It’s Down With Cis Day!

i log into the tumblr
i oppress the cis
officialcisally

It’s International Down With Cis Day, suggested by tumblr user queernightmare to commemorate the birth of a meme.  On this day last year, a creepy transphobe with the handle “foreverhonest” posted a patently false story of being assaulted by trans people.  Behold the majesty:

Here’s a thing that happened to one of my friends. I was there.

Basically, we were walking down the sidewalk, talking about something meaningless. I think it had to do with a movie. Then this bus screeches up, stops next to us, and a bunch of people with “Down with Cis” shirts climbed out and started beating him up. I was punched and kicked a bit too, but I managed to avoid brutalization by going for their faces. After figuring out what’s happening, I started attacking them back, getting them off of him. He was quite injured but I called 911 and he made a full recovery at the hospital. I was fine, with only a cut on my arm that they patched up.

It had to be a joke, right?  If so, it went over the heads of people looking for reasons to hate trans folks.  Tumblr user chandra-nalaar compiled “some highlights from all the people who believed the ‘down with cis’ post.”  Follow that link at your own peril.  Well, clearly FH didn’t expect anyone to believe that, right?  Their post history (not linking to it) shows they are in fact an open transphobe, so what did they mean to achieve if it was a joke?  The clear aim is to spread transphobia.  Perhaps the laughably obvious lies from someone going by “foreverhonest” were meant to establish plausible deniability.

It doesn’t matter because it quickly became a meme.  Before that cisgender man, no one had ever uttered the grammatically bizarre phrase “Down With Cis.”  Now, it has been reclaimed by trans people and their allies, adding to the legend.  Some write improbable stories of their own patterned after his, others use the phrase and variations as a cheeky rallying cry of the oppressed or just to indulge in cathartic silliness. (warning for flashing animated gif on last link)

Lida Frank art of three puppies with cute accessories over a rainbow heart, text added reads

Why all the hubbub, bub?  You may find yourself wondering, might not even be familiar with the terms in play.  Let me see if I can break it down to the basics:

    • Some people are transgender.  Possibly oversimplifying, this means the gender they were labelled with at birth doesn’t feel right for them.
    • Acknowledging this means we need a word for the non-transgender people, preferably avoiding words like “normal” which might make members of minority genders feel further ostracized. Science provides us with the prefix cis-, which is used in biology and other fields as the opposite of trans-. Thus, most people reading this are cisgender.
    • Transgender people suffer from a truly appalling amount of discrimination and poor treatment, perhaps the bitterest from people who are progressive on other issues and should know better. The term for anti-transgender prejudice and systemic abuse is transphobia.
    • Some cisgender people believe it is possible for transgender people to oppress them back. They call that cisphobia.
    • Cisphobia is not real. A transgender person could literally say “I hate all cisgender people” and it would not constitute oppression. Why? Because a small minority of humans reviled by a huge amount of ignorant humans cannot in any meaningful way “oppress the oppressors.” Their scorn lacks the weight of an entire culture backing it, so it can’t cause harm in the same way.
    • Just like christian fundamentalists in the US who think any laws short of xtian theocracy are somehow oppressing them, transphobes (often those same xtians) can become really committed to the idea they are threatened by violent trans oppressors.
    • Hence the fictional gang of violent transgender people, inflicting violence on those they magically sensed were cisgender, at the start of this perverse tale.
    • Every transgender person alive today has experienced a lifetime of transphobia and can experience incidents of it almost every day. Even those few who “pass” as cisgender completely can still have terrible feelings dredged up by the cisnormativity that completely saturates most cultures around the world.
    • In this toxic transphobic world, cursing out your oppressor, just disrespecting the hell out of them in your own spaces, can be a needful emotional release for transgender people.
    • Down With Cis – a phrase coined by a transphobe and put into the mouths of an imaginary violent transgender mob – is a delightfully short and punchy slogan for achieving that catharsis. Unlike the earlier “die cis scum,” DWC isn’t even violent. It went from being a tool of transphobic oppression to a meme for transgender empowerment.

And so, without giving any thanks to the creep that unintentionally started all of this, let us celebrate International Down With Cis Day.  If you’re transgender, nonbinary, genderfluid, whatever, grab a t-shirt and get on the bus.  If you’re cisgender and leave a rainbow cake on your stoop at midnight while singing hosannas to Laverne Cox, the bus will pass you by.  The rest of you?  Down with cis!

