Sorry for the lack of updates, been recovering/getting life in order so that I don’t accidentally end up having such large gaps in entries. But, the other weekend I attended the Floating World 2010, and had a blast. So here is my entry on it!
I don’t quite know when I started thinking about myself as a kinkster, as someone in the BDSM scene. I mean yeah, the first physical relationship I had included the obvious BDSM characteristics like a safeword, and there was definitely kinky play, like knives, choking/breath play, hitting, scratching, biting, and intentionally drawing blood. But as of FW, I had only been “in” the more public BDSM scene, the community, for like six months. I had been to one major event (the winter Fetish Flea) one play party (in NYC) and sure I talked about things at KinkForAlls, and yeah I did go to the summer Flea, I still feel very like a new comer.I know the words, the gestures, anything I could have read about the community… but being a part of that community is a new thing. So, I pushed myself. I felt uncomfortable, and pushed myself. And I’m really glad I went.
There were massive number of classes, some of which I attended, many of which I did not simply because it was not possible. Classes began at 9:30am and went until 12:30am with breaks for lunch and dinner… but still, that is a ton of classes. Needless to say, I want to many of them.
The first class I made it to was run be the fabulous Lee Harrington, and was called “Inner Monster: Tops.” Basically, it was a chance to sit down in a room full of tops/doms/dommes/masters/etc. (and switches speaking from that perspective) and talk about all the things that we in the BDSM and kink community don’t talk about. We talked about the taboos of our little world, from not giving aftercare to nonconsensual situations. In many ways, it dramatically altered how I looked at the rest of my time at FW. I began thinking a lot more about what was being said and what was not, looking at how certain assumptions about “how things should work” existed in our quaint little isolated culture. It also began my semi-stalking of Lee Harrington for the con.
The next class I went to was by Cleo Dubois, which I went to because it seemed like it would help me with topping/doming. Instead it was a kind of bleh presentation with a power point… and then a fairly cool scene. The things I got out of it were eye contact can be a great tool, and making people reenter a space if you don’t think they are in the right mindset can also help a lot. Oh yeah, and zippers rock.
Then, after dinner and meet & greets, I went to Dov’s class on mindfucks. It was fun, though I was a bit sad that S went to that class with me simply because the whole point was mindfucks made easy… which really aren’t as easy when the person I’d be mindfucking is sitting next to me. After that, we went to the super cool class on FtM CBT. Yes, there was a class on cock and ball torture for people like me. And it was awesome. It was run by Lee Harrington and Bo Blaze, and they talked about everything from how for some people this could mean putting needles through their packer, while for some it could mean putting needles through their actual bits. S got a lot of evil ideas from this class. Apparently she got a whole list of ideas, though I have yet to see/hear/feel them. We’ll probably go over it soon.
The next day I woke up early, just to go to the “Making Leather” class. It was good. Little to say about it other than that it was exactly what I expected and wanted- an intro class on making stuff out of leather and talking a bit about the tools and leather and places to get both without paying too much money. That day also had me attending a class by Barbara Carrellas on breathing. Yes, breathing. It was a cool class, but I think to really get a lot out of it I’d need to spend a lot more time working with her on my breathing. Though I did learn that orgasms from breathing alone are actually possible, as in, Barbara has sat in an MRI machine which showed her brain registering an orgasm without stimulation besides breath. That, I thought, was awesome.
Later, I went to a fabulous class run by Mollena, who wore her “International Ms. Leather 2010″ and began the class by walking around and personally introducing herself/saying hello and shaking the hand of everyone in the room. That alone kicked ass. And then she started talking, and engaging with the ‘audience.’ It was about boundaries, about what those words mean, how people mean different things by words like “limit” or especially “hard limit.” She was fabulous. People were bringing up cool things. And again, Mollena was awesome, had great stories, and told them hilariously. Needless to say, after such a great presentation, I stayed in the room, and enjoyed another Lee Harrington class (he had been in Mo’s class as well… oops?) about energy exchange and how we focus so much on safe sex, but not on safer magickal sex. It was awesome, and I got up the nerve to actually ask a question relevent to my life. Someone had asked about how to stop attracting toxic people, and my question was what about being attracted to toxic people? Lee’s response boiled down to that’s a class (at least) by itself, here are some things to go read.
That night I played with puppies. Go read about it below.
The next day I slept in because I was a very tired xMech… and then went to a fabulous class called “Creative Disobedience: the Art of Being A Wiseass.” I liked Zac’s comment to me about this, “You needed this class why exactly?” It was so much fun, and the presenter, Laura Antoniou, was truly entertaining. There were delightful stories, there was frank honesty, and there was fabulous movie references. “I’m shocked, shocked to find cocksucking going on in here.” (props to whoever knows that movie.) Kept making me think about how often I used to quote movies in a wiseass manner, and how I really should start doing so again. Then I went to another fun workshop, this time by Scot, on Liquid Latex. It was a lot of fun. Scot is a lot of fun. And, as it turns out, is friends with my friends. But we got to watch a hot girl get covered in liquid latex, and then as it was peeled/torn off. It was fun. By that night, I was again exhausted. So, I went to low key classes, like Wendy Blackheart’s Buttsex, which I went to because Wendy is awesome, and buttsex is always fun, and I didn’t need to pay attention to the basics, just keep an ear open for things I didn’t already know. Same goes for the final class I attended, which was Dov’s class on knives. He had pretty knives. Also, I want a straight razor. Maybe I’ll even start shaving with it.
So that was the classes I went to. The abbreviated edition. There will be entries to come inspired by thoughts from those classes. If you have any probing questions, feel free to comment/email and ask :D.
I was not big on the dungeon. Part of this was simply that I am uncomfortable with my own body and having my shirt and binder off in such a public space, which severely limits the ability for S to top me. The bigger issue for me was the lights and sound. The lights were really contrasty between the darkened ceiling, the bright lights, and the reflective tendencies of the floor. Also, lots of loud music. There wasn’t a quiet corner, or at least, quiet enough for my overly sensitive head. Needless to say, after the first night, I took some Excedrin from Tylerpup, and had a much better time.
