Sex Ed and Jazz Jennings

That title actually makes sense, just keep with me here.

I’ve just been watching the latest crap floating round this country, the UK, Northern Ireland, and other places and I’ve got to say something.

SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!

That feels better.

For the more articulate point.

These people are supposedly all about protecting families, especially children.  Yet they are bound and determined to kill … untold hundreds, thousands, millions? of them.  And I wish it were hyperbole, but it’s not.  Literal death by violent attack, by suicide, or figurative death of spirit.

LGBTQIA… I think the Tumblr crowd has it up to 47 letters borrowing from Icelandic and Cyrillic these days, but these kids need to know what’s up.

Pre-school, kindergarden … as early as possible.  I Am Jazz needs to be part of elementary curriculums and in every library across the world.  There needs to be sexuality ones too, frankly.

Kids need to know that a transgender person isn’t this:

4402248-terrycrews-2015

But rather, is this: 

That the little boys don’t have to date/marry the little girls, and vice versa.

Kids are neither blank slates, nor do they exist and grow up in a vacuum, in a bubble, unless you force them into it (citation: look up the history of David Willis sometime … simple version:  Joyce is, basically, him).  They’ll have heard of homosexuality and transsexualism.  And some visions are more hurtful than others.

Imagine, if you will, a child who knows there are “men” who “want to be women” who “get it cut off” … but that’s it.  That’s all she knows of the medical advances of transgender treatment.  Now, when she’s 8 and the fact that she has testes is starting to withdraw her into clinical degrees of shyness and self-consciousness she doesn’t know that, really, yes, she could be the girl she is and isn’t forced to be a boy.  If she doesn’t know this, then she grows up, puberty has it’s horrible way, and … well this story can go one of two ways.  For me, not so badly.  I was blessed to look so feminine that even when I was trying so desperately to be male that I grew a big bloody Grizzly Freaking Adams beard people did double-takes when they’d see me in the men’s room but no one has ever given me a second glance in the ladies’.  Or there are those for whom a mix of financial woes and biological ones … look a bit more like Martin dressed up as Shanaynay (hey, I grew up in the 80s and 90s and haven’t really watched much TV since 2002, what did you expect for a reference?).

Lesbian and gay … life’s getting better.  Not great, no, but better for them.  It’s no longer Hollywood Montrose everywhere you look for gay and lesbians are nowhere to be seen.  Bi … somehow bi confuses some people, but all of the bi people I know seem to have a firm enough grasp on it I honestly don’t know if from their point of view it was bad and isn’t that people, in looking around for something to put down, haven’t started making it bad for them.  I’ll leave this one alone because I can’t make heads nor tails out of what the hell happened with bi, or if it’s just another place where I’ve always lived in remarkably accepting circles.

Seriously, kids need to know this is okay.  Because we’ve been doing the opposite for a long time and these kids suffer for it.  The transkids … let’s just think of those statistics.  Too many Leelah Alcorns.  Kids need to know that, if they’re not feeling anything whatsoever for the opposite sex and are noticing how attractive their own sex is … this is a Thing and it’s not a Bad Thing and that maybe they shouldn’t try to force themselves into a relationship or a life of loneliness over it.

Seriously.  Don’t come around talking about the sanctity of the family, and protecting children and all that other complete and total bullshit that every last one of these psychopathic, sociopathic, deranged assholes start spouting every time this matter comes up when you’re encouraging the kinds of environments that drive these kids to suicide, to madness, to self-hatred, and more.  Don’t talk that kind of idiocy while applauding parents who disown their children.  Don’t stick up for “morally righteous families” like the bloody Duggars.

These kids need to know about the world around them.  The real world around them.  They need protected, not … not whatever you call nearly a dozen US states suing President Obama and the Department of Education over their transgender guidance.  Of states that ban discussion of LGB+ matters even in secondary school.  Well, honestly, most of those states support “abstinence only sex ed” which has its own laundry list of stupidity.

In case it isn’t abundantly clear by this point, this is something I’m a bit passionate about.  It’s a place where I’m looking around at my country, and at the world, being complete twats about something that shouldn’t be any sort of issue or controversy except that some loud mouthed jerks seem to get their flippin’ jollies off by finding someone they can get away with making the lives of miserable, by oppression if preference is offered.

Would I feel this way if I were neither lesbian nor trans?  YES, I’m pretty well positive I would given that I felt this way even when I didn’t understand that I was … I mean when you spend the better part of three decades convinced you’re a straight man you maybe get a broader perspective on your own “what if” scenarios.  I was as impassioned about it then as now, just with less … insight … given my own determined efforts to avoid seeing it on a personal level.  But that too.  How common was, and all too often still is, the story of someone not realising their gender or sexuality until adulthood?  Until failed marriages and a life of serious depression?  Thankfully less and less.  The world is blessedly shifting toward a higher balance of Jazz Jennginses than Caitlyn Jenners.

Yeah, people are possibly going to want to say something harsh about “passing privilege”.  All I’ll say about it is:  yes it’s a matter now thanks to idiotic nonsense like HB2 in North Carolina, but by and large it’s something that just has to be considered moot.  If someone with a full face of beard, wearing jeans and a flannel, can stand in the gents’ and have guys walk in and double check the door to make sure they went into the right one … it’s no use.  Someone is going to mistake Barbie for a man and Thor for a woman because there’s just no telling what criterion people are going to use to decide a person’s gender visually.  There are cis women with beards, and cis men with breasts.  It happens.  Yeah, it definitely makes life easier when people are less inclined to get it wrong, believe me, I understand and know that.  But let’s stop talking about “passing privilege” and maybe focus on understanding and acceptance altogether from BOTH sides.  There are, after all, some gender non-conforming people who bend gender to a breaking point and while that’s fine, let’s try to remember that you’re going to confuse people – give them a break – just as they should at least be civil enough not to start beating the shit out of you and screaming just because there’s a person in the ladies’ with facial hair doing nothing more than washing her hands.

