"Having observed that I have all my life acted more from the force of feeling than from my reflections, I have concluded that my conduct has depended more on my character than on my mind, after long struggle between them in which I have alternately found myself with too little intelligence for my character and too little character for my intelligence." - Giacomo Casanova, History of my life Vol. 1

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dysphoria.

Triggers: Transgender dysphoria/suicide.






She goes deathly calm. Then, in a almost imperceptible monotone she speaks. " I'll take a
rope from the cupboard..."

She uses the phrase "it hurts" and " I can't go on." so many times I lose track. Her eyes beg me to tell her it's OK to die. I can't bring myself to accept that, but I feel cruel and selfish for it.

"All I can do is keep going, fueled by the desperation of ending this pain. It's like a sharp ache...that never dulls."

She looks at me for minutes on end, never breaking eye contact. Tears roll silently down her face, too dignified for snot or puffy eyes they just leak out. I hold her hands and she crushes them but says "Don't touch me" when I try to hug her. I take my chances and rest an arm over her anyway. I wipe the tears from her face with slow precise exacting gentleness.

"I have to go on. I take care of you because I must. I work when I can find a breath in the agony on only those things that might save me.

But we both know nothing can save me. We can't get surgery. Nobody will pay for it. "

Her face forms shapes I've never seen. I hold myself in stasis, gently smiling and holding her eye contact as my eyes brim. I hold this space for her, even though my mind is losing it's shit with horror and fear.

Her eyes are dull. Vacant. She is everywhere in the eyes of torture victims I've seen in photographs - the ones who lived.

We've had a quarter bottle of jack just to get her defenses down this far.

She's been alone so long, before I came, with nobody to care how she feels, that she has no idea how to tell me what she's feeling. I say "It's like a story".

At the end,both of us fading into sleep, we just stare at each other, filled with quiet desperation, like lovers in a car crash saying goodbye because you already know one of you might not make it to morning if the other can't stay awake and find help. I must find help. But where? She is a nameless face in a crowd. The surplus people.

I'm scared to sleep. If I hide the rope...who am I kidding. She built hydrogen gas bombs as a kid in the well on their farm. How can I stop her. I must live with what she lives with.

Is today the end of my willpower?

Is today my last moment?
There is no help. We've been through therapy and drugs. Now it is surgery or death.
I have always known this
I've known this for two years - she was dying.
Every moment was cherished
I may only have so few.

I have always accepted she may not make it. 45% suicide rate.

That statistic haunts me like a taunting spectre when we make plans to go to South America one day, or climb a mountain when I've mastered my physio.

45%.

She will not be alone when this suffering is all she knows.

She will not be alone at the end after a life like like hers

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Simply FABiLUS

I seem to be in a mood to publish my old drafts today. Here is one I wrote shortly before Christmas of 2011(I memory serves...).

****************************

 7 days ago at 10:30pm on a Thursday night I walked into a rustic eatery two blocks away from my home in Observatory. I was tired, and a little annoyed at my husband for invoking the power of our relationship to convince me to come and meet the owners of the place.

Fabio, a happy-go-lucky Italian economics major and Wesley, an ex-programmer from Durban, had just opened their vegetarian-only restaurant that Monday and they had big ideas for converting the space they had rented into an open Artists Collective and Cultural Exchange such as Observatory had never seen.

They drank strong coffee and talked into the wee hours... by the time I arrived the topic was deeply philosophical and ranged between Anarchy vs. Capitalism, the importance of community and the ethics of vegetarian cooking.

I only had to spend a short amount of time with these charming and attractive young men to realise that we were all kindred spirits, and that much of our beliefs and ideas overlapped. I was hooked!

They needed people to help them run the shop because they were short staffed, but they were frank about the fact that money was too tight to mention. Arno and I felt so powerfully about the worth of the idea they were trying to establish that we joined their cause without reservation and in exchange for our meals.

