CW: I will be leaning heavily into MDD and SI as point examples. Please proceed with caution for you own well-being.Continue reading
I don’t do content warnings like I should. Sorry, I don’t always realise I ought to. I try to learn by example. People tag this post’s topic pretty consistently. I am not clear why, but I don’t have to be.
CW: SUICIDE & SUICDAL IDEATION. Also TRANSPHOBIA, and possibly HOMOPHOBIA
I actually spent two hours rambling about this topic. I lost focus, lost my point. In short I was me, and very ADHD, and very tired. But I saved that to pick bits from one day. I now realise what I want to say.
Hi, I don’t want to live.
This is, I want to make clear, not a suicide note. I fully intend to wake up in the morning. I might even be a bit put out if I don’t. What I won’t be is significantly upset if I don’t.
I have had suicidal ideation as long as I can remember. At least since I was eight. Constantly? At this point I honestly don’t really know. I have depression, it takes spoons … sometimes a lot of them … to simply get out of bed.
There have been times when I have been done. Living, for me, is exhausting. It used to be worse. I used to have negative spoons every time I got out of bed, every day. I … sometimes think I’m still in spoon debt. It might explain all the things I’m so blasé about, instead of lacking the spoons to deal I lack the spoons to give a fuck. It’s a theory.
I’m alive because of cats.
Let me back up.
I am transgender. I am a lesbian. I have always known. I didn’t always know quite what it was I knew, but it was there.
Gender dysphoria is hard. Harder still when it’s heaped up. Hardest with … bad representation. Negative stereotypes.
Do you think the girl who knew she was a girl even if she admitted it to know one, least of all herself, whose first crush was a girl in her kindergarten class didn’t get weighed down by the homophobia of the 1980s?
That was a kind of dysphoria too. If I don’t admit I’m a girl, I can’t be a lesbian!
It’s bad enough to have a wrong gender identity foisted on you at birth. Worse to enforce it, sometimes cruelly, at yourself. Do I mean “at”? That seems wrong, oh well.
Now add puberty.
I loathed myself. I wanted things that in retrospect would have been self-harm. Luckily I don’t care for pain.
As a teen I knew what I was: I was a woman’s soul trapped in a man’s body. I was a prisoner of my own flesh.
I couldn’t change it! Thank you Jerry fucking Springer. Your fucking She-Make episodes were so godsdamned uplifting.
I wanted to die. I needed to die. I needed to get this life over with so I wouldn’t be trapped in this body in this hideous, grotesque shell. This prison, this terrible lie, this travesty, this vile horrid hateful mistake.
I … tried isn’t the word. But I tested the sharpness of a knife I was sharpening against my wrists. If I had achieved an edge that broke the skin with gentle pressure? Easy, I would have found peace.
I … I wasn’t really in enough pain to want to die painfully or slowly. So while the knife could have, my resolve was just short. And I had Jennifer & Kissy. They wouldn’t understand, and they would miss me. I knew they would be okay, and well cared for, so it’s a really good thing I never got that knife to a razor’s keenness.
College was hard. I had no cats. I hated my school. I hated my life. And my dysphoria had no place to be but worse. I thought of so many ways. None felt right.
I met my wife, we hung out. I had a kind of happiness. Or I guessed it was. MDD, I gather, makes it hard to feel certain you’ve ever felt authentic joy instead of emulated, performative joy.
Life got hard dysphoria harder. I had cats again, but I was grieving one lost too young. And I was just so very tired. I was in such pain. I was a monster, a grotesque thing. Sex was wrong, pleasure was wrong. Sensation was wrong. My existence was wrong.
So many times, so many final straws. So many times the blade was to my skin be it figuratively or literally. So many times I stopped, sobbing, because what would happen to my kitties? So many times my wife stopped me, usually screaming at me that the cats would miss me and not understand.
I hated her, I resented her. I resented those cats. And I hated myself for thinking that. I loved them, damnit! But I didn’t want to, and I wasn’t sure I did because did I know how? Surely they didn’t actually love me anyway. How could they? Why would they? I was less than nothing. I was worthless. I was wrong, and broken, and hurting so much.
That went on. Eventually time claimed Tas first. By then we had Einie, a dog who adored Tas and who mourned that cat so much. Then Jackie went, Bella and Visit, especially Visit, were devastated. Einie was sad again. I was broken.
My health was so bad. Once I couldn’t gain weight if I tried. Occasionally I’d tried. I was gaining weight. I’d grown a beard because … really because I had nothing like enough spoons to shave it. The house was a mess and filthy because cleaning was just a waste of time and of my nonexistent energy.
I had had so many heartbreaks. Shannon had one definite miscarriage, maybe others. Tas, Jackie … Visit was shattered by Jackie dying and it … he mirrored me, really.