However, there was a lot of really cool stuff in the dungeon. There was suspension frames, there was essentially a jungle gym looking thing, there was a play area, there was a pony area, there was a medical area, st. andrews crosses scattered about, and at one point, a ten person suspension on Zac’s 2 ton frame. That was an impressive moment. Also, I had fun walking around and seeing the little things I had done/the things I had helped build. Even though I didn’t play particularly much in the dungeon, there was an energy to the room, a feeling just from walking around, and it made me happy to be there, surrounded by fellow kinksters, perverts, and deviants.
That first night though, found me and S in the back area, where it was a bit darker, cuddling, and talking a bit. She’d have to jog my memory for me to know what we were talking about (as my memory is like swiss cheese) but I remember the mood I was in then. It was pensive, vaguely depressive, dark, relaxed, tired, pained, and analytical. Not really the best mood for public play, though common enough for my head.
The second night, however, was a blast. I had leashed S, and we went off to wander the dungeon, perhaps for inspiration. We ended up near where friends were their puppy selves, romping around on a mat, watched over by two owners. S went into kitty mode (if she wasn’t already) when it was decided we’d stay and play. After a bit, I asked her if she wanted Creature to come out, and she replied with a strong affirmative. So, I took off my shirt, and thought a moment, and started romping with puppies as Creature, in my binder. We all got a lot of “Aws” and a lot of cute responses. It was a lot of fun to play with the puppies and the kitty. There was lots of biting, some scratching. And a ton of scritches. So many scritches. And I was a happy Creature who kept getting scritches, and had adorable (and hot) puppies and a kitty to play with. And they all seemed to like my creature noises.
After that, thought it wasn’t in the dungeon, we briefly went to the pool party. As I hate being submerged in water, i just sat with my feet in the water. Lots of nudity. It was fun, and then bed.
Oh, I also got hypnotized at one point.
I met a lot of fabulous people. Made friends, got closer to people I had met before, things like that. Amusing moments included when a friend apparently realized/found out that I’m trans, on Saturday. So the second day of the conference, and we had hung out over the summer, and every mutual friend we have knows… somehow he didn’t actually know. Apparently he guessed, but only because I look so young for my age (I’m lucky if people think I’m 18 or 19… which is a problem when I’m buying alcohol.)
When I first checked in, we were all told to sign the release with our vanilla name, our “real” name, our legal name. For some in the BDSM scene, their real name is their scene name not their legal name. And for those like me? I mean, my “real name” is one thing, which is different from my “legal” name (as I have not yet gotten a legal name change), which is completely different from my scene and blog name (xMech.) They did not do well at specifying what name initially. Then when I got up to deal with registration, the person behind the table checking me in starting talking at me about how I could get my gender marker changed on my passport, as some family member of theirs did. I walked away thinking, “Well, you’re trying at least? But really, wtf- my legal gender marker is none of your damn business.” Also, there are complications, and yes, I did know they had recently made it easier to change on passports. Wasn’t the best impression I got at FW. On the upside, I definitely had many better.
I got lots of scritches, and some bites. I got to give quite a few bites as well.
At one point, over some meal or other, I was sitting down with some of my more newly made friends and a person I didn’t really know, and the topic ended up on anti-war activism. It was interesting, because I’m pretty sure I’d actually met the person I didn’t know before, but wasn’t up for the whole “So I was in DC at this time, at this event, where I think we met through this organization” and instead went with “So you know my friend so-and-so?” Which she did. Trust me to go to a kink convention and end up in a really engaging discussion about anti-war and peace activism and the military industrial complex. Also, we talked about food. My kind of conversation. My kind of people.
Sadly, one of the people I was sharing a hotel with got sick right before FW. Turns out, it was whooping-cough. So we were down a person in the hotel room, but even worse, Zac lost his vender’s assistant. I stepped in at one point, and held down the fort with Tylerpup to give him a break. Met some fun new people that way, also got to play around a bit with some of his stuff, which is always fun.
Lots of fun things happened. I’m really glad I went. Even though there were moments, like of me being exhausted, or feeling uncomfortable, where I wasn’t having a blast, I learned a lot, and pushed on my boundaries. I got a sense of where many more of my boundaries were. So that is my long overdue write up on floating world! I should be back on track to writing a lot more frequently again. Hopefully I won’t have another giant down month like August was anytime soon!
I remember the first time I really had to engage with my own word choice and change what I was saying. I was never one to use “gay” let alone “faggot,” “dyke,” “cocksucker,” etc. in a derogatory manner. Hell, the only time I ever said “carpet muncher” was in a community theater production in high school, in which we were going through a list of synonyms for going down on a cunt. (Oh, the fun we had with that one.) But I grew up knowing some words were hurtful, and so I didn’t say them.
But then one summer a counselor at summer camp heard me use the term “gyp.” As in, instead of saying, “I was cheated,” I said, “I was gypped.” Common word, and I had never thought about it. I mean, it wasn’t like I was saying gay, or retard, or even cussing. It wasn’t the n-word, so it wasn’t racist, right? Wrong. Damn, was I wrong, and as soon as my counselor explained I realized how wrong I was. Gypped, for those who do not know, is short for gypsies, the Romani people. Using a negative word for an entire ethnic group to mean “cheated” made me think, and had me start working on my usage of the word. A few weeks later at another camp a friend of mine came up to me because he knew that I was Jewish. Apparently, a counselor on his backpacking trip had said to him, “Don’t jew us out of dinner now.” I was blown away. How could the counselor think it was okay to compare Jews to cheaters and thieves, smirking as if it was funny? That isn’t funny, that’s anti-Semitic! Oh wait…
And that was when it really sunk in for me.
