Announcement and update

Hello friends!

The announcement is that B. D. Gates has published her sequel to Bishop’s Run, a book that you may remember me gushing about last year. I’ve been dying to know what happens next in the lives of these characters, and after having read Double Play, I have to say, a lot happens! I won’t say anything about the plot, because to do so would provide spoilers to the first book. But it’s packed with action and it provides more romantic situations for our lesbian heroines. If you liked Bishop’s Run, then check out Double Play. If you haven’t read Bishop’s Run, please do!

Readers have asked me for an occasional update. Well, I’m still avoiding politics. I absolutely can’t stand the world and I’m basically hiding in my bunker. I definitely won’t be writing any political essays any time soon. My mental health was going down the drain and I didn’t want to take any pills so now I’m on a steady diet of positive thinking and meditation. I’ve been really enjoying the Headspace app, and I recommend it for anyone else who wants to meditate but needs some guidance. Fortunately, I am doing better now.

I’m finding that reading and writing fiction is a great escape from the world, and I’m more interested in storytelling these days as an avenue of expression. I did do a lot of fiction writing last year, but I was vague about my goals and I was unsure exactly who my characters were and where my setting was. I just knew I wanted to write about a femme lesbian main character, and that I liked fairy tales. I combined several ideas that I liked into one story, which didn’t work too well, as my ideas were not all suited to the same time period. When it came time to start revising, I found that there were things that didn’t make sense about my characters and setting, and to fix those problems required discarding almost everything and starting afresh. This was really painful, but despite the pain I was more determined than ever to keep going. I’m getting more specific about my characters and setting now, and I’m gearing up to write more drafts. Sadly, I’m still far away from having anything to show you, but I have taken step one and that has enabled me to get to step two.

I’ve also been reading more lesbian novels in an effort to study the genre. I’ve been considering what elements I think should be necessary in a lesbian novel, and how lesbian romance compares and contrasts to heterosexual romance. I’ve also been studying history in order to help me write a fairy tale setting. I’ve never been very interested in history before, so this is new for me.

I have two friends who have been listening to my constant thoughts and worries about fiction writing and they have been absolutely wonderful. Thanks!

I hope everybody is doing well. Please feel free to update me in the comments.

P.S. Did you see that music video Pynk by Janelle Monáe? If not, stop what you’re doing and go right to YouTube! OMG!

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Coming to a close

I don’t think I’ll be blogging much anymore. I’ve deleted about half my posts here, but kept the recent ones and a few of the better old ones. There’s a few good things here that I don’t want to lose. I may consider archiving a few things. It’s been a great three years but it’s been long enough.

If there’s anything here you like and want to save, I recommend saving the text on your own computer, just in case.

Thanks for being here.

Video: Butch documentary

This is an absolutely beautiful mini documentary about an artist doing a photography project on butches. Her name is SD Holman and you can find information about her project here.

She talks about butches but she also mentions her femme partner and how meaningful her support was. I wrote down this awesome quote:

“I was hoping that young butches especially, but all butches or masculine-of-center women, would feel the way my wife Catherine made me feel, which was disastrously handsome.”

Here’s the video:

Human rights abuses against the waria of Indonesia

From the Guardian:

Stripped naked and beaten: transgender women flee Indonesian city in fear

Transgender people have been fleeing the sharia-ruled Indonesian province of Aceh amid fears of further violence, an exodus that comes in the same week the national parliament proposed criminalising gay and all extramarital sex.

In the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, scores of transgender people have fled following the arrest and public shaming of 12 trans women in neighbouring North Aceh.

The 12 women, known as waria, were arrested on Saturday night when police, accompanied by locals, raided beauty salons and forced them to strip off their shirts and have their hair cut in public.

In detention the waria were compelled to undergo an ad hoc form of “gender re-education”, which included wearing men’s clothing, physical exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups, and instruction on lowering their voices, until they were deemed suitably “macho”.

Sources close to those detained say they were also stripped naked and beaten by police, and upon release are suffering psychological trauma.

I found this BBC article explaining who the waria are. They are cross-dressing males: “the word waria comes from the Indonesian word “wanita” meaning woman, and “pria” meaning man.” This word reminds me of the word “he-she” that was used in the U.S.A in the mid-20th century.

According to the BBC’s information, the waria work as street vendors and some are in the sex trade. According to the Guardian article, some of them work in beauty salons.

It is common that men who are naturally feminine are homosexual, and it’s also common that such men are assumed to be homosexual whether it’s true or not.

From the Guardian article linked above, “A recent survey found that nearly 90% of Indonesians who understood the term LGBT felt “threatened” by the minority and said same-sex relations were not permitted in their religion.”

Interesting how people are so “threatened” by working-class men wearing makeup that they need to create laws against them and get police officers to torture them. How much power and influence do a small group of poor men have, that this level of state intervention is required to stop them?