There’d been so much time spent just waiting for the end to come. For a proper chance. I was keeping my babies and wife off the streets and if not for that I would have given up. I was so far past ready to tap out. I couldn’t stand to see myself in a mirror,
In all of this I would have been willing to accept certain levels of pain in exchange for various degrees of immediacy, and efficacy.
Slow and lingering wasn’t on the menu.
An emergency landed me in hospital, emergency surgery.
While recovering I concluded something: I had had enough.
I had put up with living for 32 years and some. I was exhausted. So either I let go some burden, or I let go life. I could stop pretending I’m a man, or I could just not muck about with that whole turning 33 business.
For some reason I chose transition. Probably Einie, Visi, and Bella.
It’s funny but it’s like I had only so much ability to cope with dysphoria at a go. I started out just intending to social transition. Pronouns, clothes …
But once I wasn’t dysphoric there I had room to feel the pain my name caused. I changed it. My blood chemistry and body followed.
At this point I am dysphoric of the things that will never change. My voice, my inability to give birth, the lost childhood, the trauma and pain of my teens, the hellish misery of my 20s.
Not very long ago a bunch of muderers in the United Kingdom got their way. Puberty blockers, which were first being offered to trans kids right about my 10th – 12th ish birthdays give or take, were taken away.
I cried for a day. I was in a dark place I hadn’t been in awhile. I felt deeply for those kids because I had been them in ignorance, they know this stuff exists, but it was taken away!
I am not being hyperbolic: that judge, those people who pushed for this, those who celebrate it they 👏 are 👏 murderers. Full stop, no apologies, no caveats, nothing. If we will not hold them accountable for every single one of those kids who doesn’t make it through this and responsible for the effort against each one who does then I hope that there is some judgment awaiting them and I hope the gods do not have any mercy.
“Gender Critcals” or TERFS or whatever you wish to call them are bullies, and murderers. They treat transgender folks as gay & lesbian (into which bisexual was lumped because people are stupid but … just keep up) were in the 90s. Forced out of sport, denied entry, discrimination in schools. DADT, DOMA, Sec 28, etc? Bathroom & locker panics. “tHiNK oF thE ChIlDr3N!”, and more.
I once again am short of spoons. To see over much of their vitriol or to engage with them too far leaves me shaking. Not metaphor, not “emotionally shaken”, I am left quite literally trembling.
I once again am surrounded by politicians legislating my life out of existence. But instead of my human rights as a lesbian, my rights as a woman & to be respected + accepted as one.
Guess what? I am not in a good place most days. I’m not there, but I don’t know that I’m ever far away. I wonder if I can ever be far away.
So, they are murderers. Republicans? Centrists? TERFS? Anyone who wants regression or to keep the status quo or is an obstacle to substantive solutions are every single one of them solidly guilty of murder. Not manslaughter, murder. Maybe if you don’t like that word, then genocide? War crime, that. Though so is mass murder innit? Crimes against humanity?
Would I still want to die if capitalism was finally destroyed before sunrise today, and the gods made a gruesome example of those who spread hate and use lies to foment fear?
Yes, I think I would. I just might not be in any particular hurry. I’m to the point I am uncomfortable if my suicidal ideation is too quiet for too long. I’m just not me if I want to live … in a way. There’s a distinction between a longing for a genuine peace, and needing to find it right now
When you complain about diversity and representation, it’s real people you hurt. It’s real people you damage. It’s real people who die. I am someone’s daughter. I could have been yours. My parents are not some weird macrobiotic kale smoothie eating flakes or whatever your image of a transgender person’s parents may be. They’re from rural Iowa & small town Arkansas. They’re an army vet & a Walmart worker. Be mindful who you’re possibly harming.
When you voice hate, there are real people harmed. Those lies kill real living, feeling people. People who might be your child, spouse, nibling, or sibling, cousin, or best friend.
It’s hard enough growing up, ffs, don’t make it worse and don’t let your government either.
There was a discussion not so long ago, on Twitter (I don’t have to remember how to work the shortcode this time … sadly I’ve forgot who posted it and so can’t look for it. Maybe someone will post it in the replies) about how strange, and rather colonialist, to think that in space and in future there is no religion.
If you think about it, it is pretty daft. Why would religion disappear like that? The rather moronic and racist notion of Social Darwinism, if you must know.
I can see religions that have to adjust their thinking. Some Abrahamic religions have sects that interpret their religion such that it is incompatible with meeting alien life – especially wholly alien life – unless they want to … oh, never mind, some of that lot already tend towards such a warped perception of their holy works commingled with Renaissance painters being ecstatic over new pigments that they’re the sort who consider anyone not like themselves to be subhuman anyway. Still the ones not rabidly racist will have to adjust their doctrine or haemorrhage believers to the point of [veritable] extinction.
