johanna_alice: (Default)
2014-05-16 10:43 pm

And the word for today is 'Accelerant'.

But don't worry it's only NaHCO3 with Cyanoacrylates. 
johanna_alice: (Default)
2014-04-22 02:48 pm

(no subject)

 Won't be going near FB for a long while either. If anyone does want me, phone, text, email, semaphore, telegraph or carrier-pigeon and even DW or LJ messaging are still functional.

That is all.

johanna_alice: (Default)
2012-04-11 12:56 pm

(Un)Equal marriage?

Our LGBT hot potato right now is Gay Marriage. Lots of my wider community want it, and though it isn't any kind of priority for me, I support those who do want gender-equality in this important area of their lives. I'm a trans-activist and this really is a gender-issue - we'd be going from trans parners to having trans *or* cis partners in a marriage. I've thought about this quite a bit and ranted not a little.

But even if gay marriage is achieved, it still won't be equality for a lot of my immediate community. There will still be a gender requirement attached to marriage. Man will be able to marry man, woman will be able to marry woman and woman will be able to marry man. We're still living in a world of binary genders where you must conform to one gender or the other to be recognised as a person in terms of both gender and legal things like anti-discrimination legislation and marriage.

I live in a world of spectrums and bell-curves where everyone is somewhere on the line between absolute masculinity and absolute femininity, but where no one is actually at the extremes. In many ways gender is not an issue because we all have a different one unique to ourselves and every one of those genders is valid.

Until a gender-variant person has legal recognition of their gender and the rights and protections that go with that recognition, they cannot possibly fit into the binary-gendered marriage/civil-partnership framework.

There's another, increasingly common, factor in considering legal partnerships. Many people have multiple partners and since I'm not religious, I really don't see any issue with numbers involved in said partnership. Right now a polyamorous person finds themselves having to choose between people in order to gain legal recognition - even if only in terms of next-of-kin. I might not be popular saying this, but that's an inequality too, because it is the state and society dictating what a legitimate relationship should be to it's members.

I'm sorry, but the campaign for equal marriage simply isn't for equal marriage. It's for equal binary-gendered marriage. Yes, it can and will help those trans people (like me) who do have binary genders and can fit into the boxes labelled, 'man', and, 'woman'. That's only some of us though.

Truly equal marriage would be a partnership between two people (or more controversially, two or more people) who wish for recognition of their partnership in either or both of the law and their religion. But no one is campaigning for that. No one is even looking at the part of my immediate community that doesn't fit boy or girl. Gay marriage is being sold as the end of a process of creating equality in recognition of life-partnerships. Once it's here, it will be done. I's dotted and t's crossed. There will be no further debate because the LGBT community will have what it wants. But it's not and can't be equality for all of us.

I know trans-issues are big and complicated and cross all kinds of lines and just don't fit in with how other people may relate to the world. But it really is as simple as saying something along the lines of, 'This is a person and their identity is worthy of respect and recognition.'. That's true for all of us, no matter what, and in that recognition of diversity and variety is equality.

So yes, I support gay marriage. But I resent it being mis-represented as equal marriage, because it's really not equal, and will continue to be unequal until people are seen as individuals with rights and protections that aren't dependent on anything else but being an adult human being. It's unequal-marriage until anyone can marry anyone and their genders simply aren't a factor in assessing the legality of the partnership.
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-11-18 05:36 pm

Too much information. Again.

It's been said that sometimes you don't get quite what you asked for. That pretty much sums up how I feel right now. Memories and inferences and one piece of hard information to draw it together. Don't like where it's taken me. That's because it's one of those places where I will have to do *something* eventually. No fireworks, no overt stance, just a principle I believe in being bent somewhat and my not being willing to leave it bent.

I know we don't always get what we want. But wouldn't it have been nice to have got what I need for once...
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-10-13 08:06 pm

Echoes of a past long gone

It's hard to tell when I became ill. In some ways I always was ill and just got sicker. In other ways I found myself encountering new difficulties right across my life. The result is the mess writing here now...

In many ways I can accept my life will never be a success, that I may never have the things other (more normal) people aspire to. That's OK. It's part of living life on your own terms and if money and stuff did mean so much to me then - Well them I wouldn't be me. Yet there are things I do value in my life. Mostly they're people though some are principles and values. Your values can change but they never leave you. People do though.

Today I'm having difficulties. Sometimes seeing or even thinking of a persons name is enough to trigger this fugue state where I'm trapped for a while in the past trying to work out what went wrong. I know the answers of course. They're just the usual hodge-podge of drifting apart, misinterpretation, effects of illness and very often (possibly misplaced) pride. Knowing doesn't make it any better though. Because along with my oh-so-useless intelligence, I'm blessed with almost photographic recall of things that happen to me when my emotions are running high. From peering over my own shoulder and seeing what a panic attack had reduced me to, to arguments with others in many circumstances, but here the example is going to be the steering-group meetings I attended before deciding to drop a small dinosaur-killer on the mess. That's safe, the people who matter to me who were there still talk to me and even understand some of what I did. But I remember other times too. Like they were yesterday. When something triggers those memories, they overpower me and set up a cycle of thoughts and emotions that it's hard to break out of.