There is a lot of fucked up language, and subsequent policing of language. What is fucked up depends on the people involved, as different people have different views on such things. Many people would police my use of cuss words such as fuck. Other people police for “PC” reasons, which has been dismissed in disturbing ways. I’m sorry, but it’s not a joke to tell a kid not to “jew” you out of food, no matter how much smirking goes on. Just like it isn’t funny to call some one a faggot. Know what? Being anti-PC doesn’t make you cool, or intelligent. I’m not for blind censorship of words, or being correct in a political or non political way. I’m for thoughtful language use and discourse. Recognizing that certain words/terms can deeply hurt someone, and not just offend them, and recognizing the reasons why, the history behind the word, makes a huge difference. It isn’t about subscribing to a philosophy. It is about respecting the people around you.
I’m big on respect. Respect for others, I do my best with, and generally do a decent job of it. It leads to me getting called “sweet” a lot, and having friends be very surprised when they discover that I can be an ass, because respect is a fundamental aspect of my life. It’s self-respect that I need to work on the most. But respecting those around me by doing my best to conscientiously chose words that do not harm others? That is something I find more than worth the extra effort.
(Also, as a fabulous final note: wordpress’ spellcheck does not know the word ‘gyp.’ Good for them!)
I haven’t written in a week and a half, which is a long absence for me, and also missed two AwaAs. I’ve been good, but busy in my own way, and decided two things. One, I’m going to force myself to write in here regardless of level of busy, and two that I’m switching AwaA to every other week.
Life is a crazy thing. Lots of updates to come on things like my relationship with S, kinky thoughts, and of course, more on transition.
Because getting cat called and honked at by passing cars is not something I am particularly used to. I was walking down the street, to a free outdoor movie, and some guys in a passing car honked, waved, and shouted at me. Now, I was confused for a moment, looked behind me to see no one there. I figured they had to be waving at someone else. Or maybe they thought they knew me? Regardless, I returned to the phone conversation I was having. Then, walking back, I was eating falafel (mm, tasty) and some random guy I passed said “Hey, hoststuff.” Again, I looked around to see who he was talking to.
I eventually realized both times the people were talking/honking/waving at me. Which was really strange. I pass, so that meant they were doing that to someone they saw as a guy? Because for a second I wondered if I just didn’t pass, and then I looked down at myself… Even to my overly critical eye, (chest sticks out too much, god why are my hips so big, etc.) I knew I passed. And if I didn’t, then I certainly wasn’t the stereotype of a “girl” to be catcalled.
Because I’m used to people shouting shit like “Are you a boy or a girl?” or “What are you, harry potter freak?” (I used to look a lot like harry potter, at least, when my hair was shaggy, I had glasses, and I wore my trench coat.) I’m used to “Faggot” or “Dyke.” I’m used to insults, to assholes trying to shit on my one-person pride parade.
But “hotstuff” ?!
Part of me is flattered. I mean, sure it is always nice to know I still look good when I pass. Hell, gay guys finding me cute? Definitely a compliment. But shouting or saying stuff at me while I’m clearly tuning out the world, as in on my cell or eating a falafel wrap, is still being an asshole. My body is not yours to objectify, unless of course we’re in a scene and I’m in a mood to be an object and give my consent to such. But yeah, getting stuff shouted to me on from a car while I’m on my cell phone? Doesn’t matter that you see me as a guy not a girl, it’s still being an asshole. Why? Because you are interrupting me.
I’m all for compliments. I like giving them, and I’ve gotten better about taking them with grace. And know what? I’d actually be perfectly welcoming of someone walking up to me, and telling me honestly that they find me attractive. I mean hell, I met C when her friend walked up to me and said, “You see that girl over there? She’s been staring at you all night.” Another time someone said “I want your cute boy butt.” Neither of these times was I offended. The first left me stammering awkwardly and eventually engaging in a conversation with C. The second lead to a hookup that night. Forwardness is not a problem. Compliments are not a problem. The main difference? Situation.
Walking down the street while on my cell phone, I’m busy in another conversation. No, I have no interest in being hit on. While I’m walking down the street, eating falafel on my way home, I’m far more interested in food than any random person I passed who feels the need to make me feel like an object without my consent. It is situational, it is tone of voice, it is thinking before doing.
It is something I honestly didn’t expect to be dealing with again. Admittedly, the only time I dealt with it before was dressed up for Rocky in high school and running a few blocks from my car to the theater, and it was directed less at me than who I was with. Part of me assumed that with our cultural fucked-up-ness being very much cismen objectifying, I didn’t expect to be the objectified when I pass as a cisman.
Maybe that is its own form of internalized sexism. My mind is still so wrapped up in battling the internalized dialogue of “I’m a freak, who could ever want me,” that I’ve let something else slide.
Because it didn’t happen like I’ve watched it happen to my female-presenting friends. The guy just walked on, didn’t even turn around to watch me walk away eating my falafel. They just drove on after honking and waving and shouting. No follow up, no more harassment. And it mostly stuck out because it happened twice in one day. I was just wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. Nothing special. So part of me thinks I should just be grateful I look good.
But I know that isn’t right. Backhanded compliment of asshole-ness is not something I should be thankful for. Things I should be thankful for? Friends in the area who are awesome and invite me to stuff and thus make me be social. A really great and healthy relationship with S. Good phone calls with Q. Having my brother back safe from Israel. Somehow, being objectified without my consent just isn’t on that list.
Also, I am going to be on KinkOnTap tomorrow! Come join us in live at 8pm. There is a fabulous chatroom too, so it isn’t just listening, but interacting as well.
This morning I was reading an article from a few years ago about how ethical it is to choose artificial insemination in order to pick the “gender” of a child. There were a lot of presumptions in the article. Some of the highlights include:
- There are two sexes, corresponding to two genders, which are based on the chromosomes XX or XY. (Apparently people who are trans, intersex, or otherwise not fitting into that rigid structure do not exist.)