It very quickly transpired that our biggest value would be in the realm of the kitchen. Arno's incredible cooking very quickly became a hit - customers wistfully commented that his food made them miss their mother's home cooking and dozens of people expressed amazement at the fact that such simple and un-fucked up food could be so good. Arno and I brought our belief in eating what you think smells good (within the basic boundaries of basic balanced meals) to the menu, and it was soon decided that we would not have a fixed menu but rather simply offer a set meal of the day (as chosen by the chef who cooked it) and a selection of bespoke smoothies alongside the usual coffees and teas.

Very soon Arno and I were both practically living in the shop. Every single one of our team members did their level best to be on duty as long and often as possible, usually at least 12-16 hours a day. We all believed so passionately in this collective dream of ours that we were willing to sacrifice whatever we could muster to help our dream survive.

Unfortunately this was not enough. Not one, but two of our financial backers abruptly absconded without so much as an explanation, and suddenly Wesley and Fabio were left high and dry having spent their investments on renovations, fittings, furniture and equipment. Suddenly left without a cent of running expenses to float our company through the difficult early months, we floundered. Before we knew it the dream had been scuppered, and all seemed lost.

But this is where the story really starts.

In the seven days that we grew to know each other better we became a family. The pure unselfish sacrifice that each of our team members brought to the project was inspiring. Fabio, while working a day job to help float himself financially, would come in the evenings after a long day at the office and still work until closing time. Wesley gave up almost every cent he had trying to keep us in running capital, and would often be awake from 5am until after midnight, and ended up doing the dishes most of the time. Bianca, a Swiss language teacher, would come and help out on her off days after working a 12 hour shift as a barmaid. Arno and I did our best to show them the good Afrikaans Protestant work ethic. For those seven days I learned what it meant to have a group of people who could work together almost seamlessly. In those seven days there was not one cruel or harsh word spoken between us, despite us all being under undue pressure to make ends meet. We had meetings often, and everyone's opinion was respected and valued. We debated new ideas and made decisions as a team, often unanimously. We all knew what was at stake, we all had a shared vision, and so we all just got on with the work at hand. Most evenings we would end the day by sharing the leftover dinner from our day's preparations and drinking our signature fruit water ( water with a slice of whatever fresh fruits were available. My favourite was Melon and Mint)

When it finally came to the day when Wesley, who held the lease in his name, had to inform our landlord that we would default on our rent in January and request a cancellation of our contract, the weather chose to tell the whole of the neighbourhood of our sorrow - it was cold and dark and wet all day. Everyone in the store could sense the change in our mood and it seemed things were to be as dark and grey as the weather.

However, the following day, exactly one week after we first met, we decided to have a ceremonial drunk. We all sat around the table with glasses of red wine and played poker with dried chillies for chips. Then we had a rather wonderful philosophical discussion about Polyamory, after which we all sat down to what would likely be our last meal together as the Fabilus team. We had fantastic potjiekos with fresh ciabatta and rice; to a man, every one of us overate.

We had, in a way, survived a great challenge together - even though in the end we lost - and through this loss we were bonded together as friends. The love I came to feel for my teammates will never be lost, and the joy of our shared experience will never be taken away. I will always have the wonderful music that I copied from Fabio's iPhone - beautiful jazz that became Fabilus' signature sound and will always remind me of how uncomplicated and kind Fabio was. I will always remember the way that Bianca smoked her vanilla rolled cigarettes and would help steer our meetings when they went off track by bringing out her detailed little notebook. Wesley's cheerfulness and willingness to always be the first to help out even when he was visibly dead on his feet. I'll remember the madness of us having cold showers in the back yard while someone held watch at the back door; of braaing potjiekos on a simple brick fireplace in the back yard. Watching people play chess through the front windows on our hand-painted board, and having the umbrellas make Cape Town Flowers when the wind got especially strong and nearly lifted them out of our make-shift mountings. Buying vegetables with Wesley at the market, buying malva pudding with Fabio, hugging Bianca after she changed her mind about needing a hug after Lucas (our arch enemy and one of the investors who pulled out) visited the shop briefly. Falling asleep on the hideous green couch with the pink cloth over it. Making hummus for the first time. Eating gourmet food every day for a week. Drawing the menu in chalk on the wall, a different dish each day. The dress that Hans gave me that he thought couldn't possibly be his own design because it was too bohemian. Making our own chocolate ice cream. Seeing Arno more happy than I've known him to be in years - more even than a vacation could have achieved.

