Resource Project

2011/02/22

So, two things about gender-questioning resources:

First, I need to revise the draft page I have up so far. Mostly I need to fix the tone so that it’s more of a conversation with someone trying to figure themselves out and less of a general-purpose list. This may involve re-arranging some sections. Also, I don’t know if I can accurately point someone who’s exploring their identity to what it is to be genderqueer or pangender, so I need more stuff to read and link to so as not to lead anyone astray there. If anyone knows of a page where someone who identifies that way talks about how that feels, let me know.

Second, the next part of the project I’m working on is a collection of personal narratives about questioning one’s gender. So, I’ll be looking for stories from other non-cis people of all genders and lack thereof, of a variety of backgrounds, about how they figured out they weren’t cis, whether figuring out what their gender was, or knowing all along what their gender was and finding that they could be part of the trans community. I’m especially looking for people who don’t fit the standard trans narratives (that is, people who aren’t white class-privileged singlet abled feminine heterosexual women or masculine heterosexual men, people with different kinds of dissonance, and so on).

If you want to contribute, your contributions can be either posted elsewhere (just give me a link) or emailed to me to post here. The email I’m using for this blog’s business is blue (dot) tal (dot) (nine) k on gmail (nine is a numeral, not a word), although if you have my personal email from something else, go ahead and use it. If you email them, let me know how you want to be credited or if you want to be kept anonymous.

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Temporarily Removed

2011/02/20

[Post taken down temporarily. I need to get to rewriting it, and a lot of it was more my personal views and understanding than consensus. As such, I believe that it was doing more harm than good in the interim. Sorry to those who found it helpful.]


Save Lyon-Martin

2011/02/19

Since my site stats tell me I have readers who don’t check out Transgression, at least not from here (you should. It’s in my blogroll, and updates every other friday. It just updated today, if you need to count), I suppose that means I can signal-boost this and have people hear it:

The Lyon-Martin clinic in San Francisco, one of the best providers of health care for trans people (of all genders and birth assignments) in the United States, and an important facility serving uninsured (especially queer) women, is facing closure unless they can raise a lot more money. Their goal is $220,000 more (on top of the $280,000 already raised) by the end of this month, although they apparently have an ongoing fundraising campaign past it. An open fundraising letter is below the fold.

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I Don’t Want to Talk

2011/02/19

This isn’t addressed to anyone who knows this blog exists and who I am. This was inspired by one specific meatspace incident at the beginning of this past week, but it struck enough of a chord that there had to be other cases of this same thing that I’m not remembering off the top of my head because they’re that banal.

There’s no socially acceptable way to say you don’t want to talk, much less to say that you don’t want to talk to one specific person or to some people, but might want to talk to others. There’s no acceptable way to say “too tired to engage in small talk with people I don’t know”, or “I don’t have the mental energy to talk right now”. In the specific incident I’m thinking of (a classmate I didn’t know very well trying to make small talk with me as I rushed to get a homework assignment done), I’m glad that nobody tried to IM me in that time, either (I had to have my computer open to do homework). Fortunately with IMs, I could pretend to be busy or not see it, and all the people I like are people I’d trust not to be put off by “can’t talk right now”.

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On Kyriarchy

2011/02/18

(Minor edits made on May 27, 2012)

Instead of working myself into an incoherent rage over the latest wave of assaults on the human dignity of uterus-having people (In the US: South Dakota considered a bill to make it legal to murder the one abortion provider who visits the state, Ohio wants to ban abortion after a “heartbeat” is detected and Iowa wants to ban it entirely; federally, there’s a push to ban grants to provide health care from going to Planned Parenthood), I thought I’d step back a bit to explain something to people who are ostensibly on the same side as we are and yet don’t get it.

Progressives, liberals, socialists, syndicalists, Marxists, radicals, Keynesians, reformers, and other assorted leftists: The class war is not the only front the enemy cares about. It’s not about money to them, it’s about power. They want to have power over us, as much power over as many people as possible. They want to control us. They want to be able to starve us, to throw us out on the street, to control our bodies.

Their goal is not to hoard capital, or to gather the world’s resources under their control, except as a means to an end. Their goal is to protect and reinforce their own privilege. Their goal is to defend the kyriarchy.

Now, is the huge push by various legislatures in this country to outlaw abortion a distraction from their inaction on economics, or were their promised economic plans a trojan horse to get them into office so that they could allow domestic abusers to prevent their victims from getting abortions through ways up to and including murder? Yes, on both counts. They came in promising to fix the economy through Hoovernomics. Hoovernomics is literally the easiest policy in the world to implement; all you need to do is stand by and do absolutely nothing in the face of an emergent economic crisis. The difficulty comes in when you have to justify why you’re doing absolutely nothing in the face of an emergent economic crisis. So of course they’re going after abortion rights.

But, equally, they got into office fully planning to do this. Abortion rights isn’t a third-tier issue (warning: linked page uses “women” to mean “people who can get pregnant” freely) to them. Denying access to safe and legal abortion is a primary priority for them, because their thing is about maintaining the kyriarchy. Patriarchy is as integral a part of the kyriarchy as plutocracy is. They aren’t cynically attacking reproductive rights (let’s be clear: this affects the right to reproduce. If I could get pregnant, I would not risk a pregnancy developing under the kind of legal regime they are pushing, and I want kids) to distract while they enact plutocracy, they are attacking reproductive rights because they want to attack reproductive rights.