- Eugenics is not a serious ethical concern. We don’t need to think/worry about it. (On so many levels, WTF?!)
- Pro-choice people “see no principled objection to all PGD” because the only principle concern is whether or not pre-implanted fetuses are considered children. (See previous assumption highlight.)
- Class issues are not connected to an ethical debate (Because a costly, not likely covered by insurance, medical procedure limits the people who could use it, and that isn’t an ethical issue at all. Nope.
As I read through this article, part of my brain was screaming “Gattaca! Gattaca!” I admit, probably not the most logical response. The author was right in that we tend to get caught up in what “could be” instead of dealing with the ethical situations of the moment. But the entire article was so chock full of bullshit assumptions, and missing so many arguments, that his one redeeming moment is completely overshadowed.
First of all, there are not two genders, based around two chromosomes. Actually, it isn’t even directly the chromosomes that determine the physiological characteristics of a child. Not to mention, there are plenty of people like myself who regardless of birth assigned gender, are NOT that gender and are working to change their body as a result. So, pretty much anyway you slice it, the author’s head needs to be rather removed from his ass in order to realize that no, he is basing much of his argument on false claims. (As a side note, that I sadly cannot cite because I do not recall where I read it, but apparently the demand for girls has dramatically outpaced the demand for boys at clinics. He claims it to be otherwise, but gives zero citation for that fact. Not like I can find my citation either… But figured it was worth a mention.)
My biggest “wft” moment of reading the entire article though was the quote “PGD is ethically controversial because it involves the screening and likely destruction of embryos… those who view the early embryo as too rudimentary in developement to have rights or interests see no principled objection to all PGD.” The only thing I left out of this quote was how anti-choicers who believe embryos to already be children endowed with rights have huge issues with PGD. Unsurprising. And the author is right that I do not see the embryos as being developed enough to have interests or rights. But the phrasing it so that there could be zero other “principled objections” to PGD is bullshit. Maybe he was attempting to get the question of rights out of the way, except that is not how it was phrased.
Maybe I’d give the author the benefit of the doubt if he didn’t keep doing things such as saying “They might reasonably argue…” without ever addressing the arguments themselves. If he is going to attempt to defend the ethics of something, he needs to put forth the arguments in support of that claim. Just saying they exist is not sufficient. Great, so there is an argument (or many) out there for PGD. Tell me them? But no, nothing of the sort happens.
The author completely ignores any wider than the family itself response to PGD. He did not address a wider community effect, other than saying that we shouldn’t worry about what the future may enable us to do, because we can’t do that yet. So, only engage with the present ethical dilemma. And there is value in holding the debate about current ethical situations rather than debating about a nebulous future. Except, he didn’t engage the current issues!
Class problems with PGD were not mentioned at all. The author never addressed the major problem of access to this procedure, saying it should simply be the decision of the parents (when not made from a sexist standpoint.) But a large number of people cannot afford to pay for it. This is one reason why my brain started screaming “Gattaca!” over and over. Creating the ability for the higher class individuals to alter the genes of their kids, removing illnesses, selecting for gender, or even perfect pitch? I’m sorry, that is an ethically discussion that the author seemed to completely miss even existed.
As did the entire question of genetic selection. The entire article had a huge underlying assumption that other than the objection relating to destruction of embryos, there is nothing seriously wrong with genetic selection. The author functions in a purely libertarian philosophical outlook, where the individual choice, preference, and liberty of the parents are all that matters. Know what? I love individual choice, I’m really big into liberty, and I feel both of those to such an extent that I’m rather anti-statist. But know what else? I’m also rather a bit of a communitarian. No, these are not incompatible, but they inform each other.
The conditions that PGD currently targets are already some ethically sealed deal. First of all, anything can be debated ethically. But using the tactic of pretending something doesn’t exist when it is a major deal still is bullshit. A lot of it comes from ableism, the very basic assuming that certain diseases, conditions, etc. makes someone have “less” of a life, and investing in these very expensive medical attempts at prevention rather than dealing with society and making it more likely for more people of different abilities to have the same rights, privileges and opportunities as everyone else. Because know what? The genetic potential for something does not mean that will happen. It is a potential, a possibility, and even if it does that doesn’t justify eugenics. Curing something? Certain things yes, but plenty of things don’t need a cure. Homosexuality for instance, does not need a cure. Trans people don’t need a cure, unless it is getting our bodies right, but we got needles, pills, and surgeries for that (though FtM bottom surgeries have a long way to go still.)
Gah. I’m done. I really can’t keep thinking about this. I thought it was bad enough when I was reading through the eugenics section of Mad In America, but no, I’ve had to go on and read more. Least I have tomorrow’s AwaA to look forward to, with lots of delicious sex. And yes, that adjective was very intentional.
Article: John A. Robertson, “Extending Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: Medical and Non-Medical Uses,” Journal Of Medical Ethics, vol. 29, 2003.
Yes we can!
And so often, we not only can, but we are. I’m sorry, but this is a major source of not okay by any stretch of the imagination. The way so many debates are structured, that Hispanics voted against gay marriage, that the gays gentrified hispanic neighborhoods, contributes to a lot of privileged language and attitudes which are then perpetuated by the advocates.
Because it isn’t just neo-nazi and other such white supremacist gays that are assholes sitting on their privilege and using it to discriminate. Two people I’ve dated have said, “I don’t mind black people, it’s niggers I can’t stand.” I’m sorry, but your white ass, confederate flag waving self should never say that word, let alone that sentence. (I quickly learned better than to date someone like that. Not being in blood red states help.) Defending that statement with something like, “But I’m not racist, I dated a black girl!” isn’t so great either.
