't care about non-binaries enough to find out what things are like for you, so I'm going to make snippy digs about how I have it worse and therefore don't have to care about non-binaries".

This conversation happened on facebook in a conversation about passing: Person1: "I don't really identify as female. I identify with both sexes. It's kinda hard to explain." Person2: "okay, then why would passing as male as opposed to female be an issue?"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


"Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it" - George Santayana

"Woman" derives from the combination of the words wif (lit. woman) and man (lit. human being). "Man" , on the other hand, used to be "wer"*. Going to werman in the same pattern that took wif to wimman, then getting dropped just to "man".

Why? Most likely because, over time, the assumption that wer was the default sex/gender, that you only had to specify gender when talking about the other gender. This has actually already happened in Esperanto, a language only 100 years old (based on language forums- I don't know Esperanto myself)- so clearly whatever caused it to happen isn't out of our systems yet. The distance between "man", a gender non-specified term for people, ended up being uneven- reflecting the same idea that "generic he" carries.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What the bible says- and doesn’t say- about Homosexuality

I'm not Christian, I don't belong to any religion, I'm not an atheist. I do like Jesus- he seemed like a great guy- but I haven't had the best experience with Christians have never been into religion and still can't get interested. But, it's a big deal to people. And I have to admit- I really appreciate and respect when people look into it this much.

We gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians take the Bible seriously, too. Personally, I've spent more than 50 years reading, studying, memorizing, preaching, and teaching from the sacred texts. I earned my master's and doctoral degrees at a conservative biblical seminary to better equip myself to "rightly divide the word of truth." I learned Hebrew and Greek to gain a better understanding of the original words of the biblical texts. I studied the lives and times of the biblical authors to help me know what they were saying in their day so I could better apply it to my own.

The entire thing is a good- though long- read. It covers the history of how human interpretation of scriptures has led to a great deal of bloodshed and pain throughout the years and still now, how many people don't actually know what the bible says and how humans can misinterpret it, the effect homophobia it has on, well, mostly on CLG(b) people- but it effects trans people as well, and then goes on to tackle the parts of the bible that are used to attack homosexuality. It even talks about the problems that translations have caused- including two words that no one is actually sure what a literal translation would be, but that someone decided to call "homosexual" in 1958.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Transgender Sexuality

So someone made the claim that "LGBT people are heterophobic". They weren't listening to logic anyways, so why use logic, I just pointed out that some trans people are straight- and not all of the LGBT is heterophobic. They argued that trans sexuality (not to be confused with transsexuality) is based on assigned-sex, so trans people can't be straight. Let's ignore everything wrong with this statement. Here's my argument on why trans sexuality should be based on gender (if the person prefers it) more often than assigned-sex. I'm not going to get into "real" sex or surgery or anything like that. It pretty much comes down to this, for me.

The public part of a person's relationship is rarely sexual.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

From here
We make the same sort of assumptions about bodies based on sex, although I would argue that they are more insidious. Culturally it is given that people with female bodies are women and people with male bodies are men. (Remember that, culturally, intersexed people do not exist.) Even among people who accept that trans people are telling the truth and we are who we say we are, we are still described as "men in women’s bodies" or "women in men’s bodies." This language is very problematic, as it still assumes that a female body must belong to a woman and a male body must belong to a man. To see how silly this is, consider a "man in a woman’s body;" just which woman does his body belong to? It’s not a woman’s body; a man inhabits it, it belongs to a man, so it is a man’s body.

This leads to my main point. Bodies belong to their owner or owners, not to society or anyone else. And bodies belong to people; people do not belong to bodies. Thus, a person’s body is theirs to modify and interpret. Even when given the example above, people tend to huff and say, "Well fine, it’s not a woman’s body, but it’s still a female body." To me, this is still problematic. What precisely about a man’s body is female? Certainly not his brain. (Culturally we also have a problem where we don’t consider your brain a part of your body or your biology.) It’s his body, and he’s male, so I’d argue that his body is male as well.

