Genderfluid

Nov. 6th, 2014 06:37 am
naamah_darling: Lucian from Underworld next to a snarling wolf. From the dark into the black, throwbacks always have to go. (Lucian Throwbacks)
(I posted this on Dreamwidth and then wondered why I got no comments.  Turned out it didn't crosspost, so here it is.)

This is a really interesting personal story piece about being genderfluid:

I Am Genderfluid by Astrophe on Jezebel

I found it yesterday, and a lot of it really resonated with me.

I'm genderfluid.

I think. I mean, I don't know what else to call it.

My gender exists in some sort of quantum state. It's Schrödinger's cat, unknown unless I examine it. Boy day or girl day? Let me open the box and check. These days it's usually a boy day, but there have been long stretches of time when I'm usually girl, and I'm sure there will be again. Sometimes it's neither; I open the box and can't tell whether the cat's alive or not. And frequently, it's both at once. A tuxedo cat, black AND white all at the same time, not sometimes black and sometimes white.

Someone once compared being genderfluid or genderqueer to being a superhero, and I think that's brilliant. Your identity encompasses both at all times, no matter how you are presenting at the moment. The way Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person all the time, but are still different identities.

This cat: genderfluid avenger of the night!
Basically, I am this cat.

I believe gender is a thing that is 90% imposed on us from outside, and it begins so early – the very moment we are born – that most people (in my culture, anyway) literally cannot conceive of the idea that the chasm that separates "male" and "female" is really more like a bike tire track in the mud. And despite years identifying as female and not questioning that, I somehow managed to trip and fall on both sides of it.

Maybe things would be different for me if I'd been born ten, twenty years later, or in a place where there was awareness of anything other than male = penis, woman = vagina, no other choices. If I'd been able to start the process of mentally divorcing myself from my body.

Then again, maybe that would have made the dysphoria horrific instead of merely frustrating. I don't know. I can't know. I was born in 1977 in Oklahoma; transgender people were perceived as sideshow freaks, if they were acknowledged at all. I didn't have a good idea of what it actually for-real meant and looked like, so I couldn't try on the label and say, hey, maybe this fits, maybe this is offering me possibilities that I'd like to take advantage of, maybe this is a way out of a situation I never liked. I can't say how I would have turned out if I'd known that there was more out there than "I'm a girl" and "I'm a boy."

So I am doing that work now, at 37, picking myself apart a few stitches at a time to see how I was put together, deciding what to keep, what to discard, and what to save in a box to use when I want to use it. There are no stories for me, no narratives that reflect my experience. Most of the narratives I find are those of young people finding this out relatively early, and that leaves me with a warm feeling, yes, because I love that this is more and more possible for people, but it also leaves me feeling a little shut out because it would be helpful to see other people going through what I'm going through, how they did it, what they wrestled with and what was easily put aside. Also, many of those narratives are about being clearly transgender, crossing the bridge between one and the other, then burning it, because there's no desire to go back. They aren't narratives about living on the bridge, waking up randomly on different sides, or in the middle, not belonging to either side.

I barely have a candle to hold while I follow this thread through the maze. I don't know where it will lead. I don't know if, a year from now, I will identify as genderfluid, genderqueer, female, male, or something else. It's a process, and while I am surrounded by supportive people, they're mostly cishet so they can't help me with the work. They don't have the first idea what it's like. Just like I'm sure I don't have the first idea what it's like to be truly dying-on-the-inside dysphoric.

My body is a thing that I accept because I literally cannot change it enough to make the "not right" stop; for whatever reason, I'm able to accept that more completely than a lot of people do – and that doesn't make me stronger, it's just a difference. Maybe it's easier because even when I have "boy days" it's not usually a typically masculine sort of boyishness that I experience. I mean, it's a very teenage boy feeling, but it's not a manly feeling. Maybe that part of me is too new to be grown up and someday that will change, I don't know.

That's the thing about gender identity. If you don't fall squarely into one camp or the other, there's a tremendous amount you suddenly realize you don't know. About the world, about yourself, about your future . . . even about your past.

The hardest part is when I see beautiful people who can pull off male and female with equal élan. Who can visually switch, be either, neither, both. And I envy that physical manifestation of fluidity more than I can say. My body – incredibly short, fat, and stacked front and back – excludes me from that. I can make a stab at dressing like a guy, but that's not going to make people take me for or treat me like a guy. I'll just be a short, fat chick dressed in boy clothes. If I want to be treated like a guy, I'll have to ask.