Worse, one triggering is like a mousetrap in a room full of mousetraps. There's a chain reaction of recollection that goes right back into my early childhood. It's one of the major reasons I'm so ill.

I suppose I'm writing because I sort of resent having to remember. Not the events themselves, just having to remember them so clearly and feel the emotions and pain I felt at the time again. Time is supposed to be able to heal by cushioning our psyches against trauma and drawing a blurred veil over our memories. That doesn't happen for me.

There aren't any choices here for me. I've just got to wait it out once more until I can return to the present and the things I'd like to be doing today. I don't want to go back and change the past, I don't want to make it all better. It won't ever be because we all have bad things in our lives.

Is it too much to want to be able to move-on, to find some kind of closure with time and to be able to face new problems with a little more strength?

Of course resenting my memory and intelligence is effectively hating myself. Which means on some level perhaps I believe I deserve this. But not on a conscious one.

If anyone sees my subconscious, do me a favour and give it a good, hard, kicking for me please.
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-09-16 08:20 pm

Another Friday...

Didn't get everything I wanted to do this week done. Did get the important bit right though and made it to Realising Recovery on Monday. Didn't have a whole lot to do as I haven't done the training-for-trainers yet, but it was good to dust off my facilitation skills and be able to talk in front of a room full of people. Was a little insecure and did ask how I'd done - my feedback was I'd done OK :)

I'm also going to talk a little of stress and positive criticism because I encountered both.

On the one bit I was leading, we had a bit of a rush getting the materials distributed and I found myself with trainers doing stuff all around me. I default to being a little paranoid and thinking I've done something wrong. The important thing here was not that I felt this way because I don't think I could change that. What is important is that I took a deep breath, told myself that I was safe and that I trusted those who were doing stuff around me and just carried on. It was of course OK and they were making sure the segment ran smoothly. But this is one of my bugbears and I beat it :) 

The positive criticism was really useful (Thanks KJ!). I have a small issue when presenting in an environment where there is background noise. I don't project my voice enough. This is true, all my vocal therapy has been about feminisation and whilst I can now match voice to appearance most of the time, I just don't know how to increase my volume without letting go of the learnt behaviour that is my voice now. Going to try things at home, but may end up asking (my wonderful) vocal therapist for a top-up session if I'm not getting it.

One intriguing thing to come out of the day was that LRN and it's third-sector partners may be looking for volunteer administrators who would have equal status to paid staff members. Being responsible for my own workload and not encountering the volunteers-can't-do-that barrier sounds great. Doing it in a guaranteed safe-space sounds even better. I know the environment I need to function in and it looks remarkably like that. Would give me office-skills coupled with more facilitation experience whilst looking at my own recovery.

That was pretty much me for the week though. Haven't managed to get motivated enough to do anything else beside sleep (lots) and mess about with different Ubuntu installations until I ended up rejecting the latest, greatest V.11.04 in favour of V.10-RTS because I'm used to the GUI style.

Trans-stuff is very much back-burnered aside from personal stuff and TR, though TR is on a little of a go slow because I feel like I'm in a place where I may compare my ideas to other trans-projects in non-complimentary ways, as opposed to on grounds of innovation (Transition Plans, Hopefully NHS integration and continuing support in three monthly reviews for a year). I know I can do it, but there's something I need to do first :-

I need to stop being angry. I don't share the values of the organisation that nationally represents transgender issues. I think that with somewhere between 62% and 100% of TS's encountering poor mental health around their transition, that all trans-stuff should be done in safe-spaces,

The thing is, there is no place in a safe-space for anger.


So I'm going slow until I'm not so angry and distressed about internal-transphobia, exclusion and lack of positive action. Once I'm not, I can be effective again. Realising that is the first step. The rest will just take a little time...

johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-09-10 01:42 pm

The Umbrella Question

I'm supposed to not actively be an activist any more. However it seems you can take the girl out of activism, but you can't take activism out of the girl...

I encountered someone else's response to the Umbrella Question. That is to say whether transsexuals should be included within transgender and/or LGBT or not. They came down for being under the umbrella, but reading through what they had written reminded me of everything that is rotten and festering within the transgender community. All the things that have made me realise what I need above all is the freedom to express my disgust at internally-transphobic / transsexual-supremacist idea's being voiced. I'm just not safe bottling up emotions - especially anger and revulsion. That's why I'm quite so [mentally] ill right now and I need to change it.

The Umbrella Question is easy for me to answer. I truly believe I'm completely right on this one: We all make the choice for ourselves and none of us has the right to question or deride another's (different) answer. If some TS's want to split off and create some TS nirvana where they can compete in trying to climb a non-existent scrotum-pole to an equally non-existent place where they have some power over those around them, that's fine. But equally so those of us who want to be under the umbrella have the right to stand in unity with other transgender identities and our LGB allies.

To say that one group within a community is going to make choices for all within the community, that some will be defined as inferior and undeserving of equal treatment is fascism. It's the complete opposite to equality.

I won't stand silent as these views are voiced, to do so is against all my values. If that means standing alone, being insulted or excluded, so be it. I don't want to be part of a community that tolerates one part of it lording it over another. I don't want to work with those who think it's OK to sweep this kind of toxin under the carpet and move swiftly on. I don't want to hear stories about vulnerable people having their identities taken from them because they feel they must conform to what the loudest voices are saying, or that someone has had their identity insulted in the manner mine was when I took the grand dragon of the transsexual-supremacists on. I can take it, I know others have been reduced to tears and distress.

