Frequently-Asked Questions

Coming Out About My Non-Binary Gender

First in a series on my non-binary gender identity.

Late last year, rather abruptly, I came out as non-binary. It was National Coming Out Day and I decided I was going to tell everyone, just like that. I IMed my partner and told him first; he was as unwaveringly and lovingly supportive and understanding as he always is. Ten minutes later, I’d posted it to my Facebook wall. Thankfully, due to the self-selection and curation I’ve cultivated online for years now, I was met with congratulations and love and support. Outside of carefully-created spaces (or at least ones where I can block people), however, I’ve mostly kept my mouth shut about it. I don’t have enough fight in me to deal with yet another Othering aspect to my person.

It wasn’t something that I’d consciously thought a lot about or planned to do. It was more a slow and lurching realization, backburnered to everything else I’ve always thought and talked and written about. In a lot of ways, it resembled the way that I “became” an atheist: I didn’t talk or think too much directly about it, not even with those close to me, and didn’t want it to be true, but stopped fighting it and eventually submitted to the truth.

While the act of coming out was a surrender to what I’d known was true on some level for a while, a building up to a realization of something about me, there were markers along the way.

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Last Night, I Counter-Trolled a Homophobe Offline

Content Notice for homophobia, violence against animals, and explicit sexual content

It happened after I debated two Christians on what I was told was going to be “homosexuality.” Less than 48 hours prior to the debate itself, I was told that the title was going to be “Homosexuality: Innate or Perversion?”

I know, right?

The title ended up actually being the least worst thing about the setup, believe it or not. One of the debaters turned out to be an old-school anti-gay conspiracy theorist. While I don’t think I changed his mind about the gay issue, I did manage to remind him what is fashionable to forget and deny in the name of “civility” and “tolerance” and “acceptance”: That politics have an effect on people’s personal lives and aren’t just abstractions. [Read more…]

Worldwide Violence Against Non- & Ex-Muslims: A News Round-Up

I try to take a nuanced and careful approach to criticism of Islam and ensure that I’m humanizing Muslims in the process, but it’s hard not to be disturbed and angry about the recent news about people who are critical of and/or have left Islam — or even who simply aren’t Muslim but live in a Muslim-majority country

Content Notice for brutal violence. [Read more…]

Diversifying Your Reading: Non-Male & Non-White Author Recommendations

Even if you’re not on board with committing to the exclusion of race-and/or-gender default-positioned writers, you can still commit to more diversity in your reading. I have only included books that I’ve read in this listing. Feel free to add your recommendations as well as weigh in on the ones given below. Please keep in mind that some of these authors may be problematic. Also, I might not be classifying some of them correctly because I don’t have all the racial or sexual identity information for all of them.

Any book marked with an asterisk (*) is one of which I own a physical copy that I’d like to give away. Comment if you want one of them and I will email you to coordinate mailing the book.

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In Defense of Excluding White Male Authors

Update: A recommendation list of non-white and/or non-male authors.

I recently announced something I’d decided on ages ago: That I’d exclusively be reading non-male authors in 2015 and non-white authors in 2016.

The moment of resolution happened when my horrified eyes beheld my reading record on gender. Not only were my percentages far less than 50/50 (favoring male authors) but also most of the female authors on record for me reflected books that I’d read as a child and younger teen. From the time I started university until now, I’d mostly read white male authors.

Furthermore, the works by the relatively few authors of color I’d read were on racial issues and the non-male authors I’d read were writings on feminism.

How did this happen to a voracious reader who graduated with a double degree in the Humanities, an area of study widely reviled as diversity-obsessed? The short answer is that I paid no attention to gender or race in my reading, and not caring is a recipe for bias in a world riddled with inequality. [Read more…]

Patricia Arquette & the Trouble with White Feminism

While I am all for equal pay, I am not here for white women who think that gender inequality is the only inequality left in the world, especially not rich ones. Despite the copious amount of praise I saw last night and this morning for Patricia Arquette’s call for equal pay, she squarely placed herself in those dubious ranks with her follow-up remarks on the matter.

“It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

A perfunctory glance at the history of social justice reveals that while people of color have always showed their support for women’s rights, white feminists have always been and continue to be exclusionary of non-white women’s concerns.
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The False Inclusivity of “LGBT” & Other Hip Terms

Imprecision does not inclusivity make. In fact, it makes absolutely no sense to say “people” when you exclusively mean “men” or “women”, “partners” when you mean “spouses”, “spouses” when you mean “husbands” or “wives”, or “LGBT” when you mean “cis white gay men.” This nonsense is becoming more and more common as inclusivity becomes a more and more common goal, but inclusive-seeming language can serve as a shield to the lack of truly inclusive and intersectional concerns. [Read more…]

“Where Do You Meet Such Awful People?” & Other Microaggressions

Beware of blowing off steam on the Internet. Even if you tell people to avoid giving you advice, they will give it anyway. Unsolicited advice can often come off as patronizing and condescending. At its mildest, it is often utterly uninformed and useless to the person for whom it is allegedly given.

Advice is just one of the many counterproductive riders people attach to expressions of alleged sympathy. For your edification, here are some responses to some of the ones more commonly heard by yours truly. [Read more…]

I Am Ethically Obligated to Judge You

There are a lot of things about me that shock people, but one of the most shocking seems to be my lack of unmitigated open-mindedness. I’ve surprised many a person with how close-minded I can be to, say, dating a Christian or promoting the work of an unapologetic anti-trans bigot. As someone who struggles for acceptance, I am supposed to be accepting of all things. Anything. Even things that harm me and mine. Because Tolerance!

As you might suspect, I’m not on board with this line of thinking.

In the quest for a better society, the idea of judging anyone for any reason has seemingly become verboten. I can’t help but feel that some nuance regarding why generalizing and stereotyping can be bad has been lost in the shuffle.

I don’t think that judging people based on what they call themselves and with whom they associate is such a bad thing. In fact, in the case of self-identified choices in affiliation, it would be far more unjust to the person to totally disregard what they’ve said about themselves to me. [Read more…]

Urgent Final Push for the Secular Women Work Conference

Some of my favorite organizers and people of all time, Chelsea Du Fresne, Monette Richards, and Stephanie Zvan, are proposing a conference for later this year. As Women in Secularism is on hiatus for 2015, they want to make Secular Women Work happen in August.

The Kickstarter for the conference ends in but a few short days and is, as of writing this, just over 60% fulfilled. If have any interest whatsoever in supporting such powerhouses in the movement and the voices for whom they hope to build a platform, please donate and/or share the link on your social media accounts. If you won’t be able to attend, you could always take out an ad in the program or donate your ticket. There are so many options. If you can’t afford to give, your sooner-rather-than-later social media share means more people who can give will see it before it ends.

Between the three of them, they certainly have the organizing chops and my hearty personal endorsement. When I speak of tireless people working for change in the movement, I certainly had them in mind.

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