In fact, the same thing has happened in North America. Cross-dressers, both male and female, were harassed by both police and private citizens and severely punished for being cross-dressers and for being gay, in the not-so-distant past.

The Guardian is calling these waria “transgender women,” which is certainly the way the Western world would prefer to label them. I am concerned that calling male cross-dressers “women” erases the likely fact that they are gay men, and I don’t like the erasure of gay people.

Indonesia is cracking down on homosexuality and feminine men because they are threats to patriarchy. The traditional family unit where a masculine man is in charge of a feminine woman and their children is essential to maintaining patriarchy. Feminine homosexual men, as well as masculine homosexual women, are a double threat to patriarchy because they break the rules of sexuality as well as traditional gender roles. They are also the most visible members of the gay community, since their difference is obvious and cannot be hidden. Targeting the most visible members of a community keeps everyone else in line.

It’s possible that some of the waria could be bisexual, heterosexual, or asexual, but that wouldn’t change my analysis of the reasons why they are hated.

The treatment of these waria is an abhorrent violation of their human rights. They should have the right to wear clothing normally designated for women, as well as the makeup and accessories that go with it, and wear their hair long, without being punished.

I do not believe the solution here is to pretend they are literally female. The solution is to stop sexism and homophobia.

Some garbage from the lesbian tag on WordPress

I checked the lesbian tag on WordPress, as I do occasionally to see if there’s any cool lesbian blogs out there that I’m not already following. Some asswipe has a porn blog that he keeps tagging lesbian (I’m assuming this is a dude) and check out this lovely content:

Like, WTF. I have two things to say:

  1. None of this has anything whatsoever to do with lesbians.
  2. It’s super obvious that porn is not “empowering” or “feminist” nor is it an expression of human sexuality, as some deluded idiots like to claim. Porn is stupid, sleazy, anti-sex, and is obviously aimed at the lowest life forms on Earth. Only a complete fucking moron would click on the above titles, like come on!

It’s probably a good thing I never check the lesbian tag on Tumblr, or for that matter, Pornhub.

*shudder*

Quote: “Butch rage”

This is a quote by Jeanne Córdova from her essay The New Politics of Butch, which I accessed in the anthology Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme.

“Growing up identifying with Rhett Butler instead of Scarlett O’Hara or Iron Man rather than Wonder Woman, butches are socialized from childhood to see ourselves as equal to men in terms of power. We later learn that the real world doesn’t agree with us. This disparity causes “butch rage,” which functions as both armour and an emotional disability that most teen butches grow up with. Butch rage is instilled in us out of the dissonance of having been born masculine females in a sexist world. As pre-pubescent children, butches feel we are the equals of our sibling brothers and fathers, but in high school we receive cinematic, literary, and social messages from our peers and families that this is not true. We are told that men and women are different, that the difference is power, and that women are inherently less powerful. Because of these messages, many butches internalize a false and sexist shame about being female. As sexist messages decrease (at least in the Western world), young masculine-of-centre women today grow up with less butch rage and the ability to dually validate both their masculine and female-bodied selves.”

I found this quote very interesting because it aligns with my theory on the development of gender dysphoria among masculine females. I will note, however, that Córdova also wrote in this essay that she thinks there is a genetic difference between butches and trans men.

I hope my butch readers will share their perspective: do you think there is such a thing as “butch rage”? If this is something you have felt, can you talk about it? Do you think that butch rage is getting better or worse over the years? I would love to read your comments.

Anxiety and depression

I’m a person who struggles with anxiety and depression. I wasn’t born depressed, but I definitely have a tendency to develop depression as a part of my personality. I remember being 13 and feeling a “dark thing” enter me and it left me in shadow most of the time ever after.

Anxiety and depression limit what I do in life. There are some normal activities I steer clear of because they cause me too much anxiety, and I could probably be capable of having a higher-level career if I was able to handle anxiety better. Sometimes I find myself wanting to do something but unable to do it because I am paralyzed with a sort of dark heaviness that drains my energy beyond reason.

The dark heaviness is often coming from life circumstances and although it might look like a chemical imbalance if someone were to scan my brain, I don’t think it’s an inborn trait. I have a sense of weariness that comes from the frustration of identifying problems every day that I want to solve that I can’t solve, and knowing that each day will bring new problems, many of which I still will not be able to solve. I have a sense of hopelessness from knowing that the world I live in is totally wrong and yet the task of fixing it is unfathomably large and hardly anyone around me is willing to even look at what the problem is. I am very emotionally sensitive and sometimes when I’m feeling tired, frustrated and hopeless it causes additional effects like trouble concentrating, feeling “spaced out” and forgetful. When I’m in this state, tired and spaced out, I make stupid mistakes, and then I get more frustrated, which causes a snowball effect where I keep feeling worse and worse until I just want to escape from my life. All these factors are a part of the Dark Thing.

I have found cognitive behavioural therapy very useful, and I took medication for a few years. I am not on medication now, but sometimes I’m on the verge of needing to go back on it because I’m not doing well.