I'm not exaggerating this in my use of language. What is going on in the trans-community is a form of fascism. You can wrap it up as nicely as you like, but beneath the packaging is someone who thinks they are better and have the right to dictate how others should identify and express themselves.

Now I'm heading too close to outright criticism and I'm not going to be the kind of person who goes there anymore. If someone/something can't smell the foul stench under it's nose then...

Lastly, I'm not doing community activism right now. I feel there just isn't a place for someone who believes militantly in equality - between trans-people and trans-people and the wider community - right now. It feels very much like exclusion - If I behave, then I get to come in out of the cold. But I won't behave. I am militant in my beliefs about equality and I won't make myself ill deferring to others viewpoints from respect anymore. Which means that I pretty much won't be encountering transsexual-supremacists at events / conferences and the like. I may run into them at NHS consultations, and I'm very much afraid there will be a loud and verbally-violent argument. But I will not let go of my right to positively influence the healthcare provision of both myself and people like me. Maybe one day there will be an open and diverse transgender community in Scotland. I hope so. But all I can see are the people being damaged by those who wish to force their ideas of conformity on others.
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-09-06 05:23 pm

Being boring

Today I am trying to stay off painkillers (doing quite well so far), eating sweets and contemplating backing up 20+ worth of DVDs so I can upgrade my Ubuntu installation to 11.04 without potentially wiping my hard-drive. Also started to read Alastair Reynolds' 'Terminal World', but my ability to concentrate disappeared with the bathwater.

Just another day...
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-09-05 05:40 pm

Distance

Am beginning to feel better about things now I've made some decisions that allow me a degree of control over what's involved in my life. It will be nice to be able to talk about something more than just trans-stuff again. One side-effect seems to be that I don't seem to be inclined to comment on very much at the moment. The world is passing me by quietly and I think I'm happy with that for a while.

Still have a little pain, but tramadol seems to deal with it and so I'm more spaced-out than in pain most of the time. Sitting on buses is difficult though with minimal padding and bumpy roads.

I've only small plans for the autumn. Get out a little more, start to loose weight again, get as much as I can out of the recovery stuff I'm doing (Which has happily worked out not too badly with my hospital visit. I'll miss one planning session for Unit 1, but this is the one I'm most familiar with and I'm getting some bits I can lead assigned to me at the meeting). That starts from Mon 12th. At some point soon I'll be doing advanced WRAP, and then I'll see where that leads.

I'm also thinking of trying to sweet-talk the OU into letting me enroll for a course (I have been quite ill) again after dropping off a few years ago. Something gender/psychology related sounds interesting.

And I've written a post that only uses the T-word once. That's a start all by itself :)
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-09-04 04:05 pm

Withdrawal symptoms

I'm pretty much decided that I'm giving up activism now. There really doesn't seem much point in continuing when all there is is vicious in-fighting and the kind of me-culture that puts great white sharks to shame. I could fight that, but not alone, not when I speak out for equality for all trans-people, not just transsexuals and the organisation that campaigns for that equality remains silent.

Some of the reasons for that seem obvious, some have been explained to me - like one persons reasons for remaining silent up to a point and what they did when they did speak-out - but the point to me seems to be that I should never have been put in such a conflicted situation by the organisation I was volunteering with. They knew I have BPSD, they know I'm pretty militant in my attitudes and after my first emotional outburst, they knew I needed a safe space to be in as positive action to compensate for what is a very real and life-affecting mental disability.

I'm pretty sure it came down to 'them' or me. Phrased as a threat from at least two trans-group leaders regarding the terms of their continuing involvement. Diplomatic niceties and pat the mad girl on the head and keep her away from anything that might set her off again...

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't resentful. I don't like feeling an emotion like this, and like it even less when I know the best choice I could make within the context of the bigger-picture is not to fight. It would make too much mess. Yet choosing not to fight is pushing my self-worth into ever more abyssal depths. I'm told there will be better days, days when I can see myself making a difference once more. I suppose it's easy to say that based upon the person I was not so long ago. I'm not that person any more though. Being stuck in hospital has given me chance to think things over.

I was very ill. I don't think that illness can be completely separated from my letting my health/nutrition slide as a coping mechanism for all the things I was having to cope with. I'm pretty sure I would still accept making myself ill if it was something I thought I could change and that it was worth it.

The kind of transgender community we have simply isn't worth it. A community of vast inequality where people are sometimes driven to tears or self-harm by the kind of views that are aired by (frankly) middle-aged female transsexual supremacists (MAFTS for short). MAFTS who think that they are the only 'correct' expression of a trans identity and that there is some position of authority or control they must achieve over the whole community. MAFTS who at their worst claim to speak for the entire community...

I would, did, fight to try to change that. I've gone from being second-choice candidate for a role directly supporting people through transition to an emotional wreck who feels excluded, not by the moderate portion of my community, but by the organisation that claims to want to make those positive differences, the same one who's director sat by whilst internally-transphobic comments were made at an event *they* were chairing. The same one that seems to refuse to recognise and provide appropriate positive action for mental-health based disabilities.