So what if we will be entering the New Year not a cent richer for the work we did for Fabilus? We have nevertheless been enriched by the experience; our hearts are lighter and more at peace than they have been in years.

Thank you, Fabilus. We will miss you.

A moderately pointless post...with some sense at the end.

This post was drafted somewhere in the last three months and languished unpublished...because ADD.

It seems to have some good to it, so I shall publish it unaltered as a random example of my stream of consciousness. It has some amusing bits. ;)

**********************************

Forgive the dialect of my writing at present - I am something of a sponge when it comes to picking up turns of phrase or particular accents. If I watch some american television show set, for example, in the American Deep South, I inevitably end up with a southern drawl despite my never having set foot in the place.

Likewise, I tend to find myself communicating in a far more genteel manner when I've spent too many hours reading regency novels or watching period dramas. It is not an affections so much as an affliction. My partners have teased me often.

I don't precisely know what it is I mean to write here, only that I am burdened with some thoughts that will not rest in my mind - and yet remain tantalisingly out of sight. I cannot seem to find them, but I feel the effect of them deeply. They colour my emotional landscape, washing it out of colour and leaving me feeling a undercurrent of sadness, longing, regret and vulnerability.

The laughter of my landlady in the next room infuriates me. I feel offended that she should be so comfortable while I, who unquestionably has the moral high ground, should suffer so. It serves only to remind me that a good, open, candid heart that means only ever to prosper everyone will get you absolutely nowhere in life.

I do my best to put such thoughts aside, as they only serve to excite my anxieties and leave me nauseous, sleepless, restless and fretful. Regardless, I continue to wish hexes on her almost daily - and can only justify this in my conscience because I do not truly believe that wishing may make things so.

The prospect of confronting her if we do not find another home soon daunts me. I know I have the fire to face this danger, but it usually comes at so very dear a cost to my mental health and is by far the most difficult part of my battle against the delusions, panics and bloodmindedness that at times overtakes my reason during times of stress.


The changes in my medication - slight reductions to make allowance for the endless plague of heartburn I suffer - has been an... interesting experience.

I have not slept much if at all in several days. I burn constantly with anxiety, a knawing discomfort much like excessive hunger that lingers in my stomach and draws all my muscles up in a bunch as I think. I try to remind myself to take deep breaths at every opportunity, which helps, but it is only when I eventually concede to the necessity of a tranquiliser that the feeling eases, and then only in proportion to my dose. 

This I keep as light as I am able, and as infrequent as possible, for if I were to give into the temptation of exceeding my daily allowance, I should take four or five times as much before it would truly settle my nerves.  And so, instead, I suffer through the discomfort and do my best not to allow it to affect my behaviour too much. For my troubles I am at last, after so many months (and years) again able to write something.

I am glad for the change in my motivation. I so often feel as if I were a waste of space. I have nothing but my passion and my wit to recommend me - all other skills needed for survival I seem to have been denied by fate. At least now I can think a bit more, write a bit more...perhaps perceive how I may become more whole. My loves deserves better than a series of short tempered outburst and my endless pool of emotional distress.

Last night my girl and I walked in the rain to the park on Raleigh road. It is the first happy moment I have had with her in much longer than I care to remember. I played her Keane's Somewhere only we know - my lyrical attempt at romance - as we walked. She was quite amused by that as I am not often given to such gestures. We spoke a while about how few "simple things" we had had in so long. My meaning was well understood: This could be the end of everything (indeed, so it may be every day). I am making time now for you because I need something to hang onto in this darkness.

We found a bench, quite wet, and talked for a while smiling and laughing. A lingering police van drove four times past us before settling his mind that we were not vagrants. We smoked a cigarette or two.