Why, though, should we believe that the peoples we find among the stars won’t have religions, superstitions, and more?
Sure, it is possible the psychology of an alien race is such that it doesn’t do faith, or dogma, or any of that. It does not mean they’re more advanced, as the standard trope of SFF would have you believe, merely that they are not human. Which is cool. They’re not better but neither are we. The only reason you’re unlikely to see such in my writing except as a passing character is that, like atheism, I find it tremendously difficult to wrap my head around.
Oh, but Jaye, you’ve said you aren’t religious! [Insert references here], see?! You’re an atheist! (Says all the religious folk, especially the atheists … which is a different tangent I’m not following. And I’m not even medicated for my ADHD anymore).
No, I’m not religious. Therefore I am neither atheist not theist, though neither am I agnostic in the strictest sense. In some definitions of the latter I am, in fact, agnostic, but in my own understanding of the word I prefer not to claim it. I do believe that the universe was created. I feel that it’s reasonable to assume aspects of our reality, possibly our very biologies, are the work of beings more advanced than ourselves and more ancient. These we may as well call gods. I mean … it’s a nice catchy word is ‘gods’, sorta rolls off the tongue. Deorum, los dioses, gli dei, na déithe, die götter, nā akua, devataon, para dewa, kamigami … see? round the globe it’s just such a catchy little way to express it. And so bloody versatile it is! It doesn’t have to mean omni-anything, or even immortal! If you remember there’s faiths, religions, gods, beliefs outside of the western world and it’s Christian-centric way of thinking.
It’s fun to write religious characters. It’s enlightening to envision the faiths of races that evolved around an alien sun. To try to understand what is important, divine, to a sensual race of empaths; to an obligate carnivore; to people who have been among the stars and meeting alien beings for longer than humanity has had fire.
Science fiction ignores all of this in favour of the cult of scientific dogma and a sense of logical superiority. Mostly because of an utter and ingrained disdain for the “soft” sciences … thank you John Fucking Dickface Campbell.
Fantasy is much more open to it, if sometimes misunderstanding how polytheism works. But at least Gary Gygax can be thanked for that; sadly a desperate bid to be taken more seriously by the SciFi crowd has lead to a breed of fantasy that is more faithfully drab.
Still, Star Trek vs Star Wars: SW was a more rich and vibrant tapestry even if the only religion given any serious visibility was The Force, in particular the Jedi understanding of it. We never truly learn of the adherents of the light, and then we finally get some glimpse of the Sith but unclear if they’re adherents to the dark or merely unbalanced Jedi or if even there is a strict difference. But we have the questions because we have that glimpse and all a storyteller can ever really do is give a glimpse. Star Trek is so often so much flatter and more … what’s the word … Stepfordy … which means you don’t get much room to ponder these questions. Everyone is like some soulless cog in some cosmic machine. Newer things colour this in, at least for the aliens, so that’s helpful.
Still, imagine it. Take yourself into the great deadly void of space. Race at hyperphotonic speeds between the stars, between the galaxies. You’re like the ancient Polynesian in a canoe on the ocean headed towards an island no one has set foot on before or even seen. You’ve skill, knowledge, supplies, wits, and courage … but do you sincerely believe you go out there alone? That you don’t carry with you gods whose caprice could drown or starve you? Whose benevolence will deposit you on the shore of the next paradise? Of one who is eagerly riding, just in the corner of your eyes, along for the grand adventure as excited and thrilled at the prospect of discovery as you are? I said LIKE, I’m not painting a photorealistic picture of Polynesian sailors. But it’s scary and uncertain. There will be things difficult to explain. Even once your science can explain it … just because you know how the gods made it work doesn’t mean they didn’t make it work, just that you’re possibly one step closer to godhood yourself and you may wish to ponder what sort of gods you’d wish to be.
Perhaps, even, we already are clumsy and fledgling gods creating strange alien universes in CERN unwittingly bringing to life whole existences and realities. What if one day we do so on purpose and with control? Cool, huh? Maybe that’s the religion of the peoples who ride the worlds circling the middle sun of Orion’s belt.
It’s why my characters always have beliefs, faiths. Even Sally, who is angry with God and is shunning Him, has faith and religion. She believes in the God whom she rejects. Otherwise what’s she angry at? Sure, she doesn’t buy that He’s the only one. She doesn’t. And as such felt a pull to wonder at the others and how they might fit into her life, but she wasn’t ready for that and then Lauren showed her a way to see things differently. That it was people and their temples and churches who were wrong and not her God … she’s still angry, still resentful; it’s in her nature and unlike Lauren she demands answers why God allows such things in His name. But she can accept Him.
