Monday, October 24, 2011

Mental Migration

I have made the move. I currently set up in a little farm house on a couple of acres, with a big garden out back that hauled in 100+ lbs of tomatoes this year, and i'm sure at least double that for next year. I am looking after the dogs, cats and chickens of two of my friends (to read more about the land and the lovely family that makes their magic here check out: This Rural Life.
During the day I drive up the hill to our new home, a single wide trailer sitting on the hillside.

Picture this:
When you stand up from lighting the woodstove, the cats brushing by your feet to get a taste of the toasty warmth you've ignited, you look out the window. The view, past the trees filled with squirrels and bluejays, the hillside goes down and down until it reaches the large and dammed kootenay river, and then back up the other side to a tree covered hillside. When the sky is clear out here the stars are so plentiful and bright that they look to a city kid like "movie stars". Stars like in some movie where a romantical scene is playing out on the front of a car, lovers looking into each others eyes while shooting stars blaze across the seemingly painted milky way.

I live in that storybook now.

I am grateful that I escaped the city. And today I honestly answered someone for one of the first times about what brought me here. I was buying a mattress off of some guy from the internet and he asked me what brough me up here. I told him straight up, "mental health." He echoed my words to assure that he had hear me correctly. I assured him that yes, I can't handle the city, and I am hoping that the quieter life helps.

The last few weeks in the city really served as a climax, confirming that I did in fact NEED to leave. In some cruel act of conspiracy against me the city was ensuring me that I needed to leave. I was having panic attacks almost everytime I left my house. Going out for meals, shopping on a busy street, or taking a bus were out of the question. My anxiety had sky rocketed. My sensitivity to everyone and everything around me felt like it was being pumped through an over driven amplifier. A new family moved in upstairs. We lived in one of those houses which had never been designed or even properly remodeled to have 2 separate groups of people. The power box for the whole house was in our bedroom (a corner of the somewhat finished basement.). The upstairs families storage room was mysteriously downstairs in a room that saddled both our rooms, with walls made of a single layer of drywall. And the upstairs family wanted a reasonable living condition for their babies. I get that, but it doesn't happen easily in Vancouver. So many landlords know that they can turn down requests for upgrades and repairs, because they will probably find another tenant who will pay more for a continually degrading living condition. Housing vacancy rates are very small (about 2.2% as of 2009) and affordable units make up even less of that. Anyways, by some type of strong arming or coercive 'the secret" style jedi mind trick manifestation, the new tenants had managed to get the landlady to assess and address the faulty electrical, falling off gutters, leaky roof, broken windows, and unstable back porch. This may have been fine, but it was headed up by the house next door, which had just been sold to new owners, being completely dug up to have water and sewage mains replaced and the foundation re-sealed. Given the density of the houses, this meant there were crews of men slinging gravel and operating mini-excavators about 2.5 feet outside my single pane bedroom window. Then, as construction of the house immediately across the street picked up, the city joined in, digging the street up and cutting pavement every morning starting at 7am. As the combined projects ranged from city crews to 2nd shift temp labourers, the heavy noise would sometimes go for 13hrs a day. Then the landlady started pricing out the electrical work, which would involve rewiring the entire house up to code, laying new cable from the street and addressing the fact that the house had not been properly grounded. So the crews were coming in to my space, and shutting off the power. With so little escape the panic and anxiety continued to skyrocket. When I tried to go out for a walk a ship would be pulling into the shipping port, sirens would be going off and helicopters would fly low overhead. Luckily my lovely partner and some dear friends were able to help with the packing and moving. Dealing with all of this left me feeling like I had been run through the spin cycle on a washing machine with cheese grater sides. Eating, sleeping, forming sentences, all had becoming more complex tasks than I could undertake alone. I watched endless amounts of television in an attempt to mentally escape to Weed's Agrestic, Big Bang Theory's Pasadena, or the quiet village where Angela lansbury and her army of magic dancing nylons and armoursuits defeat a nazi raid in Bedknobs and broomsticks (disney1971). I couldn't find a way to maintain peace, order or sanity in my own home, and it became addictive to escape in these alternative universes.

