An intersectional traffic jam…

This time last year I had a friend who was told to “stay in her lane”. For those people who aren’t living in snowflake social justice warrior land, this means don’t speak over marginalized people. Use your voice as a support, not a sledge hammer. Let minority people have their voice. It sounds nice and simple, doesn’t it.

In this case the friend, who’s a big Harry Potter fan, got told to stay in her lane because… wait for it… a POC had an opposing view of Harry Potter (namely that he wasn’t an ass) and my white friend had to back out and let her speak. I pointed out that Harry Potter was not, in fact, black culture and that both people had equal rights to their opinions. The white friend had a huge amount of knowledge on the subject and, if anything, this was definitely her lane. That went over like a lead balloon and I ended up unfriending the “stay in your lane” person because she. would. not. stop. arguing.

Yesterday I discovered a picture of Roseanne Barr dressed up as Hitler, pulling little burnt Jewish people cookies out of a gas oven. There are so many shades of wrong in those pictures and I posted that I wasn’t going to watch her new show over this. Roseanne’s problematic in all sorts of ways, this was just the final straw. Then a friend of mine, the same friend who was told to “stay in her lane” over Harry Potter, told me the same thing. Stay in your lane, stay in your damn lane. She continued by telling me only Jewish people could have an opinion on this because Roseanne is Jewish (although she was raised Mormon) and no one else could apparently have an opinion on mocking the Holocaust except for Jewish people. Meanwhile the two Jewish people in the thread agreed with me and were quite confused over her opinion. The friend immediately unfriended me. Apparently I’m too problematic for her because of this one post.

I think the whole concept of staying in your lane is a good one. We shouldn’t speak over minorities to tell their story. We need ensure minorities have space to talk about their issues and listen to them while they work on solutions. Our voices should be used to enhance them and to stand alongside them for support. But standing up doesn’t mean standing silent, that’s something I’ve learned through bullying. Silence is usually seen as joining the oppressor. Staying in your lane should not mean staying quiet in the face of oppression, hands on the wheel, face forward, ignoring the prejudice.

I have a voice for a reason and that is to use it. I will stand up for intolerance whenever and wherever I can. If someone’s making transphobic comments, I will speak out against them. If someone’s blaming POC for getting shot, I will stand up against that person. If someone’s speaking out against any kind of equal rights, I will be there detailing why equal rights are wanted and needed. The only time I will stand to the side is if someone from that community is speaking, then I will simply support them.

In the end, the friend made the choice she chose. She chose to ignore Jewish people while telling me to stay in my lane. And if that isn’t a case of irony, I don’t know what is.

be the good

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World’s worst whack-a-mole game…

I stared, gobsmacked, at the picture on my screen, simply unable to believe my eyes. I thought I’d gotten rid of all the transphobes but apparently she just hadn’t spoken out yet. My sister’s step mother in law had posted this…

asshole post

I wrote a quick reply back saying “that leaves out a lot of people. My ex boyfriend was non-binary for years and went by zie and zir. Those pronouns helped him immensely during those years. Colin used those pronouns as well for two years.

“The prefix Mx also help nonbinary people feel like they have a voice and a space in society. It’s such an easy prefix too, it’s simply pronounced “mix”.

“No one’s trying to remove the more common words from society. We’re simply realizing that there are other people who are hurt by being pushed out of society and into the margins.

“I have several friends who use they/them pronouns and having that option has made such a difference for them. Colin still uses they/them pronouns for people he doesn’t know, simply because he doesn’t want to accidentally hurt anyone.

“Using someone’s correct pronouns and prefix is never foolish.”

I didn’t get a reply from the Facebook friend. The OP of the meme deleted it and blocked me, although he left my shorter comment up. Maybe because it already had replies.

Then I made my own meme, with a rainbow background, in the hopes it would get shared as a rebuttal to the above meme. It did… kind of. The one on my personal page was shared 19 times. I can’t tell if the one on my Because I’m Fabulous page was shared at all. The above meme was shared over 11 thousand times. But isn’t that the way it goes? Hate spreads so much faster than love or kindness.