That's awkward, even among friends. Maybe I'll get comfortable with the idea eventually, I don't know, but right now it just seems like a lot of work, me having to identify what I feel like and notifying people when that changes. It also seems invasive. I'm trying to work out a solution, but it may be I don't find one that doesn't feel uncomfortable.

I recognize how lucky I am not to be more dysphoric than I am, and I have nothing but love and sympathy for those who are. We now use "bleeding heart" and "my heart bleeds for you" in sarcastic gross ways mostly, but no, I mean it, it hurts me inside that the world is so much harder for other trans-spectrum people. I feel enormous fellowship and love for all of you.

Maybe . . . maybe things will be different someday. Identities shift and evolve, and we aren't locked into one mode of being, the way we are told we are, taught to be. So maybe I'll change and change and change, trying to understand, right up until the day I die. As confusing as this is sometimes, I'm okay with that, I think.

And, so much more importantly, maybe things will be different for all of us. Maybe someday it won't be so difficult to understand who we are and to be understood by others.

Cross-posted from Silver Into Steel. Comment wherever!

Genderfluid

Nov. 4th, 2014 06:19 am
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
This is a really interesting personal story piece about being genderfluid:

I Am Genderfluid by Astrophe on Jezebel

I found it yesterday, and a lot of it really resonated with me.

I'm genderfluid.

I think. I mean, I don't know what else to call it.

My gender exists in some sort of quantum state. It's Schrödinger's cat, unknown unless I examine it. Boy day or girl day? Let me open the box and check. These days it's usually a boy day, but there have been long stretches of time when I'm usually girl, and I'm sure there will be again. Sometimes it's neither; I open the box and can't tell whether the cat's alive or not. And frequently, it's both at once. A tuxedo cat, black AND white all at the same time, not sometimes black and sometimes white.

Someone once compared being genderfluid or genderqueer to being a superhero, and I think that's brilliant. Your identity encompasses both at all times, no matter how you are presenting at the moment. The way Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person all the time, but are still different identities.

This cat: genderfluid avenger of the night!
Basically, I am this cat.

I believe gender is a thing that is 90% imposed on us from outside, and it begins so early – the very moment we are born – that most people (in my culture, anyway) literally cannot conceive of the idea that the chasm that separates "male" and "female" is really more like a bike tire track in the mud. And despite years identifying as female and not questioning that, I somehow managed to trip and fall on both sides of it.

Maybe things would be different for me if I'd been born ten, twenty years later, or in a place where there was awareness of anything other than male = penis, woman = vagina, no other choices. If I'd been able to start the process of mentally divorcing myself from my body.

Then again, maybe that would have made the dysphoria horrific instead of merely frustrating. I don't know. I can't know. I was born in 1977 in Oklahoma; transgender people were perceived as sideshow freaks, if they were acknowledged at all. I didn't have a good idea of what it actually for-real meant and looked like, so I couldn't try on the label and say, hey, maybe this fits, maybe this is offering me possibilities that I'd like to take advantage of, maybe this is a way out of a situation I never liked. I can't say how I would have turned out if I'd known that there was more out there than "I'm a girl" and "I'm a boy."

So I am doing that work now, at 37, picking myself apart a few stitches at a time to see how I was put together, deciding what to keep, what to discard, and what to save in a box to use when I want to use it. There are no stories for me, no narratives that reflect my experience. Most of the narratives I find are those of young people finding this out relatively early, and that leaves me with a warm feeling, yes, because I love that this is more and more possible for people, but it also leaves me feeling a little shut out because it would be helpful to see other people going through what I'm going through, how they did it, what they wrestled with and what was easily put aside. Also, many of those narratives are about being clearly transgender, crossing the bridge between one and the other, then burning it, because there's no desire to go back. They aren't narratives about living on the bridge, waking up randomly on different sides, or in the middle, not belonging to either side.

I barely have a candle to hold while I follow this thread through the maze. I don't know where it will lead. I don't know if, a year from now, I will identify as genderfluid, genderqueer, female, male, or something else. It's a process, and while I am surrounded by supportive people, they're mostly cishet so they can't help me with the work. They don't have the first idea what it's like. Just like I'm sure I don't have the first idea what it's like to be truly dying-on-the-inside dysphoric.

