Pardon my dust

2012/12/26

I’m going to re-do my blogroll and pages sometime this year. Really. I haven’t touched the pages in, like, a year.

I’d like to say I’ll write an explanation for why I’m coming back here and leaving tumblr. But unfortunately I can’t because there’s a lot of it that I don’t want to have see the light of day. If I know who you are I’ll be happy to tell you privately.


I’d like to be able to call myself a feminist

2012/11/04

I’d like to.

I really would.

But doing that would feel like a lie.

Because if I say I’m a feminist, what I’m saying is “I feel like I belong, like I’m safe, in feminist spaces”. And that, except for spaces which are specifically trans, is not true.

It’s because of a barrage of micro (and macro) aggressions conflating having a penis with receiving the material benefits of patriarchal manhood. Because so many feminists don’t care enough to know if someone they’re praising or quoting has a history of active transmisogyny and cissexism. It’s those constant microaggressions that tell me, continually, that feminism is not for me, even when feminists say otherwise. Sometimes even from feminists who say otherwise.

It’s because posts like this have to be written, among other reasons.

But, unlike some very dear friends of mine, I want to be able to call myself a feminist and not feel like I am lying, or, at best, oversimplifying.

When I first came out, I was a very staunch feminist. I don’t really want to say whether I was or wasn’t before. I believed a lot of feminist ideals, but I also believed myself to be a man, and acknowledged that a lot of feminist women believed that men shouldn’t claim feminism (which is a belief that I now hold, quite strongly. Men should not call themselves feminists). I’m staunchly opposed to sexism, but I don’t have feminism as a place to stand from which to work against it.

It wasn’t until some months, almost half a year, after I came out, facing microaggression after microaggression in feminist spaces (and, of course, having my anger at them, when expressed, invalidated behind my back), until I saw that so many feminist spaces worked like this, at best (at least, the ones created by white cis women almost always were like this at best. My friend Christine points out that this is, specifically, a white tradition). When I saw that not only was I hated in these spaces, but also that depth of analysis was hard to find (not even the ones who called thesmelves “radical” spend nearly as much time advocating radicalism as they do promoting bigotry against trans women), I left.

And so, ultimately, I gave up trying to call myself a feminist, or call what I advocate feminism. Too little depth of analysis. Too much self-centeredness. Too little critique of the cissexism and transmisogyny handed to them by society, or handed down by their foremothers.

For me to call myself a feminist would require cis women creating feminist spaces in which I can let my guard down. In which I can feel like I belong, like my status there is not tenuous, like people will have my back if conflict happens.

So far the only spaces I’ve felt that way in were spaces that defined themselves as not feminist but otherwise anti-sexist.


My Existence is Unthinkable

2012/11/02

It’s a day late for Autistics Speaking Day, but I just had an experience that reminded me just how unthinkable it is that I exist.

So. Today I was on Facebook, reading status updates, when I got an ad for a bracelet to “fight autism”. This is offensive. This is vile. This is an ad being served to me telling me that something fundamental to who I am is a thing that must be fought, because they presume that, because I talk about it:

  1. I must be an allistic parent of an Autistic child, rather than an Autistic person myself.
  2. That the only thing to do is “fight autism”. That nobody on facebook who talks about autisticness would have any other view than that “fighting autism” is a good thing and a priority.

This isn’t the first ad to remind me that anyone who uses the keywords I do (“autistic”, which I use way more than “autism”. I should talk about the theory behind this sometime, because I have one. It’s actually, in its own way, “person first”). I get ads that presume I’m a parent rather than Autistic all the time. When I care to, I block them and mark them “offensive” or “against my views”.

I have never once seen an ad on Facebook presuming that the reader was Autistic.

Ever.

Not once.

Instead I get assumed to be someone I’m not. Only. I get the assumption that my political beliefs on autisticness are the opposite of what they actually are. Only. The idea that I might be an Autistic person who does not want to be cured is entirely unthinkable.

How unthinkable it is that I exist as a trans woman is a story for another day. But I have experience in that vein, too.


Autistics Speaking Day

2012/11/02

Since today is Autistics Speaking Day, I should probably at least acknowledge it. Even though I don’t really have anything to write for it that hasn’t already been said better elsewhere (Neurodivergent K is amazing, for one)

Meatspace, and mostly trans stuff in meatspace, has most of my activist energy.

I’m on a break from tumblr, for a bunch of reasons. I may remain on break longer-term. My own inability to stop doing things once I’ve started has made tumblr into more of a timesink than I really can handle, for one. My other reasons I would prefer not to discuss openly.

That means I might actually manage to update this blog weekly for more than two weeks in a row, though. As long as I can find inspiration for it.