I could go all out, bring forward all the evidence I have and complain I've been subject to discrimination on the basis of (mental) disability. I could use that to lever open a lot of the other issues peripheral to my going very hypomanic in my interactions. But what good would it do? I still wouldn't have what I'd like, still would be mad Johanna who caused a huge fuss and then screamed discrimination over it. That's not who I am, and what I want is a long way from that.

All I want is to be in recovery and to be able to use my skills and experience to be part of building a fully inclusive transgender community and to work towards the wider Scottish community understanding our needs and seeing us as just another human being.

And I can't have that.

For all my lack of self-worth, I do have some degree of pride in my abilities. I'm good at what I do. Maybe not the best, maybe a little too emotionally engaged, willfully a little naive in outlook, but good at what I do. I've spent the last year seeing problems I really could have fixed, given the opportunity to do so. I've watched those problems grow and propagate and seen others bring up those same problems and be taken seriously where I was heard but not listened to. I can't give my skills and abilities away and that is horribly painful to experience.

So I'm walking away. For all those reasons. And because of my pride, because I cannot stand being Cassandra and seeing things going wrong that I'm helpless to alter, I won't be coming back. I am who I am, and if all the good things I did are outweighed by my illness manifesting itself over a matter that the organisations board confirmed the unacceptability of to me, then I cannot engage with them any more. We obviously have very different values about freedom of speech, hate-speak and universal-inclusion.

Of course they'll never come to me and ask me to be involved again. **shrug** I might not quite be their loss, might be too militant for some tastes. Every cause, every struggle for equality needs someone to point out the elephants in the room, and someone who will take bullies on directly. I'm not sorry I'm able to see clearly enough to be that person.
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-07-28 06:20 pm

Mutiny!

I'm avoiding Queer Mutiny. In fact you could say that I'm mutinying against the mutiny. Only this time it's not a battle of wills or the kind of determined anger that gets me into so much trouble at other times. Just non-participation. I think I've just worked out why. It's about conformity again...

I didn't want to argue, so I didn't, but the nature of that decision and the one to not participate has been niggling me. Quite a few people were talking about maybe cooperating, working with or accessing other organisations. LGBT Youth was well up on the list. But one person dug their heels in and declared that this wasn't what QM was about. Which to a point is true. QM has it's own identity, it does things itself and doesn't get funded by any public body. However I do feel that if someone would potentially benefit from a cooperation then that can only be a good thing.

The collective is a funny thing. I've 'imposed' my will upon it in the past. OK that was a very deliberate re-phrase and demonstration that insisting the music played at an open-mic evening should be from a set play-list set on a computer-chosen random was plain old counter-productive. Bottom-line there was letting people play what they wanted. Quite a few people said they like the way things changed musically.

This time I was threatened with the collective wrath of the collective. That doesn't bother me much. But being told that something a few people would have liked to have done was not going to happen because it was against the ethos of QM and that if necessary many people would be dug up to essentially turn up and vote (yes, QM, vote!!) has turned QM from a friendly place where people do stuff together because they want to into some kind of formalised set of standards, morals and purposes with an old-guard ready to be rolled out to enforce the status-quo over others ideas.

Welcome to being exactly like any other damn group in the world. People saying that things should conform to a certain set of conditions without exception, experimentation or deviance. People saying someone can't do something, because they say so.

I could have argued, I could have even won that argument. But that's beside the point. I wasn't par of QM to argue. I was there because I don't conform, because I do rebel against the imposition of authority on me, because I can see the value in having that social space.

But not like that. That's no place for me to be because I would react more and more badly to feeling as if I was being made to conform. I've enough on my plate right now without a stupid pointless power-struggle over a once every few months club night with people I quite like...
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-07-10 10:00 pm

We need an iridium layer. Right now!

I've oft advocated a policy of amused tolerance of some of our societies dinosaurs. On the grounds that we can point at them in amusement as they show us exactly why certain things are social faux-pas.

It is however easy to forget that some of the dinosaurs were the biggest critters to walk the Earth, and that others had quite advanced brain/body size ratio's. In other words some of them were quite dangerous. Homo Clarksonius Innapprorpriateus has just demonstated that. Consider if you will the implications of the phrase petrosexual...

Suddenly louts with cheap rip-off spoiler kits and bolt-on chrome end-bits for their exhausts you can dock the Ark Royal in, are a vulnerable minority. This is not a thought that sits well with me!
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-06-28 03:11 pm

Waiting for nothing

All is silent. I know there's a world out there with people and causes and so much more, but in here all is silent and almost still. I'm not engaging with realist very well and that's not set to change too much in the immediate future. There are any number of things I could be doing but it all seems pointless for oh-so-many reasons that I can't find effective arguments against.

I suppose feeling that I was right, that my values are good and yet being excluded anyway has knocked me back a lot. Yet what can I do? I'm not a person who can sit idly by whilst stuff they feel strongly against happens around them. I had to do something and no one else was visibly doing anything. I say visibly because I also thing such things should be addressed openly, not behind closed doors. I also don't hold with separative-politics. That's the lesson I've learnt here. Yes, I could have continued, could have had meeting all by myself with the focus on me and my ideas. But the more I think of it, the more I know I was right to refuse, because not only am I disconnected from my community and therefore starved of information, but the more it would look like favoritism and my getting 'special treatment'. I don't want special-treatment.

