Mind leakage

Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)

Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, very recently I posted this which contemplated the ‘obligation’ of those of us who have a voice in the public ear to be out about … ourselves, really.

After much thought and discussion I’ve decide that I agree with myself.  I’ve no obligation whatsoever to say if I’m straight or gay, bi- or pansexual.  If I’m married, single, dating, taken a vow of chastity (though in all sincerity I share Sally’s view of that) that’s my own business.  Hell the only validity to saying if I’m male or female is because English has gendered pronouns; what anatomy I currently posses or have previously possessed is certainly no business to anyone except one who intends to make any use of that anatomy.

Hobbes (Calvin and Hobbes)

Hobbes (Calvin and Hobbes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It can be argued that, were I gay or were I trans, or were I a particularly gifted gibbon that I ought to say so in order to show other gay writers, other trans writers, other gibbons that they too can be a published author.  No.  I can see a certain validity in that for things like acting or other things that truly put you in the public eye.  Writing is nothing at all like that.  I cite as my reference and infallible proof:  Bill Watterson.  This is a man who wrote a comic beloved by millions (billions?) through a number of years (decades?) and who some believe to be mythical as there is exactly one photograph that most anyone has ever seen and it’s been joked/rumoured that even his agent has no idea where he lives or what his phone number is.  He could be a she under a pen name.  We certainly know nothing about him – does he like men?  Women?  Sheep?  Does he speak Welsh, Russian, or Portugese?  Does he have testicles?  No one knows … and few have any reason to care.

What Bill teaches us is that, when we are invisible creators, us writers, we are as much or more inspirational than when we are visible.  Visible I’m clearly a 6′ tall transsexual lesbian gibbon with a unicorn horn and seven breasts.  Invisible I’m whatever and whoever I need to be to make you feel better.  I prefer semi-visible.  I mean, we learn a little of Bill from his incomparable Calvin and Hobbes comics (if you have been under a rock and know not of what I speak I suggest you hie thee to the nearest place of obtainment and remedy this unspeakable deficiency with all available alacrity); just as we learn a little of any author by taking her collected works as a whole.  I’ll talk about whole work versus single character/works later.  We learn a little from his name and that one photograph.  And we learn one more thing from his reclusiveness:  clearly he is a shy or at least not terribly egotistical man.

Lucy Pevensie

Lucy Pevensie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These little clues tell us some things.  Okay, he’s probably not a woman, he’s not a self-centred loudmouth, etc. and his characters tell us he’s probably a pretty swell and thoughtful person with a keen and well-read wit.  Does this help you decide if a cisgender llamaphilic lesbian nanny goat can make it big in the comics world?  Sort of, yes, actually – as I said, he proves that we’re anonymous behind our pages.  People see us as our creations on the page, not as the people our families look at during dinner.  Stephen King is a slightly known geekish face, a few people know he writes from his nightmares, and some know about his alcoholism – most people know him as a byline that scares the living shit out of them.

Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's T...

Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to authors who’ve discussed it, yes, in the publishing industry there are agents, editors, publishing overlords, etc. who will take one sex or another more seriously than the opposite.  SF tends to be dismissive of women is the biggest complaint, but men are sometimes given a little less attention in the romance universe, and people get funny ideas in mysteries and … stuff.  But look around.  There’re published women in SF (Elaine Cunningham, Andre Norton, etc.), men published under romance (Nicholas Sparks, lots of pseudonyms, etc.), Mary Shelly anyone?  Lord Byron?  No, in the end, the publishing world is wide open.  For one thing, if you must, just do it yourself.  Your work is what should matter.

My work shows that I’m sympathetic – be I an ally or member – of the LGBTQ community.  My blogposts affirm this.  I am colourblind (not in the disability sense, but in the racial sense) – to me a human is a human, their skin colour is nothing but melanin, I even spent formative years of my life somewhere that it was white people who were not the racial powerhouses and, in fact, were discriminated against and bullied – the people of Hawai’i haven’t forgot the whole annexed at gunpoint and the very dubious circumstances of the vote for statehood things.  My name is in the feminine form.

People can make of that data, as they can with what they know of Bill Watterson, what they will.  No, I’m not going to make an evangelical Christian fundamentalist with very strong anti-LGBT philosophies feel much of a connection with me or my characters, not unless they’re inclined to changing their minds or at least have an open mind for lesbian characters despite their Views against their ‘lifestyle choices’.

J. R. R. Tolkien, 1916

J. R. R. Tolkien, 1916 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those looking for a rolemodel … in writing your role model should be the text on the page.  I’ve next to nothing whatsoever in common with Professor J R R Tolkien, the great man who brought us The Hobbit; I’ve little in common with C S Lewis, little in common with A A Milne or Ed Greenwood.  Spider Robinson, Arthur C Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Terry Pratchett, Lawrence Block, or William Shatner.  All of those are authors whose works I’ve enjoyed, authors who – along with many more – taught me to write by having themselves written and by my having read them and learned from those pages.  I do not know them, I do not feel I know them, I do not feel I must know them.  I do know Granny Weatherwax, Bilbo Baggins, Winnie the Pooh, Storm Silverhand, Lady Sally, HAL 9000, Bernie Rhodenbarr, Jake Cardigan, and Lucy Pevensiethey are the ones I met and the ones whose adventures I shared and share again & again.  They are the ones who taught me what is possible and how to dream and hope.  Those characters told me that it doesn’t matter that I’m a woman; they told me it doesn’t matter one way or the other who I love – just that I should love, and well; they taught me wonder, they taught me many things.

