That’s Not My Job: Transition Reactions p3

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Continuing my mostly anecdotal recount of fucked up things people have said/done when they’ve found out I’m trans.

Today’s issue: “Does being attracted to you make me gay?”

Look, no one who has made it into my pants with my consent has ever, at any point, told me I made them question their sexuality. They liked me, and that was good enough. My partners have self-identified as queer, as lesbians, as pansexual, and none of that ever changed just because they started dating me.

But if you had a concept of trans women (bad idea in the first place; generalizing demographics? Never a solid plan), and I blow that concept out of the water, and you tilt your head and start to wonder if I fall within the realm of your sexual preferences, that’s great.

I don’t want to hear about it until you’ve made up your mind, because it’s not my job to help you question your sexuality. I’m not a walking experiment for you to engage in. If you want to fuck me, own up to that, just say it. If you don’t know, cool, you don’t need to justify that in any way. But you absolutely cannot ask me to help you figure it out.

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George Zimmerman tries to sell his murder weapon

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Content Notice: Racism, to put it lightly.

Today on “I can’t even,” George Zimmerman places an auction on GunBroker.com for the weapon he used to murder Trayvon Martin, whose sham of a trial was the flash point for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It was thankfully taken down promptly, but check out the auction’s description:

“I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American Firearm Icon,” Zimmerman wrote in the item’s description. “The firearm for sale is the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin on 2/26/2012… This is a piece of American History.”

It’s a piece of American history alright. Symbolizing all at once the intersection of capitalist exploitation and imperial scapegoating. A nation soaked in Native and Black blood, boasting of its ability first create, and then exploit, the powerless. This is the legacy any of the former European colonies inherited, and it lives on in modern conservatism. It may hide under banners like “self-defence,” but we recognize it for what it is.

Zimmerman, you’re the type who makes me rethink my pacifism.

-Shiv

Good music to have stuck in your head: Trine

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I have a rather peculiar taste in music. It seems I don’t have any preference for genres, although some genre conventions mean the typical song within that genre might miss what I look for. As a classically trained musician, I harbour a strong appreciation for entire score. That is to say, I appreciate good “layering.” I don’t hone in on any part of a song, but rather have to consider the sum of the parts. If any part is off, I don’t like the song. The lyrics have to possess some kind of structure. The harmony has to be at least as catchy as the melody. The bass has to produce motionMuch like I can predict what is about to come in a sentence as I am reading it, I should be able to have an approximation of what’s going to happen in the next bar. It can’t be overly monotonous but transitions to different “attitudes” should be surprising. You see my problem?

So, I present a modern iteration of what I just babbled about: the Trine series. In particular, Trine 2:

While I’m waiting for my appointment with a publicly covered therapist, I need to deal with this crippling depression somehow. Getting lost in music that can take me on a journey seems like a safe way to lose myself, for a few hours at a time. No side effects or addictions. Plus, I can take note of songs I want to cover, eventually!

Please, share an ear worm with me, and tune in to the deliciously suggestive Trine 2 OST. Bob your head to the sway of the sassy Bassoon! She pokes her head in every few songs to “nuh-uh” the audience, wagging her finger back and forth. Unless she pairs with the harpsichord and strings, in which case, they’re all plotting something no good.

-Shiv

Fun things to try in kink: fire play

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To begin, a fairly standard disclaimer in all things kink: Don’t try this at home; don’t try this alone; do your homework. It is usually safer to try new things in kink in front of other people, because most kink activities are fairly risky and having other people around, especially if they’re experienced, can help mitigate those risks.

Fire play is extremely hazardous. Preparing accordingly means having spotters, the right venue and the right equipment. Below is the same set-up I use to demo this on others, most commonly at play parties where there is a rotation of observers and participants throughout the night. There are many fire play techniques but I have found this one to be accessible to beginners.