I want to feel safe.
Read more... )

Think I'm officially declaring burn-out, can'tbebotheredanymoreitus, that I can't always stand alone and that I've had enough of feeling frustrated, distressed and upset now.

It's fair to say I hate being wrong. Turns out I like being right even less though. Told you the only victory here would be prryhic.

johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-06-23 07:13 pm

How simmering quietly changes to seething

I think the organisation I used to volunteer for has got something - one very specific thing - very wrong. Enough so that I've pretty much disregarded my own wellbeing and reputation in order to try to stop it directly. I'm not an ineffective activist in any way, so whichever way you look at my departure, it's a loss somewhere because I do still support the organisation in general. But I did it anyway.

It's about hate-speak and discrimination. I see one person openly denigrating another's equally valid identity as something that is akin to racism, religious intolerance and not giving disabled people a sufficient level of positive action that they can contribute effectively (but that last is straying a bit close to another wound so we'll move swiftly on). For an organisation that campaigns for LGBT rights and inclusion to tolerate such things being aired at an event it is running, without censure or challenge is (again to me) effectively providing a form of complicity and legitimacy to those statements. It's just not enough to sit back and say later that of course no one agrees with those statements, because obviously someone did and they have been allowed to present that point of view as one that is legitimate in others perceptions by virtue of the fact that it wasn't invalidated in any way by a person representing the organisation.

I feel very strongly about trans-issues. Not in an I want to be a community-leader kind of way, but in a way that says I will actively seek to promote positive engagement both within and without the community. I do that very well. And a person voicing internal transphobic-comments reduced me to a person who felt very alone and yet was determined to do something in order to prevent such things happening in the future. Today isn't about my methods, it's about the intrinsic unacceptability of the original act. It was wrong.

I'm also coming to the belief that it was also wrong for that organisation to allow a situation where one of it's participants felt a pressing need to object on moral grounds develop without positive intervention on it's part. I'm not talking about sitting me down and letting me talk it out here. That's all well and good for a personal trauma, but this wasn't a personal trauma, this was an act deeply offensive to my values. Something should have been done, because not doing so placed me in a vulnerable position.

Now I'm an adult and bear responsibility for my choices - even when I'm hypomanic. That's always a given. Being mentally ill is not ever a license to be rude and overbearing. But this was allowed to snowball without intervention.

Which brings me to the fall-out. I've submitted a suggestion to the board. Very definitely not a complaint, because I want positive change, not arse-kicking. Just that they look at their policy regarding responding to openly voiced internally-transphobic comments by participants at their events. Nothing earth-shattering or radical. I was promised an answer by yesterday and have been waiting, somewhat pessimistically, for it to come. It hasn't done. So what do I do next? Anything at all I could do will create a huge mess. Seriously. Yet I'm not willing to let this one go. If we let transsexuals openly call polygendered people inferior and voice opinions that transsexuals are more deserving of support, where does that end?

I'm not often sure of something. But I do know absolutely that every single one of us is unique and valuable as a person. The thing we all share is that we are equal and have the same rights and obligations as any other person. That's summed up in our human-rights. I'm taking it a little further than explicitly stated, but a person's freedom of expression can safely be argued to include their gender expression. To denigrate that is to attempt to limit that persons freedom of expression and potentially their right to wellbeing.

Discrimination is discrimination and I will not have it pass unchallenged in my earshot. Especially within a community that should know better after the amount of discrimination it has received from external sources.

There are so many options for what I **could** do next and I really need some help. I don't want to screw EN/STA over - we're on the same side and I like them. But equally so, such a situation should never happen again. They're supposed to champion ALL transgendered peoples rights, not just transsexuals. I've said it before and I'll say it again -

I'm someone who is medically classed as transsexual. I enjoy many rights and protections that those who have come before me have fought and suffered to get. When I talk to other transgendered people, I hear exactly the same stories about discrimination and abuse that were once more common for people like me. I don't want this equality except as a stepping stone to every transgendered person enjoying them too. I want my friends and fellows to have their equality. Mine isn't enough for me because I can still see people I care about suffering because of the lack of the medical label of gender-dysphoric.

So I will do **something**. Someone please tell me what is the least destructive thing I could do to encourage EN/STA to enact a zero-tolerance policy on internal-transphobia?
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-06-19 06:48 pm

Make it stop

I'm supposed to be happier today. I even said I was myself. Yet...

All there seems to be in my life is this obsessive [I don't even know what the right word is] thing that says the world isn't right. All I ever seem to talk about is trans-stuff and any time I can actually concentrate and feel human and useful is when I'm doing some form of activism. My flat is a bombsite and has been for months with stuff being shifted listlessly from pile to pile and back again. I couldn't face Queer Mutiny, not because of all the people, but because of the very specific few people there who I disagree with on some things and couldn't face potentially arguing with.

My life is shrinking down to four walls, an ex and two moggies. So not just me by myself, but I can remember when there was more, when I could be happy - as opposed to the merely not actively sad which passes for happy these days.

A few people have been making noises to the effect that I need to try something different - like in a work context. Or a volunteering one. **shrug** I don't care about other stuff enough to distract me from the stuff I do think about. That's why it's obsessive.