Yes, Now & Forever is contemporary, not SFF. But it doesn’t make it any less an illustration that people interpret the universe in a shield of faith. Even atheists with their dogmatic adherence to science. Some are more flexible, they adapt their teachings and beliefs in accordance with new science just as any religion that wishes to understand the universe would. Others balk at changes in knowledge and understanding, are aghast that their deities like Hawking or Einstein could have been fallible, could be wrong. Some understand the underpinnings of their faith in sciences as a quest for knowledge and understanding and that these can change in light of new data; just as there are Christians who understand that Jesus said we should love our neighbours and that God is a kind and benevolent father.
But it’s no more realistic to say that only one religion follows humanity to the stars than to say that everyone in space is American. It just doesn’t fit facts. The language of Terrans in the stars could be Hindi or Mandarin; it could be a language as yet unspoken as it hasn’t been born of the combined cultures and tongues of joint travels and mixed settlements.
I have probably wandered down a tangential rabbit hole. Those who were betting I would may now collect their winnings.
I’m sure I had a point around here someplace. Looked shiny, had space churches in? Anyway it’s stupid and boring to say there isn’t religion in space. That’s all … and now I have a better understanding of the end of Weird Al’s Albuquerque 🤔. Except I rather like sauerkraut, at least good sauerk—I’m doing it again.
Still imagine those stars populated with gods and pantheons and spirits and færies and ghosts, goblins, spooks, spectres, saints, sinners, paladins, priests, crusades, zealots, adherents, layman, friars, monks, et al. Unashamedly recognise that our most chimplike ancestors seemed to have done funerals. We’ve believed in something higher for millions of years, we’re not liable to stop and it seems unlikely that the psychology of a race we can have meaningful conversation with is liable to be so tremendously different in the end. So go ye forth and spread the Word(s) and erect those monuments. You’ll create, in the end – I’ve faith – a brighter and more palatable future for us all.
Let me begin by saying I am privileged. I am. There’s no denying it and it makes me tremendously sad that it is any sort of privilege rather than the universal norm: I have a PCP who is incomparable, and who specialises in LGBT+ healthcare; I live in Massachusetts where transgender discrimination is outlawed for the most part; and I have so~so insurance that I can actually afford to use after I’ve got done paying to have it; and if I’m ever back to broke, the state healthcare plan covers transition, free.
Too many people do not have anything of the sort. Too, it is not even a question of choice; in the US it’s wholly possible, for an example, to have only one ENT “in the area” for a referral to when the clinic in question refers people from Greenfield up near Vermont to Springfield down by Connecticut. Healthcare deserts, like food deserts, exist; so I’m also privileged to have a working car, any spare gas money, and anything like a time off policy … it doesn’t stop there being a multimonth wait for a non-emergency appointment for an assessment for potential pathologies which might be responsible for a voice control issue I developed after having a breathing tube during a surgery several years ago.
I did tweet about this, but it is terribly hard to express oneself in such circumstances.
It’s interesting to see trans-healthcare in a contrast of two offices. 1st my PCP, the clinic she’s part of, and vi… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
🌈Jaye🦄Em🌹Edgecliff🏳️🌈 (@jayeedgecliff) November 30, 2020
(Let’s all take a moment to marvel at the fact I did that correctly, on the first try, without having to google how)
Now, in my personal case it is an inconvenience. I can either try to book with the dermatologist I’ve spoke with and either hope they figure out how to do the direct billing or I have to wade into how to file claims with my insurance for reimbursements OR I can go to an electrologist in West bloody Springfield (look, I abhor cities, I’d visit Hell before any given urban centre given a choice) who actually knows how to do the billing for all of this properly.
I repeat: I’m privileged. I have these options and the capacity to actually view them as options, as I’ve the means to go to the West Springfield place if I decide to.
So the anecdote for those unwilling to dive into Twitter:
Too, this is probably going to be the extended cut.
For anyone who’s missed the memo, I’m a transgender woman. Like some small, but not insignificant percentage which I’m in no mood to go dig up of such women I desire GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery being the version I’m most familiar with, though some have a different word for the C I can’t ever recall). For reasons I’ve no intention to elaborate upon, it is necessary to have certain laser/electrolysis done prior to this. I am a redhead, laser is a non-option for me.
Now, I had, until now, had the pleasure of either working with THE LGBT+ primary care doc in this ⅓ of the state or with ones who are LGBT+ experienced, if only by themselves being LGBT.
Luckily I am not facing discrimination, just … in a word … inexperience. Imagine, though, how much worse this next bit would be were this an uglier circumstance and if I hadn’t any options!
See, for folks in a civilised country that just covers this kind of thing because Logic, a lot of insurers consider any and all hair removal cosmetic & strictly Not Covered. This means many hair removal providers don’t take insurance, and out-of-network is, in my case, Not Covered, and in others’ cases Very Expensive. So after a few YEARS of confusion I finally found that Yes, my insurance converts electrolysis exclusively for bottom-surgery prep … which means a few hoops to jump through for authorisation.