I’ve written several blog posts where I’ve shared and debunked common arguments against trans people but I have strong doubts that transphobes even read them. Not that I really expected them to, I write them in hopes that someone else might have more information in the battle against transphobia. Some days it feels like I’m playing the world’s worst game of whack a mole. One ignorant person gets whacked down and three more pop up. It’s as if they’re breeding like cockroaches.

Colin got interviewed, via email, today for the Metro UK paper. The reporter wanted his views and feelings on detransitioning. One of the comments he made said he couldn’t transition after he had children because he wouldn’t look 100% like a woman then. I wanted to tell him it wouldn’t matter as long as he was himself. I know he’d be loved by his sister and I but what about the strangers on the street? The prospective employers? Future landlords? How would they treat a 6ft 3in masculine woman? I look at the difference between the shares of my meme and the above meme and don’t feel hopeful. The OP only had that post up for four days when he hit the 11 thousand mark. Mine’s been up for two.

I live in Ontario, the first province in Canada to support and affirm equal marriage. We pride ourselves on being tolerant and accepting. Our local PFLAG has the biggest turnout across the country, which is great for them and stinks for my anxiety. We have protections in place for equal rights to housing and employment, although I’m fully aware that what’s equal on paper isn’t necessarily so in real life. And yet… the step mother in law and the creator of that yellow meme are both Canadians. Acknowledging that makes me feel icky, like I picked up a perfect red apple and a worm crawled out. They’re arguing against my child leading a happy life as himself. They’re arguing against all our trans children, friends, and neighbours. And they think they’re in the right.

I made this meme as a protest against those negative views… against that horrible meme. Please feel free to share it in the hopes that others will see. Maybe it will plant a seed of kindness. Maybe it will plant a seed of hope.

genders and pronouns

Toxic Masculinity…

He was just a little boy, maybe two or three years old. His pregnant mother wanted something to keep him occupied while she was busy with the baby. So she bought him a baby too, a realistic looking baby doll he could care for while she was caring for hers. Then her husband came home and found his boy playing with a doll. He ripped it out of the boy’s hands and threw it in the trash. No boy of his was going to play with dolls. No boy of his would be a sissy.

One day a week a boy would go walking down our street, obviously in tears. I wasn’t very old when I asked my Mom why. She responded that the boy was going to karate class and his Dad felt that walking there would toughen him up and make a man of him. I couldn’t see how he’d be made a man when he was only a boy just a bit older than me and I thought it was awful that he was being forced to do something that made him cry. It was obvious my Mom did not like what the Dad was doing either but there wasn’t anything either of us could do.

We carefully carried our cat, who was skin and bones, to the bus and climbed aboard. Pumpkin had been fine when we left for a family wedding and a quiet memorial service but was painfully thin when we returned, despite having someone over daily to care for him. Tests showed he had terminal cancer and I booked his euthanasia right away. There was no point in prolonging his suffering.

Colin was hit especially hard because Pumpkin was his cat or rather he was Pumpkin’s person. All Colin needed to say was, “Come here Pumpkin” and the cat would trot happily beside him. Pumpkin would spend hours just sitting while Colin built with lego or played with his toys. And now was our final moment with him. The kids said their tearful goodbyes then I carried Pumpkin into the back room and petted him until he was gone. Then we headed for the bus.

Both kids were quietly crying beside me when a lady got on. She looked at all of us then her gaze focused on Colin.

“Stop that right now,” she chided. “You have no need to be crying. Boys don’t cry!”

“We just left the animal hospital,” I replied, waving vaguely behind us. “We had to put his cat to sleep.”

The lady was immediately embarrassed and apologized to me but it was obvious how she felt.

Toxic masculinity is a stereotype that affects everyone. It’s the image of the ideal man. Strong and silent. Always brave. Skilled at fighting but is usually above it. He never cries and rarely shows any sign of emotion. He’s stoic. I’m sure everyone can come up with something that describes the ideal man. The man every male, and person assumed to be male, is supposed to be.

The thing is, that ideal is not only limiting, it’s dangerous. According to Wikipedia, these stereotypical traits “are correlated with increased psychological problems in men such as depression, increased stress, and substance abuse.”

Plus toxic masculinity is rooted in being the opposite of stereotypical femininity. If boys are supposed to be strong, girls are weak. Boys are silent while girls chatter up a storm. Boys are logical while girls are ditzy. Boys don’t cry while girls will sob at television commercials. Boys are strong in math and science while girls get flustered at the simplest equation. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those traits, it’s the assumption of gender for each that’s the problem.

