Patreon is a service that I think a lot of people don't quite understand. Some people find it disingenuous, for instance, to ask people for money for a product that they will later be giving away for free, as many do. Others see it as akin to begging. That second one I find particularly odd... If anything, it's like busking.
Some history first: Back in the olden days, it was common for talented artists to acquire patrons. A patron might provide the artist with food, a place to live, money for paints and canvases/ink and paper/instruments, and general support so that they were free to create rather than worry about surviving. Many of the great painters, authors, and composers of history had patrons to help support them, especially when they were just starting out. Mozart earned the patronage of kings. Not that I'm comparing today's online content creators with Mozart.
Patreon is not Kickstarter. While some may certainly use it in a similar way, the platform is different. Some creators ask for support on a per project basis, one sum per thing, which is similar. Some of these creators later give away their project for free, others use it as a pre-order service.
Most use it for monthly contributions. People use the system differently. Game developers or creators of popular mods for games, for instance, often release versions for their patrons prior to releasing it to the public for free. Creators of game mods often spend an awful lot of time on creating something for their community. Digging down into the core scripts of a game and altering them is no mean feat. And every time a game is updated, the mods have to be as well, so that they are still compatible with the new version.
This is how most people who offer their content for free use Patreon. It is a voluntary donation toward creation of further content. Some then offer sneak peeks of their work, pre-releases of content, exclusive progress updates, blog posts, and so on to their patrons. Authors often offer people the option of reading a chapter before everyone else gets to.
The most important part is this: When a patron chooses to support a content creator, they are not buying a product. They are contributing to future content creation by making it easier for a content creator to make and publish content. Patronage is voluntary. It's a donation. Some patrons even choose not to receive any of the rewards offered by content creators. Most importantly, no one will be upset with a reader/viewer/content user/etc. for choosing not to do so. In the end, no matter how it's used, the basic purpose of Patreon is to give people who want to contribute the option of doing so, out of their own free will.
We reside in a capitalist society where this may be hard to wrap one's head around, really. We're accustomed to paying for goods and services and then receiving what we paid for. When we're used to this mindset, it may feel like you're paying for nothing when you support a content creator on Patreon. But what you are really 'paying' for is a person's ability create more and better content. Personally, I pay more money to content creators on Patreon per month than I'm getting from my grand total of two patrons (one of whom is my mother). Counter intuitive though it sounds, maybe I'll break even soon.
To preface: This is my blog, I have posted about politics and philosophy on it before, and I will continue to do so. I welcome discussion in the comments, but I ask that you keep it civil. Misogyny and transphobia will be reported, even if it means that this blog post is taken down. If you put words in my mouth, you will be summarily ignored. This is a personal and important subject to me. Please respect that.
Today is International Women's Day.
I've always considered myself a feminist. I firmly believe that the same societal structures that are to blame for misogyny are also to blame for homophobia, transphobia, and the oppression of many other marginalised groups. You can call it the patriarchy if you like, but that word tends to rub some people the wrong way. You could also call it toxic masculinity, but that one just pisses people off. So I'm not going to call it either of those things.
I am simply going to call it culture.
We exist within a culture, a social framework, that teaches us certain established truths. I'll preface my argument by pointing out that individuals are not to blame for this. It's not the fault of straight, white men. It's not the fault of Donald Trump or Harvey Weinstein or Brett Kavanaugh. It is an insidious culture that has grown as the result of centuries of social norms. While the actions of individuals and groups continue to perpetuate it, these people are not to blame for the culture (though they should still be held responsible for their own actions, as should anyone).
Religion holds a great deal of responsibility for spreading this culture, Abrahamic religions in particular. Many older religions and cultures from around the world have no problem with homosexuality, operate with multiple genders, and have large degrees of gender equality. But even today, people use religion as an excuse for bigotry. It has been, and continues to be, a very effective form of social control. And countries where these bigotry based religions have grown strong roots, have spread the culture further via colonialism. India had no sodomy laws before the British arrived. Most African countries had no sodomy laws before the British arrived. Yet today, homophobia runs rampant in many of these countries.
A lot of homophobia is based on the premise that gay men are effeminate and therefore lesser. Some gay men internalise this and feel that if they were to bottom they would lose some of their masculinity. The submissive role is the 'female' role. Conversely, gay women and other women in same-sex relationships are often asked which one of them is the 'man' in the relationship. For some lesbians this is also internalised; many butch lesbians think less of lipstick lesbians, that is to say gay women who dress and act in a more traditionally feminine way.
How anyone can deny that these aspects of homophobia were born from sexism and misogyny is beyond me. Sexism and homophobia are steady bedfellows. They perpetuate one another in the culture.
I said I wasn't going to call it toxic masculinity, but toxic masculinity is a symptom of the culture. And again, it has nothing to do with individuals. Nor is it saying that masculinity in and of itself is toxic. It isn't. But there are certain conventions within the culture that are harmful to men and women alike, and toxic masculinity is one of them. Toxic masculinity is when people laugh at men who are sexually assaulted by women. Toxic masculinity is when a man feels ashamed because he cries. Toxic masculinity is when we say 'boys will be boys' when a child hurts another or when young men sexually harass. Toxic masculinity is when a man reacts to strong emotions with aggression instead of facing them head on. It's when a man takes up so much space that it infringes on the space of other people. Many women also perpetuate these ideas, by demanding that men be strong, and by teaching their sons different values than they teach their daughters. And all that is also a symptom of culture.
Another symptom is cis-sexism. This comes in many forms, and often from within the LGBTQ and women's movements. Many gay and straight people are downright rude, sometimes even violent, if they find out that a person has other genitalia than they expected. When I began my journey in earnest, one of my friends who's a lesbian said to me, 'I accept that this is who you are, but I don't get how wearing men's clothes makes you not a woman. I wear them all the time because they're comfortable and I like them.' Certain women's rights activists will use a similar argument. They'll say that girls think they're boys because they prefer dressing like them. Why do our daughters think they want to be men? And, conversely, they say of trans women that they're perpetuating stereotypes by conforming to traditional beauty standards and femininity. The truth is, in order to pass as the gender we are, we have to. I like pretty dresses and heels and make-up, but I don't feel comfortable wearing them right now because I would be immediately read as female. A friend of mine who's non-binary trans and on hormone replacement therapy, didn't dare cut their hair until they had facial feminisation surgery. Because they felt like they would have looked too masculine. Gender expression is a way to make our outward appearance match what's inside us.
These are all symptoms of culture. Of homophobia, sexism, and cis-sexism. And they go hand in hand.
Because we are taught from birth what we are supposed to be like, based on our genitalia. Girls are meant to like pink and play with dolls and like princesses and frilly dresses. Boys are meant to wear blue and play with soldiers and play war and like action movies. We are taught this to the point where it becomes hard-wired. We're not necessarily taught this by individuals, but by the culture that we live in. Many women experience internalised misogyny, where traditionally 'girly' things are shunned. How often don't we hear, 'Oh, I was always a tomboy, I preferred hanging out with boys, girls are just so much drama.' And there is value placed on that, on being less feminine, because being feminine is being lesser. Culture teaches us so, even if we don't realise it. Even if we don't believe it.
Nobody lives in a vacuum. It's easy to think, oh no, I'm too smart to be affected by advertisement or TV or books or the news. You're not. You are affected, whether you're aware of it or not. The dominant culture in which you live will always affect your morals, your thought patterns, your feelings. The way we're raised affects us, and we're not solely raised by our parents. We are raised by culture. We can break free of that. We can learn to tell ourselves, this thing that I'm feeling or thinking right now, it's not true. But teaching yourself not to feel it at all is extremely difficult. I know I've never been able to, as aware as I am of why I feel that way. Anyone who's ever suffered from depression, for instance, can tell you how hard it is to unlearn internalised basic truths that we've learned about ourselves based on our experiences, truths that aren't true, but that's a topic for another day.
One of the ways of making yourself aware and ridding yourself those thoughts and feelings is to deconstruct. To ask why. 'It's just the way things are' is not an answer. Things that are 'just the way things are' are born out of centuries of building a social framework. They are agreed upon truths that we simply accept. Deconstruct them. Pull them apart and look at the individual parts of these structures. Try to understand them, and you'll find that they don't make much sense.