So I finally get a list of in-network providers; there’s more than one! And they’re NOT practically (or literally) in Boston!
Now, this will seem rather anticlimactic after all of this, but that’s my dumb luck, put yourself in the shoes of someone for whom there’s no alternatives.
I spend an unholy amount of time on the phone waiting to talk to their billing person who has no idea what I’m talking about and doesn’t understand that, yes, I am covered for this but they suggested I speak to them for particulars of the cost because they’ve quicker access to the details! They suggested I speak to scheduling. Who was grouchy to be having the conversation before hanging up on me.
Now, this could have been bad, but I have other places to contact and a brilliant primary care team who added a name to the list and can help with the proper authorisation if I want to claim reimbursements instead.
But my luck is an outlier. My privilege is just that, privilege. For the first years of my transition I couldn’t afford to do much in terms of finding out how accepting & experienced my healthcare choices were because I couldn’t afford insurance, never mind afford to use it … yes, even with the ACA. Georgia, what can I say?
This is, for me, nothing more than a nuisance. But imagine all the tiny and even very large ways it could be infinitely worse. This is the battle, if on small scale & for lower stakes, that we’re fighting for an acceptance or very existence that isn’t criminal. And if you think you have to be in countries like Saudi Arabia for that one to be a problem, you haven’t really been paying attention to the UK, or to a large number of US states, just to name a couple.
So no, don’t fret for me. I’m good. Use your imagination to understand how this is for people with less good fortune, then maybe stand up, take a deep breath and start shouting down the bigots and demanding accountability & good conscience from politicians. Fight back.
The point, really isn’t even about the story, really. It’s about that privilege I harped on. Because, really, that is all privilege is: rights that only some possess. Be it access to quality medicine, fresh food, justice, respect, common decency, education, safe homes … it’s things that ought to be the right of every single person, but for no rational reason are not. Sometimes it’s little things, like the slightly less a family pays to insure the car of their teen daughter vs her twin brother’s. Sometimes it’s big, like being able to get pulled over speeding and not risk it ending in brutality or death.
So one thing I’ve never made a secret of is that I suffer depression. The other thing is my feelings on the subject of “writing through it” and the cult thereof (for example, see my previous post https://wp.me/p2t3xw-Sg for an example).
Well let me draw you a picture of what I mean. Because for … I guess it’s been a week and a half? I don’t know, I’m rubbish at maths except when I’m not … since last week Tuesday (there, you do the maths) I’ve been dealing with one of the absolute worst episodes of depression I’ve ever had. And this is someone who’s medical records list a diagnosis of “major depression” and for whom, since around 8 years old or thereabout, suicidal ideation has just been normal part of more days than not. I’m fine, if you care, but the thing is that … well … let’s actually work our way through whyit’s hard enough for someone who’s going through this to even just get out of bed and brush her teeth, never you mind “just write through it”.
You see, let’s start with Tuesday. I had a breakdown. Maybe there’s a better word for it, I just can’t think of one right now. I spent almost that entire day crying my eyes out. I had reasons, and I also didn’t. I was far worse off than those reasons warranted; I was “overreacting” (is that really one word?).
Now, it should be pretty obvious that I could hardly write if I could hardly see, but you’d be amazed who needs this spelled out for them so let’s just knock that one out. Sometimes having depression includes getting depressed, and just like anyone else who’s depressed, we cry, and when we cry there’s tears and seeing through them is a wretch. I’m sorry but I’ve never had the greatest patience with stupidity, but right now I have less than no patience for much of anything (another depression thing we’ll probably get to in a bit if I can stay coherent enough).
Now, the difference between depressed and depression … this is why I say English is rubbish for talking about this. We’ve lost too much subtlety, especially with that quip about what a synonym is. It doesn’t help that taking mental health seriously is a tremendously new thing. I mean, ADHD is still centred around how it annoys and affects everyone around you rather than, necessarily, yourself (so there’s plenty of meds out there to help you concentrate on boring stuff, and even trigger our hyperfocus, but not a single one attempts to sort the hyperfocus that is what normally bothers us).
So let’s see … how do I explain a sudden utter apathy to things I love? Even, perhaps, a sort of loathing? See, this is a Thing That Happens. In my case, I am happy to report that I did not delete all my work. Well … I guess I hope that’s happy news. We’ll call it happy news, I’m better off, right now, if I think that way. I simply “didn’t want to write anymore”.
Some of you just read that last question and asked “why” or “why not”. Congratulations, you probably don’t have depression. At the time, I think, I had a why, but the thing is I literally couldn’t articulate it. The “reasoning” such as it was had a sort of … fog … to it. The more I tried to focus on the reason to explain it the harder it was to find. Which was, in turn, not helping the depression because the last thing you need in a moment like that is MORE frustration. But that’s just it. The all-powerful and amazing “why” is answered with: brain chemicals went a bit off spec. That’s it. There’s nothing more I can hope to convey. My brain just was thoroughly convinced that this was a Good Idea. And thing is, it’s still hovering just this side of that. Which all … that s-word for transition that I can’t spell at all apparently.