If a girl likes things that are traditionally considered male, she gets the moniker of “tomboy”, a word with no negative connotations. There is no positive or neutral term for a boy who likes things traditionally considered female. Some people now use the term “gender creative” but it’s neither well spread or well known.

Toxic masculinity has to see women as lesser because otherwise it loses the only weapon it has for men to conform. If there’s nothing wrong with being female, insults like sissy (originating from sister) and girl (as in “you throw like a girl”) would mean nothing or they would be something positive. Both misogyny and homophobia have their roots in toxic masculinity. Misogyny due to negative stereotypes about women and homophobia because if a man is putting himself in the position of loving another man he must be taking on the position of a woman and therefore is lesser. Toxic masculinity doesn’t care about a woman loving another woman. They’re both lesser so it doesn’t matter.

As feminism lifts the image of woman and what it means to be feminine, it also pulls up society’s image of homosexuality and of the men who don’t meet the standards of toxic masculinity. Feminism assures that it’s okay for men to cry, to enjoy cooking and sewing, to want to stay home with the children. It’s okay to like the colour pink. It’s okay to give your son a baby doll and it’s okay for him to prefer dance over karate. And it’s just as okay to enjoy sports and shooting a game of pool with the guys. People are allowed to be themselves.

That’s not to say feminism is perfect, infestations of TERFS (trans exclusionary radical feminists) break out regularly like cockroaches for example, but the concept of equality for all is something positive to strive for.

I’d like to see toxic masculinity gone. Smashed into a million irreparable pieces. I’d like to see masculinity as simply meaning the act of being male, with each male individual deciding for themselves what sort of man they are. And if they’re a man who enjoys golf and making bead jewelry, so be it. I’d like to see a society where men aren’t berated for crying, for loving strongly and deeply, for showing great empathy with their children.

I’d like to see a society where a small boy isn’t berated for crying and told to be a man.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Colin in 2014 just being himself. And, yes, his eyes are that blue in real life.

Autism Speaks does not speak for me…

In just under three more weeks, Facebook will be awash with blue. Blue banners, blue puzzle pieces, blue lights; all with a message imploring people to think about autism. This campaign has been co-opted by Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to curing autism.

They see autism as a separate entity, something that clings to their children, slowly destroying them. They see it as something evil, something hellbent on destruction. And they make this obvious in their videos.

The first Autism Awareness month was held in April 1970, the year I was born. Back then autism was seen as something severe that primarily affected boys. Which is why I, as a chatty, albeit socially awkward child, was given the diagnosis of being a square peg instead of receiving one of autism.

It wasn’t until the early 90’s that people started paying more attention to children who weren’t severe enough for the autism label yet were still showing enough symptoms to not be considered average. These children fell under the category of Asperger syndrome (or Asperger’s). This disorder had been recognized by Dr. Hans Asperger back in 1944, the year my Dad was born, but didn’t gain much notice until 1981. It subsequently disappeared in 2013, when aspies got moved under the term “high functioning autism”, a term that is hotly disputed in the autism community.

Colin was born in 1997, six years after Asperger’s was recognized in Canada and the States. Autism was first mentioned briefly by his speech therapist when he was three and his Junior Kindergarten teacher when he was four. Both times I adamantly disagreed. I knew almost nothing about autism and none of it was good. As far as I knew, autism was children who banged their heads on the floor, rocked violently, screamed, and bit and clawed at themselves and others.

Colin was seven years old and in a special education class when my sister mentioned she thought he had autism. She was the third person and by then I had decent high speed internet and a need to find an answer. That was when I discovered autism checklists. I found so many of Colin’s unique quirks in those checklists, enough to make me realize those three people were likely right. Plus more than enough information to realize that my limited knowledge of autism was just that, limited to the most severely affected people. It took over a decade for me to realize I’m on the autism spectrum as well and I didn’t get officially diagnosed until last year.

Both Colin and I are highly verbal and have our own gifts. I’m good at writing and singing while Colin is good with electronics. He installed three ceiling lights in our home after watching his grandfather install one. He’s built and rebuilt several computers. He also has repaired speakers and RC cars. Basically we’re the people who Autism Speaks ignores.

