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Pride Challenge: Day 21

Political LGBT issue that is closest to you or affects you most. 

This used to be domestic partnerships/marriage, but with that being the law of the land now, things have changed.

One big LGBT issue is the growing prevalence of so-called “bathroom bills”.  Bills that make it law that you basically must show your birth certificate at the door of the bathroom to be able to use it.  Which is all sorts of problematic.

In no particular order:

1. Gender is not a binary.

2. Carrying around your birth certificate all the time is ridiculous and it massively increases your risk of identity theft if your wallet/purse/bag is stolen, as birth certificates have social security numbers on them.

3. It’s prurient.  Why the fuck does anyone want to know what my bits look like?  It’s perverted to tie bathroom access to what your bits look like or what is on your birth certificate.

4.  What about intersex people or other folks whose genitals somehow don’t match the sex listed on their birth certificate, even if they are cisgender?

5.  Why does it matter what bathroom anyone uses?  As long as you keep your hands and eyes to yourself, it should not matter where you go to pee.  For pete’s sake people.

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November Write 17

Star posted this earlier and I think it deserves a post.

Especially this portion:

Look. I know we’re all hurting. And when the world is confusing and we’re feeling lost getting righteous and angry becomes a feel-good release. But shutting people down who are trying to help is not good. It is not helpful. It’s not how we build a movement.

We need all the people to do all the things. Period.

There have been a lot of takedowns regarding the whole safety pin thing, and some of them are very fair concerns: co-opting by non-allies and people not being willing to back up the symbol with actual action (physically if needed) being the two that come first to mind.  

But here’s the thing, well, actually two things:

  1. At least half, if not more, of the articles I’ve seen criticizing the use of the pins are from people with relative privilege – often white cis-het men.  Not that they shouldn’t criticize – I’d say the subject is fair game to all involved.  But sometimes it seems like they are talking to drown out the voices of the people actually affected.  Why don’t we ask the queer, trans, female, Muslim, Jewish, black, chronically ill/disabled (spoonie), native, Mexican (among so many other groups) folks, ya know, the people who are getting harassed, what they think about it?
  2. Which brings me to the second point.  As someone who fits in several of those categories (and is read to fit in another), I actually appreciate the effort that people have put into making this a thing, especially when they are willing to put action behind this symbol.  I think a lot of the people who might have worn it and followed through may be getting discouraged by all the criticism.  I’m not going to give them a cookie for something they should be doing anyways, but it is nice knowing who I can count on.

This whole movement, made much more urgent by the results of the presidential election, was a catalyst for me choosing to identify as non-binary transgender instead of just non-binary.  I cannot step back further into the closet – that is not a direction I feel is an option for me, so I press forward.  

However, I do recognize my relative privilege in this.  I pass as a white, straight, cisgender woman when I am in public with my two male partners.  When I am out with my girlfriend I pass less, mostly because I am privileged enough to act queer in public without much consequence. 

So I do wear the safety pin, because I cannot use that privilege as a shield when others are on the front lines of this battle for basic human rights and considerations.

I will fight.

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November Write 12

I want to write letters to those in my life, split over this write and the next two.

To my friends,

I am very proud of you.  I am amazed with the breadth and depth of your response to this horrendous election.  I have seen those people who do not often post on Facebook, come out with beautiful diatribes, full of understanding and an acknowledgement of just how bad it could be.

I have seen the beginnings of a new movement burst into life, fresh and full of energy.  I used to be skeptical of the power of the Internet and social media sites to create full social movements with power, participation, and enthusiasm, simply because we simply do not have many years of the internet to look at the history of how social movements interact with it.  But the last few years have shown me that it is simply not the case that a social movement can’t form on the internet and take flesh in real life.  I have seen you do it.  I have seen you take your convictions to the streets, willing to protest and potentially even be arrested for the sake of a social movement and be willing to come to the aid of any person from a marginalized minority, even to the point of physically fighting to protect them.
To my fellow queers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities: you are astounding!  Your reactions have galvanized me and my conviction to be visible as a queer person.  I will support you, whichever path you take in regard to this presidency – going back in the closet, retaining you outness as is, or step any further out of the closet.  I cannot choose for you – if you think it would be safer for you to retreat, I will give you whatever support you need (short of large sums of money – I am limited in that regard) to remain the safest, sanest, and most secure during this time.