I’m going to be late for work if I don’t force myself to stop venting and get dressed.

Ta

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Protecting Faith or Legalising Discrimination?

IMG_7249Anyone keeping up with American news lately may have noticed the things going on here are a little … crazy.  Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi … these ‘bathroom bills’ and ‘religious freedom bills’ and what have you, yes?

First, let me just chastise both sides a little bit:

LGBT • just because a business has the right to do something doesn’t mean they will.  There’re too many getting a little too carried away here.  Histrionics and hyperbole are fine in satire, like a SNL sketch, but it’s not good in an otherwise simply rhetorical article that’s trying to explain the problem unless you clearly indicate that you are following this to its extremity of possibility.

Anti-LGBT • I would like to mention that there has been protection for religious beliefs since the adoption of the US Constitution‘s first ten amendments, it reads thusly:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

(via https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment)

So, now, on to what I have to say.

It’s bullshit.  I’m sorry, but it is.  It’s all complete crap.

If this really had to do with people being upset about their sincerely held religious beliefs then where are the following:

  • People rallying behind a photographer who refuses to take a Buddhist wedding
  • The bakery that refuses the interracial couple
  • The clerk turning away the Jewish couple
  • The judge who won’t officiate the atheist couple
  • The restaurant that won’t serve a Mexican family
  • The auto repair shop that won’t accept black customers

I could go on.

Thing is this.  First to the photographer, clerk, and bakery:

You’re not part of my wedding.  You supplied a service.  You are not participating in the wedding itself, you are feeding it and you are taking pictures of it, and you are handing me a license that records that it took place.  End.  You are not, in the strictest sense, actually invited to the wedding.  You’re not participating.  Even if you were an actual guest asked to come watch the wedding take place, I’m not sure it counts as ‘participating’, more like watching myself and my wife engaging in a ceremony that is taking place between ourselves, the officiate, and (if we should have them) our maids of honour.

To the judge:

You’re a public official.  You are serving as the representative of your governing body.  You are not participating in the wedding, your position is.  You are filling it.  Swallow your pride, buttercup, or get off the bench.

To everyone else:

Your doors are open to the public.  You want your religion to guide your life, bravo, but you want to be able to pick and choose your customers based on that religion you need to stop being a public business and become a religious organisation, instead.  Then you can turn away to your religious heart’s content.

Thing is, people once did turn away religions, genders, races, nationalities, and such on everything from ‘I don’t want that kind around here’ (which is, at least, honest and therefore somewhat respectable) to ‘the Bible says so’ (which, if you twist things enough is probably true … or if it’s outright true it’s probably right next to a passage you violate sixteen times every day, so please just shut up while you’re already behind).

Look.  According to the IRS I’m a private business.  Even if I were through a traditional publisher … well, there’s a reason I’m a self-published author.  The difference between traditional and self publishing is traditional is smaller royalties and usually offers me a cover artist (who I usually have absolutely no input in the selection of nor the artwork finally chosen); beyond all that, I’m still a small business in business with a larger business.

So, that said, let’s look at the universe from my business’ point of view.  According to the new laws that keep wanting to be passed I could say I don’t want to sell my books to heterosexual or cisgender or to Scientologists.  Now the waters get really muddy when you point out that there’re state and federal level protections against my discriminating against Scientologists, because that’s a religion.  But, that’s where things get fun.  While these laws are in place, legal enforcement must decide whether to enforce the existing non-discrimination laws or the new law which says that, if I hold that it is my sincere religious belief, I can deny them services.  XHamster (link very NSFW) is apparently having fun with that one (should be SFW).  True, in those states I can discriminate against gender identity and sexuality – so, if I were this hypothetical bigot (yes, bigotry works both ways, folks!), I could merrily discriminate to my heart’s content even before these laws were enacted and now that they have been the state won’t hear a single word against me and the local government councils can’t enact ordinances to make me behave myself.

Now, here’s the thing.  A lot of folk wonder what the big deal is.  “Just get your cake somewhere else”, they say.  “Get a different photographer!” they cry.

Ah, but dearies, spoken like people in very large urban centres or like people in very very small countries.  Let me paint you a picture:

Let us begin with Atkins diet and several other fads that have long since put many bakeries out of business.  Even in your moderately urban locations there are few bakeries to select from.

Now we move on to a place that is not Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.  Let us move, instead, to Little Rock, Knoxville, Memphis, or Montpelier.  Or better yet, let us move down to Coon Rapids (yep, it’s a place, my daddy went to school there),  Moose Point, Crabapple Cove, Barrow …

Here’s the thing.  The smaller the place you live the further you may have to go just to find a bakery in the first place, let alone an alternative one.  Secondly, if there’re only two bakeries in town, odds are good that you chose the one you did for a good reason.  Maybe the other one is too expensive, or is really terrible.  Now you’ve been turned away by the one that you want to go with.  And, I’m sorry, but Kroger?  Big Y?  Publix?  Stop & Shop??  Seriously, who that can afford otherwise (and even those who can’t, sometimes) goes to the grocery store for their wedding cake?!  (Okay, once upon a time, my home town, but in fairness the bakery in the local grocery store was a local bakery – the store was an IGA not a big chain supermarket … kind of different, and it was tiny town in north Arkansas for crying out loud).

Photography offers a bit of choice, but still not always a lot.  And certainly one must still balance quality and price which will winnow some of the options away.