As a person who straddles the gender divide, I probably feel these things more strongly than most. I'm in a unique position to notice. I didn't make a choice not to conform; I innately don't. It's the same for other members of the LGBTQ community of course, but for trans people it's something we're reminded of daily, and something we are forced to be acutely aware of if we want to live as anything like who and what we are. And we need every tool in the toolbox to do so.
I was going to march today, but I have a very persistent cold and don't feel well enough for that, sadly. I usually march every year, with the sex workers and the trans lobby; the feminists the traditional women's movement don't want, because we break with their established truths; that being a woman is a fact of gender assigned at birth, and that anyone who sells services of a sexual nature is a victim (also a debate for another day, and one I don't want in my comments today, please). It's an odd contradiction, to first deconstruct the idea that women are inherently unable to do the things that men do—that they are innately nurturing and are supposed to give birth to and raise children, that they can't do what they want with their own bodies, and so on—only to turn around and perpetuate the idea that chromosomes is what makes a woman and to dictate what others do with their bodies. It also utterly erases the existence of intersex people.
In spite of this, I continue to consider myself a feminist, just as much as I consider myself an LGBTQ activist. I don't have to be a Woman™ in order to do that, and even though I'm not, I'm still a person with a vagina and many things that the women's movement stands for are important to me. My feminism is about deconstructing a culture that hurts women, men, intersex people, non-binary trans people, binary trans people, gay and bisexual people; in short, everyone. It's nobody's fault, but it is everyone's responsibility, so that we can all be free.
I kind of went off on a tangent I hadn't planned for this, and went way more philosophical than I had planned. Like I said, I welcome discussion if anyone has anything to say, but keep it civil, consider arguments put forth before you react, and don't put words in people's mouths. In short, don't be a dick. The more likely scenario is that no one will comment at all.
Happy International Women's Day.
PS: I wrote this little batch of poems a while back, and it seems apt to share it with you today. You can also read it here.
you said i hated men and i said
that would be weird
since i’m transmasculine
there was nothing masculine about me
that if i wanted to be a man i should
act like one
and i said
if being a man means being a dick, then i know few men
and went home
she said no
so he took a gun
and shot three people
for the crime of being women
who wouldn’t have sex with him
on the eighth of march
when is men’s day?
and the feminists said
it’s on the nineteenth of november
on the nineteenth of november
and went home
are trans women traps?
are traps gay?
is it wrong to be gay?
is it, though?
as the women aired their grievances
what about the men?
and the women said
let’s talk about the men
let’s talk about men’s rights
male birth control
domestic abuse against men
men who are sexually assaulted, by other men and by women
let’s talk about why men can’t wear dresses
about aggression and anger
let’s talk about why men get depressed
why men kill themselves
why men don’t report rape
why little boys don’t cry
let’s talk about why men are afraid to be vulnerable
let’s talk about masculinity
and which parts of it are toxic
and you said
and went home
what makes a man a man?
why am i not a man?
or am I?
it doesn’t matter
but it does
and sometimes i wonder
do i want to be?
when i know that most men
will not accept me as one of their own
not as long as i look like this
fix our problems
and lists were made
here, these are things you can do
to fix your problems and make your lives
here are your tools
like we have done
but you said
and went home
I think there's an unfortunate side-effect to mental illness that many experience. It's not one that's easy to understand or admit to, even to yourself, but I do think it's fairly common. At least I have observed it in both myself and many people I know (and I have a lot of friends irl with mental illness; it's like we're drawn together somehow, us weirdos who suck at fitting in because our brains don't function very well at times). As an example, I have a friend with ADHD and PTSD who often has a burning need to rant about all her problems and everything she's going through. She does so to me quite often, and I try to listen, but it's exhausting when I'm going through an episode, especially when she doesn't even bother to ask how I am doing despite knowing that I, too, suffer from a mental illness. So I 'hm' and 'ah' and say, 'Oh, yeah, that really sucks, I'm sorry.' But I don't really listen always because I haven't got room in my head. And she doesn't have room in hers so my need to do the same is overruled (part of the problem, I think, is that she should be in therapy but isn't; I am, so I may be a tad better at realising that my brain is not her problem, though far from all the time). It's not a great foundation for a friendship and can far too easily turn toxic, but I haven't got the energy or the capacity to tell her that I haven't got the energy or the capacity to deal with her shit on top of my own. Vicious cycle.
This kind of self-centredness, if you will is, I think, natural and, to an extent, healthy. It's a defence mechanism. When we're going through an episode, we really don't have room. We need to focus on ourselves if we want to get out of it. Sadly, that means that we often haven't got many resources left for what other people are going through. No matter how much we genuinely care about other people, it can be hard to express empathy in a kind and constructive way, even to those closest to us. Not saying everyone who suffers from mental illness is like this, far from it. There are strong and beautiful people in this world who, no matter how shit they feel, somehow still manage to make room for others (though often to the detriment of their own mental health, I think). In the end it's often a question of how we deal with this tendency.
In my blog post on anxiety that I wrote last week, I talked about the ways in which my brain functions (or should I say doesn't function) when I'm suffering from anxiety, in relation to other people. I'm afraid that people hate me, that I'm hurting others, that I'm the reason people are sad and annoyed. I have also realised lately that the way I overcompensate in trying to relate to and express empathy for other people when I'm like that, can appear overbearing and downright offensive. All of these things are born from this unfortunate self-centredness that arises when I just don't have the capacity to make room for other people. When I think that everything is my fault, I'm making other people's problems about me. When I overcompensate in an attempt to relate and empathise I end up shifting the focus onto myself. When I'm depressive, if I even interact at all, I just turn into a whiny bitch. And when I'm hypomanic, I genuinely believe that I can fix everyone (because I'm just that awesome!) which, of course I can't. It's not intentional. It's not an inherent part of my personality. It's because my brain lies to me and, in the midst of this overwhelming storm of emotion, I don't understand that that's what's happening.
This behaviour can be annoying to people who don't suffer from mental illness, and downright harmful to those who do. What I should be doing when I get like that is step out of the world for a bit, deal with my own shit, calm the fuck down, and then I can rejoin the rest of the world again, as myself instead of this ball of self-destruction. But I don't always have the capacity to understand this.
So, to end this weird rant of a blog post which, surprise surprise, ended up being all about me even though I was planning on talking about a generalised problem that I think many people have, I have a request: Tell me. Say, 'You're doing the thing again, Thorn. I think you need a break.' I have not, perhaps, been the most receptive of this message in the past, but I think I'm in a place now where I can be, because I understand better what I'm doing now. I may whine about my problems for a bit, but I won't bite your head off. I promise.
It takes many different forms in different people, really. It took me a long time to recognise my anxiety for what it was, because it wasn't like what I saw in the movies, or what friends with anxiety told me it was like. My anxiety generally manifests in one of two ways.
The first is anger. This was especially true when I was younger. My panic attacks manifested as temper tantrums. Instead of panicking, I would scream, shout, throw things. Nobody ever recognised this as anxiety. I began to realise that's what it was as an adult, looking back. I know that temper tantrums are common in young children, and these are not generally a symptom of anxiety, they're just kids who struggle with expressing perfectly normal feelings constructively, because they're kids. But when someone is still throwing temper tantrums at the age of eleven, twelve years old, I think somebody ought to ask why. With me, they didn't. I don't know what they thought it was, but I can't recall anyone ever trying to help other than attempting to calm me down in the moment. As I grew older, these became less frequent, as I learned to reign in my emotions and bottle up that fear, but I still remember being a teenager and literally hitting myself in the head with a hairbrush to prevent myself from breaking something. Shaking, hyperventilating, screaming until I was red in the face. This all started to happen after my father died, when I was eleven, which is when I believe my bipolar disorder was triggered.
The second is a physical response, settling in the pit of my stomach and making me feel sick. It doesn't often cause me to throw up, most likely because I'm emetophobic and terrified of vomiting, but yesterday it did, in combination with a coughing fit. (My phobia is reasonably mild; once it actually happens I deal with it, whether it's doing it myself or a friend. The smell and sound of it easily sets me off, though. Needless to say, this phobia does nothing to help alleviate my anxiety when it takes this form.) Nausea is how my anxiety has manifested in the past few days. In the past, I've felt this way for several weeks straight. I particularly recall the summer many years ago before I went off to do the final year of my bachelor in England. I could barely eat. People commended me for losing weight. How fucked up is that?