To my friends who voted for TOWSNBN: I hold you responsible for protecting the rights of your minority friends.  You elected him – now, hold him to, at the minimum, basic standards of human decency, to genuinely make this country great.  I don’t care why you voted for him – it simply does not matter.

Sincerely,

V

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November Write 9

Obligatory election follow up, blah blah blah

I’m stuck at the point of “just can’t even”.  This man, The One Who Shall Not be Named (TOWSNBN, for short) is the epitome of everything that will halt progress in this country, even worse than the Brexit has halted progress there.

But here’s the thing.  I don’t process these kinds of externally.  I need to have time to process internally before I can, or will start to process externally, with everyone.  Today, my Facebook feed has been full of external processors.  Good for them, for getting the support they need in the way that it works best for them.  Heck, I’ll even offer what I can in the way of assistance for them.  

However, it does get a bit in the way of my own processing to have everyone else’s thoughts intruding from the outside.  I can manage processing at about half speed with other people processing externally.  So, I do what I can, when I can.  I will not fault those who process differently, nor blame them for the slowing down of my own process.  I am used to it by now.

So, here’s what I’ve got so far…

What I’ve been saying all along – this electoral system is in need of reform rather badly.  The best suggestions I’ve heard include getting rid of the electoral college, which I am all in favor of.  Also reminds me to refresh my memory on different electoral systems.  I took a whole class on it, you’d think I’d remember more, wouldn’t you?

TOWSNBN will become president on January 20, barring any accidents. Which will be a disaster of epic proportions.  I figure I will probably have a more emotive response later, but right now, I’m just emotionally exhausted from other things and am just not up for it at this point.  But so far the words I’ve got are: “disaster”, “distress”, “fear”, and “we shall overcome”.  I figure that’s a start.

Oh, and the upside down flag.  That seems an appropriate response.  Not a sign of disrespect, so I far prefer it to flag-burning.  The citation (because I’m an American government and law nerd): 4 U.S. Code § 8 – Respect for flag – (a) “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property”.  I’d say this man’s election counts as that for anyone who is not a rich, white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, “Christian” man, given all that he has said and done.

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Blog for Choice Day 2012

Question: What will you do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012?

I feel like it is a cop-out to say this, but I will: be an informed voter.  I will make sure that my ballot makes it to whatever address I am at and I fill it out fully (and remember to mail it, of course).  I will research the candidates and issues thoroughly, so I know that I am choosing people who will represent my interests.  If in doubt, I will consult websites and voter guides that I trust.  I will also question any statement that seems unclear and I will, in the end, think for myself when I vote.  I will give my ballot the full extent of my attention until I am finished filling it out.

If a particular candidate gets my attention by their actions for or against choice, I will be sure to note that, and write on it if it has not gotten sufficient media coverage already.  I will make sure that my friends know my stance on these candidates, whether it be for or against.  If I get the chance I will do any meet and greets I can with local politicians to see if their in-person persona matches their political, public persona.

Previous years of Blog For Choice:
2011 (Didn’t participate/can’t find it)
2010
2009 (Didn’t participate)
2008
2007

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Identifying

To put this out there before I get started with any of the rest of this post: I am all about people not wanting to put themselves in boxes or limit themselves with words. Trust me, I think the English language (well, any languages) are too limiting to encompass the whole of humanity and that we lack words for feelings and ways of thinking that I wish we had. So, given this disclaimer, I’m going to talk about the identifying word boxes I place myself in.

This is not about the boxes that society places me in because that’s how they see me. Those are easy to say, though challenging to deal with in real life. They call me white, female, average height, overweight, brunette, student, with a loud voice and fairly large breasts. Yes, these are true, and yes they have affected the shape of my identity. However, they are not how I identify.

I call myself a bi dyke, a feminist, a transgender ally, a woman of thought, a queer person, a poly lady, and a switch who loves to bottom and takes pleasure in topping the right person, in no particular order.

I ride the middle of the Kinsey scale, sometimes on a daily basis–if you want to put numbers on it (and there are sometimes I love numbers, but other times they are harsher and more judgmental than words) I range from a 2.5 to a 3.5.

I believe that chaos is another form of organization and the chaos in my spaces reflects how my mind works–some things have to be in a certain order and others require no order.

I am working on being an ethical omnivore–buying any meat I can from places that treat their animals right in life and death–I am working my way out of being a near vegetarian because I realized I am not that.

