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: A heart entangled with a rainbow colored infinity sign (rainbow)
Kaz wrote this post out of zir frustration with a WAY oversimplified, and therefore useless, "trans* awareness" handout ze was given.


In this post, ze made a couple of epic cool drawings *more accurately* describing zir gender/sexuality.

So I'm following suit:

Read more - and see pictures... )

Sorry about the lack of image descriptions, maybe later.

cereus: Sandworm and Fremen from Dune (sandworm)
Inspired by reading Amanda Forest Vivian's post "Disabling Queerness"

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.

May 2017



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