I think in most ways public figures only matter in what they do, not what they are.  Exceptions – always exceptions – would be those who rely on others to see their dreams through, like actors.  If, after coming out, Neil Patric Harris was never seen nor heard from again in Hollywood … well, that’s a pretty strong message.  Thing is, yeah, it makes sense that he should be out, and his career being so strong is inspirational – despite being a married gay father he is a beloved STAR, but actors have directors and producers who can decide to never give them a part because “I just can’t work with someone with green eyes, oh God no!  They’re really Satan come to Earth in disguise” and, necessarily, artistic pursuit is left open to some discrimination (hey, I’m sorry, if you’re not tall enough nor leggy enough you just can’t be a Radio City Rockette … the routines won’t work for it, learn ‘em and start a competing group of shorter folk, might work though) so stupid discrimination gets by far too often; sad but true.

But as writers we’re not selling ourselves – recently popular advice to the contrary exists, but it’s bull as the good Mr Watterson so fabulously illustrates (uhm … no pun intended).  We do not inspire with our selves, we inspire with our creations.  Writer is a, largely, crappy job – pay sucks, it’s sometimes (for some, rather often) thankless, it’s lonely … it’s a lot of things, none of them glamorous.  It is those who populate our pages they are our contributions to societal change and philosophical debate.  Professor Tolkien may have been a force to be reckoned with in the world of academia, but that inspired people studying philology and myths; Bilbo Baggins inspired people, lots of them.  Suddenly it didn’t matter how small or inexperienced you were, you could out riddle a voice in the dark, escape goblins, face down dragons, ride the skies with the eagles, meet elves, and live through the war of five armies – not bad for a timid little hobbit from The Shire.  Classics have few (no?) LGBTQ characters … at one time, including them would have actually got the authors worse than just shunned and boycotted, so give ‘em breaks.  Today … today we have Lauren & Sally, we have Dumbledore (I’m sorry, but I was not surprised when Ms Rowling said he’s gay).   We’re lacking, admittedly, in trans* representation.  I’ve only got Sally’s cousin Joe, and he’s pretty minor.  I’m sorry, I’ve just not met any trans characters in my head with a story to tell, just a few who exist as … decoration.  Maybe that’ll change one day, I certainly hope so, it’d be interesting to see what stories they tell.  I’m no expert, but I think it’s not unheard of in manga, for what it’s worth.

That doesn’t matter, though, today you write your story.  You tell of the heroism of your pansexual Japanese trans woman, then you put it out there.  The more who do this the more it becomes visible.  Sooner or later someone else has to rise to the ranks of Pratchett and Rowling, King and Meyer … sooner or later no one will notice that a character in a story is a lesbian because it won’t be that important a detail, or that he’s transgender, or that she’s black, or that he’s Asian or … already that’s starting to happen, and it’s a Good Thing.  The key isn’t to make the books about being black, or about being Asian, or about being a sentient dolphin – not that those books aren’t helpful too, but they’re not necessarily as generally accessible as books not about those things – it’s to make books about fighting dragons, about saving the princess, about climbing Everest, about life but with characters who aren’t status quo.  Few, if any, who read The Hobbit were, themselves, hobbits … and it wasn’t exactly about him being a hobbit, it was about him being on an adventure despite all the things that define a hobbit, and proving that Gandalf was right in suggesting that one, this one in particular, be brought along; and who has never, not once in their lives, had something they had to be overcome, especially something that was no handicap whatsoever but rather only perceived as so by the short-sighted?

That is the obligation of a writer, I think, if we wish to be inspiring and to Change The World – we need to all have more Bilbo Bagginses.  We all need more Tiggers, and more Aslans, more Prince Thorks, and more Tee Tuckers.  It’s them who spread the message.  If your book preaches to the choir, you do a service and your book is important – it tells those who may feel excluded and alone that they are not alone; please by all means do still write and keep on writing them.  But if you don’t want to write a book about someone being gay, but you want to have a gay character … well … that’s a damned fine idea too – that‘s leading by example.

I think I’ve wandered and meandered long enough.  I’m going to stop here and hit publish.  I’m tired and almost afraid to actually spellcheck or proofread this.

A discussion, I hope.

English: Ellen DeGeneres in 2009.

English: Ellen DeGeneres in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was an article I found on Facebook, shared it too as I recall.  The Best Way to Change Minds:  Come Out, Stay Out, and Speak Out.

