cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Default)
part 1

Personal experiences - within and fitting in



I have been slowly writing a series of posts on how being both Trans and Disabled/Neurodivergent interact with eachother.  For me they are tangled together.

I am trans but a lot of trans-ness seems to get explained in terms of gender identity.

I don't really have this thing called "Gender Identity".

I have experiences.  My body is shaped in certain ways, I have a large-ish bosom and curves.  But I've also felt other things - sensations that make more sense coming from another form.  I mis-judge distances between hips and objects, topping in bed (in the sense many gay men use it) feels as natural as breathing.  I have dysphoria - although sometimes "dissonance" would be more accurate.  Sometimes it burns like fire, but sometimes it is merely this doubled sensation.  Which can be be neutral.  Sometimes it even leads beautiful places.  There is sweetness and thorns.  But because of that I act in ways that some people consider "unacceptable" for my assigned gender.  I also accept and love my body in many ways. I *am* my body in many ways.

I also go against how people of my assigned gender are supposed to act, people have told me that.

I don't really have this thing called "Gender Identity".

But I am not a person who can live in a vacuum without other people.    Be surrounded by them, but unconnected and isolated.  I want to talk about things with others.  I am part of that sea.  So I need words.  With my experiences, in some circles I would be considered a Trans Man (with very low dysphoria).  And so I am.  In some circles someone with these experiences would be considered an Androgyne.  Or Genderfluid.  But these are not really my words.  I am borrowing them so we can be on the same page.  And the changes are not changes in me, just what I am called.

Though others may have had some say
in building up their book of rules,
I had mine given without want,
I couldn’t build one, had no tools.My book has not, my name upon it.
It feels unlike mine in hand.
If not that I relied upon it,
I’d let it fall like grains of sand.

-Donna Williams (from Not Just Anything)
 
In this culture, there are ceremonial roles for Women/girls and Men/boys.  There are almost never ceremonial roles for in-between people.  I care deeply about Ceremony and Ritual (in some ways)  I can't not. So in ceremonial instances I have to choose - and I prefer to go with the male role it feels more comfortable . (This includes things like whether it is needed to keep your head covered, etc.)

But a lot of how I act does not necessarily have to do with sex/gender.  I have certain things I'm good at and like to do.  I love to cook, garden, knit, work with metal. My "role" has more to do with these things than what's between my legs or what I do with it.  Some of what I am is labeled feminine, some masculine.  What I wear is a lot about colors and what they invoke.  I attempt to invoke many things and gender is only one of them in a long list.  Branches and moss, fire and earth, rose petals and blood.  I do occasionally wear things to look masculine, and some "feminine" things make me feel sick and frightened because of things that happened.

I am Trans.  But the rest...

cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Default)
Note:  This post is about things that other people have done *to* me, and the effects that has had.  I might post about the intrinsic stuff later.

TW: for f-ed up coercive therapy
(although I'm not going to be too graphic)



When I went through puberty, though, all these things started to happen that I knew were not quite right.  But I knew what would be right.  I could feel it in my bones.  And all the things that felt right put me with this group of people called "men".  And so I did things to signify that I was in that group.  Things like not wearing makeup or nail polish, not wearing a bra, calling myself "like a boy" and "a tomboy".  Things were hard - but I was figuring out a way of living with the hard things that worked for me.

In many ways "feminine"* things are more suited to me.  I love colors and playing with different clothing combinations.  I love cooking and other domestic ways of enriching the world.  (Although me in bras still makes me WTF.)

*But none of this stuff is inherently female.

My wearing different clothes, not wearing makeup, etc. were my ways of communicating (my only ways of communicating)  which category I should be in.   And it was also part of me *thinking* about those very same things  (when you don't think in words, sometimes objects become your "diary" in terms of working out your thoughts).

So before I had fully sorted out my feelings, I started to be trained out of all the physical signs of them.  Extensive, one-on-one training.

Confusion.  I didn't even know who or what I was.  Even though some of the things I felt and did are textbook *Trans.

for years I've felt that what they did was "not that bad"  (even though the hurt goes deep) or just "trying to help me" or "necessary". (even though those aren't valid excuses for hurting people.)

This is just one of the reasons I have a problem with how people talk about Mentally Disabled people.

The current conception of autism and developmental disorders - of differences being mostly "meaningless behaviors" and "not understanding socialization". makes Reparative Therapy seem "more OK" to do to Autistic people.  It makes it seem helpful at times.