My body is a thing that I accept because I literally cannot change it enough to make the "not right" stop; for whatever reason, I'm able to accept that more completely than a lot of people do – and that doesn't make me stronger, it's just a difference. Maybe it's easier because even when I have "boy days" it's not usually a typically masculine sort of boyishness that I experience. I mean, it's a very teenage boy feeling, but it's not a manly feeling. Maybe that part of me is too new to be grown up and someday that will change, I don't know.

That's the thing about gender identity. If you don't fall squarely into one camp or the other, there's a tremendous amount you suddenly realize you don't know. About the world, about yourself, about your future . . . even about your past.

The hardest part is when I see beautiful people who can pull off male and female with equal élan. Who can visually switch, be either, neither, both. And I envy that physical manifestation of fluidity more than I can say. My body – incredibly short, fat, and stacked front and back – excludes me from that. I can make a stab at dressing like a guy, but that's not going to make people take me for or treat me like a guy. I'll just be a short, fat chick dressed in boy clothes. If I want to be treated like a guy, I'll have to ask.

That's awkward, even among friends. Maybe I'll get comfortable with the idea eventually, I don't know, but right now it just seems like a lot of work, me having to identify what I feel like and notifying people when that changes. It also seems invasive. I'm trying to work out a solution, but it may be I don't find one that doesn't feel uncomfortable.

I recognize how lucky I am not to be more dysphoric than I am, and I have nothing but love and sympathy for those who are. We now use "bleeding heart" and "my heart bleeds for you" in sarcastic gross ways mostly, but no, I mean it, it hurts me inside that the world is so much harder for other trans-spectrum people. I feel enormous fellowship and love for all of you.

Maybe . . . maybe things will be different someday. Identities shift and evolve, and we aren't locked into one mode of being, the way we are told we are, taught to be. So maybe I'll change and change and change, trying to understand, right up until the day I die. As confusing as this is sometimes, I'm okay with that, I think.

And, so much more importantly, maybe things will be different for all of us. Maybe someday it won't be so difficult to understand who we are and to be understood by others.

Cross-posted from Silver Into Steel.  Comment wherever!

naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)

Around the first week of January of this year I had a pair of dreams, one night apart, that have tugged at me ever since. I finally found the personal journal entries where I wrote about them, and found that they are as relevant now as they were then. I want to share them with you because they’re so beautiful, and because there are things I need to talk about that relate to them both, and I think I’m ready to do that now.
 

Night Garden by Susan Sanford on Flickr.

I lived in an underground wizard’s tower. Like a deep, deep stone-lined shaft with lovely arched entryways leading into a warren of corridors and rooms. It was huge. There was a waterfall down one side, and a meditation garden at the bottom full of mossy rocks big as bulls, and a lily pool, and small statues hiding in the roots of the twisted trees that grew there. Though the sun never reached more than halfway down the central shaft, it was never dark. Lights hung among the branches or glowed near paths and benches. It was immensely peaceful and quite lovely.

I lived there with my master, a powerful wizard who had raised me from childhood to be his companion. (The deeply creepy overtones that carries when you say it out loud were not there in the dream.) I loved him utterly. He provided for my every need and want, and so I never left the tower. I could have, if I wanted to, but I was happy. I was not a creature of great appetites. I was not spoiled, any more than it is spoiling anyone to meet their needs. My need was to be kept safe and comfortable.

I helped my master with his correspondence and his studies. He taught me how to do amazing and wonderful things with magic. I could make books sing their words aloud, or make cats waltz with rabbits. I knew the secret names that would make every stone in the garden glow a different color and sound a different note. I could turn into a cat, a wolf, a fox, a crow, a marten.

None of what I did was what you would call useful, certainly none of it was destructive, but I had no concept of that, really. I had no idea that magic or life should be for something. Just that it was, and was to be enjoyed. It was total innocence. I was a beautiful being capable of beautiful things, and I believed that completely.

My master didn’t live like that. He went out into the world and did things. Fought battles, even, though whether he saved cities or razed them I did not know and didn’t care. He was kind to me. He went out into the world and worked his will upon it, because that was what pleased him, and so I never questioned it.

One day, he didn’t come back.

I didn’t know how to provide for myself. Without him, where would I get food, or companionship, or any of the other things that I needed that he provided me? So I left the tower and went into the upper world, hoping to look up some of the friends he corresponded with, knowing they would help me.