You will need:

  • At least one spotter (someone who will supervise your practice), who is trained to use a fire extinguisher or fire blanket, and preferably has done this before.
  • A fire extinguisher.
  • A fire blanket.
  • A bowl and cotton balls.
  • Up to snuff first aid, especially for burns.
  • A phone handy for 911, if things get really hairy.
  • A fuel source; I recommend 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) for the technique detailed below.
  • A barbecue lighter. No matches, no candles, no open flames in general. Zip lighters doable, but not recommended.
  • A victim volunteer; either to ignite the fuel (the “Top”) or be the recipient (the “bottom”).
  • No synthetic fibre clothing on the bottom. Naked is safest. Natural fibres are next best, preferably with no or rolled up sleeves. Ideally neither participant has styled their hair with any kind of mousse, gel, spray, or product with alcohol in it. Long hair should be tied back.
  • Affirmative, informed consent from your volunteer. Your volunteer should also be assured that you will call emergency responders if necessary, even if they ask uncomfortable questions about what you were doing.
  • A venue that is as nonflammable as you can find. Concrete and certain types of tile can take longer to ignite and give you more time to respond to a disaster; carpets grant you no such luxury. In a house, best place is sometimes the basement or the kitchen, depending on how it is set up. If you live in a big city, there might be a dungeon that allows fire play where you can try this (and also meet people to supervise your practice).

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Resettled Syrian refugees collaborate to support wildfire evacuees

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Syrian refugees resettled in Alberta have collaborated to contribute donations to the massive wildfire evacuees, which now include folks from Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, and Fort McMurray First Nation:

Khanchet and her family know first-hand how scary it is to leave a community, home and possessions behind, and she was determined to help the people of Fort McMurray.

“It’s not easy to lose everything. We can understand them more than anyone in Canada. We were in the same situation,” said Khanchet, who lives in Calgary.

“Me and my family wanted to do something for these people. Canadian society helped us when we came to Canada.”

Syrian refugees across Calgary are now giving what little they have to northern Albertans, after Khanchet posted an appeal in Arabic on a private Facebook group the newcomers created and frequent.

“(Canadians) gave us everything. And now it’s time to return the favour,” she wrote.

Now I can bubble with national pride. This, right here. This is Canada.

The evacuees number up to 88,000 now. The province has declared a state of emergency, and the military is on standby for emergency evacuations. The fire now spans over 160,000 hectares of forest. You can apparently see it from space.

Reminder that if you have the means, you can support the relief efforts here.

Still zero fatalities.

-Shiv

Oxford, Alabama rescinds transphobic bathroom bill

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Oxford, Alabama has repealed its local ordinance to fine people for using the “wrong” washroom.

Council members voted 3-2 on Wednesday to rescind its controversial restroom measure, which had made it a misdemeanor — punishable by a $500 fine or six months in jail — to use a public bathroom differing from one’s birth gender.

Looks like the Supreme Court is getting through to people. Eventually.

-Shiv

Kat Blaque on The Comments Section

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Today seems to be a good day for finding people who are really on point. This time, we have Kat Blaque on internet comments sections:

In general, comments sections tend to be a massive time-suck that often results in fighting with total strangers and resolving absolutely nothing.

That’s one of the reasons I started discussing social justice on my Youtube page. Now I have one definitive video exploring my opinion on a subject, and I feel like something productive has finally come from all my previous frustration.

I encourage you to check her out. She’s right about a lot of stuff, and was one of the most convincing responders to the whole “Rachel Dolezal’s race scam is like trans people” codswallop.

I can’t necessarily formulate a comments policy on AtG just yet, because it’s not my own space–I’m renting New Frontier with two other authors and as far as I can tell, the three of us are collectively responsible for curating comments on this column. That means we have a scattered comments dictatorship right now. But a lot of her experiences with the comments section reflect my own, and inform the comments policy I will formally implement when AtG gets its own space. In a nutshell? We’re not here to convince those who have made up their mind. This blog is for the curious, those who are actively seeking new information, the ones who admit there might be more to learn than what they know, the ones committed to trans allyship who also know what it means to be an ally. Those are the people we’re actually going to reach here.

The main reason we don’t try to convince people who’ve made up their mind is because it seldom works over an internet platform, even less so in the comments section. That’s the sort of thing you do in person. It’s not that I don’t want to encourage you to find ways to resist oppression from the privileged and ignorant–it’s that the privileged and ignorant don’t explicitly seek out social justice blogs to have a conversation about social justice, they do it to specifically derail conversations about social justice.

Unless you happen to be an emergency responder, you probably don’t get paid to clean up train wrecks.

So don’t.