And this is also why I still don't dress as flashily or as colorfully as I'd like.  Or use nail polish for anything.  Because everything still has that taint of force/coercion to it.  And it's a long hard road to embrace it again and clean it.  But I'm glad I'm on that road now.

cereus: Hot Spring in Yellowstone with a Rainbow of Microbes (Extremophiles)
I'm still alive.

For those of you on DW that I converse with - I haven't been ignoring any of you for personal reasons.  And I still will post sometimes.

But I realized something - using words takes a toll on me.  A big toll.  And right now I am studying at University - which means that using words is at the *heart* of many of my duties as a student.  So by the time the semester ended, I had to take a break from all of that - to avoid going down in flames.

But the other side to this (the Good side). Is that as soon as it was all over,  as soon as I stepped back,  Parts of my emotions, joyful, connected parts that I hadn't felt all autumn - they came back.  Slowly and with a *lot* of pain sometimes.  But they came back.

Just wanting to say that these things are not lost forever.

Burt school is pretty close again, so I might not be posting or replying very much.

But I still care about you all and wish the best for you this new year.

And happy new Baktun to you all!

May the Sixth World treat you well and bring you what you need.

cereus: Hot Spring in Yellowstone with a Rainbow of Microbes (Extremophiles)
Nov 1st is Autistics Speaking Day!

Since I'm not particularly word-based right now and so much of my experience of autism is the world outside of words (and the connections and joys that go with that),  today is going to be a picture day.
This is a celebration in photos:

reflection of sky in a little puddlelizard blending in sand
the most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious it is the root of all art and science -einstein


cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Default)
Consent

I've been reading some stuff about consent recently, and it's all about spoken consent and how that's super important.

Here's one of the articles I'm talking about:

http://disabling-queer.dreamwidth.org/737.html

And a Good response on Tumblr:

http://littlemissmutant.tumblr.com/post/9441620674/autostraddle-how-i-learned-to-talk-in-bed-why-this


Bunch of Personal Musings About BDSM stuff - not graphic )
cereus: A heart entangled with a rainbow colored infinity sign (rainbow)
Disability Carnival is up at Butterfly Dreams

This time the theme is "Let Your Freak Flag Fly":

http://candidlycrippled.blogspot.com/2011/01/nitty-gritty-dirty-little-freaks.html


Enjoy!

cereus: Sandworm and Fremen from Dune (sandworm)
Inspired by reading Amanda Forest Vivian's post "Disabling Queerness"
http://adeepercountry.blogspot.com/2010/10/disabling-queerness.html

When I was growing up, there was a big excitement about the "strong female characters" now being written in books and a lot of those selfsame books were shoved into my hands.  I loved to read and read fast, so a supply of books was a good thing.  And there were good parts to them - in many ways they were what the last era needed - the antidote to the last era.

There's a lot of emphasis in feminism, at least of my mother's generation,of telling girls they can be strong.  On letting "Strong women" develop their potential.  Because women are really as strong as men.  But what about the women who aren't "strong"?

Whatever way you determine strength there's a lot of people that are going to be weak.  Because not everybody has the strength, verbal agility, stamina and physical energy level, and personality (not to mention equal economic opportunities) to make it in this world if we change nothing but allowing women to compete.  If you want to make the lives of women better how much have we accomplished if a large group are still struggling.

In many ways feminism was trying to get woman to be seen in the same way as men.  But there's a trap in how men are seen, too.

There's a dark side to the male role in society is just that if you're strong, great, but if you're weak, if you can't handle it, you're gone.  If the dark side of the female role is the housewife/drudge then the masculine dark side is cannon fodder.  Can't handle the responsibilities of high-power lifestyle? Bang. Show weakness? Bang. Show emotion, or compassion for the wrong person? Bang.  Love another man? (Everyone knows that men are gross, you'd have to be sick.) Bang.  Dress in feminine clothes? Bang.   Have trouble focusing in class and so barely graduate high school and then try to go to community college and try to hold a minimum wage job, and end up short on money?   You can go into the army. It's a great opportunity.  Many of the male roles are designed to make a crop of obedient soldiers.  But it's not a good life anymore than the life of a drudge, or a doll is.

In a talk I went to recently on Math Anxiety they showed a chart that showed what most men and women said their sucess or failure at math was caused by:

                    Success         Failure
Men              Skill           Lack of Effort
Women        Luck           Lack of skill

I've seen so many disabled  people fall into the trap of "I'm just not trying hard enough".  So this makes me wonder...