I came up outside a town that was very much like small town Oklahoma or Arkansas or Kansas. Not a backwards, hostile hickville, but a town full of average folks with the kindness you find among the best kind of rural people. I stole some clothes from a store so I wasn’t naked, even though I didn’t understand why these people covered themselves. It seemed silly, but they wouldn’t talk to me otherwise, just stare.

I asked around about my master, but nobody knew what I was talking about. A magician? A tower underground? That’s crazy talk. I asked if they could help me find his friends, and they sent me to a telephone. I didn’t even know what it was. I’d never learned to contact his friends on my own. I always had him to do it for me.

And the worst of it was that these people kept asking me things.

What’s your name?


Well, I don’t have one. I know who I am, and he knows who I am, and isn’t that all that matters?

Are you a boy or a girl?


What is the difference between them? I can see the difference between types of bodies, yes, I am not ignorant of that, but why do you draw lines between them, and why are people expected to – forced to! – identify themselves based on their body parts? That is boundlessly cruel, and obviously sick and destructive.

What do you do?


I read books and sometimes I climb trees and rocks, and I sleep on soft sheets and pillows with someone who really, really loves me, and
takes care of me always, and now he’s gone, and I’m alone, and I’m so scared.

No, no, I mean, what’s your
job?

And that one I didn’t understand at all, I didn’t even know what that meant. Once it was explained, I felt awful about it. All these people with identities totally at odds with what they were forced to do every day, all these people working at things that meant nothing to them. I didn’t even understand money. I didn’t understand why the things that people need were not provided to them by people who love them, and I did not see why people did not care for one another and love one another.

It was a nice place and full of the nicest people, and I didn’t understand them at all. They couldn’t help me. They kept demanding that I identify myself in ways that made no sense. And they insisted that magic did not exist! The only time they became uncomfortable or standoffish was when I tried to prove it did.

I could see that were passionate about things and laughed often and were sometimes kind to one another, and I also saw that they could be lonely and afraid, so I did not think they were so very different from me at all, but apparently they felt otherwise, and they wanted me to be more like them in ways that they considered important before they would help me. And they did not believe me when I said I was in danger.

I became aware as I went running from pillar to post that someone WAS hunting me, but I couldn’t catch them at it, and couldn’t get away from them, either. I was pretty sure they were coming to take me, too, because my master had always told me that I was precious and important, and also that I was delicate, and that others would be jealous and want to hurt or steal me if I ever left. (And he was right, as creepy as it sounds. He wasn’t just saying that to keep me in a cage. It was true.)

I was scared, and I knew if I changed my shape into an animal, the people would try to hurt me or catch me, so I stole a bike and tried to ride for the bookstore, where I thought I might find help of some kind – places for books are safe places.

I woke up before I could get there.

That is the first dream.

It was a sad dream. I very much liked the person I was in it, and I hope that I was able to find my master and get back to the peaceful garden at the bottom of the tower.

Originally published at Silver Into Steel.

naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Thane)

Once again from the turgid sea of content that is Tumblr, I bring you something relevant to my interests.

The (lovely and you should be following her) Iridessence got asked the following question.

In response to your "Respect Gender Pronouns" post. I can respect the proper pronouns, but not everyone knows them or is able to tell what someone is. I don't like it when people get seriously offended when they are called the wrong pronoun by someone that they don't even know. How is that person supposed to know what you want to be called?

Can there be respect for ignorance too? For those that are old fashioned or just plain unaware of new pronouns?

Respect ignorance.  That'll be a bumper sticker any minute now.

Iridessence's excellent answer: "You should probably ask a trans person, since even if it were my place to answer, I’m not sure how to."

It didn't actually address the asker's concerns, though, so here's my answer, edited slightly for clarity.
 

RESPECT GENDER PRONOUNS patch, black print on white fabric.
This awesome patch
and many others are available from TheChurchofHotCoffee on Etsy.

I'm female-leaning genderfluid who was born female and passes as female. It ain’t my place to speak for everyone, and I have a shitton of privilege and am sort of waffly on where exactly I fit in, so I don't know if I can rightly put forth an opinion on behalf of trans* folks, but I have to say, as a member of other marginalized groups:

"Can there be respect for ignorance, too?"

NO.  Indulgence and possibly understanding, and respect for the people themselves, but for the actual ignorance, no, not ever, NEVER, respect.  You do not respect ignorance.  Ignorance is the water that passively allows the poison of hate to fucking spread, and as it is harmful, it is not something that compels respect.