I got out. I won't say unscathed, but I got out. I have some recovery and healing to do. I am feeling it start as my days start feeling longer. I am not spending so much of the day waiting, running away, or hiding. Going out to a book launch yesterday wasn't too overwhelming, as I knew there would be less than 20 people in the room. When I got there I was relieved to be reminded that there is no cell phone service in the remote location. 20 or so people, without the unpredicatablity of all of those people tapped into a broad network of everyone they know via smart phone, facebook, texty texty tech. I realize that as my anxiety has elevated, my paranoia about people, environmental disasters, surveillance and general apocalypse stuff has gone right along for the ride. I hope to write another post about the book launch once I've given the book a read, but so y'all have the heads up its by a woman named Marcia Braundy. It's a book about men's resistance to women's participation and general integration in tech work spaces. I am looking forward to reading the book and hopefully getting to know this woman and swapping ideas and experience with her. Book is available through Fernwood Press and is called Men, women and tools.

I hope that this is the magical place of healing and growth I need right now. I need to build myself back up. I am tired of feeling broken and vulnerable in a space I can't seem to trust.
and ... mad gratitude to the many of you who've done your part to keep me alive and close enough to well in the city for the last few years. It's a tough place for lots of us; I want to give credit to the teamwork that kept it going as long as we did. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I did it. I quit facebook. I downloaded all my data, deleted it all from my online profile. I have essentially attempted to remove myself from the service. It's not designed to be quit-able. I hope people will still send me emails and call me up. I just don't want all my interactions to be filtered through a sink hole of online marketing propaganda and data mining any more. When you want to hang out, give me a call. Want to make plans? send me an email. Stop by and knock on my door. But don't expect that FB will reach me anymore.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ins and Outs

I almost always have trouble writing when I haven't been reading enough. It's a pretty even equation.

> Reading = >writing

Since waking up today, I have read 3 different books. A young adult novel about fairy princesses, a collection of short stories and a thoroughly inspiring non-fiction book around radical organizing across barriers.

Also, I have had at least 3 people ask about my blog lately. So, I am reminded that people will read if I write. These 2 factors, add in my new state of unemployment and exciting upcoming transition I have the pieces.

  • Content check
  • Encouragement check
  • Time check

So. Here Goes.

I'm in the process of throwing it all up in the air, hoping I can get the pieces to fall in order, get it right. I'm finished working in Vancouver, starting off on unemployment as soon as it comes through. Just bought a car, a subaru forester '00, real "family goes 4 x 4ing" as a friend said last night. I've got friends scouting mountain hideaways for me and my partner to run away to in the looming very near future. I am taking the steps I need to go and live that dream. The one that almost everyone of my friends admits to having in some variation.

  • move to the woods
  • grow food
  • make babies

Setting off to be that live-off-the-land-lesbian I am deep down inside. Or more like, find-ways-to-make-rural-living-accessible-and-sustainable-queers... but they are only a slight mutation away from one another.

I've been asked if I will be accounting my experiences, to which I say, "sure, when I feel like it." As I am taking on some pretty big exciting things, I may very well get all stoked and want to share it in longer form than status updates allow. And telling y'all now, getting feedback helps. When I hear from readers that I have said something that resonated with them, it sets me up to write more. If you are however the type of reader who reads this to send inflammatory hate driven spews of discrimination, disgust or disagreement- just keep that to yourself. Maybe you should think a bit, about how the things that you write on the internet go to actual people out there. People like me who have opened their heart and experience to you. I hope that my writing can challenge things for people, discuss the topics I write about with your friends, family members, share it on your facebook, tweet it, maybe take it to counseling if it fills you with things that are gross and mean. *hate mail inspired heart rant over

As I write this I have pots on the stove making hot salsa from green tomatoes from my garden. I added habeneros, sweet peppers, red tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and Innis and Gun beer. I am excited to have things put away for winter, so far peaches, red chunky salsa, tomato sauce, whole tomatoes and now this hot salsa. I am especially excited about these things as I will be moving up to a snowy mountain side in about a month, where I will have a winter filled with dreaming, scheming, crafting, setting up shop, and playing in the snow. My dreams are filled with snowshoes, ice skates, sweaters and wood stoves. I'm hoping that I will be also doing the school starter course through AERO, and that I can use that to help solidify some of the details of my school/learning center/knowledge exchange hub that I have been dreaming about making happen for years now. I'm pretty sure that if I looked through old files I'd find markered up sheets of the first visioning that I did for this project about 5 years ago.