Of particular note, for me, is the first paragraph:

Last week my friend, Professor Jenny Boylan of Barnard College, penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Trans Community Can Change Minds by Changing Discourse.” I think it’s very important that our scholars are finally being provided with a platform to reach a far wider audience, and Jenny is one of our most articulate spokeswomen. It’s also important to note that — gasp!trans women are Ivy League college professors. I will even go so far as to say that what she said is less important than the fact that she is published in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. That will have a great impact on accomplishing what she stressed as the goal of her piece: changing the nature of the public discourse around trans persons and the experience of being trans.

Now, of course, it’s about the transgender community.  Applicability, a word I learnt from the late Professor J R R Tolkien‘s lovely writings on the subject of storytelling, though means it says so very much more.  Amazing how much storytelling and life can have in common if you take a moment to look around and see it.

I’m rather torn on the subject myself.  This is why I hope this will be a discussion in the comments.  It’d be interesting to see the varied opinions and discourse on the matter.  I’m a private person.  I don’t like, as I’ve said before, giving details about myself.  I’ve no problem standing up for people.  Race, sexuality, gender expression, gender identity … we’re all people.  I stand up for people because first off, it just seems the right thing to do.  None of my business if someone is a woman, man, or other.  Doesn’t matter the slightest to me if they’re Buddhist, Pagan, Jew, Christian, Islamic, or pray before an old Pepsi can from 1973.  I certainly can’t imagine being too upset about anything that two or more consenting people might like to do with/to one another.  Above all else, I’m not going to say that someone doesn’t deserve the same rights as anyone else just because of who it is that they love and find attractive.

My point is; do people in the public eye – authors, actors, politicians, etc. – do we have some obligation to be out?  And out about any of it.  Out about being heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, pepsisexual, transgender, transvestite, transatlantic, or transmitted; anything.  Does it matter?

I do feel that we should certainly speak our minds if we’re willing and able.  I’m somewhat able and somewhat willing, so I do.  But that’s not because of our being public.  I think that’s just a very good and human thing to do.  If you want to be objectivist about it and find some self-serving reason for it then how about Martin Niemöller‘s words:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Should it matter if you are gay or trans*?  Should it matter if I am?  Your cousin?  Should it be enough that you don’t feel that anyone should ever be treated as less than human?

So I do, I ask:  am I right or wrong?  Is it enough to speak out, even if I will not come out cis/trans/queer, gay/straight/bi/other? I am out on one point:  I’m an out redhead and an out woman.  I’m also an out writer (exceedingly vague reference to The Notebooks of Lazarus Long).  Does it add some weight to what I say if I am Cis or if I’m trans?  If I’m gay or straight?

The article seems to think so.  At least taken in an extrapolated form.  To be fair, the article itself isn’t talking so much about the Laverne Coxes, the Ellen Pages, the George Takeis of the world.  It’s talking about the guy who bags your groceries, the woman who delivers your mail, etc.  It’s about advocating by simple example.  By not isolating yourself, as a trans person, estranged from anyone who ever knew you as your assigned gender to begin fresh and reborn as your true gender in another town all alone … It points out that, if no one can really identify with an issue, put a real face and person to it they’re not really going to feel much point in supporting the cause.  Little girls like Jazz, women like Laverne Cox; they may seem unreal to people, or isolated curiosities.  George Takei and Ellen DeGeneres; same thing.  They plant the seed, the curiosity, the vocabulary.  They shout the issues from the rooftops, but the ones who prove them right are the gay parents at the PTA conference for their’s daughters’ school; it’s the little boy struggling to be allowed to play for the boys’ team instead of the girls'; it’s your trans brother and your lesbian sister-in-law, your bi cousin.  That point I don’t argue with.  Those who know me I’m out about my sexuality with, my marital status, etc.  What I can’t seem to make up my mind about is this:  does it matter in either direction to the public?

Funny I should say this, given my post about representation, but I guess it comes down to this:  representation in my work exists.  I’d assume that my characters present far more valid role models than myself.  You get to know them, you see their thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, all of that – you share a bond with them.  Me?  What am I?  A dyslexic typist who happens to occasionally take it into her head to string several English words together in something like a logical and coherent order.  Does this make me the kind of public figure whose personal details matters for representing anything or anyone?  I can paint landscapes populated by cis/trans/queer alike, homo/hetero/bi/pan/a whatever, but I can do that regardless my gender, race, height, weight, bust size, inseam, zodiac sign, sexuality, etc.

Still, perhaps I’m wrong.  I’d love to hear what others think:  does my sexuality, gender-status, marital status, etc. matter?  Never mind me specifically, I mean anyone.  Does J K Rowlings’?  Does Stephen King’s?  George R R Martin’s?  Neil Gaiman‘s?

Is it me or is that a long list of Caucasian, cisgender, heterosexual people?  Look, writing as a profession or even hobby doesn’t actually need representation, does it?!  I mean, the anonymity of the pen/keyboard?  How many authors use pseudonyms!  I mean … people know this right?  I mean were I gay or bi or whatever, that wouldn’t make a difference to whether or not some little girl who falls in love with my books decides to take up the quill and tell her own tales … would it?

Damn, now I can actually see arguments both ways.  Stupid blogpost … bad blogpost, no cookies!