Apparently this is a rant-filled week. I have more coming up. But after seeing that article focus on the extremists and not calling out how racist (and classist, sizist, ableist, sexist, biphobic, transphobic, and otherwise normatively prejudice) the gay and lesbian communities are. Other than a brief mention of transphobia, there is no mention of how incredibly problematic this supposed community treats many members. “Within the queer group identity, the Gs and Ls often marginalize the Ts as an unfathomable ‘other’ – as foreign to their experience as those selfsame gay men and lesbians are from the world of bigoted straights.” Yes, “Gs and Ls” sometimes treat transpeople like crap, but they do it to each other as well, and the article literally did not mention the huge backlash bisexuals receive from those same “Gs and Ls” so often.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone is biphobic, transphobic, racist, etc. I’m saying that many are, and as a group it gets worse. I’m saying we all need to watch our privilege, myself included. I’m saying that the extremists aren’t the only problem…
Fighting kyriarchy means alliances, not divisions. So you can, but please at least try to stop it already.
Hmmm. With all my more angered reactions this week I wonder, has my activist burn-out started healing finally? Must ponder that. Either way, tomorrow comes another AwaA, which will be another more socially focused one. I’ll get back to the sex soon, I promise!
I’m very, very angry.
The other day, I tweeted a link to an article that pissed me off. It took me a few clicks to track down the original article, Preventing Homosexuality (and Uppity Women) in the Womb?, but here it is. I’m not angry at those authors, if anything I’m impressed by how they managed to both maintain journalistic objectivity while highlighting their much deserved indignation. Or perhaps rage might be a better word?
First of all, the scientist in me is enraged. As well as the mathematician. Or well, perhaps I should say person with a brain. Anyone who has taken an entry level statistics course, or even sat in on the first day or two of an entry level statistics course, knows the difference between causation and correlation. In fact, a person who took a pretty bad AP Psychology course would have been taught the difference (I know, I took one.) Correlation DOES NOT EQUAL causation. How the hell could someone have made it through medical school without learning that? CAH is correlated with lower interest in “normal” female activities, such as child bearing/rearing. On the other hand, depending on the way CAH manifests and the degree to which it manifests, there is a good chance that you were socialized in a very different way.
“CAH women as a group have a lower interest than controls in getting married and performing the traditional child-care/housewife role.” [quoted in the article from a paper by the assholes.]
I’m sorry, but you seem to be missing a rather key point here. There is a correlation between those the article defines as women with CAH (it did not mention if it included those who were also trans-identified) and enacting “traditional” women’s behavior. It did not say that the ‘lower interest’ was a statistically significant degree lower, did not question how much of lowered interest was a reaction to being treated badly by men, did not account for variances in sexual orientation (my bet is that wanting to be a housewife for a woman is not part of a “traditional” role) but beyond all else none of the things these supposed doctor/researchers addressed mentioned that the lowered interest might be a reaction to their socialization.
And that, brings me to my outrage as a person. If you are brought up being told you are less of a woman, less of a person, that you are abnormal, being told that you are biologically less of a woman, your interest in those womanly activities could well decrease. Being told repeatedly that you are not worthy, in that your worth is less, is bullshit but happens a lot to a variety of people, especially those who are intersex, or have intersex related biologies.
But they aren’t just targeting woman with CAH. They are targeting “gender related behaviours” including career preference, as well as sexual orientation, with the ideal goal of having all of such things being preventable with a steroid considered dangerous enough that the medical consensus says that it should only be used in “Controlled clinical trials with IRB oversight.” The doctors making these drastic claims about prenatal use of ‘dex’ are not doing any such things. Moreover, there is not yet an understanding over what long-term effects this would have on either the parent or the child. Steroids alter a lot of different things at once, they aren’t as targeted as people often think, and using one with unknown results, with unknown side effects, to “treat” things that aren’t even a problem, is total bullshit.
Beyond anything or everything else, this article shows how there are people desperate to “cure” people who are not sick, diseased, or in any way a problem. Being a lesbian isn’t a problem, it isn’t a disease, I’m sorry but someone should really welcome Dr. New to 1973/75 (When homosexuality was no longer categorized as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association respectively.) An old friend of mine, who was a self-identified raging-dyke, used to enjoy fake coughing on homophobes and then telling them, “You’ve caught the gay, in three days you’ll start itching and liking :insert same gender here:.” Someone should really inform these doctors that 1- there is nothing wrong with being gay, 2- it isn’t contagious, it isn’t a disease, it isn’t a problem, so the medical industry should get the hell out, and 3- by her own standards, Dr. New is “abnormal” and should be cured. As many readers pointed out, if Dr. New is a woman in a ‘traditionally male profession’ and not at home simply being a housewife. She fits her own criteria of “behavioural masculinization.”
Not having maternal desires isn’t a problem, and isn’t “unwomanly.” Enjoying the pleasure of touch, licking, sucking, and fucking women isn’t “unwomanly,” (and if you think it is, think again.) Attempting a cure, means there is something to be cured, and just further alienates GBL people. But trying to cure woman for desiring something besides being a homemaker is beyond sexist, it is so unthinkably enraging that I rather want to smash something. If uppity women are bad, and lesbians need curing, what the hell does that mean for someone like me? Dramatic research should mention it’s potentaily broader implications, and this set of bad science has a lot of broader implications.
Rather than even considering tackling the societal problems that cause many of the issues, Dr. New and her college are attempting to treat it medically in a very dangerous way. And for that, yes, I am enraged.
Needless to say, we do not think it reasonable or just to use medicine to try to prevent homosexual and bisexual orientations. Nor do we think it reasonable to use medicine to prevent uppity women, like the sort who might raise just these kinds of alarms. Consider that our declaration of our conflict of interest.
Preventing Homosexuality (and Uppity Women) in the Womb?
I need to never meet this person. I am not a violent person, nor an angry person. I get angry very rarely, and almost always it is of this variety, righteous wrath.