"For those that are old fashioned or just plain unaware of new pronouns?"

For the ignorant/unaware, there should be some level of tolerance, I think.  Some level of understanding that this is not a new thing (trans* history goes back to the earliest human civilizations), but a thing that is only just now making its way into the light of our own culture, and so it is new to some people.  So for people who don’t understand it yet, but would like to or are trying to, I think that there should be some meeting in the middle.

It is important to understand, though, that it can be really fucking tiring for trans* folks to have to correct people, and have those awkward, sometimes long, and always potentially hostile conversations.  Nobody is obligated to tiptoe around the ignorant person’s feelings.  Sometimes it’s fine to say “Take it or leave it.  Problems?  Problems.  Fine.  I have no time for this discussion and am not obligated to educate you when you could do it yourself. Goodbye.”

For the “old-fashioned” who just don’t want to acknowledge that gender is complicated?  NOOOOO.  I’m not saying outright hostility without provocation is called for, or anything, but a person’s right to respect trumps another person’s right to say shit that disrespects them, and deliberately misgendering someone because you disagree about who they are inside — as if you fucking know them better than they do — is very very very disrespectful.

The relatively polite question-asker toward whom I bear no ill will, doesn’t like it when people get upset about being misgendered.  Well, people get upset because they really don’t like being misgendered.  If it’s accidental, well, reacting badly is maybe not okay, but it’s sure kind of understandable considering how often it is done on purpose, and the results that can come from that.  “I don’t like it when marginalized people who are sometimes murdered for being what they are get angry when they have been hurt by someone refusing to acknowledge them in a way that doesn’t actually cost anyone anything other than a tiny bit of consideration” is … you do see how that looks?  You see how petty and one-sided and bratty that sounds?  Aside from genuine oh-shit-sorry-I-didn’t-know ignorance, there is no reason other than being kind of a butthole to refuse to acknowledge a person’s preferred gender once you are made aware of it.

I am not entirely unsympathetic, okay?  Truly, I am not.  I get it.  I'm assuming you’re talking about people who maybe would respect the person’s identity if they knew it, but they don’t know, and they get it wrong.  Yeah.  I get annoyed when someone who has literally no way of knowing what gender someone they are taking to (on the internet, for instance) and makes a guess, and they’re wrong, and then they get attacked.

I am sad that happens.  That’s shitty.  Not as shitty as, you know, being attacked for wearing the “wrong” clothes or using the “wrong” restroom, but shitty.  But you know how often I’ve seen that?  I’m holding up one hand and wiggling most of the fingers.  Now, maybe you’ve seen that way more often, and if so, I’m truly sorry you had that experience, and I have sympathy.  I legit hate that it happens, it makes me angry and sad, and I call it out when I see it.

But you know how many times I’ve seen people get all upset and whiny because they deliberately misgendered someone and the person responded by standing up for themselves and saying anything from “Hey, don’t do that please!" to "Go fuck yourself!" or something like that?  I stopped counting.  It’s not great that sometimes marginalized people assume ill will, but it’s coming from a place of being totally shit on by our culture at large, so, again, understandable.  And some trans* people are fucking jerks, just like some brain surgeons, some writers, some dog owners, some blonde people, and some neo-pagan people are fucking jerks.  Holding us to a standard of perfect politeness in addition to the expectation that we perform our gender “correctly” is fucking oppressive as shit.  It’s saying “No, we will only engage in dialogue with you if you are totally respectful of us when we are disrespectful of you.  Otherwise we shut it down until you can watch your tone.”

Basically, holding the progress of our acceptance hostage against our perfect good behavior.  Our culture may give you a free pass to do that, but marginalized folks don’t have to.  We don’t like it, and we aren’t obligated to do it.  So asking “why are some trans* people so meeeean” is futile.  Some people are just fucking mean, okay?  It sucks having run-ins with them, but holding them against us is not cool.

And yes, before you ask the somewhat logical “Then why is it okay to hold OUR behavior against US?!”, there’s a difference between the two.

There’s the side of being a defensive dickbag who tries to take your whole hand off when accidentally poked. Being a jerk results in hurt feelings.  Nothing more.