That usually leads to another huff and, "It’s biologically female, and you’re just going to get in trouble if you deny that." This is where things get particularly sticky. There are two problems with this statement. The first is that it is none of anyone’s business what someone’s biological makeup is, except their doctor’s; and thus the insistence of cis people to constantly point that out to trans people is, at best, annoying, and at worst, intrusive.

A lot of cis people have a tendency to forget that biology is a lot more complicated than "male" or "female." First of all, there are those pesky intersexed people again. There are more people than our society likes to admit who have ambiguous genitals or chromosomal anomalies that don’t fit in with our ideas of neat little male and female categories. (A cursory overview of intersex conditions is listed here.)

Secondly, you can’t describe someone’s entire health profile by deciding which sex box they go into. Bodies are more complicated than that. Even amongst cis people, there are biological overlaps. As a personal example, if I took women’s multivitamins, I’d be poisoned. Even though I have a "biologically female" body. How is that? Because we have different nutritional needs than other people based on other factors apart from sex (in my case, a genetic disorder is what causes this particular issue.) So because my nutritional needs are "biologically male," what does that make me?

The second problem with insisting another person’s body is "biologically this or that" is that, by clinging so desperately to the "your body is really female/male" line, you are still privileging the body over the person’s identity. My argument is that we, as human beings, can all interpret our bodies in a way that makes sense with our identities without killing our bodies or getting dread diseases.

We do this already to minor degrees. How often have you heard someone attach sentimental value to a scar? Or point to a birthmark and say, "It’s a heart" or "It’s a kitty face" or some other thing? It would be pretty rude to come down and say, "No, that’s just an abnormal pigmentation of the skin caused by injury or vascular irregularities. Stop being silly." Clearly, that’s what scars and birthmarks are, but the technical explanation of others is not as important as a person’s interpretation of their own body. These marks may have sentimental value, or it may simply be more pleasant to think of a weird mark as a flower or whatnot than as skin damage. It does not stop that person from seeking appropriate medical care if their marks start showing signs of cancer-like activity. So why should anyone else feel compelled to rain on that proverbial parade?

I argue the same principle applies to trans people. I can call my body male to my heart’s content. It doesn’t mean I am going to pretend that it’s no big deal if I get a lump in my breast. (And frankly it’s not your job to make sure that I check.) I don’t need you to tell me that my body is "really female" or "biologically female." I can take care of my body’s individual needs, such as checking my breasts for lumps, without needing to label my body in a way that I don’t wish to label it.

I fell into the trap of labeling my body as somehow essentially female for a long time, and it caused me a lot of mental anguish. The perceived incompatibility of my mind with my body was the source of a lot of discomfort for many years. But once I took a more subjective stance on my body (realizing that it is mine to interpret how I wish), and fixed the incongruity in my own mind, it relieved a major source of stress in my life.

A turning point in my life was researching sexual homology. (Specifically, looking at this web page.) Seeing the origins of particular genital tissues and the similarities between "male" and "female" sex organs made me realize that I could re-interpret my body to be something I am more comfortable with.

Before, I had a lot of sexual difficulties. I couldn’t really touch myself without feeling castrated and wrong. The things I was expecting to be there weren’t there. My genitals were alien and unpleasant to me. But that was a matter of interpretation. I was thinking of them as being somehow essentially female and therefore I was uncomfortable with them. After researching sexual homology, however, I changed the way I thought about my body. In essence I "re-mapped" my associations.

I started with the penis/clitoris. It hadn’t occurred to be before that the two were homologous organs. So the next time I touched my genitals, instead of thinking, "I don’t have a penis, I have some other weird thing instead," I thought, "Okay, so, I can think of this clitoris as a small penis, because they’re similar." And strangely enough, it worked. I was able to become more comfortable with my body based on my new interpretation.