I don’t feel entirely comfortable in non-cismen spaces. I understand it, and have even organized similar spaces at various times. But a space that specifically states it is for lesbian, dyke, straight, bisexual, queer, and trans women… or rather, FtMs and other trans folk… such a space gives me a sense of discomfort. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate what is attempting to be done, and it is nice to have something to remind me that just because I’m no longer a part of the lesbian/dyke community doesn’t mean that community automatically hates me. I like queer women. I really like queer women. In fact, I am rarely attracted to straight women anywhere near as much as I am attracted to queer women. Actually, I’m more attracted to queers in general than to heterosexuals, especially cisgendered heterosexuals.
In college a friend and I discussed how “women’s only spaces” were morphing into “no cisgendered men” and that such a definition could next become “no heterosexual cismen” but really what all those are striving for isn’t exclusion, it is the comfort and safety of a space without male privilege.
All of that makes sense and isn’t something I necessarily disagree with, but walking into such a space after having been passing so well, walking into a space that means anyone who looks like me, sounds like me, and acts like me isn’t a butch but is trans… was incredibly disconcerting. I felt like there was a giant neon sign on my head saying “Look, here’s an FtM!” And the image of a giant neon sign saying that, made me smile. I want that kind of neon sign sometimes, preferably in a green or blue. Rainbow would work too…
But what bothers me about the space isn’t feeling like my identity is on display, that was a strange sense of relief. What bothers me is that there is a need for a space that specifies such restrictions.
It is needed because frequently safety means not having those who are so often a categorical threat to a group of people. So many friends of mine are not just skittish around frat brothers, but truly afraid of them unless there is a clear introduction and “these are safe people” moment. Or that certain groups of people tend to dominate spaces in such a way as to make it difficult for others to express themselves, speak up, or interact with people. For the opportunity to be safe, remove those that are the problem, separate them out.
But how is all of that really so different from the arguments for separate bathrooms based on sex? Men apparently cannot behave themselves enough to use the same restroom as women. Even worse, then people might decide to have consensual sex in the bathroom, oh no! As sarcastic as I am about that, there is a serious point some people make about the need for gendered spaces. How can people, usually women, be safe otherwise?
To me, that societal dialogue is part of the problem. Creepy ass people who would take advantage of a situation like that in a bathroom aren’t going to be stopped by the gendered bathrooms. Not to mention sexual assault can happen within a gay community, and gendered bathrooms contribute to the likelihood of gay-bashing for when people don’t match up to expected standards of “men” or “women,” which includes things like being a sweet little dyke who looks like Justin Bieber (Disclaimer- I had never heard of Bieber until I found that tumblr.) But there are some who vehemently oppose gender neutral bathrooms for the safety of either themselves, their families, or most often, their values and expected notions of what “should” be.
I’m not saying that queers spaces that limit the identities who attend are the same as gendering bathrooms. Bathrooms exist in response to the human necessity to shit and piss. Limited spaces, like the example from the beginning of this entry, are usually social, sexual, supportive, or other such spaces that are not “needed” but are for pleasure. Restricting access to a necessity is a much bigger problem than what the queer community is doing. Queers limit the attendance because of the safety risks of those same imposed limitations on bathrooms; the phobic, sexist, heteronormative, etc. views that make gendered bathrooms an unsafe space are what we don’t want around when limiting attendees’ identities.
Really, my point is two-fold. The first is that it is still policing. Limiting the attendance to certain identities is inherently policing. That isn’t bad in and of itself, just potentially dangerous. The second is that limiting identities doesn’t help the wider problem. It doesn’t alter the behaviors that create the safety problems. It doesn’t move to change the societal script that states certain groups of people are a problem, and that such people will cause safety or discomfort to other groups by their mere presence. These problems aren’t just gender, but race, religion, class, political affiliation, and any other identity category our minds/society has come up with. I mean, a specific Goth Night at a club falls into this as well. Except the difference between a Goth Night and something based around sexuality, gender (or conflating them,) race or other such identities is that Goth identification is a choice. And no matter what the religious right says, my “too-queer-to-be-gay” identity is not a choice, it’s who I am.
On the other hand, sometimes these requirements exist for a slightly different purpose- sexual spaces that limit the identities often do so to make sure that the people there are potentially interested in each other. But even then, what does it mean to limit a space for “gay men only,” are transfags included? Bi-guys? Pansexuals? Whatever the intent… it made for pensive thoughts this Pride weekend.
Apparently, I come off as scary.
Now, I’m not a big guy. At 5’8″ I’m on the shorter side of average, and I’m not ripped (though maybe if I actually started working out…) At the time, my hair wasn’t spike, I wasn’t wearing any particularly “strange” or fun clothing, hell, I wasn’t even wearing black. I was in a polo and jeans, and yet somehow I still came off as scary.
Why? Because I’m quiet.
I write a lot. Some of it ends up in this blog, some goes other places, but even when I’m not typing at a computer, or scribbling on whatever paper I find, I’m writing in my head. I compose letters to friends, write elaborate stories for myself, and these thoughts are put together in my head as if they were written. I compose sentences, work on poetry, and am so often engaging with, manipulating, and otherwise toying with language that I sometimes forget how little I actually say.
I’m a quiet person, and apparently this can be scary.
People don’t know what goes on in my head. Often, this is a good thing. I am constantly thinking a ton of different things at once, most of which are completely useless and boring. “That color of red would be better if the light was slightly more amber and less yellow,” “Sex?” “Oh look, a penny,” “Should I eat now, later, or both?” and so on. But I’m also thinking about how Edward Said is rolling over in his grave at a video on porn I saw yesterday, that implied all Africans (as in the continent) are savages, forced by their conditions to not use the higher functions of their brain. Actually, I was thinking about how I didn’t even need to have read a lot of post-colonial theory to be incredibly offended at that, but that Bhabha, Said, Spivak and Fanon all gave me so many more ways to dissect the offensiveness. (If you are interested, I’d highly recommend reading Spivak. She is very difficult, but reading her is like reading great poetry… and just as hard.)