You see?  A couple who tries to go to “Mary Catherine’s Catholic Baked Goods” which is a convent bakery and affiliated with St Lucas’ Cathedral … if they’re refused service, the answer to the couple is to tell them to suck it up and move on, and to wonder what they were thinking.  “Billy Bob’s Olde Time Bake Shoppe” on the other hand, is Billy Bob’s store that is open to the public and affiliated only with Billy Bob and his whopping twelve and one half shares in King Arthur flour.  If Billy Bob wants to tell our fateful couple that he doesn’t approve of miscegenation he’s slapped with fines and things for discrimination based on race while being berated by most of the world … under a few new laws he gets embroiled in a long complicated legal battle as the courts get to decide if the non-discrimination law is unconstitutional or the religious freedom law is (one of them actually was clever enough to limit itself against existing non-discrimination laws, but I forget which that is … not Mississippi’s, I’m pretty sure, so this can take place in Oxford, MS).  But if he wants to say “no fags allowed!”, no problem.  Until recently he, technically, already had that right since sexuality wasn’t a protected status anyhow, but the couple could still have tried and, with luck, got somewhere despite this (maybe go with sex discrimination suit), now however Billy Bob is armed with a law and his ‘sincerely held religious beliefs’ (which, apparently, state that cake is a very sacred substance and may only be served to those deemed worthy) while Lawrence and Jeffery have absolutely no legal recourse whatsoever and must now make the long trek to Tupelo before they find Sue Anne’s Country Bakery which will happily make their cake for them, but will need to charge $75 more due to the very long drive to where the wedding will be taking place (back in Larry & Jeff’s childhood home of Oxford, of course!).

See?  Gets fun doesn’t it?

And it’s not just about LGBT.  These laws hurt a lot of people.  The ones that makes the government unable to act against ‘religious beliefs’ mean that there is very sticky and complicated legal turmoil when a restaurant refuses to seat a Sikh family; when miscegenation gets you refused service at the tire shop … laws should protect people.  It’s not protecting anyone.  A person’s religious beliefs aren’t being protected, there are existing ways they can be exempted from non-discrimination for religious reasons, and if that place doesn’t want to help an unwed mother, well that’s their business then.  But the place open to the general public shouldn’t have that kind of power.  An unruly unwed mother who is wont to not paying her bills, that’s another matter.  But to see a woman holding a child, not wearing a wedding band, and who says “I haven’t got a husband” when asked what sort of work he does and say “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to go elsewhere”.  Just, no.

Love wins!

Oh my gods!

In all sincerity it has taken this long to convince myself I’m not dreaming … I got a text from a rights group that announced the decision the moment it was given, but … wow.

I expect, once it’s sunk in, I shall have more to say in days to come but right now I’m too overwhelmed.  Also I’m busy baking in a daily hell of record breaking GEORGIA summer highs.  110°F in the shade is terrible for cognitive thought and/or creativity (which potentially explains a great deal about the deep south).

Congrats to all the newlywed couples out there and all the ones whose marriages have been properly accepted and respected by the laws of our supposedly free nation.

No horror

Well, I was, and in a manner of speaking still am, working on a vampire horror for Queers Destroy Horror but I ended up working on something else that’s proving far more fun and interesting, so I won’t have the horror finished before the submission deadline.

It’s not abandoned, I’ll finish it sooner or later and then I’ll decide what to do with it, but it won’t be going to QDH.

I still fully intend to get a Færie Patrol short worked out for Queers Destroy Fantasy, so there’s still that to look forward to.

I should write SciFi

Anyone not heard of Queers Destroy Science Fiction yet?

I think it’s both a very cool, and very sad, thing.

First off: the cool. It’s not about queer characters, though they (logically) have said if they have to choose between two equally good works they’ll probably pick the one with queer characters over the one without; it’s about queer writers. Normally my opinion is that such details are wholly irrelevant. I couldn’t care less if my favourite authors are bigger into goats than Lord Byron (if you don’t get it I suggest that ignorance, in this case, is bliss), so long as they tell a good story.

But the rationale for this just plain rocks. The thing is that there are a rather vocal group of vitriolic homophobes, transphobes, people who assume bisexuals are more mythical than unicorns, etc. SciFi personalities from widely recognised fans, to authors, agents, even editors. Too, there’s this habit for the agents/editors to say things to the effect of “good story, but the queer quotient is too high”.

John Joseph Adams: It’s mostly people complaining about the presence of queer characters appearing in stories that I’ve seen, as opposed to complaining about the sexuality of the authors themselves. But of course by complaining about the sexuality of the characters, they’re telling queer authors that their POV is not welcome.
As one example, take a look at some of the lower-rated reviews on Amazon of my anthology THE END IS NIGH (http://www.amazon.com/End-Nigh-Apocalypse-Triptych/dp/1495471179/). There were several readers there complaining about the very existence of queer characters in the stories. And that’s in a book where I think literally 5 stories had any mention of queerness (out of 23). One story was political (about marriage equality), but the others just contained queer characters, yet the very presence of queer characters “destroyed” the stories for them. That’s what Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is rebelling against.
As another example: We did a Facebook “promoted post” to boost the signal about the Kickstarter. Within a few minutes of that going up, the post got comments like “No queers in my scifi please” and “Being gay is wrong.”

So, it’s a great protest of this attitude, and I love great protests. Pickets and clever chants have their place but are not, strictly speaking, positive nor always terribly powerful/effective (besides, too many slogans these days aren’t even all that clever; they need to find some old 1960s hippies to help). This is so many kinds of positive and powerful. It’s also heartening that the Kickstarter earned US$53K of its US$5K goal.

But it brings me to the sad: it’s heartbreaking that such a thing should even seem necessary, let alone show strong evidence of being necessary. Queers Destroy Mysteries or Queers Destroy Romance or Queers Destroy Westerns (okay, maybe Westerns) … no such feeling that this is a Thing (though it can be, there’re agents for Romance that won’t handle LGBT material … how rude!). Science Fiction, though?! Of all genres that should never have needed such a thing as this, SF was it.

Science Fiction is the genre that is supposed to make us ask questions, to dream, to show us a better future to strive for or warn us from a path towards a terrible one. It paints the world of the noble gentlemen heroes known as Lensmen, it gives us the bleak dystopian corpocratic UV irradiated hells of cyberpunk, the alien scapes of Star Wars … the new gospels of love and acceptance of Stranger in a Strange Land.