It doesn't all look exactly the same, but here's the basic. I think that a big issue that looms over us as peak oil passes us by, climate change hits hard, economies plummet and governments do stupid things like the omnibus crime bill (which for those readers south of the border and over and about, is an attempt by canada's current super right wing government to "crack down" on crime and make canada safer by locking everyone up. The legislation creates mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crime like possession, creating more challenges for canadians already taking the shit end of addiction, poverty, pain, and marginalization. I guess I have some opinions. But I feel they are pretty well grounded, like in science and numbers, since research everywhere has proven that prisons don't work as mental health treatment centers, addiction recovery centers, job training centers, health care centers or deterrents to crime. Even the united states is pulling back from mandatory minimum sentences and the war on drugs more than canada, there's a long way to come, as Troy Davis could tell you in his last hours today. Our "criminal justice" are criminal, and busted. The numbers say it straight, prisons cost a shit tonne and they don't "work" for the things that their proponents are proponing them to. Even a coalition of churches is advocating against prison expansion, you can check it out here: The Co$ts of Prisons
*politically inspired heart rant over

As we face a world that is falling apart at the seams and more and more people are catching on to the "we have to do something different if we are going to survive" thought wave, we need to find really good ways to do this. By this I mean share the knowledge, explore the options, make the changes. Can we do that in ways that consider those who have often been left out of such knowledge exchanges? Can we find ways to address the sexism that is often overwhelmingly present in technical learning spaces to ensure that our community members, all of them, have access? Can we find ways to make the ways that we share survival, and THRIV-IVAL skills inclusive of people with disabilities? Can we find ways to involve dialogue around "dirty work" and attitudes around manual labour that involve honesty and growth about the racism and classism interwoven in the ways that we address these issues? I really recommend this book, Bridging the Class Divide: And Other Lessons for Grassroots Organizing for more on these questions and how they may apply to other ideas.

I think we can. That's what I want to do. I want to start by creating a place that acknowledges and processes the intersecting oppressions that are default in spaces of learning the hands-on, creating safe and supportive learning spaces, and using that as a hub for intergenerational, interexperiential, knowledge exchange of the tools we need to make this global shift on a level that is practical and useful to the local area of the West Kootenays. I have been reading a really amazing book that has been a huge reminder and re-inspiration, I really recommend Walk Out, Walk On for those that are nodding along to this dream scheming I am dribbling out here.

So long story short, I am running away to make my dreams come true. I look forward to sharing the stories, and the salsa with you along the way.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tired: An open letter to Gay Bars

I'm tired. So fucking tired and I don't want to write this. But I will, because I need to. It needs to be written and I wish it didn't. Maybe if I write this this time, I won't have to write it again, won't have to feel this again, and maybe, just maybe, it might get better.

I tried to go out dancing on Saturday night. I was visiting my home town, and I really love going out dancing with my mom, her sisters, my hometown friends. I like being able to get a little loose and shake down. Unfortunately, the choice in my hometown, Victoria, is fairly limited. The one gay bar with a dance floor and DJs is called Paparazzi, or the Pap. And I can tell you that I would rather have my cervix scraped than have to go back and put up with the same nonsense they pulled this past weekend.

My mom and I got to the bar fairly early. It was still dead. I got on my phone and texted most of the queers I still know who live there. I made some calls and an hour later filled a table. We were all being good customers; drinking consistently without becoming messy, belligerent or violent. If I owned a bar I would crave customers like us, looking hot, buying drinks, dropping some fine moves on the dance floor and making it look like a real fun place. As the bar filled up, and the dance floor got more crowded, fairly typical gay bar behavior ensued. Servers were topless and bringing drinks around to the tables, topless twinks on the dance floor grinding up against strangers, and super perky staff performing strip shows in the intervals. As I got more into the dancing I couldn't keep my top on. I pulled my t-shirt and binding undershirt off and left them at my table and made a round of the dance floor. I heard the comments, a murmuring hush of the word "boobies" around me and I danced through it all. I was dancing really hard, harder than I could've done with something restricting my breathing or bumping my body temperatures to unsafe levels.