There’s the side of being an active oppressor who takes his right to say anything he wants as an excuse to shove toxic shit down the throats of people lower on the totem pole than he is. This system results in people getting beaten, raped, thrown out of their homes, and killed.

Therefore, there is a difference between holding the behavior of a marginalized person against the whole group, and holding the behavior of a bigoted shitwad against the group of people that for the most part fosters and encourages that shitwad behavior, and which actively shoves down that same marginalized group — thus causing a lot of defensive hostility.  And I hope you can understand that, or come to.

Again, a person’s right to respect trumps another person’s right to say shit that disrespects them, and marginalized people are the ones who get to define what is disrespectful to their group.  It’s very, very simple.  It’s just not something people want to have to acknowledge, because it requires dislodging their comfortable opinions about who people are and what they are supposed to be.

Originally posted at Silver Into Steel.  Comment anywhere!
naamah_darling: Close cropped image of a blonde ponytailed man with a woman pulling a black stocking tightly around his neck. (BDSM)
So, I wrote this on Tumblr, but I thought I'd repost it here.

A quote:

Women are often acutely aware of being gendered as female as they make their way through everyday experiences in the world. Not paying attention to masculinity might mean walking to your car at night without thinking about personal safety or the possibility of sexual assault.  Women often hold their keys at the ready, walk in pairs, or remain hypervigilant about their surroundings in ways that often simply don't occur to men.  Because girls are raised knowing they will be judged on how they look, women are intensely aware of their image from head to toe.  Men may not give a second thought to what they're wearing.  Looking good can matter for everyone, but the social stakes for men are not as high if they look sloppy, unattractive, skinny, or fat.  And what if a woman feels cranky one day?  What if she's deep in thought, or she just doesn't feel like smiling? Women are used to being told my total strangers to smile (read: Be more friendly and less ornery).  Men are rarely -- if ever -- told to smile.  Men are not required to be socially accessible.  Men don't generally get accused of PMS-ing (again, read: not being nice enough). Being acutely aware of one's gender in this way is something men rarely experience.

—Shira Tarrant, PhD, Men and Feminism

This is the truth, and something I wish more people would make an effort to understand.  It is a weird feeling to experience this and to realize that it’s a fundamental property of being read as female in this culture.

It’s even weirder when you go through your daily life and you have these experiences of being intensely aware of being “female” because you are in a “female” body, and you have no fixed gender identity.  It’s like playing a constant tug-o-war with something inside yourself.  You keep getting yanked back over that line other people have drawn for you.  Other people’s constant yanking on that gender rope is why you can’t hold your fucking ground.  You are being forced to identify and live by a set of rules that do not apply to who you are inside, and in fact should not apply to anyone.  By creating this special awareness, it imposes an identity on you that you did not create, that you did not consent to, and that you do not want, and you cannot just disown that or choose not to accept it.  It’s not made up of your thoughts or actions, but those of other people, over which you have no control.

It may not be easier for men to step out of the box and decide they don’t need to act like “real men,” to decide that the performance of masculinity is a destructive thing that isn’t working.  I think having to do that no matter what your gender is is a very difficult thing and can be especially painful and destructive for men, who are not taught from birth that they must be The Ones Who Change.  It may not be easier for men to detach themselves from societal expectations, and there are significant social risks involved, and physical ones if you are not heterosexual, but I think for cisgendered hetero men, it just does not come with the physical aspect.  The commentary on female bodies, the way women "owe" the world prettiness, the way we are expected to be pleasant, the way our bodies are preyed on physically and often violently by rapists and forced-birthers and abusers, by the media, by advertising, and by one another.

It’s disturbing to experience the vulnerability of your body as female regardless of what gender your inner self might be.

It is a vulnerable thing to be female, or to be a person that people perceive as female, not because you are inherently weak in body or mind, but because all the people around you have been socialized to think of you in certain ways … it doesn’t matter if XYZ does not apply to you.  As long as enough people around you believe it, the world spins on as though it does.  You go through life surrounded by people who believe wrong things about you.

People make stupid assumptions all the time, but these relatively benign assumptions aren’t the ones I’m talking about.  I’m talking about the ones that are actually dangerous.  The assumption that because you are dressed a certain way, you are inviting physical contact.  The assumption that your body should be in some measure available for the appreciation of others on demand, whether that is to be touched or simply to be looked at — and to refuse those demands is not a neutral act; it invites abuse.  Again, sometimes violently.