Too much of it, today, though is caught up in … I’m not sure what to call it and what my wife has to say about it is horribly unladylike and R-rated … if I cleaned it up and censored some of it.

I’ve said before that I adore Science Fiction (and its sister genre, Fantasy, so commonly collectively known as Speculative Fiction), and I do wish I had more SF ideas than I do. But I don’t really read much newer stuff, in fact I’m wont to not even be able to bring myself to consider so much of what is dubbed SciFi these days (and a sad proportion of Fantasy along with it) as legit; I just can’t bring myself to count these works as the same genre as Bradbury, Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Doc Smith, and Jules Verne. They just don’t really push the envelope of human imagination in the way that even some of the pulpiest garbage from back then could. As for Fantasy, it’s doing better, but there’s quite a bit lately that I feel has Lewis & Tolkien spinning in their graves such that we could connect them to turbines to power the world.

There was a time when the biggest names in SF, along with some of the least names in it, would look at the world and write things … oh hell, SciFi has been ill for so long … the beginning of the end was when Star Trek: TNG not only didn’t start with even a single character who wasn’t cis+straight, but never got one … we had to wait for Talia & Ivanova in Babylon 5.

I could go on like this for ages. It’s just that it isn’t only about representation, but about the fact that if our new mythology (Fantasy) and our dreams of the future have no place for women, people of diverse ethnicity, or queers … what hope have we of ever being accepted? Luckily the slack is taken up by drama & comedy, Will & Grace, and Orange is the New Black among others, take up the slack left by SF falling asleep on its job.

So, it’s cool Lightspeed is stepping up to the responsibilities of the genre, but it’s pretty shite that they have to resort to such methods as this.

An open letter to lawmakers

To those who govern and those who make legislation,

What purpose does it serve you to discriminate against those whom you are sworn to serve? Or to encourage and support those who would do so?

First of all, your oaths of office are to serve your states, counties, countries, cities … not select portions of it, but all of it. Seems to me, you’ve an obligation to all of them, minority or not, rich or poor, LGBTQIA+ or not, it doesn’t matter.

Then there’s the simple fun fact that you’re an elected official. Seems to me that running on a platform of hatred, oppression, discrimination, etc. may help in the short run, if you can stir up enough of one crowd and hope more of them can get to the polls (or somehow discourage the rest from making it to them) than those whom you’ve just campaigned to alienate. Once in office you have to hope your vitriolic efforts don’t push too far and alienate even those who once supported you.

Most importantly, it’s just self destructive. What good is it to legislate or govern a state that is destitute? What worthwhile businesses will a state, city, county, country, or what have you attract if that place is doing all it can to tell people they aren’t welcome here? Worse, what businesses will want to be beholden to the laws of a place that might be so two-faced as to claim to be welcoming but then is exclusionary in practice?

Businesses want the best and brightest. Most have learnt that this means accepting people for who they are so that they aren’t missing out on some brilliant individual who will help them to turn over that almighty profit. They won’t find their best and brightest in a place that drives them off, that discourages them moving there in the first place, and so on.

Alabama and other states fighting so hard to block marriage equality? You might want to stop and realise how foolish you look.

Georgia, Texas, and others trying to pass “right to discriminate” laws? Oh, you’ll attract some businesses with that, but not the kind you’re liable to be terribly proud of: places that’ll be in constant litigation over wage theft and other labour abuses looking for one less thing they can get sued for.

Uganda and other places trying to actually criminalise people being themselves? Newsflash, this isn’t the Dark Ages; we’ve broken the sound barrier and walked on the moon! Can’t we get over such archaic lunacy? Certainly not too many companies are liable to want to do business somewhere that is stuck in the 10th century.

It doesn’t just have to be sexuality or gender identity. How about women? The poor? True, if no one is treating a demographic well then you’ve nothing to worry about; but that’s not the case. When every Carolinian who can is headed to California, Vermont … or Americans headed for Switzerland, Norway …

Taxes! Your money. Where will it come from? You want people to want to stay, and to want to come. You want people to have jobs that pay them well. Conservative politicians may not have realised it, but the 19th century is over, and with it the viability of a system ruled and owned by a small elite over an enslaved majority. That can work in agrarian societies, feudalism or its analogues, but today that just won’t fly. What makes money isn’t pigs and corn, chickens and beets … it’s money, it’s commerce. Industry, even, in the end is commerce.

Commerce doesn’t work if people haven’t jobs. Jobs are worthless if there’s no money. Do you really think it wise to encourage unemployment by acting rashly?

Yes, you have constituents who believe a woman’s place is in the home and by an extension of “logic” that is more than a little meandering shouldn’t earn the same as men (and which has apparently, blissfully, started not to be argued … now it’s sticking to weird political slants), that marriage is defined thus, that [race] are God’s special ones … you’ve also constituents who believe their sofa talks to them. All of them have the right to believe that – in most democracies, anyhow, and it’s a good idea to push for it in places that don’t – but the rest of us have the right not to be subject to that by the same freedoms. I mean, barring ones where being non-Muslim is illegal, even Islamic states with the Quran enshrined in their constitution draw a line where non-Muslims aren’t subject to that holy book except where ideas overlap (e.g. No Stealin’!!). Just as you would not seriously pass legislation that sofas are citizens with rights et al you shouldn’t take seriously those who, no matter their numbers, would argue beliefs as law.

You want to legislate holy books? How about “judge not”? How about charity? How about hospitality? How about Man was made to be the stewards of this world? All of those come from the Christian Bible that so many who are fond of legislating intolerance seem inclined to cite … funny how the same ones legislate against social aid programs, environmental protections, equality, immigration … then again, those same voices do all they can to defund education; funny, the American South tried banning slaves being literate, even for a time before that tried to not let the slaves be Christian at all in order to keep them knowing about things like the book of Exodus. I suppose shouting the Old Testament to people who can’t make heads nor tails of the New Testament works, but to what purpose?