Sometimes I really do wish I was stupid and less self-insightful so I didn't have to see all this so clearly. Knowing what is happening to you and yet being helpless to change it is torture. No one can ever get away from themselves. Well they can, and that thought wanders across my mind a little more these days, but only in a morbid not desperate-enough way.

I don't know where this is going. Part of me should be, even is, happy that I'm finding ways to do stuff by myself, but it's a small amount and takes up so little of my capacity to do properly that is doesn't make much of a counterbalance for everything else.

Being happy seems like such an unreachable thing and stopping being actively unhappy so unlikely...

I can even try to put part of it into words: At a QM meeting not so long ago we had an opinionated debate about working in partnership with other groups and one member was completely against working with any kind of funded body at all. I could have pushed this one - everyone else present was for at least investigating the possibilities. But I didn't because I know how much not being listened to can affect and isolate you. I just talked about my position and eventually decided I didn't want a fight over it.

When I baled out of the Party, I really wasn't OK. I was scared and paranoid and curled up in a little ball. But I did let people know with (just) enough time to sort things out in time. I got a few messages about picking up the music and where was the QM playlist (I'm not the only person with a copy of the DVD, or the only person who doesn't know where their copy is...)? No one asked was I OK in a circumstance where I very obviously wasn't. It's not my place to criticise, but I can talk about how it made me feel that I wasn't important, just the contents of my hard-drive, and how I can't cope with the idea of going back, because I do feel a bit abandoned and am scared to go anywhere closer to these feelings.

As well as that, I've got the whole transgender thing blown up in my face. Suddenly I'm not a volunteer, don't have any structure to my time and am waiting for a board member to get back to me about the issue of internal-transphobia I've raised with them.

Really though, there's nothing going on in my to help me be happier. Right now I just with it would all stop so I can climb off the carousel for a while.
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-05-23 03:57 pm

A very bad balancing act.

I'll freely admit I have a tendency to see things in black and white. Most of the time these days I do manage dithering at least and on good days can even go so far as a colour supplement. Not today though. Today, as I have been for many recent days, I am really angry. Not angry enough to go off on a destructive rampage, but angry in a disappointed, feeling let-down, thought things were better than this kind of a way.

It all comes down to my believing in human rights. Or rather to my belief that human rights are black and white. We have them or we don't. Of course there are conflicted situations where those rights get traded off against each other - which in a civillised society should be to maximise the benefit to all concerned. Not to deny one groups rights in favour of anothers.

The hitch for me is that I see things on many scales. Substitute 'individuals' for 'groups' in the last paragraph. It's just as valid, just as clear-cut and just as necessary for a society to be civillised.

If you know me, have read some of the stuff I've written here and elsewhere, then you probably have an idea what I'm on about. Nevertheless this is a non-specific idealogical dissertation about scale as it applies to human rights in the eye's of one girl who has to believe in them because otherwise she's left trying to decide things for herself - which isn't a good place...

When someone in a position of some degree of influence makes a decision, the odds are that they've had advice. Probably conflicting advice both for and against a particular thing. Those are viewpoints, possibly structured, reasoned arguments, but still at the end of the day points of view. What the decision-maker has is the responsibility to look at all those arguments and decide what will happen. That's also true on scales from the individual to whole populations. I think that decision-maker has a duty to be just and fair, to uphold human rights and be able to demonstrate consistency throughout differing decision-making processes.

Now that person may hear viewpoints that aren't particularly valid. Racism, sexism, hate-speech in general, and be unable to prevent it for one reason or another. That usually being impartiality being asssumed, imposed or desired. At the end of the day though, the decision being made will affect lives one way or another.

I don't think that there should be a hint or murmur of differing values due to variance in scale between decisions. It's very easy to go protest at something that's hugely injust, but what about the little injustices, those times when someone is marginalised, their voice ignored and their distress not noticed? What happens in a culture where those things are let slide and some 'greater good' held up as a (feeble) excuse.

If you are going to say you stand for something ideological, then that should be on every scale simultaneously not just the most obvious or the most popular. At the end of the day we're all individuals and our human rights apply to us ultimately as individuals, not as populations.

I can see a dissonance in scale and differences between the individual and the populatory. I don't like it, what to scream and throw things at it to try to make people see...

...but I can't. I'm mad Johanna who is rude and tries to blame it on mental illness. I'm stubborn Johanna who doesn't care if she sets off huge arguments about something insignificant. I'm awkward Johanna who others don't want to be associated with lest they get blamed for how others perceive me.

What's really here though is a girl who cares very greatly that people are treated with equality and dignity. A girl who thinks that if each individual is granted their human rights freely and those rights defended as a matter of course should they be breached, the world would be a better place. And I'm a girl who sees hate-speech as something that is vile and repugnant beyond measure because it sets things like discrimination, envy and blame in motion as ideas that can legitimately be applied to a demographic and individuals. Which ultimately results in things like fascism and exclusion.

It's all the same thing. All that's different is the scale. I'm not strong enough to fight this. I can take on people who propagate hate-speech very easily. I'm not scared of them. I can talk about what's bugging me right now, but I can't actually do anything. Not because I'm helpless, not because I'm too distressed to function. Because I have a very, very, good idea of how much mess I can make. The phrase 'blast radius' is not inappropriate. And the one person who can legitimately deny someone freedom of expression without blame or condemnation is themselves.