Life would be so much easier if humanity weren’t so caught up on the idea of finding reasons to look down on one another.  I mean, aside from obvious ones like rape, murder, theft … people are starving, and there’re religious groups spending money and energy on fighting the legality of Portia and Ellen’s marriage.  Really?!

Still, these comments are no less moderated than any others.  Your comment won’t show up unless you have a previously approved comment or unless I hit the magical, mystical approval button.  But, you know, discuss away.  Between the comments and my own soul searching, maybe I’ll get around to writing up some kind of bio about myself.  Maybe I won’t.  I’m still leaning to “it doesn’t matter”, besides … could turn out I’m just as status quo as Ms Rowling; at least with the silence there’s a mystique.

RIP Robin Williams

American comedian Robin Williams at "Stan...

American comedian Robin Williams at “Stand Up for Heroes,” a comedy and music benefit organized by the Bob Woodruff Family Fund to raise money for injured U.S. servicemen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, by now I’m sure everyone’s heard the news:  The great Robin Williams is dead, having committed suicide yesterday.

The world is a far lesser place without the laughter and joy he has brought to so very many souls in his life.

Depression is no joke.  It can blind one to just how much you mean to others and leaves you feeling worthless even when you might be one of the most precious people of an age.  True, a lot of us never knew Robin well, but what if he knew how his death would affect the world … would he still have?  Maybe, it’s hard to say.  We don’t know what in his life was such a tragedy to him – the sad thing about depression is, there doesn’t even have to be.

Still, perhaps he’ll be making the world a better place even now as he brings laughter and joy to the gods and heavens instead.

If you’re feeling a bit down yourself, find someone to talk to.  You may just find there’s something to live for.  Never underestimate the restorative powers of a pet, either.

For those in the US try this:  http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html

For those in other countries, I’m sorry, but Google was being rather Amero-centric and its typical unhelpful self.  Please, put the revolver or sleeping pills down and take a few seconds to find your equivocal, or go find a priest, any priest, or just hold a purring cat … something.

English is so annoying

There’re really times I wish I could do my writing in Latin instead of English.

In Latin it’s so much easier to be clear who or what things refer to because there’re different sets of suffixes for accusative  and nominative, to say nothing of the existence of the genitive, ablative, dative …

Why does English have to lack that sort of clarity of grammar?  It makes writing any sentence where two people of the same gender are interacting with one another terribly awkward and cumbersome, truly.

“The New Civil Rights Frontier”

I’ve been thinking very hard about something recently.

Time magazine has been receiving a lot of flak for calling trans the next civil rights frontier of America.  Even I criticised this on my Facebook page.  But while there were numerous other reasons to criticise the article, I believe this is one thing it was dead right on; albeit I think it’s the new worldwide issue, not just America.  There may be legal recognition of 3-5 genders in parts of former Persia and in India and Thailand might have no problem with its ladyboys (hey, literal translation and one that those ladies who speak English from there prefer or don’t mind), but by and large it’s a struggle abroad, too.

Thing is, the criticism is that it makes it seem like the fight is over for women, for races, for homosexuals.  It’s not, no, but the battle there has evolved and has momentum; it ain’t won, but it’s a matter of time, winning is becoming inevitable.  Trans is sort of the new kid, our battles began … when would you like to say?  With the fops and dandies of a bygone era?  With the 20th century?  Somewhere in the 19th?  History is fun that way, depending how you want to interpret a question the answer could actually be since before we came down from the trees.

I was thinking about this because I wondered why so many of the things lately I’ve been seeing, sharing, talking about, etc. have been trans-rights.  I realised because it is the new war for equality.  Trans has had it’s battles, its skirmishes, but that was the underground, viva la resistance!  Now it’s armies at war, now it’s faces like the young Jazz or the beautiful and talented Laverne Cox, now it’s something that is in the news every freaking day in some fashion or another.  Now it’s on the cover of Time Magazine!  Racial equality, women’s rights, gay rights?  These have fought those battles.  Kirk & Uhura kissed on national TV.  Babylon 5 had a woman pope and president to say nothing of the force of nature which was Ivanova!  Will & Grace?

Legally these wars are won.  Note, though, I said legally.  The need for an equal pay act isn’t a question of legal victory, it’s the get legal protection from a social ill.  It’d be a legal victory if there was a law specifying women earn less than men; it’s a form of the Affirmative Action laws which made it law that society give blacks a chance so that they could take advantage of the elimination of the laws that kept them in second class status.  Gay marriage is a legal win, and one that 20 of 50 states have been won in!  Numerous countries have bowed out of that war and homosexuals have their rights — other fronts are still a bloody and brutal battle; some parts of the Middle-East, for example.