The DJ announced the last song, thanked the crowd for a good night and I went to go and try and grab my stuff. I have trouble with stairs, and unfortunately this place is at the bottom of a pretty intense flight. It's one thing to hoist myself up, but another entirely when I am fighting crowds of drunk and tweaky gays. I got part of the way to my table and one of the topless bartenders called me over.

"I'm gonna need you to put a shirt on."

I asked why. He went on, saying that he didn't have to wear a shirt because he was a man, but that I had to because I had boobs, and it was indecent exposure. I told him that the law doesn't actually restrict that, (I went home and checked- the law was changed in 1996 in Ontario, and since then it has stood as a precedent- leading to the city of Vancouver changing their regulations in 2008. Check out TERA or Topfree Movement for more on this.) and that if we were really going to get into legality, my legal government issued ID says Male, and regardless of how my body looks or what my ID says, I didn't come to a gay bar to have my body or gender presentation policed. He deferred to security, who came over to our table and attempted to eject me. I told him I would leave, because they were closing, and because I could tell that I wasn't welcome there, but that I would not leave because I was not dressed appropriately. And no, I wouldn't put a shirt on. I could go out into the street and not face any charges or difficulty with my bare chest, and I'd be damned if it would happen in a space set up to be a community gathering place for folks of diverse sexual orientations and gender presentations. I asked to speak to management when it became clear that the security guard didn't want to respect me or my friends. This request was denied.

According to the website of the club they are "Hottest Premiere Gay and LGBTS Community Nightclub in Victoria." and "created for a clientele in demand of unparalleled customer service". I've heard people say that often in the LGBT acronym, the T is silent, and I will say that this venue takes things one step further. Not only are they restrictive and policing of how trans people can present themselves in the space, but the bar staff feel entitled to assign sex/gender to their clients and hold up bogus "laws" to enforce their assumptions. This bar has marked male and female washrooms only, and has been known to forcefully remove clients who they think are using the wrong one. This has led my friends to boycott the place on numerous occasions, write letters, organize alternative parties. All of these things are great, but don't seem to be making the type of impact that is needed. The management and staff of Paparazzi (and too many other bars in too many other cities) think that they can treat trans people in this way, neglecting and disrespecting us, telling us how to conform and how to be "good gays".

I think that it's time that management and staff of gay bars take a look back to their history. Before stonewall and the social justice advancements that followed gay bars were under constant police scrutiny and raids. If it weren't for the brave gender warriors who were fed up with being told that their clothes didn't match their gender fighting back these bars could not now exist. Women like Sylvia Rivera are the ones who threw the first bottles, fought back against police repression of gathering of queers. If you want to include the T, there is some work that needs to happen.

1. For start, acknowledge the important role of transpeople in your history and communities. Do some reading. There is no shortage of writing about us or by us out there. Read my blog, do a google search for transgender history. Read Transgender Warriors. Read wikipedia.

2. Think about the way you set up your space. You run a gay bar. Queers of all stripes have been challenging the gender binary for all of eternity and people of all types have, and will continue to urinate so long as we can. The thing about having a bar that is supposedly for the queer (T inclusive) community, but then only providing binary options for urinating sort of cancels each other out. It's not a tricky thing to take down the signs on your washroom, label them as stalls and urinals or left and right, I don't really care. But your clients don't all fit in the gender binary, so your bathrooms shouldn't either.

3. Drop the double standards. Whatever your wait staff and performers wear sets the standard for what your clients can wear. If some boys are welcome to be topless and others are not, check where you draw that line. Because you are probably using a line that constitutes discrimination. BC is in the process of becoming more explicitly clear around what discrimination of trans people is, and how it is wrong. You may want to look into this and think about how your business would fare with a human rights case on it's hands.