There are a few reasons why I don’t want to be medicated. I have a belief that medicating depression just covers up the problem without solving it. I hate the pharmaceutical industry and I don’t want to give them any money. I hate drugs and don’t want them in my body. I’m scared of side effects–both known and unknown. I’ve been on medication before and I know that it numbs me—I feel less anxiety and depression, which is good, but I also feel less joy. I am capable of feeling joy sometimes, and I want to keep that capacity. I also know that anti-depressants kill my sex drive, and since sex is one of my favourite things in life, I don’t want to lose that. It’s a contradiction to give up one of the few things you enjoy in order to feel better. It’s just trading one problem for another problem of equal magnitude. Not worth it.

My official plan is to manage my mental health by meditating. I know that meditating helps me a lot, because I’ve done it before and it has helped me a lot. It helps me by relaxing me, which makes it easier to sleep, easier to think clearly, and easier to deal with problems. This prevents the Dark Thing from building up too much. Sitting quietly and listening to my body also means that I acknowledge feelings I’m having that want to be acknowledged, which means that when they feel heard they can finally let go, and I feel better. If I don’t listen to my feelings then they build up until I can’t ignore them, and at that point I’m usually not even a functioning human being anymore.

I don’t necessarily follow my official plan though. I don’t do meditation very often even though I know I need it. It’s hard to explain why this is, but my best guess is that it’s exhausting to process emotions and our default habit as humans is to find distractions in order to avoid them. I also have an underlying attitude that it’s silly or frivolous to just sit and listen to my body for a while. This is an attitude I need to let go of. It’s not silly or frivolous to take care of yourself, and emotional care is as important as any other kind of care.

Sometimes I have a really bad time, where I either cease to function entirely and just sit still feeling paralyzed, or when I lose it and start sobbing. In these moments I face the fact that I either have to start meditating or I have to take antidepressants again. It’s one or the other, I don’t get to choose neither. And yet old habits are hard to shake. I’m still at an impasse where I haven’t done much of anything and I’m letting myself just be a mess.

Just this month I did finally sit quietly and listen to my body again, and I was amazed that I got all sorts of insights and clarity in a short time. I also felt more relaxed. I know that the brain gets into habits with emotions, and when the brain is in the habit of feeling anxiety it jumps right to that feeling all the time and stays there. I know that retraining the brain to feel something else is a process that requires a change of habits and a practice over time. I know I can do this is if I stick to it. I should do this regularly, not just when I’m in a crisis, because that’s how you prevent a crisis.

Even though I don’t like taking medication, I did for a while because I wasn’t going to be able to get through my life otherwise. I went off it a few years later when I got more stable.

Even though I don’t like taking medication, I wouldn’t try to stop someone else from taking it. We all get to make our own decisions about how we take care of ourselves, and we all respond differently to medication—some people might like it better than I do.

Some people might look at my situation and think I’m absolutely crazy for not being on medication. I clearly am losing out on some things in life because I have mental illness that is untreated. This is where values and priorities come in. I value the feelings of joy that I feel really strongly when I’m unmedicated and I value having a sex drive. Feeling sexual desire is actually one of my sources of energy. I have a right as a human being to feel joy and to feel sexual desire and to be energized by that. I have the right not to have that numbed. If I had less anxiety I might be able to move into higher positions at work, but I don’t think this is something I need. I don’t have much money, but I also don’t think money is that important.

I don’t think children and youth should be medicated, because there is a risk of side effects, one of them being increased suicidal feelings, which is a very big deal. I think young people need to learn how to manage their emotions and they shouldn’t be encouraged to see drugs as a solution to problems, because that’s the wrong approach. Medicating a person numbs them to emotions, good and bad. When you medicate a young person, they might lose the opportunity to learn to experience joy as well as pain.

If there was a large lobby group insisting that everyone with depression necessarily had to take pills, and that was trying to cover up other ways to deal with depression, and that was calling people “bigots” for managing depression in ways other than medication, then I’d be really pissed. This would limit the choices available to people for how to take care of themselves, and it would steer everyone toward the method that generates money for capitalism instead of the method that connects us to our humanity. If there was such a lobby group, I’d call them a part of capitalism and I’d say they didn’t care much about depressed people.

Feeling the emotional impact of the shitty world humans have created is a part of the human experience, and we can decide that it’s a reason to make things better, or we can decide to blame ourselves for being defective and just numb ourselves to it. Some people might have to numb themselves because they have no other choice, they can’t manage otherwise. I’m not trying to judge those people, I know it’s rough. I have been there. But anyone who can should fight for a better world so that people don’t have to feel this way in the first place.

You have probably guessed by now why I decided to write this post—because my attitude toward anxiety and depression is the same as my attitude toward gender dysphoria. I think our natural feelings are a part of who we are and can be managed, and I think that being born with a tendency to feel uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean we have to use medical interventions. This is my attitude toward mental illness, including my own.