Cisnormativity Constructed as Respectability Politics

2012/10/17

This is the big post that I’ve been taking forever to work on. It’s been consuming most of the executive function that I would be spending on writing more frequent updates. Now that it’s done let’s see if I can get into that habit.

Cisnormativity and heteronormativity were made into separate structures by cis GLB people as a strategic decision. The cis norm, as its own structure, is very much a product of the Gay Rights Movement. Prior to this separation, non-cis and non-het people (together, Gender and Sexuality Minorities, or GSM) were essentially viewed as the same bunch of sexual and gender deviants by the EuroAmerican white hegemonic culture.

The motive for this separation is fairly simple. Cis gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people created the division in order to narrow the group of people they were advocating for, and to present a more “acceptable” face to heteropatriarchy. This “acceptable” face could only be taken by the most “presentable” GSM people. Because presentability means being gender-conforming, class privileged, and white, and the split was created at a time (soon after the Stonewall Riot) when poor and working-class trans women of color such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson were extremely prominent, separating off trans people was an obvious path to take at the time the tactic was employed.

Further, being able to position themselves as enforcers of cisnormativity gave cis sexual minority people further upward mobility. This position as enforcers is taken when a gay Congressman removes trans protections from a rights bill, on the grounds that trans women must not have a legally acknowledged right to use the appropriate restroom. This position is taken when a lesbian “radical feminist” demands that trans women not exist, or that trans men not transition. This position gives cis sexual minority people advantages because it allows them to shift “unacceptability” off onto trans people. It allows them, specifically, to point to transitioning/ed CAMAB people (especially People of Color) and say “we’re not like them“, playing off society’s pre-existing transmisogyny and racism.

It is important, in any examination of these structures, to point out that cisnormativity and heteronormativity are not and never were freestanding social institutions, not only entwined together (which, to some extent they still are), but also that they are aspects of patriarchy. The oppression of GSM people sits on a foundation of gender-coercion and misogyny. Any analysis of this oppression, and of tactics to fight it, that neglects to consider patriarchy fails. Because of this, the anti-trans prejudices that are being played on here are often specifically against trans women. Further, this creation of a category of “fake” women is part of misogyny, as it creates a way to deny the womanhood of “unacceptable” women, an attack which is made primarily against Black women (one example is here) Read the rest of this entry »


Intermission, and facing my fears

2012/09/14

I’m thinking of picking up my posting rate on this blog to try to aim for weekly. If nothing else, that means that I’ll have activity listed for each month even if I miss one update, and giving me a deadline drives me to write. So.

I’m working on a fairly major post, anyway. I’ll aim to have it posted by the end of the month since my prereaders for it so far have all loved it.

But, moving on, I have something pretty heavy I want to confess.

I’ve got a pretty nasty fear that’s been eating me up and bringing me to tears every time I mention it to someone. So maybe I’ll be able to exorcize this demon some if I write about it and post it publicly. I can’t promise coherence and I’m probably not going to go back and edit.

Read the rest of this entry »


Missing the Point About Autisticness

2012/08/31

Or, Surprise! It’s more than just not making eye contact or small talk!

I haven’t talked much about being Autistic lately on this blog. So I figured I should.

A couple months back, about halfway between now and when I first came out to my mother (who has been nothing but supportive since I came out), she took me shopping for clothes, and brought along a friend of hers, H. She said, recently, that H thought that, on seeing me being comfortable being out, that I no longer seemed Autistic. This is emphatically not true. It speaks more of the shallowness of her knowledge of what it is to be Autistic than to whether or not I am that my ability and enthusiasm for small talk, my smiles, and eye contact are all of it.

The traits of Autistic people that get the most attention in the broader society are the ones coded as most socially unacceptable.  None of these are actually understood by people who don’t experience them, even the ones positioned as experts. Overt stimming is simply seen as an undesired behavior without addressing why. Meltdowns from sensory overload are mistaken for tantrums. Our social behavior, recognized persistently as an absence of allistic social behavior rather than a specifically Autistic behavior, is the most recognized, and also not understood.

To me, my more socially-oriented traits are best understood as a subset of sensory traits. In group conversations when I am not actively included, my being slightly slower than allistic people to process things can leads me to being shut out from contributing because I never have a response in a gap in the conversation, for instance. Small talk is a learned skill, and just because I’m (in the right circumstances) socially comfortable does not mean that I’m not autistic.

And the other cognitive parts are still there. My executive  function is only barely recovered from when I burned myself out. My memory and ability to hyperfocus on things are still there. Just about all that’s changed is that I can socially pass better than I could before, because I’m no longer adding on the burden of pretending to be a man.

I’m still recovering from burnout, I’m still unemployed because of burnout, and it’s hugely invalidating, and a dramatic misunderstanding of what it is to be Autistic, to say that just because I get read a certain way, that I don’t fit the stereotype, that I might not be.


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