 

Guest Post: I am the Stranger

Guest post by The Beast from Seattle

The life of an Atheist (from Visconti's adaptation)

The life of an Atheist (from Visconti’s the Stranger)

I have what you might say is a ‘strained relationship’ with my mother, for reasons not worth getting into here.  But we do spend some time together and as she is a big reader, I often loan her books I’ve already finished, despite our wildly opposed tastes.  One summer I gave her a stack including The Road, a couple books of poetry by Rimbaud (it had that ‘weird style’ where the words ‘don’t make sense’ apparently), and The Stranger by Albert Camus.  It wasn’t meant to be a pile o’ bleak, just what I’d been reading at the time.  A week or so later we were in the car, where she’d normally go on about her troubles at work and coworkers that she doesn’t like.  This particular sunny afternoon, she paused for a long moment and told me this…

“If you’re ever on trial for something, even if you didn’t do it, make sure you pretend to be upset.”

I thought it was the most bizarre thing I’d ever heard, and it took me a few days to realize– she thought I was l’étranger.

In the first pages of the novel the apathetic main character doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral, which serves as evidence of his heartless nature in his future murder trial.  Regardless of what that implies about my relationship with my mother (Maman est thankfully not morte), it said a lot about her opinion of me.  Note that she said ‘pretend to be upset,’ because nothing could upset me as the stoic, humorless bastard I am.  Years before I settled on being an atheist, and identified as an agnostic (on Facebook alone probably, as I can’t imagine wanting to have that conversation with her), she told me she was fine with it as long as I ‘believed in something.’

We believe in nothing, Lebowski!

We believe in nothing, Lebowski!

Being an atheist would be troubling, as though I was smoking and she’d tolerate it for now, ‘as long as I was healthy.’  Why?  Because it was disturbing to think that I might really believe in nothing.  To her, Christianity is a pleasant, happy thing where you’ll meet dead relatives in heaven and live in familial harmony forever.  Being an atheist is denying that, not only for yourself, but denying that it even exists.  It’s the reason people say ‘Aww,’ and wrinkle their foreheads when you mention your non-beliefs.  (Or is that just me?)  Being an atheist is being a hater of everything, believer of nothing.

and I mean it

We never had that conversation again after my views changed, but she’s seen me cry at a funeral, laugh, grumble about my own job.  Yet I am still l’etranger in her eyes.  Maybe it was just my taste in books– bleak poetry, nihilistic philosophy and babies on spits.  At least she didn’t focus on the last part.  Well, I’m off to go stare at the sea, stare at the sand, and not kill anyone of any ethnicity.

The Cure performs a song inspired by L’Étranger

drawing of the Beast from Seattle, a blue devilThe Beast from Seattle was born in the ’80s, is a big queer goth weirdo, and the kind of person who’ll break his keyboard trying to get every last cat hair out of it.  He wrote a term paper defending lurkerdom and normally never comments anywhere, but Great American Satan will keep squeezing posts out of him until his natural tendencies win the day.

Spring Fashion Confession, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love FtB

All I hear about joining FtB is that I’ve given up my freewill to a Grade A
Poopyhead: PZ Myers. You know what? It’s true. And now I must confess why:
Really, I just like poop on my head. To wear waste as a hat? Simply divine.
I’m kidding though. Of course I’m not wearing fecal fedorae. My fetish is
Larry King costumes. The real reason is because I hate freedom.

FtB’s critics have long seen the truth of this place, but somehow don’t get it.
Of course we’re about Freedom from Thought, but they think that’s a bad thing.
Oh well. Some people just have to waste their time flailing through the world.
Living in a constant turmoil of indecision, when all they need is strong leaders.
Saying and doing only what my thought leader says: This is true happiness.

Half a Day

It’s Tuesday. (Took a while to get this post finished, settled for half a day because I wanted to spare myself more difficulty.)

I wake up at six in the morning with four hours of sleep. Why do I do these things? Getting by on that little sleep hasn’t worked out for me since my early twenties. I’m not even a drinker. Anyway, I’m sleeping on the floor because the last cheapy fold-up beds we had fell apart a few years ago. Not built for un-skinny tall dudes and I don’t have money for something better than a cruddy stopgap. Even though I sleep on the floor, I’m not someone who typically feels back pain. But I did something recently and today is horrible. Mostly just when getting up or down, so better than chronic conditions…
[Read more…]

A Resurrection Story

This story was partially written by one of my least sucky groups of players ever, in a D&D game. I changed the characters substantially to work better for an audience unfamiliar with that situation, so nothing should be too confusing here. It is a short story about a resurrection, to fit the day in an irreligious way.