4. Train your staff. If you want to hold your claim as "Hottest Premiere Gay and LGBTS Community Nightclub in Victoria." and "created for a clientele in demand of unparalleled customer service". You need to do some work to show that. One staff member approached me afterwords saying that he was appalled, and that he felt it truly unjust that he was paid to take his shirt off, while I was kicked out. If you want the queer community to frequent your bar, hire more staff like him. And let the other folks go. Especially if you offer them some type of cultural sensitivity training (maybe- given your track record, outsourcing this would be a good idea. How about calling in PFLAG or Transaction or another group that does really good work with the trans community in Victoria.) for working with the trans and queer communities and it doesn't stick. Your staff should understand that policing someones gender expression is a pretty class one No-No and have some skills to have conversations with patrons that show that they respect and honour their identities.

5. Expect a slow down in traffic. I have a pretty wide readership, and I know that a number of very influential community organizers were with me that night. Expect that queers and allies in Victoria will find (or make- like homospun: this party was started in a response to lack of safe and inclusive spaces to party behind the tweed curtain) alternatives. People will tell their friends. People will hold you accountable to your supposed "inclusion". You will need to show some pretty serious changes in the ways you operate to rebuild the trust of the queer community. This isn't just about a small population of trans people either. I trust that you will get letters, and not business, from gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, queers, and allies that want to be able to party in a place where the T is not silent. I'm hoping that you will take the extra time on your hands to make some change.

6. Don't stop working on this. You will always be hiring new staff, having new customers. Standards of acceptable practice will improve and you should do what you can to lead the way on this. Find ways to work with your community. Conduct community needs assessments. Invite feedback from patrons. Once upon a time, in my highest of drag I was asked to have a regular show at Paparazzi, I didn't take them up, because my lack of safety in that space, and their complacency of other performers playing disgustingly racist pieces I didn't feel I was up for the uphill battle. Maybe, once you've done some of those first steps you will be able to find some really rad people with good anti-oppression politics who want to run programming in your space. It's not really ideal considering it's physical inaccessibility, but working WITH your community will be a good way to help make sure that they don't shut you down or leave you empty over pride weekend.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for acting. Thank you to the queer and trans people and my lovely and supportive straight mom for having my back Saturday night. Thank you to friends and community members who will write the bar management and tell them what you need to feel safe in their bar. And thank you to all of you who can manage to find other places to get your dance on until something changes. This may be the summer of kitchen dance parties and late night beach fires. But hopefully, this will be the kick in the pants bar management needs to take these things seriously.

Friday, April 1, 2011

24 article response

This article was published in todays' 24hrs Newspaper. This paper is widely distributed across transit in the Greater Vancouver area and syndicated across much of the country. I often flip through it to get my trashy celebrity gossip and horoscopes, but this morning I stopped on page 4, where I couldn't go any further without responding. Here is my response:

I wanted to write you to give some feedback on your article published in today’s 24 newspaper here in Vancouver.

I am a transgender person living with mental health challenges and it always excites me to see the mainstream public advancing their knowledge about both mental health and transgender issues. Seeing your article in this morning’s paper gave me hope of this being a very “mainstream” outlet from which to continue to advance these conversations. I was however upset to read your article and see how much it continued to muddle issues around gender identity and presentation with that of sexual orientation and mental health. Many trans people are queer, or read as such, but not all are, and discrimination based on gender presentation may be linked to the perception of someone’s orientation, it is actually something else altogether, most commonly referred to as transphobia. ( . Please allow me to make a few points of critique to your article. I am excited that you have such a broad based audience to engage in education and dialogue around mental health, I’d like to provide this feedback to further this dialogue.

Last week, a ladyboy was my waitress as I dined in the small city of Pattani, also a few days later at a Burger King in the seaside town of Hua Hin. Last month, fledgling Thai airline PC Air hired six transsexuals as flight attendants, all of which will be given special uniforms that identify them as the “third sex.”