A bit ago, when I was in DC with S and visiting with her family, me and her sister went out for frozen yogurt. After, S asked how it went, what we talked about. Except, we didn’t talk about all that much. We were both very quiet people, even with me pushing myself to talk more because I knew said sister was another quiet person. S had no clue how this kind of thing goes, because she has never been a quiet person.
I will sit around my room, quietly typing away, and not think to go downstairs to where people are being social. I’ve been described as enigmatic, mysterious, and a conundrum. I don’t see these things really.
I try not to take up space. Apparently, I succeeded but it made me scary. Before I presented as a guy I never heard that comment. Since, it has come up in a few ways, but nothing quite as explicit as this: someone being afraid of me because I don’t talk much, and so they don’t know what I am thinking. Does it have something to do with the fact I’m seen as a guy who isn’t taking up audible space? Because if the result of my attempts to not take space end up with me being scary, that isn’t a really viable solution.
People look at me differently now, treat me differently now. I am hyper aware of when I’m in a room full of women, that I am trans, that I have rejected that association, that I must be incredibly careful that my deep-voiced, newly-acquired male privilege does not alter the tone of the room. Because even though I don’t want that presence, until I really know another person, they tend to write it onto me.
It’s hard to attempt to use myself as a subversion, as transgression… because I’m always feeling like no matter what I do it is a lose-lose situation. I keep looking for the win. Maybe it’s inside that muffin. I guess I’ll have to eat it to find out.
Language is very difficult for people. It is full of misunderstandings, innuendos, and intonations. Every statement has multiple interpretations, which makes communication difficult, especially when a person is treading in the waters of not knowing what may offend someone. This entry is sparked both my discussions from last weekend’s KinkForAll DC 2, but also from a friend’s response to a previous entry which reminded me of how little people realize. So… this week’s Answers with an Agenda is not about sex, at least directly. It’s about interacting with someone who is trans.
How do I ask this transperson this question?
Trans people get asked a number of incredibly awkward questions. Sometimes, it is an appropriate situation, but the wrong question. In my experience, and from what I’ve heard from friends, it is usually both a highly inappropriate question as well as a highly inappropriate situation. So, in the interest of hopefully keeping some people from going nuclear on some unsuspecting person, here are some guidelines.
First of all, if you have questions about a transperson’s gender, sex, body, identity, expression, surgeries, etc. I would recommend NOT asking that person unless they have specifically invited questions for the purposes of helping educate others, such as myself or DDog.
One question I’ve mentioned previously that people don’t necessarily realize is inappropriate/can be really offensive is asking someone’s birth name. If you find out someone is trans, and was given a different name at birth, don’t ask them what that was. It is both very rude, and actually is pretty offensive. It is not the same as if someone just changed their name from their birth name, there are a lot of additionally implications. Maybe some trans individuals don’t feel that way, but trust me when I say that I do, as do many others who I have talked to.
A series of questions that are not appropriate to ask random people:
- So, who do you sleep with?
- What do you call your “parts”?
- Do you fuck like a guy or a girl?
- Are you gay?
- What pronoun do you prefer?
None of these questions are relevant unless the asking person is on a short list of people the person being asked is intimate with in some manner. Finding out of someone would be interested in you is perfectly legitimate, but rather than asking something like “Are you interested in me?” Because, no matter how sexy, smart, charismatic, of the prefered gender(s) you are, that does not mean people will be falling at your feet to fuck you.
If you aren’t trying to sleep with the person, none of these questions should ever be asked. Actually, unless you are very good friends with a person, asking things like “How’s the testosterone effecting you?” is often really inappropriate. Do you really go up to 13 year olds and say “How’s puberty?” On the other hand, comments like “Your voice is deeper” is fine. Comments like “Where’d your boobs go?” or “Damn, you grew a nice set of tits” are not fine. I wouldn’t fault someone for slapping you for that, but more likely you will make the person incredibly uncomfortable.
Even if you are curled up with a wonderfully hot transperson, and there is no question where it is going, those questions aren’t actually the best ones to ask. In the end, don’t ask a trans person anything you wouldn’t ask any other person you would take to bed.
A series of good questions to ask:
- Is there anything I should know?
- Are there any hard boundaries you don’t want me to cross?
- Is there any language you prefer for me to use?
- Is there something you particularly like/dislike?
- What do you want to do with me?
Notice, none of these are actually body or gender specific. Rather, they are important questions generally when hooking up with someone, especially for the first time. They give a person the opportunity to answer as they feel comfortable.
Maybe one person gets off on being called a slut, but cannot stand the phrase “blowjob.” Thus, the language question is really useful beyond just asking what to call various parts of a transperson’s body. Like me? I call my own parts clit and cunt. I’m fine with this language. If you call it a pussy however, I may well slap you. Some transguys call their own parts things like front hole and dick, and if I’m strapping it on it is my cock. Not the dildo, it is my cock. There are times in bed when I don’t really want to be called by my name. I’d rather be called “Creature,” mostly because I don’t yet have a name for him, and I haven’t been able to figure out what animal specifically he is (other than that he is creature like.) We all have different words that turn us on… or off. So, why limit these questions to specifically for transpeople in a way that will probably offend someone?
But as I mentioned in my last entry, don’t ask if you aren’t going to listen and follow the response. No matter how silly you may feel saying “I want to suck your cock” when referring to a transman’s biologically attached dick, if that is what he wants, trust me when I say you will enjoy the response.
Not everyone has the right to ask these questions, and trust me when I say asking them at the wrong time can get you in serious trouble with the person. Maybe you’re trying to hit on them, and so genuinely want to know. Well, a lot of people don’t appreciate being asked by random strangers/semi-acquaintances in a public place, like a bar, about what they prefer to do in bed. On the other hand, some people might get off on that discussion happening in the middle of the local coffee shop. Adjust your questions as needed, but be aware that the person may well say anything from “I’m not comfortable answering,” to “I don’t know,” to an incredibly long and detailed response. But hopefully, this will help prevent a giant “Fuck you, asshole” or a long diatribe about how what you did was inappropriate.