I could protest, point my finger, accuse. But it's just me on my own here and I'm not strong enough by myself. I'll fight tooth and claw for other peoples rights, but I don't matter that much.

Am going to hide under my duvet now and hope the world goes away for a while. There is a name for this feeling. Burn-out.
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-05-01 07:25 pm

Questioning

I suppose I do have to ask myself if it's worth it. Just so I know I have done. Which kind of preempts a decision somewhat, but nevertheless the question is being asked...

It's the same old reasons. I don't really identify as trans, but will identify as transitioned in appropriate circumstances. No one ever told me who I was or should be. I'd like that freedom for everyone in any kind of transition. So I'm digging my heels in. Hard. I don't want to go anywhere near even seeming to passively agreeing with transsexual-supremacist sentiments. My only recourse is to protest. Maybe I'm having no effect, maybe this is another quixotic tilt at a windmill. I'm the one who has to feel these things though. I don't get a choice about feeling thing so powerfully, but I do choose to do something about those things.

It's crossed my mind that one answer could be setting up a trans-free-expression-of-gender group/organisation/thing. That wouldn't work though. The existing groups get little enough attendance already. Could this be the thing I saw all that time ago in Manchester? Trans-people whispering in corners that, '...sometimes we get gays in here...'. No f***ing s**t Sherlock! Canal St in Manchester with LGB people coming to a bar that's normally a scene pub? How could that be? That was the same. Trans-separatism, but this time it was trans-people separating themselves from one of the most diverse LGBT villages in the UK...

Some trans-people seem to be poison to their own community, to the wider LGBT community, and probably to themselves too.

I'm not arguing with their viewpoint or beliefs, just that they inflict it on the rest of us, taking up massive amounts of time and energy constantly arguing that they are absolutely, totally, right. All the time.

I'm kicking out because I can, I'm one of the few people who is (in others eyes) TS, who doesn't have any truck with that divisiveness and who doesn't have anything to loose. I don't care what is said about me, and looking at some of the stuff I've been on the receiving end of, it's a damn good job! Because this could be someone questioning their gender, someone really unsure of themselves an in need of time and a safe-space to discover who they are and how they want to express that.

Unless there are those who agree with me and are equally prepared to speak-out, this is going to be a very lonely, solo, thing. It's not something that's really suitable for any kind of organisation. Anything, anybody else coming on board would have to be on a collective basis, this isn't about leaders, power, status or anything like that. It's about saying a firm, final, 'No!', to internal bigotry. That's all.

There is hope. There might be a Transgender Bill of Rights for people to sign up to at some point in the summer. Getting that with X hundred names pledged to it could make a real difference to how we perceive this community.

But that's a maybe in the summer. Not now. Now is different, immediate and all too real...
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-03-30 11:19 pm

Do we need Richard Dawkins?

Or rather do we need scientific fundamentalists to take on their religious counterparts?

I FB'ed a comment about seeing a slogan reading, 'Try praying.', on the side of a bus and talked about how I found it disturbing. Didn't get any religious replies, but did get an agnostic trying to justify the positive aspects of prayer. Saying that faith is a matter for individuals, not advertising on the side of a bus didn't seem to make my point strongly enough. Other people seemed to get it, whilst distancing themselves from the other extreme - Dawkinism as I shall term it.

I'm pretty much a Dawkinist apart from when it comes to an individuals choice to hold a faith. That's freedom of thought. But to plaster slogans that non-religious people may find offensive on the sides of buses seems crass and commercialised.

So I've been bad. Take one Darwin Fish. Place on FB. Ask if anyone finds it offensive and tell them they have to say why it's offensive (or I'll just delete the comment - it's my FB after all). If you want to justify religion as a thing that can be commercially advertised, then you have to allow that atheism should be treated the same way and that adverts that offend the religious in society are just as permissible as those that offend the non-believers by promoting religion...

Equality is a dangerous thing. Some people think it give them the right to impose their beliefs on others. That's wrong, that's oppression. Equality gives us all the right to present our views in an equal and balanced way and to have the right to make informed choices about our beliefs - be they Evolution or christianity - but only for ourselves, never anyone else.

So perhaps extreme anti-religion positions like Richard Dawkins' are inevitable in a world where religious extremism is still allowed to organise itself and proselytise openly. After all the commercialism of the, 'Try praying', advert has tipped me a little more towards Dawkinism, where by myself I would have been more moderate...

So imagine if you will, a row of Lothian Buses all with Darwin Fish on their sides. Imagine the anti-atheist bigotry (and most likely vandalism and violence) that would surface were we to do that. Yet religion seems to be free to
offend a portion of the population freely. This is not equality. This is not the world I want to live in.

Religion is for individuals and creationism, Darwinism is for scientific recognition and an understanding of how the world around us came to be. We're all free to choose and the more one side says there should be penalties for choosing the other the more I'll kick out against it. Wonder how many replies I'll get to my question of is the Darwin Fish offensive...

...I'm guessing none. Evolution is a done deal and there's no religious mileage in trying to sell i.d. or creationism to a non-believer.
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-03-23 05:13 pm

Is it ego to think you can do better?