Autism Speaks plays on the fears of parents. They act like autism is some outside, malevolent force out to destroy not only children but their parents’ whole lives. Something to be cured at all costs, even with “voodoun, prayer, and herbs”. Or, as Colin put it, “They make it sound like autism is a big bad meanie. It’s not, it’s just a birth defect.”

Many autistic people see autism as a neurological condition, hardwired into our brains before birth. It’s just as much a part of us as the colour of our eyes or the pigment of our skin. It’s entwined in everything we say and do. For every negative that can be said about autism, there’s a positive. Many autistic people have a special interest, in which they can rival PhD’s for knowledge. We can focus intently on minute details, often noticing things that neurotypicals miss. We are very routine oriented, which is good in many work environments. We are often very empathetic, which is a double edged sword because we can be overwhelmed by empathy to the point where we freeze and people then assume we don’t have empathy at all. Autism Speaks ignores all of this.

Autism Speaks in fact, ignores most people with autism, leaving us voiceless in their cause. Instead they focus on the parents of young children. Parents who are scared and vulnerable. This is a business and the parents are their clients. Autism Speaks CEO made $371,000 in 2013 (the most recent number I could find) and they spent over $52 million dollars in advertising. No wonder they speak so negatively about autism, they need scared parents who will do anything to cure their child. Scared parents with open wallets.

This year, instead of lighting it up blue, paint your page red or #toneitdowntaupe. Look towards ASAN the Autistic Self Advocacy Network instead of Autism Speaks. ASAN is run for, and by, autistic people.

Remember, Autism Speaks, but you don’t have to listen.

Baby rabbits…

aka What I get when I ask my friends for blog ideas LOL

I wasn’t going to broach this subject because I don’t have pet rabbits and have never had them. The closest I’ve got is owning two guinea pigs and watching the wild bunny in my parents’ backyard. Oh and that traumatic time a neighbourhood child killed a bunny in front of most of the kids on the street, but I’ll skip that experience.

There are, however, two serious issues that have to do with bunnies so I decided to run with them. The first one, for people who are actually having warm weather, are bunny nests. Some bunnies build burrows underground but their slightly less savvy cousins simply dig a bowl shape into the ground and cover their babies with pulled grass. So, if you’re mowing your lawn and see a patch of grass that’s brown and messy, don’t just assume it’s from dog urine. There could be babies under there.

 

The second issue has to do with Easter. I get it, baby bunnies are seriously cute with their soft fur and little twitchy noses. And Easter practically revolves around baby bunnies and chicks.

I’m not going to stop you from getting a bunny but please be aware of their down side. Bunnies are very timid creatures who can have a heart attack simply with the shock of a sudden loud noise. While children are pretty much noise in a people suit.

They need to have plenty of space and time to roam around outside their cage. The bunnies, not children, although I’m sure there’s many days parents wish children had a crate option. They also love to chew, especially on wires and cords. And, while some can be litter trained, many cannot and they poop about a hundred or more times a day. Something I never thought I’d google. And you thought you were sweeping and vacuuming a lot already.

They need timothy hay to eat alongside their food and I can tell you as the former owner of two guinea pigs, hay gets everywhere. Plus rabbits are very fragile. You can break their back easily with a low fall. Kids aren’t known for their coordination, especially if they’re holding something wiggly.

If you want a pet rabbit, by all means do your research and get one. Making sure it’s kept safe if there are children involved. If you’re buying one for your children it would be better for everyone’s sake to buy each of them a stuffed bunny. Because nothing makes Easter suck more than having one of your kids accidentally kill their new pet.

And there you go Charlotte and Maria, a post for you 🙂

And we have windows…

I went to lock our front door on Wednesday night before bed and found a notice slid through the crack, which stated our window installation was scheduled for Friday between 8am and 5pm. Please move all furnishings off the balcony etc… etc. Like anyone was going to put their stuff back out between having the windows dropped off and having them installed. But I guess they have to say it just in case.

There’s only one room in our apartment that doesn’t have a window and that’s our bathroom, which was fine for four of our cats but would have been a nightmare with Angel. So I messaged a friend and asked if I could drop Angel off at 7:30am. The friend, who is super amazing by the way, said sure.