-Shiv

Trudeau is pretty sure you won’t move to Canada

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Trudeau is well-known for talking the talk, especially if it’s about women’s reproductive rights, racial inequality, separately singling out Canada’s shitty treatment of the First Nations, and so on. The new Canadian government is still relatively young and many of us are waiting for results. While a sizeable and noisy minority of Canadians who would fit right in with American Republicans bitch and moan about increased taxes (wahh, wahh, my yacht will take a whole extra payment to pay off now!), Americans are looking at Trump and saying they’ll move to Canada if he wins.

Trudeau explains why you probably won’t: this happens, literally every election, and the immigration numbers don’t ever change. But he’s optimistic that Trump’s extremism will move more people to vote. I think he’s miscalculating. Clinton induces a polarized response herself, for some reasons better than others.

I wish I could be more smug about the American election, but they’ve historically kept Canada on a tight leash and I’d rather my country not be dragged into more interventionist shenanigans where we pretend we’re totally not continuing the Cold War by projecting national anxieties onto the Middle East. The way I see it, both Clinton and Trump will drag Canada along; the only difference is whether we’ll be dragged through mud or shit.

-Shiv

The religion of quackery

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Amy Tuteur authored a piece comparing the various commonalities between woo and organized religion:

4. Predestination

Just like the Calvinist belief in predestination allowed the spiritual elect to be identified by their wealth and success, quackery has its own version of predestination. In quackery, the spiritual elect can be identified by their good health.

Luck played no role in Calvinist predestination. You weren’t wealthy because you were lucky or even skillful. You were lucky because you had been chosen by God. Luck plays no role in pseudoscience. You aren’t healthy because you are lucky; you’re healthy because you are one of the health elect.

It goes without saying that people who get sick must have done something to deserve it or must have been damaged by demons.

7. Faith

Like all religions, quackery requires faith in the face of the inability to prove that it works or is true. Of course in quackery they call it “intuition.”

Like any religion, quackery has its own priests, the purveyors of quackery goods and services. Instead of offering rational prescriptions for health, quacks offer (for money) superstitions, affirmations, and support in rejecting rationality. They sell substances with no efficacy (herbs, homeopathy) and provide friendship and companionship as a substitute for knowledge.

Andrew Wakefield, the doctor deprived of his medical license because of research misconduct, is one such priest of pseudoscience, though there are many others.

The article seems on point. Many of my woo-soaked peers were/are extremely ableist, had a tendency to victim blame, and often defined themselves by their fitness (read: their skinniness). Intuition is one of those buzzwords that flies well past any conceivably explicable baggage from our evolutionary history, where we had a selection pressure to quickly assess whether something was a threat, and into supernatural “third eye” territory cultivated by… eating organic, apparently. And there’s certainly no shortage of woo hippies trying to make a living by commercializing and whitewashing Indian practices because they sound spiritual, but not in the Western way.

Approaching quackery as a secular religion has important implications for how we address belief in pseudoscience. It is very difficult to reason people out of beliefs that they didn’t reasons themselves into. Hence education in the sciences, or specific disciplines of immunology, oncology, etc. is doomed to be ineffective. That’s especially true when persisten faith in the face of evidence to the contrary is venerated as devotion.

Reminds me of horseshoe theory. That thing where the more extreme along a spectrum you are, the similar to the other end you are. Quacks and cranks have more in common than they’d like to admit.

-Shiv

 

Please don’t romanticize abuse

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I’ve recently encountered people voluntarily identifying as Narcissists.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know I’ve been recently hurt by a narcissist. So my reaction is probably a bit more personal than it could be,

BUT

Please don’t do this. There is nothing wrong with being self confident or even admiring your own aesthetics. That is not narcissism. Actually identifying as a narcissist, unless you’ve received that diagnosis and you’re learning Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to mitigate that, is not unlike identifying as an arsonist, or a psychopath. Narcissism is a destructive pathology which requires someone else to break in order to build the narcissist up. Claiming to be one is contradictory–narcissists don’t advertise their condition, because they know it drives people away.

So don’t.

You love yourself. You’re confident in yourself. You think you’re sexy. If this is what you’re trying to say, say that. Calling yourself a narcissist isn’t cute. It’s a personality disorder for a reason.

I’ll file this under “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” and call it a day.

-Shiv