To say that transgender isn’t the new fight, isn’t the new war, isn’t the new frontier isn’t to invalidate the fighting for it that has already happened, nor does it say word one to deny that other civil rights battles haven’t and aren’t still in process of being fought.  It just says that the battles are big, public, and people are actually aware of them now.  More importantly the fights are being won!  Before the fights were more to do with small measures of acceptance from this employer, from that family member, from this friend … now bottom surgery is slowly disappearing from the laws governing changing the gender on ID; now little by little gender-identity is being specified as a protected status – and if you think that isn’t important, talk to a homeless transgender person who can’t get even a job at McDonald’s and who has been denied housing, has been turned away from shelters … except maybe you can’t because odds are now the poor woman or man is dead, murdered for being who he or she is and in a few too many cases it was discovered because as ever when a group is marginalised so thoroughly — they turned to prostitution, and unless whoring is legal with nice safe and clean brothels to work in … well … not a happy scene.

I believe wholly that all people regardless race, religion, gender, sex, orientation, etc. are people.  Some people are good, some are bad, some contribute better to society than others — but that’s because of who they are, not what they are.  Catholics can be amazing people or utter twats; I’ve known Asians that were the most fantastic people you’ll ever meet and others who were the most hateful and horrible people; same with gay, trans, men/women/other … truly it matters not because labels don’t make someone bad or good, they just help us communicate things like “she prefers the ladies”, “he has a kind of reddish tint to his skin” and so on; our actions and our words make us good or bad people that’s what makes us “oh, he is such a saint!” or “God, she was Satan in her past life”.

So I suppose the answer to why I’ve shared so much related to trans is simply that besides the latest news on the latest fight won, the war for gay equality and the fight for women’s equality and the fight for racial equality … no, they’re not over, but they’re not news!  We all know that battle is still being fought and what the issues are.  The odd reminder now and then keeps the fight alive, the celebrating of the next milestone victory let’s us know yet another checkbox on the to-do list has been filled.  Thing is I’m an author of teen fiction.  I’m not an Advocate, this blog isn’t for promoting anything but myself and my work — and to fill in the time in-between that purpose I ramble and subject you all to the inner-workings of my psyche — it’s on Human Rights Campaign‘s website, or on George Takei‘s Facebook page, or Lizzie the Lezzie’s blog/Facebook that one can find a constant barrage of “this fight is being fought” “there’s a pride parade over here!” “oh bloody hell!  can you believe someone actually said this to me today?!”.  If you want live, up-to-the minute coverage of women’s rights, gay rights, racial rights, and even trans rights this is not the place to find that, those other places are.  I’ll just share the news that catches my attention and right now the important part of that word, ‘new’, is the inroads that trans rights have suddenly found itself making.  I am, for the time being, celebrating that.  I think it’s beautiful and wonderful.

[Reblog] Cis Lesbian Dismissal of Trans Lesbians, and Why it’s Wrong

Rather beautifully put, I thought.  Though I do tend to find that referring to things as hetero-privilege, or cis-privilege, white-privilege is often a bit short sighted.  I’m not sure it’s a privilege to not always think things through properly or to simply be unaware of an issue or to not be able to quite wrap your head around it.

An example — my own editor is, psychologically, quite androgynous despite identifying as female and as such can at times be rather confused about things that matter to cis-men or cis-women alike around her and some aspects of transgenderism don’t quite … click … for her without a little hand-holding and analogy to help her fathom whatever concept is in question.  She’s not suffering from this disease of cis-privilege, there’s room to even debate if she is or is not cis for one thing, she just doesn’t understand because it’s not her issue.  She’s bisexual and her issues are not those of the homosexual nor the heterosexual people around her and just as those trans and cis friends of hers must explain things to her, she in turn must explain her androgyny or bisexuality to them.  Do they, then, suffer trans-privilege or homo-privilege in addition to the others purportedly possessed of cis and hetero privileges?

This isn’t to say that there isn’t some privilege extended to men, to cisgendered of either side of the binary, to heterosexuals.  This is rarely anything that can be helped by the individual, only by society and its expectations.  This is the man being, perhaps, more likely to get a job.  The white person who isn’t watched by security as closely in the department store.  The person dressed in a fashion that suggests wealth being treated with greater deference than the one who, by their clothes, may well be poor.  The cisgender who is taken more seriously at work and who is never asked to go to a special restroom at their job or asked for ID by some zealous clerk when taking a pee in some public facility.  Cis and straight, regardless of race, are not denied their basic civil rights by any country in the western world that I can think of.  That is privilege.

Still, regardless my pet-peeve on the overuse of ‘privilege’ in our language these days, this post makes a fantastic point:  If you cannot accept a trans-woman as a lesbian or a trans-man as gay then you are being a) quite sexist and/or b) you are saying that this person whose sex and gender simply do not match is not who and what they say they are.  Are we so insecure in our own gender-identities, are we so ashamed or proud of our sex and our sexuality, that we should deny others their right to be who and what God made them?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cis Lesbian Dismissal of Trans Lesbians, and Why it’s Wrong

Ying posed the following scenario/question: “Recently, I heard a lesbian woman comment about a trans woman (who happens to be a lesbian). She said the transwoman was not “really” a lesbian like she was. It was upsetting to me. No one can define another person’s identity, right? It seemed so petty, too. What skin is it off her nose anyway? What are your thoughts on people not accepting a trans person’s sexual orientation as being valid?”