My anxiety is most often triggered by social situations. The fear that I have disappointed or upset someone, that I've fucked up in some way that either causes someone harm or just pisses them off. Then I fuck up even more by trying to fix it and over compensating and making things worse. It's all irrational; most of the time it turns out that I haven't actually done anything wrong at all. Sometimes it turns out that I have, though, and that's what makes it so difficult. That's why it's so hard to tell one from the other. The most destructive thing for my anxiety is when nobody tells me that I've fucked up, or what I did wrong. It gives me no way to fix it, and I continue to feel anxious for days, often can't bring myself to eat proper food, and can't sleep unless I utterly exhaust myself because my brain just won't shut up and stop telling me, 'You're a fuck-up, everybody hates you, you did something wrong, they're all going to abandon you.'
I would never do this shit on purpose. I grew up being bullied and having few friends, and those I had often forgot about me or abandoned me. You start to wonder why that is, start thinking that it's really you there's something wrong with. You start thinking, no wonder they bullied me and shut me out when I'm this pathetic. When I do make friends, I tend to get kind of... I don't even know what to call it. Over-zealous, maybe. So desperate to fit in that I either suck up, or talk up a storm, and I don't know when to stop. Suddenly I've said the wrong thing, or I feel like I've said the wrong thing, and it all just starts all over again. I am terrified that people won't like me. And really, what's the worst that's happened to me? I was bullied, I lost my dad. I'm bipolar. So many others have gone through so much worse stuff, so what the fuck am I whining about?
I'm not writing this because I want pity. I'm writing it in part because I think it's important for people to know how anxiety manifests differently in different people, and how destructive it can be not to recognise it for what it is. Mostly, I'm just writing it to get it out, to explain to myself why I am the way I am. I've been writing a lot of poetry the past couple of days to try and get these feelings out as well. I posted one yesterday. It's here, on the off chance that anyone is interested. Writing about it, whether figuratively or literally, does help. Right now I just want to crawl into a hole and hide, but I'm gonna try not to. I love GA. You guys are my family, and I want to be here. So I'm gonna try to be, even though I'm scared.
It's tempting when writing a letter, to begin it with, 'I hope you're well.' Can't say that in this one, so I'll just go with, I miss you.
There are people here who knew you much longer than I did, who probably knew you better, too. But we were talking a lot, around Christmas and into January. You told me about your life, about your family, about your illness. I told you about my life. And we talked about movies and music. We talked about hospitals. And we talked about death.
You weren't supposed to die. They sent you home from the hospital. You were getting better, and you were going to go on living. You were gonna play Pokemon and knit cool things and be you. I told you I'd be very cross with you if you died. But I could never be cross with you. Especially not now.
We had a lot in common, you and I. We had a similar taste in music. We talked about punk rock. You listened to my songs, too. And you were among the few here who understood what I'm going through, I think, though you were much more settled in your identity, and you always were, from what you told me. But still, you got it. You were a great comfort to me. I think I managed to be a comfort to you as well, about other things. You were afraid. I hope I managed to make you a little bit less afraid. I hope talking to me gave you something, if only a distraction.
In a way, I fell in love with you. Not in a romantic way, but I wish I could have been near you. I wish I'd talked to you more, too, these last couple of weeks. I didn't want to bother you, but in the end I don't think you would have been bothered. I felt very close to you. I don't know if you felt as close to me, but...
I loved you. So many people here did, and do. You told me you didn't have many friends, but that's not true. You had friends here. Friends who miss you. I miss you.
Everything but your comments and status updates is gone. Your pictures of all the cool shit you made. Your blog is empty. Wish I still had your picture, but I have it inside me, in my head, and in my heart. You'll never be gone from there. And I'll think of you, and the talks we had, and how kind and sweet you were. Less often as time goes by, probably, but you'll be here. Always.
"No one’s ever lost forever
When they die they go away
But they will visit you occasionally
Do not be afraid
No one’s ever lost forever
They are caught inside your heart
If you garden them and water them
They’ll make you what you are"
—Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, Lost
So, I finished watching season one of Sex Education on Netflix. I loved it so much. It’s about a teenaged boy whose mother is a sex therapist. While he himself is utterly inexperienced, by some fluke it turns out that he shares his mother’s talent for therapy and sex advice, and he ends up running a ‘sex clinic’ where he helps students at school in return for a modest fee. Hilarity ensues, along with a lot of interesting drama. The show deals with bullying, sex (duh), prejudice, first loves, and a host of other topics.
There are seveal things about it that are truly wonderful, but I’m gonna list a couple.
It has some absolutely amazing characters. From Asa Butterfield’s portrayal of the main character Otis, to Gillian Anderson as his sex therapist mum, to the character of Eric, Otis’s closest friend (who is wonderfully and unapologetically gay, and not the only LGBTQ character in the series), there are just so many great people. And while the show is funny, not one of these people lack depth, even if they’re initially portrayed that way. They’re all flawed. They all have their shit to deal with. It’s not all comedy. There were several points at which I was close to tears.
Style-wise, it’s just really interesting. The creators of the show have intentionally included a number of anachronisms that at first seem jarring but actually kind of draw you in, in the same way as the absurdity of some of the humour. The show is set in the present day, but clothes, interior decoration, and a lot of other things are very 70s in style. There are no modern cars, they all look like they’re early nineties or older. The main characters listen to vinyl records. There is practically no contemporary pop music. It’s just really nicely packaged and feels quite unique.
Boyfriend said it’s like someone was inside my head. Kind of feels that way, given how much I loved it. If they had it would have been much gayer, though. I missed trans characters, though there was one who appeared very androgynous and may possibly have been genderqueer.
There’s another season in the works and I can’t wait. I really highly recommend it. I mean, it’s probably not for everyone, but give it a chance at least.
This came from an article about the 2005 book Born Gay, and was shared in a thread in the Tech and Science Geeks club a few days ago. In attempting to prove that being gay is genetic, the authors found it necessary to suggest that bisexuality does not exist. I can understand that. If people are genetically either gay or straight, phenomenons like bisexuality become hard to explain. Easier to just pretend they don’t exist and omit them from the equation so you can more easily prove what you’re trying to prove. Of course, that’s pretty shitty science. As for these ‘physiological studies’, they were clearly not performed on me or anyone I know, and the idea that bisexuals are just sluts with super high libidos who will fuck everything is not only utter bullshit, but deeply harmful in perpetuating stereotypes that we in the bisexual community have been trying really, really hard to get rid of. (Not that there’s anything at all wrong with being a slut who will fuck everything; you do you.)
Is my attraction to men and women exactly equal? No, not all the time, and I’m attracted to different things in different genders as well. Women are in general more aestetically pleasing than men, in my opinion. But then I do also really like dick. (Yes, can I have a non-op mtf enby with a side of sexual dominance, please? Thanks!) None of this takes away from the fact that I am in fact attracted to both men and women, and to people who are both or neither. If you were to measure my arousal levels while watching gay, straight, lesbian, and transgender porn, assuming it’s good porn you’d get a pretty strong physiological response from all of it.
Anyway, this isn’t really the point of this blogpost. I wrote a post five years ago on biphobia, monosexism, and pansexuality. The point is erasure. The point is that there are people, probably even people on this site, who don’t believe that I exist. I mean, that I, Thorn Wilde, writer and wacky weirdo, exist is indesputable (or is it? Maybe I’m a robot from the future). But my identity, the person I claim to be, is not real, according to some. I guess I’m either lying or crazy.
I carry two labels that experience a great degree of erasure. I’m bisexual (or pansexual, in my case these are one and the same), and I’m gender non-binary or genderqueer, which falls under the T in LGBT. I currently consider myself to be trans masculine. I wrote about this not too long ago, too. The more I try to embrace these parts of myself, the more I feel like people try to erase me. I wish I could say that it was all straight people, but as evidenced by the beginning of this post, this is not the case. Both gay and straight people often do not want to acknowledge the existence of bisexuality. We’re just undecided and haven’t picked a team yet, or we are, as previously mentioned, sluts who fuck indiscriminately. Not saying some of us aren’t, just saying #NotAllBisexuals.