Have you a plan for what to do with these people? Certainly not hire them, even the good straight Christians are now illiterate & useless as employees beyond the most menial tasks. Not have them in your cities; you’ve done all you can to criminalise being broke and/or homeless … even if you regressed things to an Antebellum society, are you ready to live in an age of outhouses, woodstoves, gas lamps, and horsedrawn buggies? Today’s society was built by, for, and with a middle class enjoying freedom and economy for leisure … they sent their children to colleges, bought cars and computer, they watched movies, listened to radios …

No sirs, madams, and others … conservatives who want to maintain a status quo that no longer exists must, therefore, push for regression; and regression is always harmful. History teaches us this; the Dark Ages didn’t get their name from a candles shortage or some solar calamity. They were a regression from a time of high literacy, education that permitted the building and maintaining of such things as flushing toilets, hot & cold running water, widespread international (and intercontinental) trade, effective medicines and surgeries, and more. Put bluntly: for a few centuries, most of Europe had lost the fork.

Conservativism has a place. It’s good for society to have a voice that says “hold on, now, is this change good? Or is it just change for the sake of change?” Fiscal conservativism doubly so, except today’s fiscal conservatives less often ask “General/President/Congressman, just where in Hell do you expect to find the money for this idea?” and, instead, are more inclined to cut specific spending, but hand blank cheques over to other sorts … often much more expensive sorts.

It’s all related. Is it worth spending so much to defend state laws & amendments that should never have been taken seriously enough to have made it to a ballot in the first place? Defending it costs money. It’s bad press: businesses looking askance at your environment & thinking they can attract better talent elsewhere (whoops, there goes various tax & license funds). It’s that much less work for existing business (more marriages means more caterers and florists get work!). It’s that much more spent on welfare to take care of children waiting to be adopted. It’s lost spending by people who leave, never move to, or never want to visit.

It is said that evil carries the seed of its own downfall. What can be more evil than hatred, whether you choose to dress it in fancy clothes and call it discrimination or not, it is what it is. And denial of rights or denial that what is being withheld is a right is intolance, discrimination, in a word: hate.  Look at World War II Germany … perhaps, if the Nazis hadn’t been so eager to round up Jews, gays, and others it would have been they who had the first atom bombs; it was more than a few of their scientists who helped the US invent the thing, after all.

Simple point of note: history remembers Lincoln freeing the slaves, and that Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. No one knows the names of those who put the slaves in their chains, and in the Biblical story of Moses the oppressor was a villain and liberator a hero. Who is recalled more kindly? Dr Martin Luther King or Chancellor Adolf Hitler? Ghandi or Genghis Khan?

Your place in history was recorded the day people took to the polls. What role will you play in history’s narrative? Hero or villain? Saint or sinner? Healer or murderer? Bringer of peace or of war?

Maybe it’s time to look around and see that there’s a bigger world, a bigger picture, than your campaign podium and your biggest contributers, because shortsightedness could cost you personally, will almost certainly affect your children, is all but guaranteed to affect their children, and their children have no choice but to face the consequences of our actions today. Remember that Reconstruction, after the American Civil War, was a slew of rash decisions that came to a head almost exactly 100 years later.

Good day.
Ms Jaye Edgecliff

[Reblog] 7 Tired Phrases That Marginalize Trans People – And What to Use Instead

I thought this was very well said.  Yes, I discovered the article because it linked to one of my own posts but I’m reblogging it because it’s just damned good advice.  Is it advice I necessarily follow in my own daily life?  No and yes.  Not as put here, no, but I have my own version of some of this stuff.

7 Tired Phrases That Marginalize Trans People – And What to Use Instead

Person in a blue shirt with long, dark hair standing in front of a chalk board that has a speech bubble drawn on it

A few years ago, when I became a government volunteer, I had to be fingerprinted, as it is now the custom for the US to get the biometric data of everyone they possibly can.

The employee filling out my information got to a page about gender. There were four options: “Male,” “Female,” “Male Impersonator,” and “Female Impersonator.”

If it were not for my fear of the NSA, I might have pointed out to this person that, for a governmental body as intent on intelligence collection as this one, it was certainly going to have trouble gathering accurate information with those four options.

I certainly hope that everyone reading this article knows that trans people are not “impersonating” anyone.

However, many well-intentioned people simply don’t know the language that we use for ourselves. They want to treat us with respect, but they often fail because they don’t know the practicalities of how to do it.

Some may have heard that the trans community is very “sensitive” about words and are extra nervous about this as a result.

I say, though, that we aren’t “too sensitive.” That label is used to dismiss the concerns of oppressed people time and again.

Society has built a language and mentality that does not accommodate trans people or allow us to exist. We have created new language and reshaped old words to build a place for ourselves in the world.

These words work to reframe an entire language that is focused on cis supremacy. Of course, using the right language is not everything (check out Jess Ide’s article on page ten of this newspaper for a more in-depth analysis of this).  

Language is not a replacement for tangible support of the trans community. But shifting our words is an important step in shifting our ideas and actions.

These words are not the wailing of a “sensitive” community. They are tools that can bring us all closer to gender-based freedom.

Just to be clear, when I use the word “trans,” I am using it as an umbrella term for everyone who doesn’t completely identify as cis. When I use “non-binary,” I am using it as an umbrella term for everyone who doesn’t solely identify as male and female.

I know that many people’s experiences and identities are more complicated, but I’m using those words as shorthand in this introductory article.

I also want to acknowledge that I am only one person in the trans community. I cannot speak for everyone. In particular, I want to acknowledge that my race and class privilege has likely influenced this piece, although I’ve tried to mitigate it.

I’ve done my best to make this list inclusive, but many others might have more to add or say differently on these issues. And I absolutely welcome you to comment and engage with others on this topic.