Depression is a brain chemistry thing. Depressed is a fun way to say you’re sad. Oh, yeah, there’s more, but this is where things Matter. See, depression doesn’t have to mean crying. Often it doesn’t. It’s depression, it’s exhaustion (you’ve no idea how tired I can be sometimes for no apparent reason), it’s rage, it’s apathy, it’s frustration, it’s hate, and sorrow, and an entire gambit of emotions. What’s worst is that sometimes it’s several at once. When things get really fun it decides to be all of the above and then a few we don’t have good words for.
In short: depression is a shitstorm of biblical proportions.
It affects so much of you. It’s not just the exhaustion, it’s not just the lethargy. It can be as rough on memory as a migraine. You know, the thing that a common side-effect of is retrograde amnesia? I could describe it as the apathy and ennui that everything resets into until the chemistry gets itself sorted out properly means you don’t care enough to bother forming new memories. And sure, why not, we’ll go with that. It’s wrong, but we’ll run with it. But … seriously … it’s very difficult right now for me to form new memories and old ones are – how to put it? – hazy.
And, no, honestly, between the stigmas and misunderstandings around many mental health matters a lot of us don’t want to talk about it. And maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t. I’ve very mixed feelings on talking about it, but the thing is that we’re … afraid to. I try to talk casually about it, even the suicidalness because it’s a thing that needs better normalised. But I do it online. I don’t talk about it in life because … because it’s very hard. People … it’s like it’s one thing to be an out trans woman on this blog, on my Twitter. I am not, repeat NOT, out to the people in my daily life. People treat you differently. Also the stigmas and such embed themselves into us just as much as everyone else. You’ve probably seen the PSAs about us “not wanting to be a burden”. Well, it’s stupid asinine PSA talk, but it’s true in a warped and nobody ever thinks/talks/acts/whatever like anyone in any PSA ever does, but we’ll humour them.
But the key is that for over a week I’ve been, as the kids say, A Hot Mess. I’m fried. I can’t think straight (yes, ha ha, get the queer humour out of your system, I’ll wait … … … … better? Moving on now?), I can’t … I don’t know what day of the week it is. I know but I don’t know. If it’s more than 5 minutes between times I have to say it (and assuming I said it right which is so-so odds) there’s no promise I can say it without having to stop and cognitively work it back out. Yesterday I simply couldn’t remember Tuesday so with absolutely no duplicity said I hadn’t been somewhere then-yesterday that I absolutely had been. But I didn’t know that. And I mean at like 2:30 in the afternoon of yesterday I couldn’t have told you I’d been … anyway not the point, the point is I’m like that ‘brain on drugs’ PSA and the strongest thing I take is gabapentin (because I don’t like my Ritalin I don’t generally take it … migraines suck).
I tried to write today. Nothing important, I wasn’t up to that, but a little catharsis WIP I have, a fun thought exercise about a potential future of a character who’s currently 7 years old. A scene played around, growing, and revising in my mind. But as a picture. I sat down to write it … nothing. Not a damned thing. And not ‘I can’t find the right words’ can’t, no, it was ‘the whole thing dissolved like so many soap bubbles’ can’t.
Depression is a … struggle? … it’s a war with your own brain. It’s being able to actually doubt the validity of your own emotions. And I don’t mean justification, I mean validity, as in authenticity. As in it’s possible to ask yourself questions like “do I actually know what happiness is? Have I ever actually felt it? Or all those times I thought I was happy was I just parroting happiness I knew I should feel and how I should react?” That sort of thing. Second guessing you own emotional states and, sometimes, being right. Sometimes, emotionally, it’s all hollowness and everything is just so much mannerism. What’ll cook everyone’s noodle later is trying to work out when it’s one or the other. Because yay, as we’ve discussed, it plays merry hell with your memories.
Oh, and just no. “What’re you depressed about?!” Yeah, see previous about the annoyance with word similarities okay? Don’t go there, don’t be that person, just NO. Stop right there and just back up.
Point is, I’d been doing well. I’d ended up with 9 works in progresses and piling on word count and everything. And then suddenly … I’m Wile E Coyote faceplanting right into that cliff face with the tunnel painted on. I guess, using Looney Tunes for a basis, I could say depression is when the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t turn out to be an oncoming train but rather turns INTO an oncoming train. I’ll get better, I always do. And when I do I’ll probably obsessively write some 60k words in a couple of days or some such. But until then I’m probably going to be scarce. I mean not that I’m not already kinda scarce on the blog a lot of the time (oops) but on Twitter, too. Not absent, not yet anyway, but scarce. I’m probably going to spend a lot of time vegging in front of familiar films, and curled up with favourite books … to somewhat overstate the matter … trying to rediscover pleasure and joy.