Something to consider is going into this is that even though many of the LGB portion of our acronym are supportive and allies, that makes them no less cisgender. Just like any non-LGB person, they’re acting from a position of cis privilege, and don’t understand the implications of their actions, because, frankly, they don’t have to think about it much. We pop up once in a while, in a single circumstance here or there, and that’s generally the extent of it. And while they’re our allies for political purposes, I’ve come to find in my experience that LGB people are often woefully ignorant of the issues of the transgender community they support. Which is no surprise, really: We’re a vastly smaller group, a minority within our lgbt minority, so appropriately less time is spent on issues relating to us. (Just a shout-out to the LGBTU student group at The University of Akron, as they break this trend and give trans issues a much larger chunk of the spotlight than we deserve by population, because they’ve recognized the importance of these topics. Well done on them)

So what does this mean for the lesbian in question? Well, she’s invalidating our trans lesbian’s identity, plain and simple. By saying she’s not ‘really’ a lesbian, she’s implying an awful lot, and none of it is good. First and foremost, let’s go ahead and define “Lesbian”: a lesbian is a woman* who is attracted exclusively to other women*. Pretty simple definition, right? Well the two key elements are “Woman” and “Attracted exclusively to other women”. By saying she’s ‘not really a lesbian’ she has to be excluding our trans lesbian from one of the two criteria: and since, presumably, the trans lesbian has been with, or is currently with another woman, and has shown no interest in men, we can assume that ‘Attracted to other women’ is true. This means the only remaining conflict is in fact, our trans lesbian’s womanhood. There’s no other way around it. (Continues here)

Updates and contemplations

Frankly this post isn’t really about anything in particular.  I just had some things to share.

First the important one:  Ready or Not is looking more and more like it will not be ready until around the anniversary of Love or Lust‘s publication (end of June).  I’m sorry, it just didn’t come out half so cleanly in its first draft as Love or Lust had so the editing is going a bit slower, and too there’s the several weeks’ delay while I was in hospital or recovering — my editor takes a very interactive approach to the process (for which I’m grateful) instead of just assuming she knows what my idiot mistakes are supposed to say.  Regardless work should progress well from here and I’ll announce a release date the moment I have a really good idea when that will be.  Sorry for the delays, I am; I’ve anxiously awaited a sequel more than a few times in my life, and I really appreciate the messages asking after the next book and stating how you’re looking forward to it.  It’s possibly the most heartening thing an author can get.

Next is a contemplation on surgeons.  Plastic surgeons work hard to minimalise scarring, and even have tricks for removing ones someone/something else left behind.  Why is this technique not taught to all surgeons!?

I was looking down at my belly full of laparoscopy wounds (yes, plural … 5!), where a damnedable drain thing was, and then the gash showing the neighbourhood of the problem which took me to the emergency one fateful Tuesday afternoon and realise that the former half-dozen scars are dimpling and then the gash is like six inches long and near my hip … glad I don’t go in for skimpy bikinis!  And I’m not so self conscious as to now avoid two-pieces, but good God, could these not have been done in a cleaner way so that they can’t be seen?  Ah well, I suppose it’s better I’m alive than flawless, which I wasn’t anyway — I’ve my share of childhood scars, I was quite the active little thing.

Finally a comment:  Frozen was seriously, undeniably, unabashedly one of the awesomest movies I’ve seen in awhile and certainly continuing my newfound adoration of Disney animated films.  Tangled, Brave, Frozen, Princess and the Frog … I love this new trend of the princess being the hero of the story, and I love how in Tangled and Frozen the prince charming was not a prince (though they were charming … in their ways) and were heros, I love the equality of that.  Most of all, though, I simply love the phenomenal storytelling that is going into these.  Frozen really took the lead, though, there was something simply beautiful about it, I swear to you I cried at more than one point watching that movie … albeit, not for long (thank you Olaf, I love you!!).  And for those wondering, I didn’t see it until recently — movie tickets in this town are obscene, but we have a second run cinema that finally got it … c’est la vie.

What’s so great about Hemmingway?

Ed Greenwood

Ed Greenwood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not just Hemmingway, but Jane Austin, Steinbeck, Stephen King

I’m not saying they’re awful, though I can’t stand three sentences in a row by a single one of them. I simply ask why are they sainted in the annals of recent fiction and literature? Certainly why do so many blogs and forums dispensing cheap writing advice swear by them as such deities of the written word?

Why is not the advice to first ask who the person likes to read the best and say, “Read that carefully and think about the things the author does that you do and don’t like. After, try to borrow and unashamedly steal those techniques you love and consider how you might do differently those which you loathed.”

How boring would the world be if all writers were determined to be the next of only a small pool if very similar writers?! (Rather dry ones, in my opinion) Would the world read even less than already it tends to do?

I do believe some works do deserve their deification. The Discworld series by Pratchett is undeniably brilliant and holds the attentions and imaginations of scholars and huddled masses alike; The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, and Wizard of Oz too are inarguably timeless classics, along with the adventures of our good bear who “lives under the name ‘Sanders’.”