It began to rain lightly, and we hid ourselves under the playground equipment, hunkering down in the dark damp spaces under the slide and jungle gym. The rain grew heavier for a while, and during a lull we abandoned the attempt and accepted defeat.

On the way home, I walked with bare feet in the pooling gutters, and softened the impact of the stony tar on my soles by walking in windswept piles of oak leaves. It was so happy a moment I feel overcome remembering it now. I feel so very very sad most of the time that such small, short bursts of true bliss are like stars in the night sky of my mind. I rely upon them to guide me through the night.

I feel too often so afflicted. It has become so that I do not speak of it any longer. My lovers and friends neither see me nor speak with me. I have become a ghost by my own choosing. I prefer it this way. Less times to pretend to be well. Less lies to tell when asked about my wellfare.

Only with my girl do I feel full at ease (to my shame, as there are others who love me as well). It is her particular personality that allows this: She is a very steady person, one not given to high emotions or influenced by the moods of others. This offers me such a constancy of forebearance when I become undone. She is also able to share the dry, dark humour that helps me grapple with life.

She almost never imagines it to be her fault when I am unreasonable, or feels pressed to make a fanfare of concern over each time I weep quietly - something that plagues my other lover, a man who has such depth of kindness that he takes all the blame onto himself so easily that none is left for anyone else.  With him it is hard to safely be as ill as I am, without the constant pressure to reassure my companion that this is but a passing discomfort, much the coughing or sneezing one experiences during the flu.

Just because I candidly must admit that I am not well does not mean I am not glad for your company, or willing to share your burdens. There is no need to speak in whispers near me, or stop your sentences midway, or halt your speaking altogether after I have admitted I am not utterly sprigthly.

"I have a disease of the mind" I want to say, "It is chronic, and recurring. And the manifestation of it's symptoms are weeping, rages, fretfullness, self absorbtion, thoughts of self harm and withdrawal. These are not features of my person. They will pass, and I will be myself. Do not worry so much about me..."



But alas mental illness frightens people so much that they do not grasp it's symptomset as they do with physical illnesses. For that reason they can also not set their minds at ease about my eventual prognosis, and so inevitably find themselves unable to gauge how to behave in the presence of this frigthening thing between us. This, most heavily, weighs on me when I think of him. I so desperately want this to be different. All that is left to me is candor.

I have abandoned the attempt at being less frank about the matter. I decided that to help someone to see past this obstacle and treat me as normal, I must first give them opportunity to do so. I have resigned myself to whatever opinion people seem to form of me. I cannot control it. I can merely try my best to create some constancy in my behaviour that eventually reveals my real nature.

In writing this, perhaps such a part of me is revealed. I cannot say for sure. All I know is that writing has always left me feeling the better for it, and so I do not do it to please others or with a goal in mind, but rather more as a meditation, an expression of my thoughts that flow out much like images on canvas under the brush.

Only at the end does it begin to seem as if a picture has emerged that might be pleasing to an audience and like any vain artist, I set my mind to tidying up the more obvious flaws in my creation, and with it a small twinge of pride at having, at last, created something at all.

I feel I should thank you for your time.

Thank you.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Personal responsibility: When it's okay to date crazy

So this post started to grow in my mind from this seed on the difference between Poly...and Fucked Up:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sctnGC3bgzg

As a recovering personality disordered person, poly has been a crucible of overcoming many personal demons and breaking out of many closets - and one of the hardest was the "Poly needs to be perfect to be valid" cluster-fuck.

As a leader in my poly community, I long felt the need to only talk about my Good poly and hide the Bad for the sake of protecting the reputation of the community.

Then we had a scare. A rather abusive and manipulative predator infiltrated our group and preyed on our members with the subtlety and charm only known to those on the cluster B end of personality disorders.

And it blew my brains out.

It dawned on me by hiding away my bad poly I had screwed up a perfect chance to lead by example. A chance to offer others struggling with issues like mine a framework for fixing bad poly and fostering the good.