Understanding that biological “sex” can be determined by genitals, hormones or chromosomal make-up and that gender is the correct term that refers to someone’s presentation or identity. This can be most simply broken down by understanding that sex is what’s between the legs, gender is what’s between the ears. For some folks that is the same (cis-gendered or non-trans people) and for others it is not (trans as umbrella, or transgender meaning that the gender is different than the sex assigned at birth) while for others that is something that they wish medical intervention with (transsexual- using surgery, hormones, electrolysis etc to change the sex characteristics of a persons body). It is also important to note that within Thai culture, according to my understanding and echoed by your statements here, “lady-boys” are not accepted into society as the gender they feel or present, but are given the option of “other”. This is great for some people, myself included, who do feel other from the options of male or female, but in the larger context of transgender and transsexual acceptance and understanding it’s important to note that some trans people do not want to exist merely as “other”, but would like to be accepted as the gender that they feel and present and respected within that. This would mean transwomen (MTF or male to female transgender or transsexual individuals) would be hired, uniformed and treated as women. Creating a separate category, as exists within Thai “ladyboy” culture or India’s hijra class where trans people are “accepted” but still treated as “less than” is not equality or true acceptance.
In Canada, attitudes are slowly changing, but unfortunately homophobia is still rampant. Last year, a teacher at a Catholic high school for girls in Vancouver was told to work from home after parents complained about having a lesbian teach their kids, and sadly a year hardly goes by with out some rednecks “gay bashing” an unfortunate gentleman in the West End. Yet, we are far away from accepting “ladyboys” in our workforce.

These are examples of violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, not gender identity or presentation. There is no shortage of examples that can actually refer to what you seem to be attempting to communicate here, transphobic violence or discrimination. One place to find such reports is here: the online home of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside to acknowledge and remember the violence perpetrated against members of trans communities. Also relevant to this would be information about the bill C-389 which recently died on its way through government due to the call of election, this was a private members bill sponsored by Burnaby MP Bill Siksay which would add gender identity and gender expression to list of discriminations protected under the Human Rights Act.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the authoritative source doctors use to classify mental illnesses. Presently, the field of psychiatric medicine is using the fourth version, DSM-IV. But as cultural attitudes continue to change and psychiatric knowledge continues to grow, there will undoubtedly be a fifth edition and then later a sixth.
A person can freely express himself in one culture and be mentally healthy, and yet in another time and place they would be deemed disturbed. In Canada, people who don’t fit into the dominant heterosexual orientation mold, the stress of either hiding or expressing their sexual orientation can be very severe. To be mentally healthy, a person needs to feel like they belong.

It’s important to remember that although homosexuality was removed from the DSM-II in 1973, gender identity disorder remains on the DSM-IV, which means that people whose gender identity doesn’t match their body must access mental health services and be diagnosed with a mental health condition (GID) to access hormones, surgery and other physical remedies to this physical health and societal condition, which for some reason remains a classifiable mental illness. We can hope that GID will be removed from DSM-V, but the debate remains amongst cisgendered health care professionals about how best to treat conditions of gender diversity in the medical system. Being a “mentally well” trans person is greatly dependant on societal attitudes, matters of acceptance and freedom from fear of discrimination and violence; but as the matter stands, any trans person who wishes to access medical assistance or intervention must be diagnosed as mentally ill according to the DSM-IV.
Isn't it interesting to think of the prevalence and variations of mental illness diagnoses within the context of cultural differences? Let us not forget that a cultural shift in attitude can bring about positive changes in mental health.

You do pose a good question in asking the public how a reframing of mental illness according to how cultural understandings of “normalcy” shift. I think that this cultural shift is dependent on a clear understanding of the issues at hand, including the distinction of sex and gender, the differences between transphobia and homophobia and the ways that the mental health systems holds the reins on transition services for people outside the gender binary. Thank you for bringing discussion of mental health into such a mainstream publication, hopefully this dialogue and discourse can continue to develop a better understanding of mental health issues. This development of understanding and public dialogue is needed to end the stigma surrounding mental health; I look forward to where you may take it next.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dear you/me,

I know we've had a real up and down relationship over the years, but I wanted to take this opportunity to air the drama, and lay it out clear where we stand today. We've made it through so much, as we've both changed, changed names, changed bodies, changed pronouns, changed politics. We've both grown and I am glad to say, from where I sit today, I feel we may be as close as ever.