Language changes over time, space, and culture/subculture, and although I have done my best to gather as much information as I can, this list is definitely not the last word on this topic. If you are trans and have more to add, please let me know! (Continue reading on @evrydayfeminism)

Word choice can make a real difference

assigned-maleNot that this is a unique problem to People, but this article is a perfect example of a pernicious issue in the way trans* people are discussed in the media or even by the people around us.

What’s so bad?  You might be asking that.  I mean look, they used the right pronouns, the right names, etc.  Whatever could they have done wrong, cake and pats on the back all ’round, yes?

Well … no.

Oh, bugger, they’ve edited it already!  Well, in that instance congratulations!  But as it’s important we’ll continue as if they hadn’t for rhetorical sake.

The original text had been:  “[…]Stephen was born a girl[…]”

Now, some people might not realise what’s wrong with that.  Well, that’s where we get to the importance of connotation, of perception, of what language does on a more psychological level.

In short, let’s discuss why we must choose our words wisely.  I’m in favour of accuracy in language.  Not the “concrete” imagery of some literature and “creative writing” courses that say you should never say ‘azure’ just say ‘blue’, no … that’s muddying the language.  I’m not talking about some aspects of the political correctness movement that wants to reword the language in idiotic ways that sound good to social justice ronins, but pisses off the groups that are being crusaded for who might prefer the “un-PC” term/phrase.  I’m talking about logical language analysis here.

Let’s look at that statement.  “Stephen was born a girl” or “Jaye was born a boy”.  First and foremost, it’s simply wrong and inaccurate.  He was not born a girl, if he were he would be a girl.  I was not born a boy, if I were I would be a boy.  He was assigned female at birth, and I was assigned male at birth.  Semantics?  No, very much not so.

The former states the inaccuracy as if it were a given fact.  It implies that we used to be X and have elected to become Y.  We have not.  It implies terrible things about trans* people that are a lot of the ignorance that lurks behind the bigotry and rejection we face.

The latter, on the other hand, that accepts and acknowledges us.  Not our “preferred” gender, not our “preferred” pronouns, not our “identified as” or anything of the sort.  It says that the doctors and parents made an assumption, regardless how statistically likely to be correct, based on the anatomy they found between our legs and that that assumption was mistaken.  No one is to blame, really, besides an arbitrary methodology, or an antiquated ID system that bothers with such idiot details before the child is old enough to answer if asked which they are, etc.  Not any person‘s mistake, and not anything wrong with the trans* individual, just a reason why such assumptions are no better than any other assumption.

Some people have never heard of transgender, transsexual, trans[whatever].  If the first time they do they see it as “Mary was born a boy, but when she was 16 …” or, worse, “Mary was born a boy, but when he was 16 …” they store the word as a choice.  They see it as “Mary was born to Catholic parents, but when she was 16 she converted to Buddhism …”.  But, if the first time they hear/read about a trans* person it is seen as exactly what it is.

Please don’t take this away just related to talking about trans* issues, not just for even LGBTQ+ issues.  Please take away from it that while, yes, I do think the political correctness movement and social justice movements, feminism, LGBTQIA+etc activism, and so on do go too far sometimes and more importantly that some people go too far … occasional extremists and periodic extremism does not change that we really ought to consider our language and our word choice.  “Sticks and stones …” et al is well and good, but sometimes the harm isn’t to the person as an individual; the harm in your words can be harm on a larger scale that impacts the person by dint of being part of the demographic you just hurt in broad terms.

So … let’s be careful what we say so as to say what we mean.  Lazy language, at best, makes us look foolish, at worst you may hurt a lot of people in ways you may have never imagined.

Thinking about Leelah Alcorn

Ed Greenwood

Ed Greenwood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about Leelah Alcorn’s death and her suicide note a lot lately.  There’re numerous reasons that hers would affect me in ways more personal than most … but they all come around to, that note resonated a little, uncomfortably, close to things I’ve thought or felt at various points.  I, thank all the watching gods, have a wonderful family who is supportive and understanding of who I am and that led me to have … well, it’s why I’m able to be 33 and happy instead of the alternatives.

They’ve made me think long and hard about the way I tend to see the world and the people in it.  I don’t know that Leelah was a bookworm.  I don’t know, if she was, if she liked the sort of stories I write.  It doesn’t matter, she’s gone from the world, but there’re others still here facing a struggle similar to her own – even the happy (or maybe I should say “happier“) ones.

I think, in our society, there’s an odd balance between the status known as celebrity (no matter how minor) and privacy.  I think, too, that while we spend a lot of time trying to erode the privacy of some kinds of celebrity, we’re willing to provide virtual anonymity to others.  To most people, for example, a writer – be it a columnist, a journalist, a novelist, a poet, a playwright, screenwriter, et al we tend to let those who wield quill and parchment all the reclusiveness she might crave and be content for her to be naught but a byline and maybe a short, uninformative bio at the back cover or last page of a book and one that neither the text nor photo of ever changes in the course of a 30 year career.

But in today’s world, with social media and everything else, we find ourselves able to interact on a quasi-personal level with those authors we love.  Twitter, Facebook, Ello, and … okay, I’m not really big on the whole social media business so I’ve exhausted me list of interact-able venues.  Well, Goodreads, somewhat and, of course, our blogs.

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 ...

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 Scream Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More and more authors are gaining a level of celebrity.  We do start to learn about them as people.  They suddenly do have a face.  We know things about the lovely Ms Rowling, the quirky Mr King, and the hilarious Sir Pratchett that, maybe even 20 years ago we never would have.

There’ve ever been the ones who were very open, forward, and willing to share and interact with the world.  I present as Exhibit A, the sweetest and most generous human I’ve ever had the pleasure to speak with:  Mr Ed Greenwood.  There’re so many wonderful stories from the early days of TSR of him at gaming cons being just the most personable “star” anyone’d ever met; like a bearded and jolly George Takei or James Doohan (the latter, I suppose was fairly jolly himself, now I think on it).