Your first thought may be, "But it’s not really a penis." What difference does it make to you how I interpret my body? As I’ve said, I don’t ignore my health. I realize that my penis doesn’t work the same way as a normal cis man’s penis. But there are plenty of people, cis and trans, with "abnormal" organs and tissues, who take care of their body based on the way that their individual bodies work. Someone with a prosthetic limb may refer to their artificial arm as "my arm," despite the fact that it’s not flesh and blood, and still attend to the health needs unique to their situation. Interpretation need not be delusion, and in fact, I believe that it can be an incredibly positive action to take.

I realize that my particular solution to how I came to be comfortable with my body is not for everyone. However, I do think that because it was such a positive experience for me that it is worth sharing how I came about it.

The only problem I have with it is the lump thing- men need to check as well. Everyone with breast tissue needs to. TRANS MEN need to unless their surgeon scrapped it completely. Pap smears would be a better point.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gender: Let's try this again

Let me start by saying that gender and sexuality are not the same thing. They are somewhat related, they effect each other, but they are not the same. Trans people and non-binaries and everyone else can have any sexuality. But, people have an easier time understanding sexuality than gender. Probably just the way the world is going- or maybe it's because they can understand "I find X hot" easier than "I know myself to be X".

I continually see binary-gendered people try to define everyone else as between the gender binary. This even happens right after a non-binary expresses that this is not true, usually accompanied by a condescending "Silly non-binary, you don't know what you're talking about" or a lovely amount of derailing. This is trying to base our gender on your identities, even if we insist that they are not based on them. This is annoying at best. So let's see if using sexuality will make this finally get through.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lilo & Stitch

Like many Americans, I was raised on Disney Movies. And, like many people, I find myself noticing things as an adult that I never saw as a child. Although one thing that you really don't expect to notice in Disney is any LGBT reference. Sure- you get the occasional guy forced to wear dresses, dress like a woman, but this is usually accompanied by them bitching about it, or as a horrifically humiliating thing.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Binary trans people seem to have issues whenever a non-binary/genderqueer/multi-gendered/anyone who doesn't fit comfortably into the current two boxes person takes "it" as their pronoun. The reasoning I usually see for this is because 'it' is used to insult binary genders. So are "he" and "she"- in the form of misgendering- but I've yet to see a trans woman get angry at a man for calling himself 'he'.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blogging Against Disabilism Day

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2010
I'm going to try not to screw this up. But I probably will. I'm more or less able-bodied, have been pretty much all my life. The only disability I really know anything about is hearing impairment, and the people I've known with that had hearing aids so they could hear pretty decently- even if people were assholes to them because of it. I also might screw up the language pretty badly- so please tell me if I have.

I've seen a few asexuals with disabilities comment that they feel out of place in both communities. And it's not hard to see why. Asexuals put so much emphasis (maybe I should have bolded, underlined, and made that neon) on being healthy. This is understandable. There are a lot of people who insist that asexuality is a disorder of some kind- mental, physical, result of trauma, etc. I've seen people who spent years undergoing procedures to "cure" their asexuality. It didn't work, and could have done other damage. People who've gone to therapists to try and deal with some other issue, but once asexuality was brought up the therapist wouldn't get off that or spent their time/money trying to find out what's wrong with them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On Zucker

Kenneth Zucker is probably one of my least favorite people on the planet. I dislike his ideas about trans people, but more than that I hate what he gets away with doing to children. If you're not aware- he takes trans kids and forces them into the most rigid hetero/cisnormative gender roles that many cisgendered kids aren't expected to fit into these days.

It is completely backwards thinking. "Boys can't play with Barbie, girls can't play with GI Joe". What century are we in?! So what if a boy wants to wear pink? So what if a girl likes her hair short? Can someone please provide me with proof that children are scarred for life, utterly traumatized by being allowed to play with the toys they like?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Raising a kid "gender neutrally" doesn't mean "forcing a kid to be gender neutral".

"“If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings.” - Brian Tracy
It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” -Maya Angelou

A while back, there were two parents in Sweden who decided to raise their child gender neutrally. They didn't tell what sex their child was and all of that. This was, of course, met with much hullabaloo and disapproval. One person commented that it wouldn't work because "They'll see gender roles anyways".

