Gender education — Druid Life

Kids are not led astray by knowing more about the breadth of human possibility. You don’t turn people gay by telling them that gay exists. What you do is save them from having to live either as outsiders, or trying to fake being something they are not.

Gender education — Druid Life

This is why visibility is so, so important. That pervasive feeling of being a square peg in a round hole until you go to college and realize there are all kinds of…

Okay, I was going to say all kind of holes for all kinds of pegs, but that seems raunchier than it did in my head, so let’s just abandon that metaphor here and now.

Anyway, that feeling of not quite fitting in and not really knowing why sucks. And I say that as a cis, white, mostly-lesbian. I can’t imagine what that disconnect feels like for trans kids and other marginalized groups. The building block of consciousness is the self-reflective “I am,” and if you don’t have the vocabulary or even the vague concepts to complete that statement then… that sucks.

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Top Surgery Part II

Top Surgery Part II

https://musingtopieces.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/top-surgery-part-ii/
— Read on musingtopieces.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/top-surgery-part-ii/

My beau wrote a poem about his top surgery! ❤️

And for the record, I would like to add that during his recovery he’s been a very agreeable patient. The wedding’s still on!

#AtoZChallenge — We have labels

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Our world is impossibly complex and often quite dangerous, it helps to have a system that can quickly process what kind of thing you are looking at and react appropriately. Categorization helps us make sense of a world where quick decisions have to be made, and a large amount of information has to be processed. It’s also a pretty reliable system for helping us get through situations that we may have not faced by providing a reference and a good guess. If you’ve seen a brown bear, you’ll have some idea of how to respond to a polar bear. If you’ve seen a mountain lion, you know that a tiger is dangerous. …

We have labels for what a man is supposed to be, what a woman is supposed to look like, how black people behave, what jobs a 60-year-old is capable of learning, what opportunities a poor person deserves, whether or not Muslims can be Americans. Our labels and categories help us understand our world, but they also put limits on it too. We aren’t good at seeing the shades, the subtlety, or continuity. We aren’t good at seeing the variation between two individual examples of a thing.

Kinds, Zen & Pi


I was reading Lisa’s post, quoted above, and it makes sense. Evolution has prepped us to categorize things on the fly, and in modern society that doesn’t always work well.

One thing people aren’t always good at recognizing is sexual orientation. Bisexuals and pansexuals get the brunt of this because, regardless of who they’re with, at first glance there are parts of their orientation that are always going to be invisible. Couples with one or more trans person might, on the surface pass as heterosexual, erasing their queerness, or if the trans person(s) doesn’t “pass” to the viewer’s standards then there’s several kinds of erasure there too. If someone says “partner” and the listener assumes that automatically means a same sex relationship — which could be true, and/or it could mean that the couple prefers the word as an acknowledgement that they are both equals in the relationship.

Everyone wants to be seen as more than just a first impression, as more than just a bookcover to be judged by. We may not be wired that way but we can, by virtue of self-awareness, train our brains to do more than just what evolution wired us for. We’re a social species, and we can adapt.

We can ask what pronouns people use.

Parents can ask their kids what synonym for “partner” they’d prefer used in the family holiday letter.

Before you hug someone, you can ask if they’re cool with hugs because, for example, someone with OCD might spend the rest of the day quietly but frantically going over and over and over it in their head for the rest of the day.

You can’t just see these kinds of things. Sometimes, you really just have to ask.

#AtoZChallenge — Katharine Hepburn

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


katharine-hepburn-on-marriage
(source)

As a mostly-lesbian, my first instinct is to wholeheartedly agree with this quote. At the same time my partner is, at heart and gradually more and more in body, a dude. (Fun story: This is also not the first time I’ve had feelings for someone who later ended up transitioning or being genderqueer.) And although I tease him quite often about how boys are gross and stinky and please for the love of god stop biting your nails and leaving the resulting bits in my car, I am totally okay with that.

I suppose it helps with the “boys are gross” thing that he’s an OCD and a neat freak. (These are distinctly different things: one is a wired-in brain compulsion that often leads to frustration, vicious self-reproach, and tears; the other is more like this…)

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(source)

Here’s the thing about men and women… they’re often raised differently, and the respective upbringings don’t always include a detailed understanding of the other. 

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
~ MLK (source)
(I did take this quote out of context from the post I found it in, but I feel it can be applied to gender inequality as much as it can to racial inequality.)

Living with a trans man is different. If I have cramps or period-related back pains or ridiculously sensitive nipples, I get sympathy born of genuine understanding. He never leaves the seat up, or drips pee on the floor. (I’ve never dated a cis guy, but I’ve lived with them and so has he.) There are probably other stereotypes I’m forgetting that equally do not apply, but I can’t think of them at the moment.

Really, the biggest stumbling block we’ve had in the relationship is the OCD. On basically all other fronts, we coexist quite suitably together. So I’m not sure if I do agree with that quote after all.

#AtoZChallenge — Alone, Alive

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across. 