The cats were easy enough to herd into the washroom and, thankfully, Angel climbed into the carrier on her own. She looked surprised to find herself in our friends’ apartment but not worried and she soon curled up under their end table for a snooze.

Colin has school on Fridays so he had to go, leaving me alone with the surliest workmen I’ve ever met. They were fast and thorough, I’ll grant them that, but they acted like I was an interloper in my own apartment. I chatted with Kait for a bit… okay an hour… at points hiding out in the hallway so I could a) hear her and b) get warm. It was -2C yesterday and my apartment was frozen. Every window was removed at almost the same time and the wind just blew right through. I ended up going downstairs to the party room to read, only surfacing when Colin called to say he was home. The workmen were still there.

Colin’s bedroom was finished first so we stayed in there chatting while the workmen worked. The, suddenly, we realized they were done and gone. We let the cats out of the bathroom, Oreo emerged sleepily out of the cabinet where he’d been sleeping behind the toilet paper, and Colin went off to pick up Angel.

I went out onto my balcony to tidy up, grateful that according to the notice, the workers were supposed to sweep up their mess after they finished. I’d seen their big grey garbage cans out there earlier. I’d left my thin wooden mat outside, figuring that it’s a mat and it wouldn’t be any problem to step on, and was surprised to find they’d neatly rolled it up and placed it at the end of the balcony. My surprise turned into anger when I picked it up and all their construction dirt and bits fell out. I swept it all back up again then warned Colin, thankfully in time, that his mat was probably full too, which it was. I thought about complaining but it’s not worth it. We’ll never have to deal with them again. They and their negative attitudes can sod off.

It’s going to take a little while to get used to our new windows. Both patio doors are much narrower than before. Narrow enough that my wooden bench no longer fits through so Colin’s put it in his room. Colin ended up with two smaller sliding windows nestled into a bigger window. Both have child safety locks but someone had already discovered how to defeat those locks and shared the trick with Colin. Which is good because they’re not really needed seeing as the window overlooks my balcony so no one’s falling anywhere and the windows are too small for anyone bigger than a cat to fit through. The nice thing is my patio doors has a small window right by my swing chair, so I can get a breeze in the summer.

Colin still has a few more items to go on his balcony and I have a couple of decorative pieces to go on mine but otherwise it’s all done. I’m so glad to get my apartment back!

Blackie Update: She is still loving her wet cat food and is now finishing her full portion morning and night. I can no longer feel her spine and she’s back to her normal self.

my room

You can see the small windows to the left. The middle pane of glass is the size of the screen door.

Changing the shape of your skin…

There are so many things I didn’t know before Colin came out as trans.

It hadn’t dawned on me that trans people would need to take hormones, although it obviously makes sense. I didn’t realize how strong testosterone was, that women need to take blockers to stop their testosterone while taking estrogen, when men only need to take testosterone. I didn’t realize the struggle many have with family and friends, a struggle to be accepted for who they are. And I didn’t realize how much people go through so that the shape of their body matches, as much as possible, the gender of their mind.

I belong to a group for trans people and their allies and recently one woman announced she’s dealing with kidney problems, memory loss, and dizziness… all from her hormone blocker spironolactone. When Colin told his doctor he wasn’t going to transition, his doctor responded that he was glad Colin wasn’t going to do “irreparable damage” to his body. I’m reasonably sure the doctor was referring to growing breasts and hips, which would be bringing his body more in line with his gender, but the possible damage caused by spironolactone is definitely irreversible and far more terrifying.

At this point Colin doesn’t want to ever transition. He wants children first and he figures by the time he has kids, he’ll be too old for estrogen to help bring out the woman in him. I’ve assured him that’s not the case, that I’ve seen before and after pictures multiple times of someone who looks like the manliest man and after hormones looks like the woman she is. Delaying transitioning isn’t necessarily a forever thing. But he’s young enough that even thirty seems like forever away and forty is impossible to comprehend. He’s got his school and computers and video games to keep him occupied for now.

Even though Colin’s not transitioning now (if ever), my first thought when I read the post was him. I think that’s true of all parents to think of their children, however old, when they hear of danger. I know there are other weaker blockers available now that can be used instead. Hopefully there’ll be more choices in the future.