At first I was confused by that. Yes, of course they will, but the gender roles won't be forced down the child's throat. And that's a good thing, really, because if the child does grow up to be a man or a woman, they'll need to know about gender roles to know what society expects of them and make decisions from there.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

With friends like these...

"Allies actually further the erasure of trans people in queer communities by only admitting to a related relationship, an abstract, and not a real and inherent one." - gudbuy t'jane

About a year back I was on a forum, and the issue of trans came up, and someone made a post talking about men and makeup/treatments/whatevers. I was genuinely confused about whether they were talking about trans men, cis men, or trans women. It could have applied to any of them. So I politely (no, really) explained that I didn't understand what the person meant and asked, if they were talking about trans women, to use the correct gendered terms.

The reply? Something along the lines of "I support you so I get to call you whatever I want".

I sincerely hope this person is in a vast minority, but I somehow doubt it (*waves to the genuinely supportive cis people out there* You guys rock! This post isn't about you!). If you aren't sure what's so bad about this, I'll try to explain.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How Can White People Enter Discussions About Racism?

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

I think this goes for anyone of privilege in any discussion, and the response was very thoughtful. I especially liked that it pointed out that anger isn't only directed at white people, but everyone, because this is a sensitive topic. I think this can be applied everywhere. The full post can be found here:
They don’t want you to talk about racism as a white woman. They don’t want me to talk about racism as a black woman. They just don’t want to talk about it. The mainstream prefers to think of racism as a thing of the past. The topic stirs up too much guilt and anger and demands. And admittedly some people of color can’t get past anger at white people to be able to trust them as allies. I hope that you will continue to write about racism, but to answer your question: No, white people cannot enter the race discussion without angering people. But then, No one can enter the race discussion without angering people.
No matter how long you are a part of the anti-racist movement, don’t think that your involvement trumps the real life experience of people of color.

But, it could simply be that you are a victim of racial prejudice–of people who think that a white woman can’t possibly care or think about racism. That sucks. The best thing you can do about this type of racial prejudice is call it what it is and move on. You should not let it stop you from doing something you think is worthwhile. Racial prejudice too often limits the lives of its victims.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Traits vs Gender

"Once, power was considered a masculine attribute. In fact, power has no sex.” - Katharine Graham
"I think we're struggling with trying to redefine various positions at this point in history. To allow freedom for women, freedom for men, freedom from those sharply defined gender roles." - Fred Ward

One thing that seems to be a source of confusion and aggravation for cisgendered/sexual (aka- non-transgendered) people is traits vs gender. In other words, confusing masculine traits and being manly with being a Man and vice versa. And the transgendered community doesn't help one bit.

The stereotypical backstory for a transgendered woman generally involves always playing with girls when she was a child, wanting to play with dolls and wearing dresses, always wanting to be the mom/woman figure when playing house, etc etc etc. When a transgendered person first comes out, which is also when they're least likely to pass and most likely to be out about being transgendered, they tend to go a bit 'overboard' on the femininity/masculinity (for mtFs and ftMs, respectively), too.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We're normal, you aren't

"Intolerance has been the curse of every age and state." - Samuel Davies

Every. Single. Community. does this. I mean it. EVERY one. If there is someone less accepted than you- someone in your community will kick them in the genitals. Even if it's just a small (but loud) minority- someone in every single community will do this. And it will always annoy the crap out of me.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pronouns- An explanation and Request

"For instance, the same sound, sie, means you, and it means she, and it means her, and it means it, and it means they, and it means them. Think of the ragged poverty of a language which has to make one word do the work of six -- and a poor little weak thing of only three letters at that." - Mark Twain
"I've grown certain that the root of all fear is that we've been forced to deny who we are.” - Frances Moore Lappe