The Virile had a rough morning. This sort of thing wasn’t supposed to happen in the city. You go to a magic demonstration and yawn while the party’s arcanist rubs their chin. You don’t go to see your priest’s head explode. There would be a reckoning over this slight because The Virile had a reputation to maintain – the manliest band of heroes in town – but for now the agenda was resurrection.
[Read more…]

WTF Product Placement

Remember these guys?

white hair metal guys with puffy perms and glam pseudomilitary fashion

Autograph – Turn up the Radio

“Autograph” as far as I recall were a one-hit wonder from my childhood / the 80s, who performed this crowd-pleasing jam:

I was just perusing the good old days on youtube when my eyes beheld a surprising sight.

puffy-haired metal guys behold a cool pencil

Autograph – Turn up the Radio
Mechanical Pencils – Papermate

This video was paid for by Papermate mechanical pencils. Because as my partner quipped, “Graphite is forever.” While that is a pretty cool pencil, I just can’t handle it right now. I bid you good day.

Guest Post: The Carmex of Music

I will occasionally be posting for my guest blogger. He doesn’t want a wordpress account so he won’t be making these directly, but I’ll label them as “Guest Post” and put his blurb at the bottom.

(art by Al Columbia)

Don’t hold out on me, Bruh.       (art by Al Columbia)

I told G.A.S tonight that I shouldn’t be allowed to listen to the Pixies with my headphones on. Invariably, I will slowly turn up the volume until it’s maxed out and my brains are dribbling out my ears. This is something unique to this band, and whatever hearing loss I have now I blame entirely on them. It must be some arcane musical wizardry, along with the way their songs always seem to end too early, no matter how many times you listen to them. I liken this phenomena to that of Carmex lip balm.

Once in middle school an outbreak of Carmex addiction hit the seventh graders hard, I among their sad, chapped numbers. If you were unfortunate enough to leave your denim jacket on the back of a chair, you’d come back to parched junkies digging through your pockets for a dip into that little yellow pot. Many the Trapper Keeper and Peechee were edged in medicinal grease after a tube released all over the bottom of a backpack.

I went cold turkey, and to this day I yearn to feel that uncanny burn on my lips. Snopes claims this is a hoax, but they’re obviously in the pocket of big balm. So, I say that the Pixies are the Carmex of music, damaging to your physical health but delicious and addictive. But I ain’t giving that shit up, and they never ruined any stationery.

drawing of the Beast from Seattle, a blue devilG.A.S. told me to write this as a blog entry, so here it is as introduction to me, the Beast from Seattle. I’m a big-time lurker so I normally never comment anywhere or even as much as write on Facebook. I wrote a term paper defending lurkerdom, but I will fight my natural tendencies and write something here once in a while. About me: I was born in the ’80s, am a big queer goth weirdo, and the kind of person who’ll break their keyboard trying to get every last cat hair out of it.

Woofin’ and Beefin’

I used to work with a young lady that described someone else’s belligerence as “woofin’ and beefin’.”  I love that language.  But I do want to avoid fights with others in the neighborhood.  I’ve already had a pretty negative interaction with one other blogger on this network and decided to just drop out of that scene instead of pressing it.  I made my feelings on the general topic clear here (my islamophobia post), but will not address that specific conversation or go back there again.

Likewise, I have been affiliated with and linked to people who have had some rough interactions with another prominent skeptic blog site.  I agree with their point of view completely, but I don’t want to say anything negative about specific other people in the progressive atheo-skepti-sphere, from my little corner.  That is to say, if I have a problem that I feel compelled to address, I’ll do as before and avoid naming names and getting into specific exchanges.  But I will post my feelings on the subject in general.

I hope that doesn’t seem too passive-aggressive or cowardly* to the people who need advocates the most. If it becomes a problem for any of you, let me know how you feel.

*Per a thoughtful suggestion, I might stop using this word on my blog. I’ll have to change the mouse-over text on the tab for the site if I do. Still thinking about it.