As for being non-binary, it gets even more complicated. You’ve got your angry TERF lesbians saying that being butch or dressing like a man doesn’t make you not a woman (which is perfectly true, but they’ve missed the point), you’ve got the general population largely ignoring actual scientific proof by saying, ‘Only two genders!’, which is demonstrably false, and you’ve even got some trans people who feel that the rejection of gender as binary erases their gender identities (which it doesn’t; saying that gender isn’t binary isn’t the same as saying that the categories man and woman don’t exist).
The more visible I become, the harder it gets. A few days ago I had some asshat on facebook tell me that nothing about me was masculine and that if I wanted to be a man I should act like a man. (I told him that if acting like a man meant being a reactionary fuckwad, I didn’t know a lot of men.) And even though I don’t require other people’s validation of my gender, it still hurts. Just like it hurt when people I thought were my friends said I only said I was genderqueer because I wanted attention. I wish I could say this shit is just annoying and doesn’t get to me, that I could just shake it off and move on, but the reality is that it’s painful. And it makes you question everything. Am I really non-binary? Is it really a thing? Am I actually trans? I don’t want to transition medically. Does that mean I’m just pretending? Am I allowed to think of myself as trans even though I’m genderfluid? Am I really bi? I’ve only ever had one girlfriend and I’ve only had sex with, like, two or three girls depending on your definition of sex, vs. four long term boyfriends and a handful of fuck-buddies and one-night-stands. Am I making this up? Am I a fraud? An impostor? And I can’t even tell my emotional brain and my rational brain apart here, because all this is new territory.
There are a couple of things I do know: I know that I loved my ex-girlfriend and I’ve loved all my boyfriends, and I totally dug having sex with all of them. And I know that wearing my binder and men’s clothes and going out feeling like there are people who won’t look at me and immediately think ‘girl!’ feels amazing. And I know that being called ‘he’ makes me happy and makes me feel good about myself. These are my truths, and they’ll remain true no matter how much the world tries to erase me.
Edited to add:
There’s one more thing I feel like I ought to say as well. I wrote this post using my own lived experiences, but this isn’t really about me. It’s easy to say fuck those guys and they don’t matter; they don’t, not to my life. But there’s a bigger, wider problem here. A bigger picture. These attitudes are a problem. I’m thirty, and this shit upsets me like this. Imagine how it affects someone younger and more vulnerable, someone in their teens struggling to understand their own identity. Imagine how much it hurts to essentially be told that what they feel isn’t real. It eats away at the insecurities that are already there.
I probably seem like I’m whining by harping on about this stuff, but as much as I feel these things myself, it’s not about me. I think these are conversations we need to be having, especially when it comes to bisexual and trans erasure within our own community, because that’s where it’s at its most destructive. We need to be aware and pay attention and comment when we see it rather than just letting it pass because we think, who cares what those assholes say? That’s why I keep writing about this. Not for sympathy or support (though I appreciate all of you deeply for giving me that as well), but because it’s a real problem, and it’s harmful
Warning: Just in case you haven't read my blog before, I swear. Deal with it. Also, this rant is a mess. Deal with that, too.
A little while ago I came across a post on Facebook in which some Gen Z kid or another was saying how great it was to be under 21, because people older than that don't understand memes. (There was other stuff, too, but that was my takeaway.) And, I just, what? Who do these kids think they are?
First of all, the word meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in the fucking 70s, so don't come here and say that older people don't know what memes are. Secondly, my generation invented that white text over a picture meme format that you are all using. Dude, I was making memes before you knew how to use a computer. Ceiling Cat was watching me masturbate while some of you were still in nappies.
You think you know memes? You weren't there when the Internet invented lolcats. You think you're an Internet aficionado? b37 y00 c4n'7 r34d 1337 5p34k. We had shit that went viral before social media even existed. We didn't have Facebook. We lived on forums, in irc chatrooms, livejournal. Man, livejournal... We didn't even call them blogs yet. We had podcasts before they were called podcasts. We had crappy flash animated web series, like Neurotically Yours (I think they still make it, but I remember it when it was truly shit and oh so wonderful). We didn't even have YouTube, all we had was flash player. You want viral video? I'll give you viral video:
Bet you've never even heard of Albino Black Sheep, have you? 2003 that video was made. Don't know if it was the first video to go viral, but it must have been damn close. Go back further to Homestar Runner, Strong Bad e-mails, and Trogdor the Burninator.
And I'm sure there's a fucktonne of stuff that I'm too young to remember, but I remember 4chan when it was just a bunch of 13-year-olds with a bad sense of humour telling rape jokes, instead of the toxic cesspool of web-terrorists it's become. And you're gonna come here and tell me that folks of my generation don't understand the Internet? That we don't understand memes? You don't know Jack Schitt. Piss off! Go home to your mum! You've never played a point and click flash game where you beat the shit out of the Teletubbies.
TL;DR: Get off my fucking lawn!
No. You're right. It doesn't. I'm not trans masculine because I wear men's clothes. I wear men's clothes because I'm trans masculine. It's not because they're more comfortable (though they are), it's not because I don't like women's clothes (I do), it's because if people are going to recognise me as not a girl, I need to have a masculine gender expression, which starts with clothes. I wear men's clothes for the same reason most cis guys do.
Whenever they talk about kids who are trans, this thing comes up. 'Yes, she always preferred wearing pink and sparkly clothes, even when she was a boy.' And then someone will go, 'Well, he's not a girl just because he wears pink!' First of all, she wasn't a boy. She was a girl. Secondly, most little kids prefer pink and sparkly things before they become socialised away from it (I've worked in daycare looking after one and two-year-olds; there were nine boys and one girl in the group, and the boys literally fought over who got to wear the princess dress). And thirdly, once she grew older, she wanted to wear what other girls were wearing, hence the pink.
I don't get why this is so hard to understand. Gender and gender expression is not the same thing, but gender expression feels like it validates your gender. You can't tell someone's gender by the toys they play with or the clothes they wear, but they will often choose to play with the toys and wear the clothes that correspond with the gender expression of their gender. Trans women are criticised by some feminists for wearing super girly clothes and lots of make-up and taking on traditional feminine gender roles. There's a reason they do that, because if they don't they won't pass, and if they don't pass people won't recognise them as women. One of my friends who's transitioned had facial feminisation surgery, to make their face more feminine. Finally, they had the courage to cut their hair short and wear jeans and loose t-shirts and beanies and flannel shirts, and just in general dress like a 90s lesbian, because they would no longer be misgendered if they did. No need to constantly wear the girliest clothes imaginable in order to pass as not a man.
I feel validated when I wear men's clothes. I feel comfortable. I feel like maybe one day I could pass, even if I have the girliest fucking face on the planet (and God, I hate that). One day, I want people to see me and think I'm male when I feel male. And if that's gonna happen, I can't wear girly clothes. I have to exhibit a masculine gender expression, because I am trans masculine.
'I don't understand why you want to hide your curves like that,' she said, while I adjusted my binder. 'You look wonderful just as you are.'
And I thought, That's kind of hilarious, really, because you're always bugging me about losing weight. I told her, 'It's not about how I look. It's about how I feel.'
'No, I know. I understand.' No you don't. 'But wouldn't it be better if people were just happy with the bodies they have?'
I sighed. 'Would be nice, yeah. But we don't live in that world. I'm not about to medically transition anyway.'
'No, I know that. I was pretty sure of that. But you always liked wearing pretty dresses and things.'
'Yeah. And I can still wear them, I'm sure I will again. Just not right now. Right now this feels better. Besides, getting dressed up like that and wearing lots of make-up, it's kind of like a costume. Like I'm performing. I'm not performing.' Is the measure of womanhood wearing pretty dresses? Can't boys wear dresses if they want? Aren't you a feminist?
'Well, whatever you do, you're my baby and I'll always love you. But I have to be allowed to state my opinion.'
'Sure, but my body and my gender are not up for debate.'
'I know. I'm not debating.'
'Sure feels like it.' I tied my boots. We left it at that.
Wish I could have expressed it better, what I'm feeling right now. I talked to a trans guy over on another site. I told him how I don't really experience gender dysphoria. He said he didn't either, but he did have gender euphoria when he was in the right gender expression, and more and more as he transitioned. That's what this feeling is, I guess, when I put on the binder and go out in public and just feel good about it all. Gender euphoria. When it feels right.