Something that I'm sure annoys/confuses the hell out of some people who try to learn about non-binary genders is that it's a bit like learning a new language. Binary transgendered people generally use terms understood and accepted in society- Transition, Surgery, Hormones, Op(eration), Sex, Man, Woman, Gender, etc. They might use them a bit differently, but they're still accepted English words. Maybe they'll get into andro/gynephile, but I rarely see that. When you get into other genders- you get those words, sure. You also get Bigender, Androgyne, Neutrois, Intergender, Genderqueer, etc. All of which my browser is telling me with angry red dots are not English words. And then there are pronouns.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Uninformed vs Ignorant

"Nothing is as dangerous as an ignorant friend; a wise enemy is to be preferred.” -Jean de la Fontaine
"A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated." -Horace Mann

I like to differentiate between these two, because I think 'ignorant' is a bit of a loaded word. I don't like calling someone who simply hasn't seen these terms before 'ignorant', they just aren't aware of it yet and haven't had a chance to learn, even if it is technically accurate. To walk into a strange new world and immediately be called 'ignorant' for being new might be hurtful and make them less willing to learn. Considering what I deal with a lot of the time- closing people's minds is not a good thing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Asexuality and Orientation

"Sex is God's joke on human beings." -Bette Davis
"Sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love." - Butch Hancock.

I try my very best to make sure that this is not a secret, but I am Asexual. This essentially means that I don't experience sexual attraction, which is a sticky enough thing to define so I won't even try. I also don't have any personal interest in sex, and find the whole thing a bit squicky. The last one isn't a common thing among asexuals, it's just a personal issue I have.

Now, I honestly don't care if you want to have sex. I don't care who with. I don't care what objects you involve. As long as it's all consensual- it's fine by me. I also don't want to know about it, so please don't go out of your way to tell me about it. If there's something I'm telling you about that you genuinely don't want to hear about, I promise I'll do my best to stop telling you about it as well.

I've seen a lot of transgender people identify as asexual before transitioning, only to realize they aren't during or afterwards. There are also some who identified as asexual throughout, and maybe even a few who identified as sexual before but realized they were asexual afterwards. I'm totally fine with people having a fluid orientation, and acknowledge the chance that I may become sexual one day. But I bring this up because I think it's pretty unlikely that my sexuality is caused by my gender dysphoria.

My ideal body would be without genitals at all. I don't think I'll be getting this unless I become a billionaire, but that is the ideal. While sex is possible without genitals- the fact I'm not interested in having any major sex organs says a bit of something. For another thing, I really can't imagine a body that I'd want to have sex in or a person I'd want to have sex with. Even when I have "sex dreams" it's just two people who are fully clothed making out- neither of whom are me. There's just some bump where I try to reconcile "me" with "having sex". It just doesn't fit together.

However, me and dating are pretty damn reconcilable. This probably confuses a few people- I've seen a lot of "the only difference between a friend and a girlfriend is sex" sentiments out there. Well, if that was true, we wouldn't need terms like "Friend with Benefits" because that's all dating/marriage/etc would be. We wouldn't have a problem of someone cheating on their spouse with an online relationship, because if there wasn't any sex how could it be cheating? There is a difference between friend-love and romantic-love, it's just hard to put your finger on what it is so it's easier to just say it's sex. Look at it like this:

Sexual Relationship-Friends with Benefits=Romantic Relationship

In other words, I want a romantic relationship without all that sex stuff. As I said earlier- you guys can have all that sex stuff. But I don't want it. In fact, you can have mine. Here- take extra. As you can imagine, I pretty much only consider dating other asexuals. I realize that an asexual/sexual relationship is possible, but I have no interest in compromising sexually, so unless I find a fully celibate or polyamorous sexual that I'm attracted to, it really isn't worth the heartache. But to get into who I am interested in dating a bit more, just for the curious:

'Panromantic' (-romantic refers to romantic orientation) is the simplest way of putting it because gender/sex doesn't really matter to me- but I dislike the all-encompassingness of it. I'm attracted to non-conformity in terms of both gender and presentation, as well as every day life. But there really isn't a word for that. So mostly, I just say I'm asexual.