I mean, this was why I became an activist : To help smooth the way and ease the suffering. And instead I was cowering in my closet.

I'm not saying we should all volunteer to be poster girls or boys and share everything always...but maybe just a bit more openness would be good.

I tried it on for size recently - and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

While there will always be trolls, there are also the people who mail me privately thanking me for speaking out...and saving them the misery of falling helterskelter into poly without realising they needed to do some self-work first.

I think it also gives us as representatives a space to breathe inside the constraints of being a public representative. None of us travel without our fair share of baggage.

As Mary Lambert says "They tell us from the time we're young to hide the things that we don't like about ourselves inside ourselves".

I guess teaching what we have been taught, not just as Poly's but as people with mental illnesses, about the fallibility and fragility of the human psyche can help the community learn a better way to relate to imperfection in our relationships.

For me things shifted in a big way after I started taking a drug called Lamotragine.

Before it I was at times a rage monster - who was also dying a slow death by shame over what I often think of as my inner Hulk. The shame made the rage worse...and a vicious cycle was born.

In the words of Brené Brown "Shame unravels connection like nothing else can".

 It's the worst form of psychological torture any empathic sentient being can face - and we all have shame - the sense that our failings make us unworthy of connection. When we feel shame, we will pull all sorts of stupid stunts to make the pain stop.

It's also a ubiquitous issue in our that we all battle with - our society is extremely judging.

Breaking shame down fixes people, and relationships. Empathy and vulnerability are it's antidotes. Rather than wallowing in shame, guilt and blame, they foster courage, connection and healing.

Guilt, however, is a seperate thing to me. It's the ownership of my crap - without shame. I goofed, but I'm not worthless because I goofed.

After the meds, I realised it really truly was NOT MY FAULT. Enviously, and eventually with profound grieving, I experienced at last how ridiculously EASY it all was when you weren't battling your own limbic system for control of your faculties.

Despite that, what Hulk blows up, Bruce Banner has to clean up - and there's a lot of damages on that bill. You don't just get to go " Oops! I was crazy. Sorry about that. Now let's forget it all and go have a pizza".

It is my responsibility to do everything to help the traumatised people around me rebuild our relationship. It is also my due diligence to do all I am capable of (meds, therapy, meditation etc), in perpetuity, to keep my Hulk from smashing.

I always fix up what I mess up, and I think that's just common decency...but in the end none of us really know how much the person next to us has to struggle to be their best self, and giving them room to mess up sometimes without shaming them into oblivion is common decency too.

That's not giving them a free pass to be asshats - see above about doing due diligence to manage your Hulk - it's just a soft voice in the storm of madness that calls to your inner Bruce Banner to come back and calm down rather than firing rockets at him.

Being that person to your loved ones, as challenging as it may be, is worth all of the effort in the end.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Your body is a spaceship

A post about body-love (read while visualising Jewel Taite and listening to the theme of Firefly)

Your body is a space ship. It's getting you through space and time. Maybe it's dinged up,  a bit dodgy in the mainframe, and she's on the heavy side... but this baby takes you to all the coolest places you've ever been.
She's been with you since day one. She never bitches too loudly, even when you throw cane spirits in the gas tank and you don't change her oil for two years. 

She breaks down a lot...but each morning she's there, ready to get you where you need to go.

Love her.

Sure, try your best to look after her, but don't beat yourself up if you're not able to get the best bodywork or run the high octane fuel. She's not nearly as fussy as you are about her performance.... she does what she needs to with what's at hand.

Life's too short to spend it feeling crappy about your space ship. We get what we get in the genetic lottery, and we can cry about that for the rest of our lives, or we can just bond with our baby and do our best by her.
And just remember: any halfway decent person is not going to give us shit about our spaceship.

If you want to insult my spaceship or how I run her,  you'd best be ready for a fight. I live here, she's mine and you don't get an opinion.
If I want advice on the care of my ship, I'll visit a mechanic thanks. You're not qualified to mess with her wiring!