I remember when we first met, slow starts, playful glances and pushing boundaries. Poking at flesh, all pinkish and young and warm and fresh, as I pulled and poked I grew to know you. I learned the sounds you could make, the places you could take me, and the ways that working together was to our best advantage. I remember the early years, where neither of us could be entirely sure who we were, trying on different truths to find safety, acceptance, inclusion. Sometimes going back and forth on such extremes neither of us were recognizable from one setting to another. Victim, rebel rouser, hide, stand out, draw attention, disappear. I was so glad to get to know you more and more, enough that we could eventually be public about our love. As oversized hoodies and jeans 3x bigger than either of us or our insecurities found their way off the front lines the truth could begin to be shown.

As you started meeting other guys, and then girls, and then guys and then guys who were once girls and girls who were raised as guys you showed more and more of yourself through them. I am grateful for everyone of them, and that first copy of "body alchemy" that found its way off the shelf and into our hands. As we flipped the pages I remember your side eyed glances, the hmmm, you think? Could it be? How would that be? Maybe that's what this is about? And the arguments we got stuck in for the next couple years. The fight for life, where I tried to throw you off the roof top and you pulled me on a trip through your darkest corners, the parts that terrify you and paralyze you. Thank you for going through that with me. Thanks for pulling through that with me. Your vulnerability and strength showed me that I am filled with more than the world ever told me about, and that as much pain is there, there is also beauty, magic, potential, art, music and so much fucking hotness.

That brings me closer to the now, I can't tell you how I feel about you without acknowledging the ups and downs we've been through, but once thats been said there is so much more too, the survival and everything that's made it worth it. I've watched you change so much since then,  wither, bulk, tits turn to pecs and back again, asses melt to little bellies and back to curvy hips. I've watched the boy sprout through the flesh on your face, scratching it's way to the surface. I've watched the femme and your sparking princess find it's way out, rhinestones and bike grease, you shine in the ways that make me excited about the world. I've watched you lose strength, going from tank messenger legs riding mountain ranges like they were your breakfast to struggling with walking, stairs, and I see the way your smile melts when you glance over your bike, knowing that no matter how equipped it is for touring, hitting the road at the perfect pace to see and hear and feel the world around you, that knees and backs that've taken the impact of an s.u.v. aren't as amicable to such plans. I see how you hate yourself, I hate it, I see how sometimes getting fucked up enough to dance your ass off without feeling the pain in the moment is what you need to do. I see how your tumultuous relationship with alcohol and drugs spin you around, and how these relationships are tied to daily pain and aches and the pain of losing a physically fit body at 23 and the years before then, marked with the scars of self hate and the strains put on a body that hasn't fit the world's expectations.  I know you well enough, i see how messed this whole thing is, and all the ways it makes sense. I see when you wince and wheeze your way through the day, and i want you to know i know about your inner strength, I know about your secrets, and I know your beauty.

I love the way that you adapt. I love your flexibility. I love the way you build compromise at the closet, balancing physical ability,safety and fancy. I love the way your tattoo stretches and ripples over your ribs. I know you've had mixed feelings about protruding hips and shoulder blades that play angel wings. I know you've heard the bullshit, the harsh accusations of ill health and disordered eating. I know how that makes it hard to love knobby knees and the parts that show the female strength and "childbearing" hips, especially when the knees throb and the hips carry a little dick, not quite one or the other, and skinny, and being both and neither and everything and nothing is hard work. But I'm into it. I'm into the way your tits bounce when you ride a date, and I love the way your sweat pools on your mustache when you pound the shit out back out of them. I'm into the ways you figure out to make the things that hurt work, I love the way you use your cane like a pole to dance up on and keep yourself up with this highly eroticized extension of self. I'm into the way you smell, and the ways you scrub yourself, in the lawn chair in the shower, letting the warm water melt some of that pain and free up your breathing, getting heavier as your soap your cunt and ass. I love the food you make, you blow me away again and again with the ways you can translate the dregs in the bottom of the fridge into a meal that nourishes my soul. I love the way you do your work, I love the way you talk about consent, barriers, self confidence and communication and admit that you continue to learn about all of these. I  love the way that you learn from your own lessons. I love the way you figure things out as you go. And I love the ways you've figured me out. I feel safe with you now, I feel like I can show you how broken I am, how shattered i feel. I know you'll get it, and I trust that you'll help me figure it out.