But … yeah, this is why I have no truck with the bullshit of “just write through it” and all the other cheerleadery crap people like to vomit all over the internet. It’s not that damned simple, Becky, I’m sorry.
PS I have absolutely no illusions that I speak for Depression Sufferers Of The World. That’s laughable. Thing is … yeah I know things from research, from experience, and from the fact I interact with other DSotW. And thing is … we’re all of us different. This was ME and those discussions and researches put to you through the lens of my experience. This was that catharsis that some folks get from therapy. I do this instead and I can’t take antidepressants, they don’t agree with my brain in a very – no exaggeration – terrifying way.
So over on Twitter is an early (read: pre-editing) release of a short story involving the Silver Unicorns.
🌈Jaye🦄Em🌹Edgecliff🏳️🌈 (@jayeedgecliff) September 10, 2020
Eliisa, Shayna’s twin, is going to Have Words with her when she finds out one of the reasons she’s conflicted about the prospect of longevity.
But so, too, will Arwen … a longtime friend and sometimes lover.
🌈Jaye🦄Em🌹Edgecliff🏳️🌈 (@jayeedgecliff) September 07, 2020
There’s been ever so much … this is typing in a very awesome font, I should send a thank you note to the devs as it’s quite dyslexia friendly 🥰 … sorry, back to our regularly scheduled sentence … “debate” about gender and it’s infuriating.
First, I wanna say, bollox to anyone who thinks my identity or that of any trans/cis/enby/etc. person on this planet is up for anything like debate or discussion. Piss off, die, and rot in Hell … I couldn’t care less in what order.
“Oh gods and saints preserve us, Jaye’s swearing 🤬 again”
Yeah, well, it got old … well … I’d reckon it musta already been pretty old a little while ag—hold up, nah … Stonewall was 51 bloody years ago! So over half a century ago we RIOTED over people trying to deny us things like rights, respect, recognition, all that fun stuff. This is getting ridiculous.
So there’s a thing the a lot of “gender critical” folk (henceforth called “idiots”) like to harp on that amounts to we’re telling butch lesbians and femme gays they’re trans.
Well … okay, for starters you’re denying the existence of non-binary folk (blanket non … agender, bigender, whatever … you’re not strict m/f), it sorta breaks down with trans bisexuals, trans pansexuals, tran asexuals … it’s almost as if this whole idiocy movement might be rooted in generalised anti-lgbtqia+ hatred or something.
But alright … we’ll play along for a second. Sometimes in an effort to find a Gotcha moment, the idiots will warp the whole “gender is a construct” notion (while in the same breath engaging in the most grotesque gender essentialism EVER and that kinda crap requires gender NOT be a construct), but they acknowledge the concept in a roundabout fashion.
So, thought experiment. Quinn Mallory has rather inadvertently taken yours truly here onto a parallel Earth where she meets her double that, in this case, is her exact duplicate right down the the sub-molecular arrangements. However, in this world, all genderedness is inverted. “Girl colours” are “boy colours”, men wear dresses, makeup is masculine … the whole 9 yards (one day I ought to look up what’s so gorram important about 27ft).
Is my counterpart on this Earth-2 a woman?
Those tuning in for the first time should know some stuff:
- I’m a monosexual lesbian. I really have almost no interest in men whatsoever. I just can’t grok the aesthetics.
- I’m as attracted to women as I am not attracted to men. Tall, short, thick, thin, femme, not-as-femme 😝, trans, cis … doesn’t matter.
- I am extremely femme. Like I own only one bifurcated garment that isn’t a skort. And of the latter I own 🤔 3? 2? Few.
- I am, myself, trans.
So is my molecular copy also these things?
Ah, nurture or nature!
Idiots actually tangle the two up into stuff and nonsense because it’s the only way they can pretend to be using logic or even a neuron.
Nature: I am a woman. Full stop. My double, therefore, I can say with no uncertainty would be as well.
Nurture: would she reject the trappings of masculinity the way I do? I was a bit of a tomboy, I did like Tonka toys and … all that … but I mostly didn’t. I never went for sport, I don’t particularly like “masculine” scents, I abhor masculine jewellery … etc. But just as I tried to convince myself I didn’t like femme stuff to try to distance myself from the undeniable fact that I was a girl and did – indeed – enjoy some of the girly stuff (look 80s … I didn’t like SOME “girl stuff” because it was just daft).
So there’s the possibility that me-beta would be very femme by her standards and thus quite butch by ours. I do doubt this somewhat. My personal feelings are that she would be very butch by Earth-2 standards. She is my exact double and I’ve come to grips with my tastes and interests.