Still I would not presume to tell anyone they ought to write more like Tolkien, Milne, or Carroll. For one they’re ill suited to a suspense-horror.

I suppose it’s the idea that King is a famous best selling author so must know something … please note, so is Seanan McGuire, J K Rowling, and Stephanie Meyer. Rowling, outsold and outsells the others in that list combined, yet you’re supposed to not write like her … so I’ve no idea how King is a god.

The others are all classified Literary Fiction, which is somehow superior to all other sorts (Literature majors who try to write the stuff say so, and they’re experts and should know, right?) despite being that dry boring stuff we’re made to read in Literature classes which probably turned rather a lot of people off reading altogether.

To each her own personal gods of the pen, be it Mercedes Lackey or Lawrence Block, Ed Greenwood or Danielle Steel, Dean Koontz or Louisa Mae Alcott … when you write study the master who you so loved you wanted to write, carry on that writer’s legacy. The acclaimed saints of writing need no undue worship unless you happen to favour their styles.

P.S. Is it me, or is the list of people you’re supposed to strive to write like nearly always Americans, primarily from around the Depression?  Never minding the rather selective era, but … why are we excluding other English speaking authors … or non-English (they don’t say English or American lit, just lit — I’m fair certain a Frenchman would have something to say about the superiority of, say, Voltaire to any six Americans you care to pick.

The oppressed should stand together

The transgender pride flag

The transgender pride flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, sometimes I think the oppressed groups of this country (America), and possibly of much of the (at least Western) world are sometimes the worst for bigotry and hatred, cruelty and intolerance.

Oh, there goes my readership.  Fascinating whooshing sound.

Seriously, though.  I present to you a situation.

Introduce a group of cisgendered, straight men to a woman who is extremely masculine and love sport and can talk shop with them all day long and show them up on the basketball court, or introduce them to a transgender man of the same sort, etc.  Now, please note, I said men, not overgrown children and adolescents full of insecurities and nonsense.  In this scenario the woman may or may not get flirted with, both she and the transgender will be welcomed as brothers to the football couch in every example I’ve ever enountered.  Sometimes the woman, or the transgender, might have to talk a bit more shit, as they say, and be a little manlier than thou to be accepted, but for the most part in this very mainstream scenario she/he is welcome.

Take underdog minorities.  Gays, Lesbians, Transgender, Women, Geeks, etc.  The bullied and oppressed.  The downtrodden and reviled.  The ones who ought, really, to understand one another and stand up for each other and protect each other as brothers and sisters … well.  If you want to know about geeks I suggest Seanan McGuire or John Kovalic — “Fake Geek Girl” is the catchphrase to search their LJs, Twitters, Facebooks, and Blogs for.  The rest?  Feminists who reject transgender women as not really women.  Homosexuals who won’t accept that someone who favours the opposite sex from their own, but the same gender … well, “you’re not really gay, you’re just a cross dresser” is how it is most politely put.  Transsexuals who get upset with people who are content to only be transgender and don’t want their balls/ovaries, vagina/penis to be removed or ruined and say they’re not really trans, only confused.  It goes on.

What is this?  The social group version of the abused child who grows up to abuse his/her own children?  The molested and raped who go on to molest and rape in their own turn?

I like that:  molestation and rape.  It’s a good image to parallel this discussion because we are molesting and raping the self-esteem, the hearts, the souls of others just to feel even more special about that which sets us apart from the mainstream — as though that which gets us bullied and ridiculed is an exclusive club and we don’t want their kind participating?  It’s sad, it’s pathetic, it’s wrong.

I tend to stay away from social groups.  I don’t go to gay meetings, or trans-parades, or whatevers.  I simply associate with those I meet whatever and whomever that might be.  I swear I never realised how very much like the very same childish bigots for the extremist mainstream some of the various oppressed groups could start to sound until I came across discussion forums and blogs about the subject or even just personally witnessed some of the inter-“weirdo” hatred.  Seriously, folks, isn’t the one thing we’ve learnt from being gay or bi, transgender or transsexual, or whatever is that to each her/his/its own?  That, in the end, we’re all people and that we all love and live, try to find some form of joy and to find someone to share that life and joy and love with?  Do we really need to sink to the childish levels of those who would us and oppress others in our turn to feel that we’ve finally achieved some kind of status, recognition, legitimacy, etc.?  Do we?

Instead of denying that the transgendered woman beside you is even a woman, or telling her that because she has a penis that she can’t possibly be a lesbian … embrace her and treat her as a fellow, as a sister, as someone who quite possibly is going through more and worse shit than you are Ms Cisgendered lesbian or Cisgendered Straight Feminist.  That gentleman over there crying because he cannot get a hysterectomy and it’s time for his period and he thoroughly hates himself right now needs comfort, not derision.  That genderqueer … something in-between … is being very brave to show (for want of a useful English pronoun for a hypothetical person) its face in public, congratulations are due, not insults.  Gay men do not threaten feminism … none of it.