So love your spaceship.

*hugs* sorry that you feel so bad about your spaceship. It's's not your fault. You've been brainfucked by the world to tie up all that stuff with who you are. But you are not your spaceship. That's just your transport and equipment. You're the spark of life behind your eyes...and you're always beautiful.

PS. Don't trust all the mechanics either. Some of them are assholes.
Come over to the dark side - we have cookies, we're overweight and we don't care.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Some feminists are transphobic - deal with it.


Lately there's been a lot in the news about high profile transgender folk. Seems people have been talking over tea a bit more than before, and recently a close friend of mine asked me to comment on a thread where a troll was bandying about some choice words regarding transsexual women wanting to be accepted as, you know, women.This made me feel a bit ranty. So without further ado - to the rant blog!

Transwomen are women. Transmen are men. And yes, I mean like "real" men, and "real" women (why do those concepts give me the heebie-jeebies?)
Why do I say this? Because some really clever scientists who did some really complicated sciency stuff (you know, like brainscans and twin studies and post mortem brain structure studies) tells me that this is probably a good thing to do.

Some very pushy feminist types, especially some very butch lesbians and a couple of very camp gay guys, have given me some really pretty sexy philosophical arguments as to why they think gender is all a evil societal construct. They seemed legit, being homosexual and all, and some of them even had philosophy majors. You could be forgiven for thinking their opinions are authoritative. Still, maybe its just me, but where medical conditions are concerned, I tend to prefer theories that contain data that came from a medical professional, not a minority activist or a philosophy major.

While from a purely genotypical and phenotypical perspective it is technically accurate to describe transsexual individuals as being male/female  according to  birth sex, it turns out that what defines ones gender as either male or female is rather more complex than either genetics OR genitalia.


I can refer you to a very informative article which explains in fairly thorough detail where the diagnosis, treatment and definition of trans comes from historically, and what current medical science has come to know in recent years about this condition. My favourite bit is where they come to the conclusion that brain development  in-utero largely determines gender identity, and that definite brain structure differences are observable between genders - also in transsexual folk who identify as those genders.

The  long and the short of it seems to be that our brains are actually structurally linked to our gender identities, and, we were born that way.


If you want to know more, feel free to hit up some Google scholar articles or a couple of good libraries. I was required to do so myself not so long ago. Oh and look at recent publications, since the really juicy mind altering discoveries are less than 10 years old.

As for the philosophers:

I have several issues with the inherent sexism and patriarchal structures that tend to crop up in transgendered circles. I wondered why it was so important for transwomen/men to be "women" or "men", and not just "transwomen"/ "transmen". Surely we should be fighting for these terms to be accepted, instead of trying to obscure the problem behind genetic and phenotypical word games?

I'm pansexual. I'm in a polyamorous triad. I'm into BDSM. I do not subscribe to any religious or philosophical dogma for much longer than it takes me to read up about it. To paraphrase Henry Rollins I "burned my closet for kindling". Lets face it, I have a desperate incompatibility with things coercively normative.

However, when I fell in love with a thoroughly no-nonsense young trans individual who had a great sense of humour and a low bullshit quotient, I discovered to my shame that I had been propagating coercively normative ideologies in the name of equality and activism for a number of years. I was Cisgendered (my wetware matches my software, I was assigned my chosen gender at birth) and therefore rather blind to cissexism.

What 20 years of feminism could not teach me, I learned when I loved someone who lived with this on a daily basis. In time I discovered that what I thought I knew about gender equality was littered with prejudice and propaganda propagated by all factions of the gender wars.

Interestingly, transpeople have often been invisible observers in the gender wars. For those who do not appear obviously transgendered (they "Pass") a world is opened up where they become privy to the secret intimate world that is guarded by each individual gender grouping. 

We, the cisgendered majority, accept every day in our basic interactions a rather remarkable amount of silent sexism from each other. Take it from a transperson  to know just how many small prejudices we are all blind to. We've been taking this stuff in our stride for so long, nobody even knows it's bullshit - because none of us will ever see the way the other side lives. I sure as hell learned a lot about invisible sexism from my trans partner, and I'm a better feminist for broadening my mind to include that worldview.