I love the word kinky. To me it is like “queer”: so many definitions, so many ways to work it.

I call myself a liberal, but I find myself increasingly disenchanted with the political parties in this country–too conformist, too middle of the road to be good for people. If I had to pick a party that represents the majority of my interests, I would be a Lib Dem.

That’s me, in a very small nutshell.

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Class

They say there’s three things a lady should never bring up in conversation: politics, money, or religion. I say, why not? I’ve taken on politics–heck, that’s my major.

First and foremost I will say this: I have middle class privilege. My family has never had to live paycheck to paycheck. Anything I needed (not wanted, but needed) I have gotten. My parents are paying for my college education from money they have been able to save up since my birth for exactly that. I have never needed to work to pay for anything–I chose to work to further myself and my real-life education.

However, this is not something I am very proud of, whatsoever. Would I prefer to have a life where I cannot afford to go to college and my paychecks went toward the family income? No. I do feel a sense of guilt for being born into the family I was and having the luxuries I’ve had when I meet so many wonderful people who have not had any such luxuries and have had to work for every thing they needed.

I have a few case studies to illustrate this–incidents recently where I catch myself with my privilege showing.

The first one, the incident that really inspired this post in the first place, took place at Wal-Mart a couple weeks back. I was in the area, so I decided to pop my head in, take a look around. Within five minutes I felt uncomfortable–uncomfortable with supporting a big business that oppresses its workers, not allowing them to unionize or even provide a decent wage. Then I realized how silly I was being. Yes, those things are still true, but there are people who cannot afford to shop elsewhere, whatever their personal beliefs on the business politics of Wal-Mart. There are also people who work there to feed their families, maybe put a little extra something in their kids’ backpacks as they go off to school–whether or not they agree with what Wal-Mart Inc. has to say about the state of the world. I can, quite literally, afford to care about the politics and policies of this corporation and to vote with my dollar.

The second incident came about a week later when I was in Portland with my mother and sister. The fact that we can afford to travel, even just by train with the economy the way it is–privilege right there. That we can afford to pay for a hotel–not just any hotel, but a fairly nice one in the middle of the city–obscenely privileged. I felt out of place there–this is not a place where the kind of people I prefer to associate myself with would hang out. Even when we were waiting for the bus we were the ones that were asked for spare change–our clothes gave us away as possibly having some to spare. The shopping bags were even more conspicuous. The fact that my traveling companions seemed grossly unaware of just how much our class was buying us–disappointing. The fact that we could prefer to save money by taking public transportation rather than require it–well, we could have done worse.

The third incident took place about three years ago–my family took a river cruise in Europe over the Christmas season–mostly to visit the Christmas markets in the cities we stopped in. I do not often mention the specifics of this trip to people–it makes me look like a little rich girl. In fact, it was the first cruise I’d ever taken, but how is anyone else supposed to know that without hearing an explanation that sounds like an excuse. We were probably the poorest people on the cruise–our clothes and our talk of experiences gave us away as middle class. It was a bit of a humbling experience to be the poor ones, but it was only a very small experience–there are times I do wish that feeling to be mine again.

I may depend on my parents to pay for my college education, but everything else, that’s mine to pay for. I feel like I can commiserate better with my friends if it is my own money on the line for my buying experiences and mistakes. It makes me feel like a better person I guess–puts me temporarily in a place where I am more comfortable being–more solidly middle class, rather than verging on upper-middle class. I think as long as I can realize what my privilege brings me in this society–little worry about debts and where the next meal will be coming from, this is an okay thing to do.

I worry though, about my sister, who has little to no knowledge of her class privilege. Mommy and daddy have been paying for everything for her and she has not held a job until this summer and that only because my folks told her she should. She depends on them and their money to be able to dress and associate with people who are fairly firmly upper-middle to upper class. I don’t think she quite realizes that she won’t always be able to live like that and that there’s a certain amount of pride being able to, even if just in some small way, live on your own money, earned by your own merits, not hanging off the coattails of one’s parents. I think it’s also part of growing up–learning how to be financially independent.

Class is a touchy subject because it is attached to the idea of money–but not just because of that. It shapes our growing up years, our education, our politics. It is hard to detach one’s experiences in life from one’s class, unless you know/realize that the best experiences in life have little to do with money and much more to do with intellectual, emotional, spiritual, mental, and sexual happiness.