Telling me, a "girl*" that was (and still is) struggling to speak, to use words at all, to not slur - that she should be speaking "louder" with more "confidence"  if she wants any one to pay attention to her or care for her.  That "She" doesn't "have to speak so softly because she's female" wasn't a good idea.  It was almost hurtful in a lot of ways.

Can't we find a way to treat all people well, without falling into either of there traps?  Can we build a society that works for the Weak and the Strong and the WeakandStrong, and everyone else?


* Not that much of a girl actually, just as much of a boy.  They had no way of knowing about the parts that were there but didn't match my physical body.




cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Default)
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I like e-mail the best - although the advantage of IM is that you get instant feedback - so the whole conversation sticks tightly to the curves of what exactly you're both interested in.  But it doesn't tend to be as deep.  Mostly I notice there are so many more things I can say when I'm writing instead of talking. 

I've brought up ideas in writing that are much more complex than what I typically speak.  Due to the fact that any given syllable can not come out - even though I've sent the signal to my mouth - or it can come out bass-ackwards.

Weirdly enough -  actually knowing the other person a long time makes it easier.
cereus: Cereus cactus blossom (Desert)
I spent this weekend with my fellow gamers having a crazy gamer party. All sorts of thingscome up, especially when some of the people haven't seen each other for a while.

One of my friends mentioned that there's a girl who comes to his work as a customer who has a (non-requited) crush on him. And that she uses a computer to talk and is in a chair.

One of the other people there decided to take the time to make fun of said girl. Fortunately, being a gamer party, I had my laptop handy and fired up TTSReader (Text to speech program).


"Hey asshole, Text to speech software is fun, I use it. Do you have a problem with that?"
cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Default)
So stay warm!

Hey, the weather's turning towards winter. If you're cold sensitive, this can be a difficult time.  Here's my list of tips.  Some of these may seem obvious, but I had to figure them out on my own.  Sometimes months or years after I could have really used them.  I wish that someone had told me.

Stand in the sun!  Being outside can feel good in and of itself.

Bundle up.  If someone says "you don't need that sweater/scarf/jacket, make your own appraisal of the situation, don't use theirs.  But layering won't work if you're "too far gone" and you're body is producing very little body heat.  A sweater doesn't make you warm, it traps the heat you're already making.

Tea is your friend!  Or any other hot beverage of your choice.  It can really help kick-start your body.  If you don't like the taste of tea, there are numerous other hot beverages available.  Try "herbal teas".  Many of them contain no tea leaves and so taste completely different.  If you like the taste of hot water, go with that!  Things like hot cocoa or coffee are good too, but they have caffeine and/or sugar.  I haven't slept well for a week,  for the last two days I drank a cup of tea before bed, and am finally making up the hours of sleep my body needed.  If you find yourself spacing or blanking out during the day or moving slowly, mentally check your temperature.  And then get some tea if needed.

Make a rice bag: Sew dry rice into a cloth bag.  You can heat it in the microwave  and use it to heat up around the house or in bed.

If you're feeling scattered or weepy, check to see how you're doing.  Being weepy can be caused by the cold, by feeling the possibility of your own death.  It's also very easily fixable. 

But if you're just slow, take a brain rest break.  Do whatever refreshes you, whether that's what you're supposed to be doing or not.

Take brain breaks anyway, if you're at all overloaded or even if you're not.

Being slow is not necessarily a bad thing,  sometimes it's good to exist in an altered state for a while.  I can think in different ways in the winter.  Sometimes a forest needs a forest fire.   I may be saying something controversial, but sometimes controlled and chosen meltdown has refreshed me.  But the important word here is chosen.
cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Default)
Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Autistic Community Condemns Autism Speaks’ “I am Autism” Campaign

“We are the true voices of Autism,” say Autistic adults; Campaign spreads stigma, prejudice and inaccurate information; ASAN vows protest of upcoming Autism Speaks fundraisers

Washington, DC (September 23rd, 2009) - The autism community reacted in horror today to Autism Speaks’ new “I am Autism” campaign, presenting Autistic people as kidnap victims and burdens on their family members and communities.

I am autism. I have no interest in right or wrong. I will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams….And if you’re happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails. Your money will fall into my hands, and I will bankrupt you for my own self-gain,” says the “I am Autism” video, released yesterday and created by Academy Award-nominated director Alfonso Cuarón and Grammy-nominated songwriter/producer Billy Mann. [Full text is available here.]