I'm a survivor and in this case, like attracts like. Your survival, your modifications, your adaptations, your rewriting any rules the world may have told you to follow... It gets me going. It makes me want to stick around and see what we can possibly collaborate on next. This is the most exciting relationship I've been in, and you've seen me through all the others, so you know that you and me, we have something big, something that lasts, we've made it through so much, and we've found the ways to compliment each other. You are my other half, you are my outer self, my mirror, corporeal to spirit, and I am so into you.


This was written for a project that can be found in full here soon. Thanks legay

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bill c-389

With the passing of Bill C-389 the government moved one step closer to legally protecting the rights and self determination of trans people. As some people celebrate the passing of Bill C-389 this week, others wonder where it will go from here. It may be another thing that gets clogged through the appointment seats of the part of government with the least amount of accountability to a votership.

I worry about this, and my worry comes from what I see as a separation of understanding. People who are resisting this change, people and parties who are framing trans people as predators, are doing so from a comfortable distance from trans community resistance, and trans lived realities of mistreatment, unemployment, homelessness and other things that a bill like this may have a impact of change around. Trans people are not a part of their everyday lives, their families, their communities. For large part due to the economic segregation of people facing oppression like transphobia, but also in a culture that extols gender variant people as sex offenders, not including them, even in your own families seems natural. I don't know of any specific trans people who have been excommunicated from their politician families, but I have seen it happen across other socioeconomic and cultural landscapes. So what is it in the values system of people on the "moral right" that thinks that this type of behavior should go unnoticed, unprotected? I attended a service this morning, at the Unitarian church. The sermon was talking about moral and religious involvement with politics. This is a complicated and many faceted topic, but one thing that really came in to my head from the sermon and following conversations was this:
The "moral right" is bringing "religion" into politics, so without the moral logic of social justice minded individuals creating a balance, where democratic thinking and ideas, human rights and equality within diversity can be shared on the same platform, the platform will by default be overwhelmed with the attempts to de-humanize individuals by forcing fucked up power driven decision making "values" down our throats.
Another thing that was re-brought to my attention, both this week and over the last little while in general is that the bible, the supposed moral compass of so much of this fucked up shit we see from the barring of trans rights and protections to the shutting down of women's health centers to the barriers to accessing clean rigs, is FULL of things like this:

Isaiah 10

1 Woe to those who make unjust laws, 1 to those who issue oppressive decrees,

2 to deprive the poor of their rights 2 and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, 2 making widows their prey 2 and robbing the fatherless.

Guess what "moral right", we can read your scriptures too, we can see what you are supposedly basing decisions off of. And I call BULLSHIT! You want to know who are oppressed of your people?

The people you are posing as villainous creeps out to molest your daughters; our own daughters and sisters who continually get fucked over by the presumptions that people make about their identities because of parts of their bodies or pasts. The people that have been stolen, murdered, fired, evicted, beat up, raped and terrorized; the women, queers, trans people, indigenous people,immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities... need I go on. And guess what, some of us fit into more than one of those categories! And fucked up shit happens all the time, especially to those of use who fit in these up little boxes (which have their own complication as they restrict us down to one element of self) . We are the widows become prey, widowing large segments of a generation ravaged by the effects of HIV and stigma. We are the fatherless, as more and more trans youth end up finding themselves at younger ages, parents still kick people out, cut people off because they are self determined. Are these the people that the "moral right"want to "save the world" from with their unjust laws? Look at your moral compass conservative party, there's a very clear direction. Are choices being made by values? Cause I'd like to call yours to question.