I'm sat here shivering. It's cold out, but I feel like it's not just that. I just feel really anxious.
I went to my mum's today, to celebrate Finland's Independence Day. We had food and champagne and watched the broadcast from the gala at the presidential palace in Helsinki. It was nice. I had planned to talk to her about my gender. About the non-binary thing. About trans-masculinity. About how I feel about myself and my body and my brain right now. And I couldn't. It just didn't ... work, somehow. I want her to see me, but I don't know how to make that happen. When I've tried to raise the subject in the past, she's just kind of ignored it. Now it's much more serious than it has been before, and I can't handle that kind of reaction again.
And I just got off the phone with my boyfriend. He's great. I love him a lot. He's moving here, to Norway, from England, to be with me. In like a month. 15th of January he'll be here. He'll look for a job, get a worker's permit, we'll live together ... It'll be wonderful. But he's straight. He sees me as a girl, I'm his girlfriend, and he doesn't really know how to see me any differently. We've talked a bit about it all. Months ago I asked him if he would still love me if I were a guy. If he would still want me if I had a different body. If, if, if ... And there's no real answer to those questions because you can't know until it happens. We talked about it just now, and he said he'll love me and support me no matter what, and that it's great that I want to live out my masculine side a little bit more. But I could tell from the way he was talking that he doesn't get it.
He's currently, as I write this, selling all his things. All of them. He's giving up his flat. He's gonna stay with a friend for the last month he's there. It's scary as shit for him, and for me. But it just got scarier for me, because I don't fucking know what I am or what's going on with me or where I'm going with this. I don't know anything. I don't know how I'm gonna be able to stay in school. I don't know how I'm gonna be able to graduate. I don't know what my fucking gender is. I don't know. And I'm terrified that if I keep going in this direction, if I am a boy, fully and truly and actually 100% a boy, he won't want to be with me anymore. And he will have uprooted his life, moved here for me, and it'll end in tears.
Everything feels like a potential mistake, because I'm not sure about anything. And it scares the fuck out of me.
Wish someone could just hold me right now.
Yesterday I was in the studio at school to record a jazz trio. Piano, drums and accordion, it was pretty weird and wonderful (I still have one of those songs stuck in my head...). I am the only one in my class who's not a cis man. Probably the only one who's queer. So hanging out with and working with these guys can feel kind of lonely, I guess. But after recording, my studio partner and I were packing down the equipment. Third guy had a concert he was mixing, so it was just the two of us, and via Christmas songs ('don we now our gay apparel'*) we got onto the subject of LGBTQ.
I was wearing my binder yesterday and feeling pretty good about myself, and decided, fuck it. And I told him I was gender non-binary, and what that meant, and started talking about being trans masculine and social transition vs. medical transition and why I probably won't do the latter. And he listened, and asked questions, and was curious about how transitioning ftm was different from transitioning mtf, and we had a really nice conversation about it. Later I texted him and apologised for my complete lack of filter and just blurting out all this really personal stuff. He just said, 'Hey, don't worry about it. It was fun talking about something interesting and meaningful rather than just complaining about how other people coil cables.'
I guess I wasn't really expecting any of these cis-het dudes I go to school with to get it, or be interested, or, you know, to not freak out at the whole idea. He surprised me, and honestly, I surprised myself by even talking about it to a person that I honestly don't even know that well.
Later on I went to have dinner at a friend's house, cause my best friend and former flatmate is home from Dubai for a long weekend. I was still wearing my binder, and I felt like a boy, and I told my friends that I felt like a boy. Their acceptance wasn't a surprise; I was sitting around a table with a lesbian, an asexual, a bi dude who once wondered if maybe he was a woman, and a very friendly and accepting straight couple. But what did kind of surprise me was how validated I felt, especially when they asked me which pronoun they should use. I said I wasn't sure, and they said, 'Well, let us know and we'll adjust accordingly.' Aside from one half of the straight couple, these are people I've known since high school. The aforementioned bi dude and I talked a bit more at length while the rest of the party talked about other things. I told him about GA, and coming out to you all and how good that made me feel, especially with all the support I got. And then we all played Nintendo Switch, and that was that. No big drama.
I've been trying to figure out how to talk to my mum about all this. She knows I'm non-binary, but she's never addressed it. She's very LGBTQ friendly, has lots of queer friends, talks at length about how hard it was for her gay best friend in the 70s, how sad it is that her American friend's transgender son can't get his legal gender changed, about name changes and how important it is to respect that, and has identified as bisexual for basically her entire life. (I came out to her as bi when I was fifteen or sixteen and she was like, 'So? I'm bi, too. I think almost everyone is.') But she scoffs at identity politics (which is basically just the notion that people should have the right to define themselves without experiencing prejudice), cause she finds it too individualistic and she's a marxist in everything but name. I've tried at length to explain to her how it's not about individualism, but actually about community and finding somewhere to fit in.
I think if I were a straight up, gender dysphoric, want to definitely medically transition trans man, it would probably be easier for her. That's a box she can tick. But trying to make her accept me as primarily trans-masculine gender fluid is probably gonna be a little more difficult, and I don't even know where to begin. Given how she's never addressed the enby thing, and when I've tried to sort of bring it up she's seemed kind of dismissive, this is a conversation that we need to have. Just not sure how, or when.
I'm gonna stop writing now, cause I'm basically rambling. TL;DR: conversations I had about my gender identity yesterday made me feel very happy and validated, but I don't know how to talk to my mum about it.
* Interestingly, originally this part of Deck the Hall was 'fill the mead cup, drain the barrel'. It was changed during one temperance movement or another. The carroll itself is originally Welsh.
Note: I'm frustrated. I swear. Deal with it.
I was browsing YouTube yesterday when I came across a 10 Best LGBTQ Movies video. As I always do, I clicked on it, cause I'm always up for potentially finding new movies to watch. There were some good ones on the list, such as Call Me By Your Name, Milk, and Weekend for instance, and I found a couple I hadn't seen, either. But when they got down to #3, they lost me, because according to them the third best LGBTQ film in history is Brokeback Mountain.
I was 17 when Brokeback Mountain came out. I saw it in the cinema, and I cried, and I thought it was wonderful. Because I was a 17-year-old at the time girl who hadn't really been exposed to a lot of queer cinema. I bought it on DVD when it came out, and watched it again. Then a few years passed, I became more experienced, watched other LGBTQ movies, and realised that Brokeback Mountain is, quite frankly, shit.
All of my IRL queer friends agree with me. Not most, all. The film tends to be conspicuously absent when queer people make lists of greatest LGBTQ films. I feel like Brokeback Mountain caters to a straight audience that wants to feel liberal and accepting by watching gay characters on screen, but who ultimately feel more comfortable if it ends in tragedy. The story it's based on was written by a straight woman (not that there's anything wrong with straight people writing LGBTQ stories, and we have many, many straight authors on the site here who write absolutely wonderful gay fiction).
Brokeback Mountain has served a purpose, of course. It has made gay stories more palatable to straight audiences, which is a good thing. The acting performances are marvellous, too. But it also demonstrated that the only way for an LGBTQ movie to win an Academy Award is if literally no one involved in its making is visibly queer. I'm not of the opinion that straight people can't play gay characters (they definitely can) or even that cis people can't play trans characters (they can, though they have a responsibility to to do well that few manage to fulfil). But nobody even remotely queer has their name on that movie. Author of original short story, straight. Writers, straight. Producers, straight. Ang Lee, totally straight. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal? Ding ding ding! Straight!
As of last year, the only gay man to win an Academy Award playing a gay character, is Ian McKellen. And that was twenty fucking years ago. Meanwhile, if a cis-het actor plays a queer character in an even remotely successful film, they're guaranteed a nomination, if not a win. No trans actor has ever won an Oscar. No lesbian playing a lesbian has ever won an Oscar.
Another movie that straight people keep harping on about is Blue is the Warmest Colour, which is objectively shit. After the third lengthy porn inspired male gaze centred sex scene, I switched that motherfucker off.