“This is the latest in a series of unethical fundraising strategies adopted by Autism Speaks,” said Ari Ne’eman, an adult on the autism spectrum and President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), “This type of fear mongering hurts Autistic people, by raising fear and not contributing in the slightest to accurate understanding of the needs of Autistic adults and children.” ASAN’s Columbus, Ohio chapter has already made arrangements to protest Autism Speaks’ upcoming local fundraising walk and other ASAN chapters will be making similar arrangements shortly, said Ne’eman.

In addition to relying on fear and pity mongering to raise funds, the Autism Speaks video repeats frequently referenced claims of higher than average divorce rates amongst parents of autistic children. However, a 2008 study conducted by HarrisInteractive for Easter Seals in cooperation with the Autism Society of America found divorce rates for parents of Autistic children lower than those for families with no children with disabilities. The video also relies heavily on the idea of rapidly increasing autism rates. Another new study, released the same day as the video, by the British Government’s National Health Service found that autism rates among adults are the same as amongst children, indicating that the popular “epidemic” claim of rapidly increasing autism incidence is likely false.

  “This video doesn’t represent me or my child,” said Dana Commandatore, a parent of an Autistic child living in Los Angeles, California. “Whatever the challenges that autism may bring, my son deserves better than being presented as a burden on society. Autism Speaks’ misrepresentation makes my life and the life of my child more difficult.”

 “Autism Speaks seems to think that parents' embarrassment at their kids' meltdowns is more important than autistic kids' pain,” writes Sarah, an Autistic blogger at the blog Cat in a Dog’s World, “Autistic people deserve better than what Autism Speaks has to offer.”

 The new video is reminiscent of the December 2007 NYU Child Study Center “Ransom Notes” campaign, which consisted of faux ransom notes claiming to be from an anthropomorphized disability which had kidnapped a child. Those ads were withdrawn after two and a half weeks, due to widespread outcry from self-advocates, parents and professionals and the condemnation of twenty-two national disability rights organizations, led by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. The Ransom Notes controversy was reported on by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Good Morning America, The Washington Post and other major media outlets. ASAN announced plans to work with the cross-disability community on a similar response to Autism Speaks’ campaign.

 “The voices of real autistic people, and of families who do not subscribe to the presentation of their family members as something sinister and criminal, clearly do not matter to Autism Speaks,” said Paula Durbin-Westby, an adult on the autism spectrum in Virginia, who serves on the board of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “Our community is furious about Autism Speaks’ continued exploitation and will be taking action.”

A non-comprehensive list of responses


TrinityVA's response



cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Default)
A powerful list  coutesy of Asperger Square 8:
aspergersquare8.blogspot.com/2009/07/ever-expanding-list-of-neurotypical.html

And Shiva of Biodiverse Resistance has written a wonderful post about it with more background.

biodiverseresistance.blogspot.com/2009/07/neurotypical-privilege-checklist.html

Go and read!

Note:  This does not apply just to Autistics, although most of the list is written by Autistics so if you have anything to add, feel free.
Or if you want to have a discussion without encumbering an already cumbersome document, feel free to post here.

EDIT:There's a new final-ish draft that I think looks pretty spiffy: aspergersquare8.blogspot.com/2009/08/checklist-of-neurotypical-privilege-new.html

cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Chani)

So much is going right in my life right now.  Raven and I have had the most incredible conversations and we’re very close right now – doors opening that have never been open (at least in words)  I’ve got what’s pretty close to a taste of my dream job in the form of an internship.  I’m (hopefully) going back to college soon. The girl from the bus and I have been hanging out. I am at home with my loved Desert. There’s this bubble of happy that keeps on popping up.  And that in and of itself is a good thing.  A year ago I wouldn’t have felt that, I was too burnt out and used up in the aftermath of trying to make myself work where I couldn’t and trying to appear normal. I’m healing. Not that life is perfect, though.  I'm in a sea of paperwork, and sometimes the adrenalin brings back the old tightness in my lungs and a hint of the burned-out feeling.  but still.

Postscript:
I should write more about it later. But here's a summary.
I spent time before not just scared but also using adrenalin to hotwire my body into "normal" speed via fight or flight.  It worked (pretty much) but the slightest bit of adrenalin became painful (and forget about endorphins) but now I've been rationing it for life and limb purposes and it's receeding.

cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Rainbow)
Words are damnably hard for me, not reading - but writing/speaking.

But a lot of times even when I can say something I don't and I just realised one reason why.

I have it drummed in  .... other people are Not Interested if I am interested.

Automatically.

That's kinda sad.

May 2017

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