People believe you are a certain way and that you should behave a certain way, and sometimes they have so much invested in these fictions they formed based on someone’s perceived gender or race or orientation or appearance that they have very strong reactions to anyone violating those assumptions.  Acting outside those roles has very direct and sometimes deadly consequences.  (Witness trans folks getting beaten, raped, or killed for not conforming to gender roles — it triggers a horrifying visceral rage in some people, and violence is seen as a justifiable and appropriate way to “correct” something that is direly wrong.  I cannot tell you how often I have seen the perpetrators of these crimes referring to their victims as “it.”  Literally a thing, an un-person.)

And hey, this is fucked up, too: when you do not act like you “should,” you become perceived as a threat to your own people.  For example, if you don’t adhere to the idea that women should be more chaste and virtuous than men, and that they should dress attractively, flatteringly, and modestly, you’re a skanky slut, and you make women look bad.  And then, then, your existence is used to harm other people and shame other people, is used to justify hating other people, when all you were doing is just not buying into the lie, and not living — or trying not to — as though you did.  You can easily become a negative stereotype by simply not adhering to the most positive one put forth by the group oppressing yours.  And there is no fucking way out of that loop.  There is none.

It is completely fucked.

naamah_darling: The Punisher skull with a red ribbon barrette. (Punisher Ribbon)
So, [livejournal.com profile] theferrett has a great, to-the-point entry up about names, pronouns, and having some fucking respect for other people's identities.

Money quote:


The Sneer stems from the understanding that this name I have given is so ludicrous that it doesn't deserve to be taken seriously. Their goal, though they don't think about this explicitly, is to undermine my identity. In other words, "What you want is so stupid, I refuse to continue before I make you acknowledge that it's not a 'real' name." And to that, I say: fuck that.

The principle's similar with gender. When people start getting snotty and going, "Well, she's not a real man," then that's effectively a way of saying, "What he wants doesn't matter to me. What matters is that my conceptions of what gender is remain firmly intact; I know what a man is, and by attempting to venture outside that boundary of established stereotypes, he's become a joke. And I must force people to acknowledge that fakeness before I can continue.”

Right the fuck ON, dude. Thank you.

And in the comments, a link to this older gem:

Do you use Boy Words or Girl Words? Or the other words, but I can’t ‘amember them.

Go read that and feel a little less shitty about the world. If a three-year-old can get it, an adult can get it. It doesn't fuck kids up to be raised with more fluid ideas of gender than the ones we had forced on us. These kids will be fine, and the world will be fine. Better than fine.

I have a really complicated relationship with my own gender, in no small part because of the cultural climate in which I was raised (very either/or). I identify as female, and probably always will, but there's a lot more to me than that, and I wish I'd known that there were other options so that I could have taken a look at that at a much younger age.

I'd like to think that in the future, someone like me will be able to form their identity without having to choose from a binary so young, and will have whatever understanding of themselves they reach be respected by others. I'd love for the world to understand that there's a whole spectrum of combinations of gender and body and orientation, and, something I almost never see acknowledged: for some people, their identity is not fixed and actually changes back and forth. Bad enough having to explain that no, really, you ARE a "real" man/woman. Imagine if that identity changed from day to day.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Warning: Death Ray)
An Indiana hospital ridicules Erin Vaught and refuses her treatment after she came to the emergency room coughing up blood. Why? Because she is a transgendered woman.

She was kept waiting for treatment for two hours, ridiculed by staff, called "he-she" and "it," ignored, and eventually refused treatment altogether because of "the transvestite thing." All in front of her wife and son, both of whom must have been horribly worried about her.

No, I did not make a typo. These are medical professionals so ill-educated they do not know the difference between "transgendered" and "transvestite," and are such fucking assholes they do not care.

I want to point out that this was not a failure of one person. It was multiple people. In essence, yes, the hospital as a whole.

Ms Vaught is receiving treatment at another hospital thanks to an advocacy group. Thankfully, there was time to arrange that. What would have happened if she had been in critical condition? Would these people have turned her out to die? Yes, I actually think they would have.

For fuck's sake. These people should not be allowed to change birdcage liners, much less provide care to human beings. They should all be fired and hopefully never hired for a position requiring contact with the public ever again.

Send Ball Memorial Hospital a message demanding accountability via petition.

Ball Memorial's Facebook page. Click "like" and leave them a comment telling them how disgusting they are.

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naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
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