Bohemian Rhapsody is being lauded by straight critics, while LGBTQ audiences are disappointed at the misrepresentation of Freddie Mercury's sexuality and the way everything goes to shit when he tries to live out his queer identity (which is a factually incorrect assessment of Freddie's queerness), while embracing his straight friends and staying out of 'that world' makes everything better (also factually incorrect). While not in and of itself a bad film, as a queer film it falls short, and a movie about Freddy Mercury ought to be a queer film. He's one of the most famous queer people in history. We've got Elton John, William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Alexander the Great, and Freddie Mercury. (Notice how there are no queer women on that list? Sigh...)
There is a lot of great queer cinema. We've had long, extensive threads on the subject in The Lounge, where people have shared their top picks of literally hundreds of wonderful films, many of which actually have happy endings for once. Straight audiences can't handle a queer movie with a happy ending. It has to be sad, or it has to be heteronormative, and that's what we get. Things are improving a little, sure. Love, Simon is a notable exception in being a well loved queer teen movie with a sweet and happy ending where no one kills themselves. How lovely! Of course, Love, Simon didn't even earn an honourable mention in the video I watched.
Weekend took second place, which redeemed the list somewhat. Carol came in first. Which is fine, it's a great movie, and doesn't end in tragedy. But fucking Brokeback Mountain ought to die a fiery death and be buried in an avalanche of awesome queer cinema.
EDIT: Just to clarify: I'm not saying that Brokeback Mountain is objectively a bad movie, nor am I saying that the short story it's based on isn't good. What I am saying is that it's not an LGBTQ movie, it's made by straight people for straight people, and as such I don't think it belongs on lists of good queer movies. It's a bad queer film, that doesn't necessarily make it a bad film, period.
Over the years I've been here, I've gotten the odd PM asking me whether I'm actually male or female. I have answered these questions truthfully. When I returned after my hiatus, I was really happy to find that there's now a non-binary option under gender, as there wasn't one before. I identify as genderqueer, gender fluid, or non-binary. When I first got here, I didn't. Or, that is, I lacked the language to.
I was assigned female at birth, and I always thought I was comfortable that way. But now, I don't. At some point in late 2012 or early 2013, I chose a gender neutral pen name, as I started to write again. I was posting to Archive of Our Own then, and I wanted for my gender not to matter. I didn't know why that was so important to me at the time, though I do now. In April 2013, I discovered GA through a reader on AO3, and I came here. I never disclosed my gender, but people assumed. People assumed that I was a guy, and I loved it. I felt very comfortable, and free. Kind of like this was what I was supposed to be, most of the time.
I say most of the time, because sometimes I'm perfectly happy being a girl. I put on a dress, I wear make-up and heels, and I'm cool with being called she. I'm fine with being called she most of the time, for the moment. In real life, pronouns aren't the most important thing to me, especially since I, well, shift. Most people IRL read me as female, so I'm not gonna force that conversation. But when I'm in here, I love being he, and I wish people would read me as he more often out there as well. For the longest time, I thought my feelings weren't legitimate, because I didn't suffer from body dysphoria. But a lot of my trans friends don't, either. At some point, trans people became 'we' and not 'they', to me.
I recently switched meds, and the hormonal balance in my body's a little bit out of whack right now. When I discovered that I was growing actual facial hair, I felt overjoyed. The things that cis women pluck off the moment they see them, I looked at and felt like, finally! I have an honest to god moustache now, though it's super light so you can barely see it. I can feel it, though. There's a lot of it.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a binder. Today, I wore it, put on a shirt I like, and I went out into the world and felt awesome. I felt like this is me. For the past few weeks, I've seriously been considering medically transitioning. The one thing holding me back is my singing voice. I'm a musician. I'm a singer. If I transition, my voice will change. It's a big risk. I mean, it's not like I could do it right now, anyway. It would probably take years before I could even start treatment. I dunno, I haven't really voiced these thoughts properly before, they're a bit of a mess at the moment.
I don't want to click publish on this. I feel like if I do, you'll all treat me differently. Like I won't get to be me anymore. I kind of feel like an impostor, no matter which way I go. When I wear dresses and make-up, I often feel like I'm in drag. When I come here, and I'm me, Thorn Wilde, I feel like if people knew they'd stop seeing me as who I am. A couple of years ago, I found out that some people I thought were my friends had been talking behind my back, saying that I called myself genderqueer cause I just wanted attention. And constantly there's this fucked up voice in my head telling me that they're right, and I'm just pretending. I'm not. I know I'm not. I know that when I'm here, I'm Thorn Wilde and I belong. I don't want that feeling to go away.
But today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. In the past year, 369 trans people have been murdered. Those are the reported ones, the ones where the victims weren't misgendered. My family is dying. The least I can do is be open about who I am.
This is me, in my binder and my favourite shirt, being me today. Pronouns: He/him.
Neil Gaiman once wrote, in response to angry A Song of Ice and Fire fans demanding the next book in the series, 'George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.'
Much like getting attacked on Twitter, I think alienating readers is proof that you're doing something right, if that makes any sense. You've pushed someone's buttons, made them think or feel in some way, even if it was negative. I have alienated multiple readers because of artistic choices I have made, and the same artistic choices have kept many more on the edges of their seats. And that's fine. People don't have to read my books, they have every right in the world to put them down and go do something else. Lord knows I have. (Full disclosure: I find Lord of the Rings dreadfully boring and never made it past the third chapter.) Life is too short to read books you don't like. Some people didn't like all the swearing in The Jacob & Marcus Tales and stopped reading. Some people didn't like what I put my characters through in Nemesis. And I'm sure I've lost lots of readers who never said anything, simply put down the book, and moved on.
But then some readers become angry. They feel entitled to have the story move in the direction they wanted it to. They claim ownership of someone else's creative labours. I will happily receive constructive criticism of my work. And I love hearing and reading what people think of what I write. I think it's wonderful that we can have this kind of interaction, that you and I can communicate about the things we write. But no one has the right to dictate what I should write, just like I have no right to dictate anyone else's work. And it's all in the delivery; some people are just rude.
I firmly believe that art is a dialogue between artist and audience, but the artist still has final say.
The thing is, I don't write for you. I write for me, and I share it with you just in case you might like it. That, I think, is what most writers do, certainly most good ones. Often when I write, the story and the characters take me in a completely different direction from what I thought they would, and that creates richer stories for me to write. I will never compromise my artistic vision to make people like me. I write what I want, what the story wants, and if people like it, that's great. If they don't, they can stop reading. But don't yell at me for my story moving in a direction you didn't anticipate. For lack of a better phrase, that's a dick move.
So, dear reader, just to clarify: I am not your bitch.
I'd almost forgotten I even had this blog. Figure, since I'm back, it's time I post something again, so I thought I might talk a bit about why I've been gone for so long and what's up with my mental health situation, which is a lot, actually.
First of all, I've been on some medication for the past five years that eventually sapped me of all my creativity. I've been virtually unable to write for over two years, only managing to pen the odd scene or jot down a plot idea here and there, which is really fucking inconvenient for me, because writing is such a big part of who I am. I quit taking those meds this summer, and immediately, the ideas began to flow, and I got the urge to write, and I literally couldn't help but do so. Add to that my current hypomania, and this explains why I just wrote a 60k word novel in three weeks.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder back in January. For years, I've been carrying around a major depressive disorder diagnosis, and though I've been in constant therapy during that time, it took them that long to realise what was actually wrong with me. Having the correct diagnosis is a blessing. Finally, I understand why I am the way I am. I can look back at things I've done and understand why I did them (such as the time I decided out of the blue that, to hell with the music and the writing, I want to be an astrophysicist! It was a resounding failure, obviously, as I don't even know maths). I now recognise hypomania. I understand that my depressive episodes are triggered by stress (as are my hypomanic ones). I understand what's going on in my brain and my body when I feel a certain way. And I'm on the right medication, finally. One that doesn't utterly murder my creativity.
I was gone for such a long time because I couldn't write, and being here reminded me that I couldn't write. It reminded me of how shitty I felt about that, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed for not managing to finish my stories. Now, that's no longer the case. Now, I'm finishing everything. And I feel so good about it.