There isn’t some rulebook on what to say or not to say to a person who is trans. Then again, there isn’t a rulebook on how to talk to most people. A lot of it boils down to judgement, but hopefully this gives you some better judgement.
EDIT: As Jhiera asked in a comment, why/when is it not okay to ask someone’s pronoun? Here is the thing, do you go up and ask everyone this? If so, then sure, go ahead. But there is a lot of problems with the “need” to ask certain individuals simply because they do not conform to previously understood gender norms. Yes, it is better to ask than to continually fuck up. But do so as an aside and not in the middle of a crowd. One, it puts the person much less on the spot. Two, it also will keep you from seeming like an idiot in case you should “already know” what pronoun they prefer. Rather than specifying pronouns, you could also ask anyone “How do you prefer to be addressed?” because this covers things like Mrs. versus Ms. versus Miss versus Mr, or Sir or Madame, boy, etc. as well as just pronouns.
So, first an apology. This week (and a half) was crazy, having been in 11 states plus DC since last Tuesday. On top of it, Saturday was KinkForAll in DC, which was fabulous, hectic, but I met a lot of great people. Needless to say, Answers with an Agenda did not happen on Thursday. It’ll be back next week.
Since coming out as trans, and especially since transitioning, I have dramatically increased the amount of which I touch and cuddle with other people. Some of this has nothing to do with my transition, but when is it okay to or not to touch another person?
People need to listen to each other more. We talk and talk, but so often people say many things without ever listening to what other people say. Actually, a lot of people don’t really listen to what they say themselves, but that is a slightly different issue. I’m a big proponent of consent, like it is not okay just to walk up to some random person and start groping them. This includes for people with buzz cuts, things like asking them if it is okay to rub their head. Some people will really appreciate this, and curl into the person petting them. I am often this way. But I’m that way for my friends, for lovers… not for everyone.
People would have to ask. Those who have known me long enough are surprised that the answer is ever yes, because I used to get anxiety attacks from people touching my head/hair/hat.
Before I came out, before I began to transition, people were a lot more hesitant about asking and being willing to cuddle. They would ask, and I would ask, and it would happen far less than I would like. Both the cuddling and asking, I mean.
More than that, a lot of the nature of how I cuddle with my friends has changed, but mostly with my cisgender, straight(ish), female friends. Before I was out, I was seen as a gay girl, since I’ve come out I’ve been seen as a straight guy. Without either being true, both have really effected the way a lot of people interact with me, including cuddling. Now, said friends assume it to be a lot more okay to cuddle with me, they ask less, and assume more often that non-sexual touch is okay. When I have a haircut where some or all of it is buzzed, they rub my head. Which is fascinating, because before I had a haircut that gave me a fuzzy head, I would get anxiety attacks. As in, part of the reason I buzzed the sides of my hair into a mohawk was because I wanted to get over flipping out whenever people touched my head, because they did it without permission far too often.
I had to learn to accept it, because so many people did not ask. I didn’t really put it together until a presenter mentioned it at the Flea in February, but there is an underlying assumption in our society that men always crave touch and it is always okay for women to touch them. I’m a cuddly person. I am someone who prefers to stand against the stereotype that physical contact for more masculine people requires combativeness, like sports or rough housing.
Somehow, being cuddly translated to always wanting touch. That’s not accurate. Actually, there are plenty of times I cannot handle any human contact.
Sometimes, I overheat. I will be lying down, and the heat from S’s hand is too much for me, and I have to tell her to back off. From just her hand. It wasn’t a hot night, and we were in air conditioning, but it happens. Sometimes being touched can flip me out, disrupting my ability to think because I’m so aware of someone else in my personal space. I’m not actually a people person. My response to severe stressors is to go find a nice, quiet, dark room by myself and lie down. It isn’t to go find someone to curl into.
Some friends of mine learned always to ask, and have done a great job of it. In some cases, they did a much better job than I did for far too long of respecting their own physical boundaries, but I like to think I’ve continually gotten better.
People need to listen more. People need to accept that men are not always desperate for a woman’s touch. People also need to accept that men can cuddle, that masculine people not only can cuddle, but might well want to. Or feminine people. Or that touch can be okay, can be not creepy, but touch requires consent.
Maybe that got a bit soap-boxy, but I can’t get a lot of it out of my mind. Friends who walk into a room, and just inform me that they are going to cuddle with me on the couch. People who walk up and start rubbing my head without asking. That isn’t always okay.
And then someone does something fabulous. Like simply asking before touching, and listening to my response. That is something that is so often missed from conversations. There are questions that are really great to ask, especially when hooking up, but it doesn’t matter if you ask them if you aren’t going to listen to the answer. Sure, it seems obvious. But I’d rather not be asked at all if the person is just going to ignore the answer.
Despite my tendency towards delightfully long blog entries, I am a really quiet person (to certain people’s occasional dismay.) A large part of the reason is that I try to be listening a lot more than talking. Now, I need to do a lot more of the talking thing, because I have managed to be so internalized that I have let relationships falter due to my lack of expression. People aren’t mind readers. So, if I dont’ tell them, why the hell should I expect them to know? And at that point, if shit goes down, if I lose someone I really care about, it is my own damn fault. Ah well, musing for another time.
Anyways, Answers with an Agenda will be posted Thursday. Also, in the next few days, my first sex toy review will be up. Hopefully in the next week or so my life will calm back down, I won’t be driving all over the place, and I’ll be able to have a much more consistent schedule for things like updating.
This blog contains sexually explicit material, so please be of legal reading age for your location. Any questions, concerns, or things you don't want to leave in a comment, feel free to email me at xmechbeyond AT gmail.com
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