Don't get me wrong. From the off, and throughout TSS is a wonderful thing and has and will continue to help primarily transsexual people in their transition. But it's flawed in several places. Firstly in the funding requirements that tie it to participants being at least 'those who are considering a [transsexual] transition', and the largely prevalent anti-inclusion stance of one section of the steering-group. Secondly it's not completely integrated with local NHS's and doesn't necessarily take advantage of specialist services that may be available - like OT's! Thirdly is my purely personal view that ten weeks is a long time to spread essentially twelve and a half contact hours over (less individual Rickter assessments). Fourthly TSS's Life-Skills-Course(LSC) doesn't have a formal transition planning component - in a transition process that can take years, a persons participation in a LSC may well be in the distant past when a crisis happens. Having an ongoing tool to develop coping strategies from is something I see as very important as a support to transition.

Fifth and last, I've done Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in one-on-one and groupwork environments, Psychoanalysis and Recovery as part of my attempts to cope with BPSD, and feel able to comment upon their comparative effectiveness to a very stubborn and strong-minded individual (Like any person who can tell the entire world their gender is not what they've been assigned at birth!). The first two try to tell you how to think as a theraputic device. I don't care what anyone says, thinking, 'I am male, I am male.', in response to my need to express my gender just wouldn't ever fly. In other words they aren't (subjectively to me) really suitable for use in transition. Recovery however can be used in any process where increasing and maximising wellbeing is important and the wellness and recovery plans (WRAP) can be used for diverse things like moving house or planning a trip as well as as a tool in increasing wellbeing in a mental health context. I had this idea when it struck me time after time in my Realising Recovery course (Google 'Lothian Recovery Network' if you're in Edinburgh and think you might want to know more), how many parallels Recovery has with a successful gender-transition.

What I'm trying to achieve is:

True transgender and opt-in intersex inclusion. The processes we go through in a gender transition are all very similar and involve many of the same factors and I consider it a purely artificial division for someone to class transsexuals as completely different to other parts of the transgender spectrum. A TS's transition may be permanent, may involve surgery, may be from an apparent cis-gender-identity to it's opposite, but that doesn't make a transsexual special or deserving of more support and nurturing than another transgendered or intersex person. We're all unique and all deserve support and nurture, and I'm determined to stick with that concept no matter the obstacles.

A tool that is effective, profound, far-reaching and easy to use. Ideally a person would be able to attend a short course - I'm looking at two days with a one-on-one meeting in the middle - to learn new concepts and be assisted to develop a transition wellbeing plan that they can take away and confidently use and modify it as their transition progresses.

Integration with NHS services. I hope to put things together in such away that a healthcare professional who is qualified to use Recovery and WRAP need only go on a short (ie: a couple of days max) course about trans-awareness and the specific adaptions to the transition wellbeing plan in order to be able to directly support transgender or intersex people referred to them by gender-specialists (or sadly more likely their GP in relation to mental ill-health related to transition). Two days training, doesn't use any expensive resources, provides a huge leap in capacity to support our community and will hopefully reduce the incidence of mental ill-health amongst us.

Integration with the 'Real Life Test'. This bit is for TS's. We (We, just for this bit, I'm just a girl unless I say so) transsexuals do face some individual difficulties, such as living in effectively a transitioned state full-time before we get hormones and then having second puberties and potential sexuality shifts in our two years of proving we have a clear and persistent identity as a cis-gender. I've been through that and though my gender specialist is a wonderful, compassionate, caring person, she's just one woman. I'd like to find a way for her to have help in supporting us through our two years. Better still if that can take place in our communities rather than a central hospital. Training Occupational Therapists in transitional recovery could provide that support, provide clinical evidence of us developing our identities over the two years and free up gender-specialist appointments for those who are currently in months-long waiting lists in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

And why do I think I can do this? Well first of all the interest shown by others in my idea, from KJ, my co-conspirator, to clinicians in the fields of both mental health and gender. That's the most important bit - people who are trained to care for others think there's potential here. Because I'm a rarity, a woman who transitioned successfully with a (separate) mental health diagnosis, and am a trans-activist who believes in a rather idealistic version of better which comes down to equality for all, not some.

I've seen, helped develop and worked a lot on TSS, and haven't lost faith in what it is doing. But nothing can be a complete solution to a problem, and not everyone will find the same things useful. TR is sufficiently different to TSS that I believe they can co-exist as complimentary support, and that I won't encounter any conflicts of interest (or funding) working on both.

Most of all though, I think I can do all this because my intuition is telling me this is so right and exactly where I'm supposed be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I don't believe in predetermination, but maybe my combination of gender journey, concern for others in my community and mental illness was just the right one to get the idea with...

Others may claim to speak for (all) Scotlands transgender (transsexual) population. They don't, just on the basis I say they don't speak for me and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that. I on the other hand hope to help all of our transgender community to find voices to speak for themselves. I said I wouldn't stand for internal trans-bigotry and this is part of my response to that bigotry.
johanna_alice: (Default)
2011-02-16 11:19 am

Exhausting

Have managed to drag myself out this morning, only it's not morning it was evening in relative terms. Hiked over to Slateford to pick up parcels from PO. This bit was OK and so was I with headphones blocking the world out.

It never just rains )