I know I might crash at any time. Hopefully when I do, my medication will prevent me from crashing too hard. And hopefully, as has been the case during depressive episodes before I started on those fucking meds, I will be able to continue to write through it. I really hope I will. And I want to make myself stick around here, too, no matter my mental state, because honestly, I've really missed this place, and all the people here, and some of them have even disappeared while I've been gone and that breaks my heart. Still, I'm here now. And I'm not planning on going anywhere.
Today a dude in my group presented a painting with a bunch of hearts, meant to represent how sharing in art therapy group had helped him and put him in touch with his emotions and stuff, which, good for him. He prefaces this by saying, 'So, a bunch of hearts... Boys don't really draw hearts, I guess that's a little feminine...'
This is the guy who's previously complained about his boss being a woman, said he doesn't think a female therapist can understand a male patient, and made a whole bunch of sexist and heterosexist generalisations during group. I wanted to ask him why he thinks hearts are feminine. I wanted to ask him why it matters if they are, and why that means boys 'don't' draw them. I didn't.
My painting this week related to the absurdity of the gender binary and my struggles with understanding why being born with one set of genitalia and not the other should somehow say anything about who I am as a person. Why all these binaries? Boy - girl, masculine - feminine, skirt - trousers. Why can't we be/have both? And why should we be squeezed into these absurd and restrictive gender roles based on which sex we're assigned at birth?
Another dude in group commented with his experiences working with trans and genderqueer people in LLH, a Norwegian LGBTQ organisation, how some people feel like they're born in the wrong body, how some feel like they don't belong to either gender, etc., and how that's okay. I like him, he's nice.
But 'boys don't draw hearts'-guy was like, 'But you don't struggle with gender roles, do you?'
I wanted to laugh in his face, but that might have been frowned upon. When we open the floor for questions and comments about our art, all questions are permitted.
So I told him that of course I do. I don't understand why I should be restricted by some social construct. I don't understand why something as arbitrary as society's expectations should dictate what interests I should have, what colours I should like, how I should dress, what kind of jobs I'm better suited to.
A genetic accident determines what kind of junk we're born with. Why should that matter any more than what colour eyes we have or whether our toes are hairy?
Gender roles and expectations restrict us as individuals, and they restrict society as a whole.
Today, inspired by the good feels of Oslo's Pride celebration, I had a very public coming out on Facebook (very public; I even set it to 'public' so that any bigots who want to friend me will be able to see it and think better of it). I don't know what I expected, but my friends have just been heaping love and support on me, which is really wonderful. My mum hasn't acknowledged the post, though. I don't know if she just hasn't seen it yet or doesn't know how to handle it or what...
What I have told almost every person in my life today is that I'm pansexual (which means that if you're an adult capable of giving consent, I don't care what gender you are or what gender you identify with, or what bits you have or don't have that may not match the binary gender you may or may not exhibit), and that I myself identify as genderqueer or genderfluid.
Some days, I feel totally comfortable as the gender I was born as. Other days I just want to slip out of this fucking body and into a different skin. It's a difficult and painful feeling, and one I still don't quite understand. I'm working on that.
I'm so grateful to all of you for not questioning me about my gender identity and for just accepting me as I come before you. Being here has played an important part in forming my current identity and helping me figure shit out. Thank you. You're all wonderful and I love you.
I'm doing it again! November is almost here, and I will be participating in NaNoWriMo once more. Last year, I won with Nemesis 2 (which, as many of you are aware, still isn't quite finished; I'm in the editing and rewriting stage and totally stuck, but I'm sure it'll come). This year, I will be working on the detective novel I've been planning for some months now. I'm really excited for it, which is awesome, as I don't get really excited about things very often these days.
Now, it just so happens that NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit that, in addition to running and maintaining a website, also funds creative writing programmes for, in their own words, 'nearly 500,000 kids and adults in approximately 200 countries, 2,000 classrooms, 650 libraries, and 600 NaNoWriMo regions every year.' They provide tools for teachers, librarians and community leaders to run writing and reading programmes to promote literacy and creativity, they use their vast network to get talented and famous writers to write pep-talks and post encouragement for participants, and they inspire aspiring writers around the world to pick up their pens, notebooks and/or laptops and write.
I would donate all of my money towards this fantastic cause. Promoting creativity is a recipe for peace and prosperity, and if NaNoWriMo keeps growing they'll be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize any year now. Unfortunately, I have rent and bills and tuition fees that need paying, and I'm incapable of studying and working at the same time, so my funds are limited. Which is why I've set up a NaNoWriMo fundraiser.
NaNoWriMo allows their participants to create fundraisers to ask friends, family and random strangers on the Internet to donate to NaNoWriMo on their behalf, kind of like a sponsorship, all in the name of motivation. None of this money goes to me. I don't get anything out of this except good feels and maybe some freebies if I raise enough. And both good feels and freebies are pretty motivating things.
So, this is where you guys come in. If you'd like to join me in helping NaNoWriMo to continue to be awesome, please visit my fundraising page. There's some information on there about the programme, but if you'd like to know more about how the money is spent and where it comes from, you can do so here. And, if you'd rather make a personal donation and maybe get some freebies of your own, you can donate directly here.
As they put it themselves, by donating 'You not only support people’s novel writing dreams, you help transform people into creators who see new possibilities in the world—and act on them. You spark a creative revolution.' And, hey, who doesn't love a revolution?
Thank you for reading!
So, I haven't been here much lately, and the longer you stay away the harder it is to come back. So I thought I'd post a sort of general update for those who might be interested.
First of all, I'm doing okay. I take my meds, I get up in the mornings and go to school (I haven't quite mastered getting up the mornings I don't have school, but I'm working on it), I do my homework, I mostly eat proper food and the flat isn't a complete mess. Magpie's busy with work and uni, I'm just busy with school.
I'm studying sound production. Currently we're learning about pro-tools, and some of the physics of soundwaves and how they pertain to setting up a studio or a gig, and analogue mixers, and the history of digital sound, and sound in relation to dramaturgy in film and on TV. We have practical lessons in the Mac lab and in the studio, and this week we're taking studio certification tests. If I pass, I'll be able to book time in the studio an play around with my own stuff whenever I like. I honestly don't quite expect to pass on the first go... I was off sick week before last, and I missed the whole lesson on compressors. Still, if I don't pass the first time I can try again in a couple of weeks. No big.
I took up knitting over summer, which means I now have a yarn obsession. I can go into a yarn shop and buy just one thing, but it takes a lot of self discipline to pull off. Mostly, I walk out with three new colours that I want to turn into hats for my friends. I have a knitting problem.
I also have a medication problem. I realised it had become a problem when I wrote a poem on the metro on my way to school one morning and I thought, wow, my creativity must have come back, only to realise later that I had forgotten to take my meds that morning. The days I do remember to take them (which is nearly all as long as I keep them by my bed or somewhere really visible) I can focus better in class, I'm less jumpy and I don't get all angsty among strangers, but my creativity is close to zero. Win some, lose some. I'm finally in therapy, though. The past few sessions have been to get an idea of the roots of my problems. Tomorrow we'll be starting properly. Hopefully, after a while in therapy I'll be able to stop taking the meds. Don't know when that will be, though. Which means I don't know when I'll be able to get back to writing.
Before school started I was at a point where I could manage to get a little bit done every day if I pushed myself, but now I just don't have the energy. I hate it. I want to write, and I want to play my instruments, and all that stuff, but I come home from school and all I manage to do is sit in front of the computer and play games, or watch Netflix, or something like that. Weekends I catch up on the sleep I missed out on during the week.
A couple of weeks ago my nephew was finally born. He's adorable, and pretty well behaved for an infant. I've been over to my brother's place twice to see him.
I got my first tattoo last Saturday. Just a teensy one. Nothing big, nothing fancy. But I get why so many depressed people like getting tattoos. It's an incredible high. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. Less painful than going to the dentist. But it gets the adrenaline flowing, and when you're done you feel like you're the king of everything. And you feel happy. The rest of the day I was just walking around grinning.
I want another one.
So, that's where I am right now. I've been pretty absent from all my social media. It's like I get enough of people just going to school with them every day. So when I get home I shun all society. I haven't seen any of my friends since Magpie and I had a dinner party last week.
It mostly feels like I'm living one day to the next. Planning is hard. Thinking ahead is hard. But I guess that's okay for now. I hope I'll be able to be here more often soon. I'd really like to. I miss all you guys.