Without shame or rancour, I was set straight about what transsexuality is and isn't. It is, simply put, a medical condition. That is all. 


 

The hysterical rantings often held up in an attempt to protect the sanctified and holy spaces of the cisgendered (like bathrooms and feminism) are, in my opinion, roughly on par with the arguments proposed for "protecting" heterosexual marriage. Same bullshit, different topic. Transgender people are as much of a threat to cisgendered interests and spaces as homosexuals are to heterosexual marriage.

There are no really tasty benefits to being transgendered. The suicide rate is over 50%, the overall death rate 75%, due to such factors as starvation, exposure to the elements, assualt, and murder. They face the most frequent and most serious discrimination of any minority group in the LGBT cluster. They are frequently profiled as being mentally ill, pathological liars and sexually deviant (which, research shows, is no more likely to be true of them than of their cisgendered counterparts, or other minority groupings). Hell, when their condition is managed using internationally approved treatment protocols, they actually look pretty...normal. You know, like that kid with bad eyes who got glasses and could then live the rest of their lives reading the board from the back row like anyone else.

Still, it turns out that being accepted as your target gender at all is a pretty shitty second prize when you have to live as "Freaky Friday" for your entire childhood, youth and reproductive years (and if you are treated in your youth, the treatment leaves you sterile, and you live the rest of your life afraid to have people see your childhood photos).

Lets not even BEGIN to talk about the cost and scarcity of medical treatment. How would you feel if you needed that pair of glasses, but you had to wait 25 years* to get one because your minority is so small that no facilities are available to receive treatment sooner? Unless, of course, you're willing to fork out half a million Rand for good treatment in Thailand.

For transsexuals, being accepted as a woman/man is not primarily an attempt at subdueing an unaccepting society, but a best effort attempt at treating a truly craptastic medical condition.There is, at best, only poor palliative and prosthetic treatment, and you'll just have to live with the fact that there is no real remedy for the chimerism of having brain structures mapped onto physiology that is opposite to your gender.

You know, like having to wear scratchy contact lenses or bottlebottom brainy-specs. Even if they are really cool specs, or really nice contact lenses, you are still going to get called four eyes, or end up with pink eye twice a year. But then...glasses won't get you  beaten to death by bullies the way peeing standing up/ not peeing standing up potentially can.

Its not a lame defense against the patriarchy or an attempt to gain male privilage. Its not generally motivated purely by self hatred or a desire to conform to gender normativity. Its about having what all of the rest of us Cisgendered schmucks take for granted - having your phenotypical carpet match your neurological drapes.

For me, accepting transsexual women as women is about widening the parameters of what it means to be a man or a woman. To permit anyone who wants to claim that gender construct to do so if they wish - much like allowing modern feminists to be Volvo-driving soccer moms (if that's what floats their neo-feminist boats). Its about letting go of policing gender. Its about conceding that despite our desperate attempt to claim that gender is purely a societal construct, science has shown us this is NOT the case.

It really sucks for activists when their arguments dissolve in a puff of scientific smoke, but I am a scientist first, and an activist second, so my brain didn't hurt so much the day after I woke up from this particular hangover.

We tend not to deal with that kind of defeat well, especially when our entire argument rests on (faulty) assumptions about gender that we have been fighting to entrench for generations - the idea that we have roughly interchangeable brains gender-wise.

As usual, in nature, the argument is rather more complex. Boys and girls can be whatever they want to be, because for every type of girl or boy or gender variant individual, there is a place in the wide continuum of human diversity. If we learn anything at all from the Kinsey report (other than that humans are a really creatively horny species), it is that human beings are extremely diverse.

Everyone deserves to be whatever they were born to be, or want to be - without judgement from either the moral majority OR minority.