This reflective essay by Blikachuka is like a snapshot of how I used to feel all the time in high school. When I thought about my crushes, the things I imagined never really went beyond holding hands. And usually, the guys I picked to have crushes on were at a distance of comfortable impossibility.

Except I never really pushed myself on the “why” of it. As an introvert with some anxiety stuff going on (not that I was specifically aware of this in high school either) I was content with getting my homework done, reading a lot, going to marching band practices and shows, just going through things day by day. Kind of like I was on autopilot, waiting for my life to start.

Going to an extremely liberal college expanded my horizons. For the first time I saw examples of relationships and people existing outside the heteronormative, straight-laced bubble I’d been raised in. I started having real crushes, with real feelings and real kick-you-in-the-crotch-spit-on-your-neck-fantastic outcomes. I watched/listened to/read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and took my first philosophy class with quotes about the Total Perspective Vortex on my mind — “The whole infinite Universe. The infinite sums. The infinite distances between them, and yourself. An invisible dot on an invisible dot. Infinitely small.” (x) I saw a therapist for the first time. I dated my first girlfriend, with no real idea of how dating was supposed to work.

Being able to face that you are a living being and consider what that means is one of the few dignities we have been afforded in this universe. So let yourself feel it, the pain, the fear, the wonder, and all.

“Alive,” Zen & Pi

After college I stayed with my parents for a while, and kind of went back into waiting for my life to start mode, but at least that time I knew why. I relied on OKCupid for a while to experience any kind of social interaction, because most of my friends lived well out of the area or had fallen out of touch.

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I love this goofball.

Every “date” I went on I approached like I was trying to make a friend first, and it wasn’t until I admitted to myself that I was going on a Date date that I was able to make a connection with someone. We met for the first time at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, an hour’s drive away, though it turned out we lived about fifteen minutes away from each other. I fell head over heels.

Five years later, as I’m only about a month and a half from turning thirty, I’m still head over heels. My partner is transitioning, and by the time we get married next year we’re going to look, to the casual observer, as though we’re one of those heteronormative couples I grew up trained to expect, but we’re totally not. It makes my heart so happy to know that we are just us.

 

Gender & Writing

When I was in high school, there was this one creative writing assignment that drove me up the wall because the responses were all pretty much the same. The idea was to write from the perspective of someone of the opposite gender seeing your bedroom for the first time. Long story short, it was always either about a boy being surprised a girl’s room could be so messy or a girl being surprised that a boy’s room could be so neat.

Gag me with a spoon. I don’t even remember what I wrote, but it probably fell into the same category. Of course, back then I was in a bubble of gender non-discussion where my creative writing teacher made lame jokes like”words have gender, people have sex.” (This was in 2004-2006. Like, a million years ago.) By now I’m aware that:

  • Gender is either some sort of continuum, 3D puzzle shape, or asymmetrical puddle of self-definition.
  • Man and woman is a separate thing from masculine and feminine, which is a separate thing from male and female. (There might be better words for that. Let me know if I should adjust the phrasing anywhere in the post.)
  • These are all social constructs anyway, and you do you.

It helps that I went to a very liberal college and met all kinds of interesting people. Lots of new thoughts happened. Sexuality was questioned. You know, young adult growing up stuff. As a writer, it introduced all sorts of new thoughts about my writing, as well.

In retrospect there was a writing phase I went through for a while that was actually pretty interesting. I wrote a lot of short romance stories with ambiguously named characters and without using pronouns, then asked readers to describe what they’d assumed about those characters and their relationship. My original reason for doing this was to question assumptions about sexuality, but it works for gender too.

I don’t feel that men and women are all that different, or that much different to write. Not on their own, anyway, and anyone who falls outside of those two (very broad) categories seems to be an indicator of that. We’re just very socialized to fit into two (pretty narrow) classifications, right down to the separate toy aisles that are color coded blue or pink.

Recently I read a blog post that raised the question of how to write characters from the opposite gender, which is a pretty timely question for me. The main character in the novel I’m working on now is a guy, and his actions are mainly determined by how he was raised, the expectations placed on him by everyone in his life and particularly his father. I’ve found that being a guy is not what makes him difficult to write… If I can brainstorm the conditions and expectations the character was raised with, that helps. Having his head up his ass is what makes him difficult to write.

However, I do like to have my partner read over things and do socialization checks for me to see if my characters seem realistic. It always helps to get a second opinion, one that isn’t quite so wrapped up in the story.

Where I do stumble over writerly gender-ish problems tends to fall closer to my side of the fence but with personalities that are different from mine in particular ways. I find it hard to write women who, for example, consider makeup important because I never really “got” makeup. Mostly it’s a texture thing, I hate the way it feels on my face. Also I have a thing about touching or poking my eyeballs that makes me extremely bad at mascara, even if someone else tries to do it for me. My mother just didn’t get why I refused to wear any except when I had my arm twisted to look nice for prom. If I had to write a character who wears makeup regularly and considers it a source of confidence and empowerment, that would be a major struggle regardless of pronouns or their gender identification.

So I’m curious. What are your stumbling blocks when writing your characters, and do they fall along or against stereotypically gendered lines?