I’ve guarded my own privacy … well, there’re many ways one can use the phrase “guarded jealously”, and I feel rather like I might be justified in claiming more than one of them.  In my own defense, I do not think in terms of caring who an author is as a person.  I make an assumption that the photo of Dennis L McKiernan, in the back of my copy of Dragondoom, is actually him so I know he’s a) a him (or it’s a reasonable assumption) b) he’s bipedal c) humanoid d) apparently monochrome! e) incredibly young!  (I’ve an OLD copy of the book).  All I much know about him is he’s good, and I love his work.  Then I realised, I do know more.  Because of the internet I know that Mithgar grew out of his own pen & paper RPG sessions.

We can’t, I think, avoid learning bits and things about the people whose books we enjoy.  Human curiosity and the internet work together to ensure we can learn more and we often go looking for it.

I’ve guarded my privacy because I didn’t want people to say they love or hate my work because of me, I wanted them to do so because of it.  I wanted Lauren and Sally, Allison and Jake, all the rest, to be the role-models and to be judged by my skills and talent as a writer.  I’ve said before, and I know it’s a real thing that people who know a book is by a woman, or a homosexual, or a 17′ tall rabid badger from Mississippi will buy it or reject it just because of that.  It grates against my sensibilities.  A person can have a wonderful library of diverse characters and tremendously wonderful role-models of setting and characters and every single last one of those works can be by rich, straight, white, ennobled, cisgender men.  All it takes is for those authors to be empathetic, sensitive, thoughtful, imaginative, intuitive, creative, and talented story tellers.  Exhibit B:  John Scalzi.  I can’t, to be honest, speak related directly to his novels, I’ve never read them (my wife has, but only one so she’s no help), but if his blog is any gauge …

Maya Angelou with Bloomberg and Nadler

Maya Angelou with Bloomberg and Nadler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said … to hell with it.  My own examples:  Ed Greenwood, John Scalzi.  I’ll add the likes of Neil Gaiman, Seanan McGuire, and Patrick Rothfuss … yeah, lot of those are SF/F authors, I told you that’s most of what I read.  They all interact with the public.  And I’m no recluse living in a cave with no social media accounts or ones only known about and accessed by some intern working for peanut butter and saltines.

I don’t follow their blogs.  I don’t read them every day.  But I do read an enjoy their blogs when the whim strikes me.  I do get to know them as people.  I’ve interacted with Ed Greenwood, mostly via Candlekeep.com, but I have.  With the Takei’s … these days celebrity aren’t lofty, remote deities to be admired from afar.

I forget, too, I grew up in the 80s, and early 90s.  I own (no, not past tense, I still have it) an 80286 with a 2400 baud modem.  I’ve got floppy discs with Prodigy on it from before there was an internet for it to access.  I’ve used BBSes, FIDONET, and IRC.  I remember with ICQ was brand new, and Search.com was what Google is now.  Maybe I see the world, sometimes, through the lenses of an 80s kid instead of a 21st century one.  I’d have had virtually no way to know the sexuality or birth-assigned gender of a favourite author.  I’d only know their race if the book had a photo, and I’d have their name (and said not-guaranteed-to-be-present photo) to guess their gender … but today that’s just not true.  When books really make an impression on people it often includes the author becoming someone they might look up to.  I’m no Maya Angelou, but … then again, early in her career … was she?

I plan to begin trying to write a for really real author bio for the places I’ve got my current silly one.  I may miss one, please feel free to point this out to me, I’ll be very grateful.  I may begin to include one, though probably a bit different, in my books.  Certainly I’m going to be more open about myself from now on.

George Takei on the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Pr...

George Takei on the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Pride 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If my books had only 1/10 the sales figures I do, I might assume that too few people know I exist to actually care, but I have hit best seller charts.  I have sold as many or more copies of Love or Lust than most first printings of a new author’s first book.  I finally had to admit to myself, like it or not, a blog with some 500ish followers, a decent daily hit rate, etc. means I’m achieving some degree of notice and that translates to celebrity even if it is very minor.  More bluntly, people know who I am, know what I wrote, and might be curious about me.  Some of those people might be Leelahs, and I want them to know that it can (I won’t say does, that depends on factors both in and out of the individual’s control, but it undeniably can) get better.  On the outside chance that there’s someone struggling with sexuality or gender identity or whatever who needs someone to look to for an example of that “can get better” business … I present myself.

Hello, world.

I am Ms Jaye Em Edgelciff.  I am a transsexual lesbian living in the Georgia in the United States and from the Ozarks part of Arkansas.  I am happily married to a woman who I met in college, I have two ridiculously odd, but wonderful little kittens and a hyperactive (as in for the breed) black-mouth cur.  I, sadly, do not have any children … yet.  I’m 33, and my birthday is 8 July 1981.  I’m an Army brat who never got to see too many places but I did get to live in San Antonio and Honolulu.  I’m a geek, and always have been.  Hard as it is, looking at the world today, but even if I’d known what I was as a little girl I could not have transitioned … it just wasn’t done back then.  I didn’t know what I was, or why I felt the ways I did.  I was awkward, I was shy, I was … I won’t say unhappy, as I had wonderful friends and a good family, but I was terribly depressed and had more than a few suicidal thoughts growing up.  As a teenager I finally started to get words around how I felt … I clearly had spent many of my past lives as a woman and had made the exceedingly foolish choice to come back around as a man (or had done something awful and was being punished with a penis, in some of my more self-hating moments).  Eventually I learned what transgender and transsexuality actually were (as opposed to the rather limited and skewed understanding I had under the term “sex change operation” where one envisions a guy going to get it cut off because he wants to be made into a woman … language matters, and connotation of sentence choice makes all the difference in the world).

With the help of hormones, and all the other fun things that go along with transitioning I am now a much happier, much more confident, much more me person than I was when I was young.