When you've been depressed for a while, and you've found writing really hard, getting back into it can be a bit of a challenge. I'm feeling a lot better now. Going to school to study sound engineering this autumn, and it feels like my life is back on some kind of track. But the writing is still difficult.
The problem is that I have lots of ideas, and I want to get back to writing properly, I really do. But I'm mostly motivated to work on my new ideas. So I sit down thinking, 'I'm gonna write now,' and open up one of the new, unpublished ones (my new viking story, my detective novel, the Pride & Prejudice pastiche). But then I remember that I should be working on my unfinished novels, Lavender & Gold or Nemesis 2, and so I open those and read through what I've written and get to the point where I've got more to write... and then stop, cause I don't feel motivated to write those things, I just want to write the new things. It's like my attention span is shot. And I have readers waiting for L&G and Nemesis, and I don't know what to do.
So, I end up playing Skyrim instead.
I know all I have to do to finish L&G and Nemesis 2 is just sit my arse down and start writing, but it's like when I try my fingers just won't move, and my mind wanders to Detective Inspector Templeton, or Trym the viking, or Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. And nothing at all gets done.
I have to find some way around this. I really, really do.
Easter is a holiday throughout the Christian world to celebrate that Jesus died for the sins of human kind and rose again on the third day. That's basically the answer that most people will give, and it's perfectly correct. In most languages, the name for Easter tends to be some derivation of the verb 'to pass', taken from the Hebrew Pesach, a Jewish holiday that in English is known as Passover, and which was being celebrated in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion. That name has simply been appropriated by Christians for their new holiday which, for obvious reasons, falls around the same time (at some point after the first full moon after the vernal equinox).
Since most Indo-European languages have named the holiday for passover (with names such as pascha, paskha, pashka, pasqua, pâques, pasch, pace, påske, påsk, pask, páskar, etc.), it does perhaps seem strange and unnatural that the English word should be so very different.
Some have tried to connect the word Easter with the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess Ishtar, goddess of love, fertility, war and sex. It is a particularly popular hypothesis among Atheists who wish to discredit the Christian holiday by saying, 'hey, look, the name of your holiday comes from a sex goddess whose followers engaged in ritual prostitution!' Ironic and funny as that would no doubt be, there is little to support it.
Instead, it seems that the word Easter comes from another, somewhat less innocuous fertility goddess.
The goddess Eostre, or Ostara as she is also known, was a Germanic divinity whose festival fell around the vernal equinox. Again, we must look to linguistics to find the truth. Eostre derives from the proto-germanic austron, meaning 'dawn'. Aus means 'light' and is the root for the English word 'east' as well. Eostre would appear to be a germanic incarnation of a proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn whose name may have been haéusos, and who has no relation to Ishtar whatsoever.
In old High German, the month that fell around April was called Ôstaramânoth, for Ostara. In West Saxon it was called Eastermonath, and from here it looks very much like clear sailing for the Eostre theory; much like the word 'yule' has been adopted as a name for Christmas (in Scandinavian, Christmas is called jul to this day), so here has a Pagan holiday given name to a Christian one, most likely because early Christian leaders were pragmatic. 'There's already a holiday here? Well then let's let them celebrate it, we'll just sneak in some extra stuff.'
Of what little we know about the mythology surrounding Eostre, which admittedly isn't all that much, both eggs and hares seem to have held important symbolism in connection with her worship as a goddess of spring, dawn and fertility. I don't know how common bunnies were in ancient Mesopotamia, but I'm ready to bet that they were somewhat more prevalent in Northern Europe.
If anyone's wondering why I decided to go on this rant, it's because I had a discussion with a friend (not on GA) this morning about whether Ishtar or Eostre was the root of the word Easter. I was pretty sure about my position, but did some research anyway, and not only did it prove me probably right, but it taught me a lot of neat stuff about Indo-European linguistics, so I figured, might as well share.
This is kind of an old video but since I can't sleep, I'm browsing content on Upworthy just for shits and giggles, and I stumbled across it and rewatched it. John Green is a really intelligent guy who knows a whole lot, and it occurred to me while watching this video that if I lived in the US, odds are I would be unable to pay for my antidepressants, and that would seriously suck. For 98 10mg tablets, of which I take two a day, I pay 74NOK, which is $12 US. That is roughly $7 per month. I don't know what the 20mg tablets cost, but odds are I'll switch to those on my next prescription and that they'll end up being cheaper per month. According to sources I've found, the same drug seems to cost roughly between $40 and $120 per month in the US, presumably depending on health insurance and the like. To me, that would be a pretty bad sum to have to pay just to function.
Anyway, here is John Green explaining to his brother Hank what is wrong with healthcare in the US:
Personally, I'm boycotting the olympics this year. Sadly, the gay rights aspect isn't even the worst of it. There's corruption at the very heart of the whole thing, more than a third of the money spent is unaccounted for, and guest workers from Kazakstan had their passports stolen by their employers and were deported without getting paid. Basically, the whole thing stinks.
But given the nature of this website, the LGBT issue is the most relevant, so I thought I'd share this little thing I found.
To Russia With Love is a sort of petition. The site's subtitle reads, 'Say no to abuse of basic human rights. Let's paint Russia in rainbow colours and tell Putin the world supports equality.'
If you click 'read more', you'll find the following text:
At time of writing, there are 263583 supporters who have painted 21.9% of the map. You don't have to give them your e-mail address or even your name. You simply fill in your age, gender (with options 'trans' and 'other' available) and country, and then you've filled in a tiny square on the map. It's pretty neat. I don't know whether it actually does and good, but with any luck it raises awareness, and in any case it shows solidarity with Russian members of our community. And it only takes thirty seconds, so if you've already read this whole post, you might as well.
To Russia With Love
I was browsing Tumblr the other day when I came across this quote:
It's a quote by a woman named Amy André, from a speech on bisexual health.
I was reminded of it when this thread emerged in The Lounge, regarding olympic diver Tom Daley. Now, Tom Daley has said that he's in a relationship with another guy. Good for him. I think this is awesome. He also says he still fancies girls. As far as I'm concerned, this places him pretty firmly in the bisexual category as far as labels go. Yet, some seem to feel that this means he's 'undecided'.
I tend to lean towards the masculine, but if I were to categorise my sexual orientation (personally I prefer to just call myself queer), I would probably call myself pansexual. If someone asks and I don't feel like explaining what that means, I will say bisexual, because that's easier. But I like guys, and I like girls, and I like girls who look like guys and guys who look like girls, and I like non-op transpersons and genderqueer people who feel no need to label their gender, and I don't believe in the gender binary.
Neither to I believe in monosexuality as some kind of default. I've always been of the opinion that people fall in love with people. That there are tastes and preferences that tend to make us more attracted to one sex than another, but that the starting point, the default state if you will, is that you can go either way. Dispute me on this if you like, my word isn't gospel. I'm not saying that no one is gay or straight, and I'm not saying that sexual orientation isn't innate, I just mean that as a species we can go either way.
I'm convinced that if 'alternative' sexualities were more accepted, far more straight people would identify as bisexual. As it is, many people, on both ends of the spectrum, don't even consider bisexuality to be a real sexual orientation. We're told that we're confused or greedy, that we should make up our minds. We're told that if we're in same-sex relationships we're gay and if we're in opposite-sex relationships we're straight. Mental health professionals don't take us seriously. We have a hard time finding lasting relationships because if our partners identify as completely gay or completely straight, they'll want us to identify that way as well, and they'll feel insecure and worry that we really want someone of the other sex if we refuse to.
This is probably part of the reason why far more bisexual people are depressed or suicidal. I think we're something like twice as likely as gay people and four times as likely as straight people to suffer from severe depressions and suicidal thoughts. Some will try to tell us to just choose, some will try to convince us we're really either gay or straight, and gay people aren't a bit better with regard to this than straight people.
I'm not confused. I'm perfectly comfortable with my sexual orientation. I know what I like and what I don't like. I've identified as bisexual for over a decade and I've never faltered in this. But it hasn't been easy when I've constantly been made to feel like my sexual orientation is invalid. The B in LGBT is being ignored, but we do exist, and we're not confused or greedy or undecided. We're real.