If we as peoples looking for greater respect from those around us … what makes us so special we deserve and are entitled to greater respect than we’re willing to show to others?  The transgenders who are rude to all cisgender.  The gays who are as hateful to straights.  Everyone is so mean to bisexuals — they’re not sex fiends, really they’re not.  We are entitled to respect because every major faith I can name says, in some fashion, “Love thy neighbour as thyself”.  In short, we show to those around us, those who remember that, every bit of respect and courtesy we can, all the love and kindness who possess — because we hope to recieve that love and kindness, that respect and courtesy back … no, because the more love in the world the better the world.  If you’re hateful you, by most logical arguments, deserve only hate — but maybe if you’re shown a little love and respect instead you might come around to a better attitude.  I’ve my own share of prejudices and dislikes — I’m no saint; I sincerely don’t trust or respect most yuppies I meet, I can’t help it they make me nervous.  We’re human, but while that means we’re flawed, it doesn’t mean we have to embrace our flaws, it just means we should know we’re not perfect, watch for the signs of how we’re not and fix them so that, maybe one day, we will be perfect.

I don’t care if you follow Christ or not — I don’t, though I love His teachings and stories — strive to be like Him or any of his various analogues through the course of history.  Be better than those who hate you.  Be a source of love to all.  What would happen if every person on the planet, tomorrow, jumped out of bed and decided to not treat a single living soul like shit ever again?  Pretty awesome world we’d have, wouldn’t it?  We can’t convince the full 7billion+ humans of this globe to do that, but we can each of us jump out of bed tomorrow morning determined to be excellent to each other and make that many more lives that much better than they would have been otherwise.

Just a thought.

How do people shop for books?

English: Author and musician Seanan Mcguire at...

English: Author and musician Seanan Mcguire at Dezenovecon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, in perfect honestly I almost never read the comments of blogs (other than my own), YouTube videos … I’m not even wont to read internet forums much.  So I never noticed, until it was pointed out to me, a very peculiar phenomenon that just blows my mind and makes me wonder just how pervasive this is … I mean is it just a Paranormal Romance/SF thing, or is it all books?  Did I get some of my initial sales from this, for example?

What phenomenon is this?  People buying the author rather than the book.

I don’t understand this.  I mean, I do in the sense of, for example, I’ve met next to no Heinlein books I didn’t like, thus I will often buy a Robert Heinlein penned  story without doing more than glancing at the synopsis, and (given the single Heinlein I can’t stand, Starship Troopers) I read the first page to be sure I can get past it.  Same with Dennis L. McKiernan.   Thing is, I’m not buying the person, I don’t really care, I’m buying the writer or writing.

Now, it is true and fair to say that I’ll not be in any hurry to put money in Orson Scott Card‘s pockets, but if I discover a story of his is particularly fantastic, I can always pick it up at a second hand bookshop with no itch of conscience, he doesn’t see a dime from that.  Why?  Well, because his homophobic tirades were just a little too offensive to want to give him my cash when I can help it.

I guess I can’t understand this idea that the producer of something is the brand that needs selling.  I mean, yes, Starbucks, this is somewhat the case – that said, though, I don’t care how awesome they are as a company, how good they are to employees, how they use fair trade coffee and such … they make awful coffee!  And, in the end, the coffee is their brand!  Tazo, on the other hand, is fantastic, and Starbucks gets lots of my money for that stuff.

So I have to wonder now, did someone buy Love or Lust because they were impressed with one of my random blog posts about writing or about … stuff?  Because I shared something from The Kindness Blog?  Before tonight I’d have never wondered that.  “Of course not,” I’d say.  Then I learnt that in the comments of authors like Seanan McGuire and John Scalzi are people going “Wow, this post moved me so much, I’ve got to buy your book!”  All I can think is, I like Scalzi’s blog, he’s got a fun way with putting things … doesn’t change that his stories don’t interest me, I don’t care how much his blog posts inspire or move me, I’m not buying a copy of Redshirts, I’m sorry.  Certainly a blogpost of Seanan’s is how I got addicted to Incryptid stories, but that had to do with a part of one that was describing Verity Price from Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special that involved her being like the bastard offspring of Dazzler and Batman; who wouldn’t want to read that!?  It, admittedly, was in conjunction with her post about being annoyed that so many people equate rape and tragedy with character growth and … I already blogged about it, here but that’s irrelevant, I didn’t buy the book because of her views of rape, I bought the book because of Verity, I bought the sequel because of Seanan’s talented writing.

I always assumed everyone else thought this same way, certainly no readers I’ve ever once had the chance to converse with seemed to operate on any other basis besides the few who shop by genre and will read anything that’s from the Science Fiction section, or the Fantasy, or anything that’s a Warhammer 40k title, or Star Wars Expanded Universe (a rant for some other time), etc. which is understandable enough if you just enjoy wizards and warriors, or ray guns and spaceships and the rest be damned.

I’d be interested in comments on this, but I’ve learnt in the past that most people will just click like.  C’est la vie.  It’s an interesting insight into someone’s psychology … I’ve no idea what to think of it, or how to interpret it, certainly no idea what I’m supposed to actually do with this knowledge, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.