I don’t really write my books for myself.  Joe doesn’t exist to represent me or what I am.  Joe exists because, in the ficton of Now & Forever, Joe exists and is a transsexual man.  Lauren and Sally don’t represent myself and my wife … the most we have in common is I’ve red hair and hazel eyes, but Lauren has those features because Lauren has those features … my own eye and hair colour are rather different shades from hers and while I’m fond of them, clearly I’m not so vain as to force them onto someone else.  My stories are just for you to enjoy.  If they have any social purpose, any moral reason then it’s is only to remind people that we are all of us people.  To quote Stranger in a Strange Land, “thou art god, thou art goddess”.  I write what I write and the characters I do because they had the story I loved enough I wanted to take the time to write it down and share it with you, and if that story happens to illustrate a point you can take away and maybe see the world differently then that’s a bonus.  I read for pleasure and entertainment, I’m not about to write something with a purpose other than that; but I will admit there is a moral message that evolved as I wrote, but it was a pretty easy one … but it comes back to the Golden Rule which Bronson Alcott proved ages ago is so simple and obvious that 5 year old children are able to reverse engineer it with a little help from the Socratic method.

I do not feel that I am really all that interesting a person.  There’s not a lot about myself to talk about.  I enjoy cooking, though not much lately due to having an exceedingly tiny kitchen that makes cooking more a chore than a pleasure.  I enjoy foods, especially sushi and pasta.  I play video games, and board games, I love nature and hate cities.  I’m quiet.  I don’t get out a lot, but I also live somewhere that there’s nowhere to go if I wanted to get out.  I’m average height, if a bit petite in build.  I’m black, Cherokee, Irish, Dutch and German that I know of.  I’m a distant cousin of George Straight and that’s about as exciting as my universe gets.

I’ve said before, it’s not because of what I am as far as sexuality and gender that are why I’m inclined to care about rights and equality.  That’s just who I am.  When I thought I was a straight white male I still felt this way.  People don’t have to be LGBTQ or black or whatever to empathise and care and understand that equality matters.  It also doesn’t require someone to be non-white, not-straight, and/or non-cis* to be discriminated against.  White people experience racism in Hawaii, the natives are a little angry about the whole annexing the place at gun point (I’m simplifying the history, but really … Hawaii didn’t want to be a state, dirty pool was used to make it #50), in some forums of the internet there’re LGBTQ who can get just as mean or meaner to straight and cis who venture in there as they might assume that the hetero-cis would be … and maybe turn away a potential ally.  Men can be feminist, and we do have unrealistic and harmful stereotypes about men just as we do for women; in short, they face their own brand of sexism and objectification … I think fewer of them seem to care, but it doesn’t change the fact it’s true.  In short, you can be the king of flippin’ England and still care about ending sexism, ending anti-lgbt* nonsense, ending racism, etc. just because you take the few seconds to care and to remember:

What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

And … I know my audience is mostly teens and parents of them.
  • Parents, please remember that the most important thing any parent can do is to love and support who their child is.  Please do not be Mrs Alcorn saying “we loved our son” when speaking of your trans* daughter who has died because of too many of that very statement; and please extrapolate down for the less extreme (and not-trans*) analogues to that statement.
  • Kids … maybe you’re somewhere, right now, where you’re misunderstood and alone.  Maybe you’ve parents who … maybe they’re confused but do love you, or maybe you’re right and they don’t … but if that’s the case they’re no parents; do what you must to be safe, but within that context be you.  Do your best to get by, channel your sorrow and pain into determination to have the best schools all banging down your door for you to attend, or if you’re crafty/creative/musical/whatever … use your pain to fuel your exodus into somewhere accepting, tolerant, somewhere that you are at peace and happy.  For the trans* kids, yes it is easiest to transition as a child, easier as a teen, but possible as an adult and hey … depending what aspect of it you’re talking about, it’s possibly been within your lifetime that transition was even possible for someone who wasn’t an adult.  It can be okay, but you have to hang on long enough to let it do so, and you can’t just cross your fingers and wish for it to get better.  The wishes that come true best are the ones you make true.  Not every dream can come true.  I won’t paint a fairy tale where every mom & dad eventually sees how foolish they were and accepts you for who you are, it happens so don’t give up hope, but if your dream is that … steel yourself that it might not happen, but the fun of the word ‘might not happen’ is it contains the caveat of ‘could happen’.  Family has a number of meanings.  My wife has little to do with her blood family for a laundry list of reasons, not all of it, but a fair chunk.  Her family is, mostly now, mine.  You can control your destiny, somewhat, if you give yourself the chance to do it.

And … depression is real.  It’s serious.  Life can be roses, unicorns, sunshine, and bunnies cuddling and you still hate the world and want to die.  I know this, first hand I know this.  If you can work through it yourself, fine.  But I know that nothing I say will make that pain and those thoughts go away, that’ll take the right help and what that is varies from person to person.  Need someone to talk to?  Suicide hotlines exist in droves, contact me if you like, friend, pastor, cousin, dog, cat, tree, or rock.  Maybe you need someone to care about … of all things, one of the biggest reasons I’m still alive is that I’ve always had cats and I’ve always loved them too much to leave them.  Maybe you straight up need meds; fun part is, a competent doctor might recognise (for the trans* I mean, obviously this won’t help for anyone else) your issue and help you get your parents to help you transition … you really are a boy/girl trapped in a girl/boy body and your brain craves the correct hormones and your body isn’t making enough.  Everyone else AND some of the trans* folks … sometimes you need anti-depressants, St John’s Wort, Prozac, or whatever.  Do what you must and can to make that better, it’ll make the rest of life a lot easier.

There.  Now you know me, sort of.  If this helps one person, it’s worth it for the loss of privacy and for the loss of that barrier between people judging my work through the lends of who and what I am instead of by simply looking at the page.  Because life is far more precious than any of that nonsense.

I’m going to sticky this until I can get ’round to working out what to say in my bio.  So please don’t forget to scroll down to see if there’re any new posts made after this.