What she MIGHT not be is out.
See … she likes “guy stuff” mostly and can probably do without or just accept as quirks some of the Earth—2 femme stuff she might dig. If she can come to grips with the bodily dysphoria she may happily present and identify as male.
This seems daft, doesn’t it?
No, not really. It’s why I’m actually glad I’m not only quite binary in my gender, but also in my presentation and stuff.
See … here’s the thing. She’s a woman. What growing up as one where the sorts of things she likes are masculine, and her birth certificate lists her as male … she MIGHT just manage to suppress herself. She’s not a man, but will accept society deciding she is. Basically, for her, it’s just not worth the effort to argue the point.
But some things to bear in mind: She is my MOLECULAR double. She still had utterly different experiences. She is absolutely a different person. How I know she’s a woman is that this is innate. I am a woman no matter how hard I tried not to be, and as far back as I can remember I knew this or knew that something was amiss in any case.
See … she might be femme … BY THEIR STANDARDS!! She would have been watching the world to understand how to be like those like her – the women – and ignoring the men. So while me-prime loves makeup, loves dresses, loves jewellery, etc she may very well NOT. She may find all of that as intrinsically distasteful as I do sport, and fart jokes, and stuff.
I decry gender essentialism then seem to embrace it. No. See, we imprint. Some more than others. Our society defines what is/isn’t one thing or another. In this same alternative Earth’s culture maybe 3-piece suits are Middle Eastern and Europeans are wearing thobes 🤷♀️. So what is impossible to separate when one is unable to stand outside of the parameters of the experience is what of our TASTES are nurture vs nature. My wife finds the colour green kind of blah, she’s also colour blind – this is probably nature. She hates femme colours – internalised misogyny coupled with a certain visceral rejection of gender (she’s enby), in a word, nurture.
So if I had to guess my counterpart might actually be quite into Earth-2 NASCAR 🤮.
Still, she would be trans. Out and butch, out and femme, closeted and contented enough to keep her head down and tough it out … any of these are equally possible but they none of them mean she isn’t a woman.
“But Jaye! Chromosomes!!!”
That’s sex. That is a whole other conversation that is also extremely complex. The very simplest answer is that “sex-chromosomes” were rejected almost immediately as A Thing by biologists at the time they were “discovered”. And still are. They do seem to play some mind of role, not even central, to what plumbing a person’s body will try to develop in utero. After that they don’t do much. What plumbing, and wiring, develops is chemically determined more than anything. Once the plumbing is installed they perpetuate whatever is going on (except when something else happens … biology is NEVER simple). The wiring is its own contractor. This, it seems, is coded for by maternal hormones somehow I don’t care to try to make sufficient sense of to explain, but appears to mean we are already gendering ourselves in the womb and getting ourselves revved up for that imprinting we’re thinking we might try to do.
That wiring can be incompatible with that plumbing. Trans doesn’t have to mean catastrophic systemic conflicts, but there’s a disconnect in any event. No one’s quite certain how non-binary comes along … either that’s due to the sociological aspect of gender or it’s a wiring version of what happens to the plumbing of some types of intersex anatomy 🤷♀️ I won’t pretend I know. Anyway, back to the simpler universe of strict binary for sake of discussion. The wiring for “female” comes with certain basic system requirements, as does “male”. So what happens is often a hormonal short out.
See … to compress a lot of stuff down into a few broad sentences: a female brain needs and wants oestrogen, a male one testosterone. Both need and want both, but the former can go almost entirely without T and the latter can almost do without Œ. In a trans woman, the oestrogen shortage causes psychiatric malfunction, in a trans man that lack of testosterone does the same. Just as it does in their cis woman/man counterparts … and with about the same percentage affected – for want of a word – strangely (women who are scrambled by oestrogen, men who really shouldn’t have T …).
This base wiring has built-in drivers. The brain literally has a map of the body in. Well … a woman has a map involving certain parts and a man certain different parts. Analogous tissues they may be, but they’re in different places and used differently (somewhat). When the diagnostic routines keep getting the wrong feedback from those tissues, and even more distressing feedback from the Eyes.io modules it … well … it gets bad.
This is how there’s no incongruity for cis folk, there is for trans folk, and I’ve never seen anyone articulate what is happening in non-binary-land so I have to say “ask them! I’m not the archduchess of queerdom.”
So, in true novelist fashion, I have expanded “trans women are women, trans men are men, and all them other folk exist too” into 1600 words. Go me.
This isn’t a debate. You come up in here trying to debate the reality and word of both my trans brothers/sisters/others AND the growing body of scientific data, I will mock you or block you. Ain’t nobody got time for that. And I don’t suggest coming at me to my face with that crap. I will absolutely be sarcastic, I will bless your heart, and damned if I might not break your punk ass face.