I've reached a place in my life where I don't fight for us to wipe clean the slate of gender constructs anymore. I fight for the right for anyone to claim whatever gender construct they choose for themselves - because to me that is true equality. That is honouring the bell-curve. That is accepting that we are both a product of nature AND nurture. Accepting that some men have vaginas and some women have penises is really of no consequence to anyone who genuinely wants to fuck the patriarchy and free women from eons of oppression.

Trans people generally fight really hard for gender equality and to destroy sexism and patriarchal power - because transmen really hate the patriarchy for telling them that being a man isn't an option, and transwomen really hate sexism because society treats them like even bigger crap than cis women.

They hate this stuff JUST LIKE WE DO.

So in short, friends, please can we stop hating on them for wanting to be men and women just like us?

:)

*Recent information from the Transgender therapy team at Grootte Schuur Hospital

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Polyanarchy


So this question popped up on the Polyamory forums recently :

Hi Polly,
I’m interested in something-more-than-platonic with two friends of mine (seperately, rather than as a group). They’ve already been good friends for a while. If I ask one of them out, should I disclose that I fancy her friend too? And if so, when?
Ancelin

And a lot of the answers this poster got were pretty big on the whole "NOOOO don't do two at a time!" thing. On the other hand some people felt it would be lying NOT to tell both people. I just thought people were missing the point, so I found my ink and quill and got cracking :

I wouldn't make a hard rule about starting more than one relationship at the same time, but I would caution anyone who tried that they need to consider the amount of energy it will take to bootstrap two new relationships. New relationships are about as disruptive to your old lifestyle as having a child (ok, maybe not quite that bad but it comes close.) and you may find yourself suffering from burnout, or alternatively neglecting one of both of your partners because you don't have enough emotional bandwidth to keep up with the intensity of NRE generally found in a new relationship. Even old-hands at poly struggle with this particular nugget. 

I think the idea of learning to just sit with your affection for a person for a while is a good thing. Sometimes it just isn't the right time or place to start a relationship. Life is long, and it is worth it to take your time rather than compulsively attaching yourself to every person you are attracted to just because you are not prohibited from doing so. I don't think that qualifies as being deceitful - it strikes me as being a mature, responsible adult.

Then again you simply can't always control when you find someone who just fits, and if there happens to be two then the best you can do is arm yourself with foreknowledge. My best piece of advice would be to really focus on remembering to take care of your own needs, and encouraging your lovers to do likewise. Early on in a relationship we all tend to want to do anything and everything to please our new partner, and it is easy to let yourself get lost in that (I speak from experience here!). Consciously take some time-outs where you spend time alone with yourself taking stock and remind your lovers to do the same - especially if anyone in the group is new to polyamory.

I do not believe in hierarchical relationships - I prefer to see all my partners as part of my extended family, and families do their best not to play favourites. When any one person in my "family" has an issue, all of us who are involved sit down and talk about it in a group. They don't have to all be BBF's, or lovers, but they should at least be able to have an adult conversation with one another in a friendly manner. I may not be popular for saying this, but personally I feel that wanting to segregate different partners is a sign of a lack of trust between partners and maturity from the person who is insisting on the segregation.

It essentially boils down to an inability to accept the truth - that you are in a non-monogamous relationship, and that this requires adjustments on your part that may trigger your feelings of insecurity and abandonment. If you are not willing and able to address these issues in an adult fashion through clear communication with all involved parties, you may not be mature enough emotionally to handle polyamory. 

If those feelings are born out of issues in your existing relationship, it is best to resolve these issues with your partner BEFORE entering into a new relationship with a third party. If they are born out of previous trauma or abuse, I'd suggest getting therapy for a while, then trying again once you've learned to handle the issues better. It all boils down to taking personal responsibility for your own needs and happiness.

For me the heart of the matter is that there are no hard rules in Polyamory - much like Anarchy - and that it comes down to each of the partners involved knowing their own limitations well and practicing self discipline. There are no poly-policemen who will keep them in line, and it is up to them to show the maturity needed to self-regulate their relationship. 

That's all she wrote!