This could have been any of us. The climate was good for a panic over reproductive rights, so they ran with that. They could have just as easily stirred up a panic over immigration. If political hay could be made by chipping away at LGB rights, then they might do that. Likewise for gender transitioner rights, or womens’ anti-discrimination laws, or a religious minority (Muslims are frequently targeted here), or whatnot. But this isn’t because there are some cynical leaders who don’t really believe this shit and peddle it to an uneducated base that’s easy to get riled up. The leaders of this movement are cis, rich, het, white, Christian men. They benefit more than anyone else from the kyriarchy, and not just the class part. Why would they not believe that it is a good thing? More importantly, what do you gain by arguing that they aren’t personally bigoted? In fact, that entire argument is more than a little classist, since it implies a division among the right: the enlightened but cynical rich leaders, and the bigoted ignorant poor masses.

The people responsible for this really believe it just as much as their base does. You don’t have to be working-class or uneducated to be bigoted; in fact, that assumption is really terribly classist. Being rich and educated just means you can dress it up nicer. Conserving the kyriarchy on every front is the core conservative issue, and the focus on class that many (middle-class, cis, white, male) liberals like to take is a distraction.

If you actually want to be part of the movement to overturn this thing, stand against everything. It’s not a distraction from the real issues just because it can’t affect you. Stand with all of us or get out of the way.


Beginnings

2011/02/12

I have trouble with beginnings.

For the first few years of my life, I wasn’t aware of this. For the remainder of my childhood up until some months after I started reading the activist (feminist, primarily, at that time) blogosphere, I was ashamed of this as a character failing. Afterwards, I denied it. I didn’t actually have trouble with beginnings, that’s a stereotype imposed on us for being autistic. I just don’t do things I don’t want to do.

No. I’m not going to hide from this any more. I have trouble with beginnings. The kind of trouble I have with beginnings is similar to troubles other autistic people have. Starting to do something is difficult for me. This can apply to the most mundane things, like cooking dinner for myself, to things I only need to do because I’m told to (like homework assignments) to things I genuinely want to do, like, for instance, starting this blog.

The way these things play out is influenced by exactly what the thing is, of course. For things like cooking, I substitute grazing for eating cooked food, and suppress my hunger until I can’t ignore it when I don’t want to cook, which can be pretty uncomfortable. Actually, I’m ignoring hunger to write this blog post right now. . . about ignoring hunger.

I actually enjoy cooking (but don’t enjoy the dish-doing that comes after), and I definitely enjoy eating, so my trouble with getting up and starting to cook usually takes the form of getting really engaged in something else, and more having trouble with ending that than starting to cook unless I’m really exhausted, too.

With homework assignments, it’s a completely different animal. It takes the pressure of a closing window of time (usually the night before it’s due, but if I’m busy that night then whatever else that is can replace it) to do the assignment; otherwise I can’t pull up the motivation to get started at all. Sometimes this gets worse, where even that night, I continue to put off the assignment for hours, doing other, trivial things (browsing Tumblr, playing solitaire, refreshing threads on other blogs and forums long after everyone else has gone to bed) just to not have to start an assignment I don’t want to do.

Usually this is proportionate to my not wanting to do it, but for some reason I pulled an all-nighter last night putting off writing a few slides for a group presentation (which actually prompted this post), and I don’t actually have any issues with this work or my groupmates; I’m doing almost exactly what I want to do with the people I want to work with. The only previous time I’ve come nearly as close to taking that long putting off an assignment was when I was actually burned out on taking classes in that subject and hadn’t noticed until then, and this is a completely different feeling.

Even things I genuinely want to do can be affected by this. I’d decided I needed to start a blog for more than a year before I started this one. For those who are counting, yes, that’s before I figured out I was trans. I have three rewrites of an introduction post sitting on my computer, that I hated the idea of. I hate introducing myself to nobody in particular who has no reason to care about who I am, so I’m not going to do that. It took volunteering myself to assemble the gender-questioning resource list (which I am working on, slowly, as I do other things) to get me to actually start this blog, and I sincerely wanted to start it, I just had no idea how.

So, yeah, I have trouble with beginnings, it’s probably an autie thing, I don’t think it’s a character flaw even though it does make things difficult for me at times, and I’m not ashamed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to do some basic self-care I was putting off. After this song.


Sex is a Social Construct

2011/02/12

Editing Note, May 1, 2012: This post is highly problematic, especially in regards to transnormative prescriptiveness, and not questioning the racism in the term “gender abolitionist”). I’ve made a few edits to it to, um, slightly alleviate this. Excising the problematicness from it will probably mean rewriting it completely. I don’t recommend anyone use it as anything except evidence of how I believed terrible things last year.

Oct 17, 2012: Clarifying, since I’m still getting hits on this: I still believe the point I’m making. I just can make it without being such a fuckup.

“Sex is biological, gender is a social construct”

This is a classic truism of feminist theory. It’s also completely wrong. The existence of trans and intersex people demonstrates this on both halves of the statement. I’m not going to address what gender is in this post, and am instead going to focus on sex here, leaving gender to a future post. There’s a fair bit of existing trans theory on this subject that this essay is built on. Many ideas here will be cribbed from those articles.

Asher Bauer describes it like this: “The entire concept of “sex” is simply a way of attaching something social– gender– to bodies”. This is completely true, and merits exploration in more detail. He also lays out the right way to gender a body: a male body belongs to a male person, a female body belongs to a female person, a neutrois body to a neutrois person, a genderqueer body to a genderqueer person, an agender body to an agender person, a multigendered body to a multigendered person, a genderfluid body to a genderfluid person, and so on (although these rules get more complicated when the person in question is a member of a multiple system); literally every other method of labelling a body “male” or “female” that will be given later in this article is wrong.

There’s a lot of resistance to this idea. Because of the culture we’re soaking in, it seems like common sense that there genuinely are two immutable, binarily-opposed sexes that have a certain collection of traits, even though that’s not true.

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