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Poetry Fishbowl Report for July 5, 2016 - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poetry Fishbowl Report for July 5, 2016
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 29th, 2016 09:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> I read your poem "With the Gravity Off" this evening.
It's an excellent poem.<<

Yay! I'm glad you liked it.

>> Poems like this one help those of us who have no idea how someone like Austin experiences the world, begin to understand. <<

\o/ Comments like this make me feel like I've done my job as a bard.

>> Do people like Austin understand that normals sometimes feel lost wondering how to adapt themselves to people like Austin?
:^} <<

It depends on the person. Some do, some don't. I think that people who are generally interested in gender dynamics are more likely to understand that, as are those with high interpersonal intelligence. Those who need all their energy just to cope with their own part of the equation, or with high intrapersonal intelligence, may not grasp the impact on other people.

Frex, pronouns. It seems like a simple thing to ask of people. But most folks have spent a lifetime learning that English has two personal pronoun sets. Learning a whole new set means remembering -- every time -- to substitute something else. It's like trying to remember to pause before walking through a door, which is one of the most aggravating exercises ever invented. (Also effective.) Many genderqueer people do not realize that asking someone to switch to the opposite set, or an alternative set, is asking them to do rather a lot of work.

This gets even harder if one has multiple friends wanting to use different sets. Languages don't routinely use more than a handful, and the usage is typically crisp -- they're based on marriage status or a short set of social genders or castes. There are currently hundreds of genders and alt pronouns in use. As a linguist, I find this intriguing. But if people wanted me to use more than a few? Even I would lose track. I have a linguistic coprocess, I can learn the sets, but remembering which goes with whom is currently a memorized feature like names, something I am bad at, rather than being able to look at their clothes or hairdo and know which to use.

People in transition are often hypersensitive to mistakes, or folks who can't or won't switch the pronouns, because transitioning is hard already and any wobble in support throws them off balance. They may not be able to offer guidance because they haven't figured it out themselves yet. Others are more tolerant in the sense of "we'll screw up together and eventually get this right." (Repetition helps a lot, even if the new pattern is unique.) So that influences interactions and which relationships people keep.
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: July 29th, 2016 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>> emembering which goes with whom is currently a memorized feature like names, something I am bad at, rather than being able to look at their clothes or hairdo and know which to use. <<

...which is a problem that smacks me in the face every day. I know where the space I would like to occupy in the landscape of gender expression lies. Right now, it is very tightly bounded by expressions that appear to mark me as my birth gender, "joke", "fraud", and "freak". Plus probably a few other things I haven't observed yet. It's pretty deserted, and many of those who might wish to join me here wind up on the other side of those boundaries. I'd like to think that I can find an expression that says "nope" to people who would wrongly categorize me, but it's hard in an environment where essentially nothing is categorized in a way that allows me to assert my gender identity. Maybe this will evolve over time. Maybe I can contribute to that evolution.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 29th, 2016 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>> ...which is a problem that smacks me in the face every day.<<

*hugs offered* That really sucks.

>> I know where the space I would like to occupy in the landscape of gender expression lies. Right now, it is very tightly bounded by expressions that appear to mark me as my birth gender, "joke", "fraud", and "freak". Plus probably a few other things I haven't observed yet. <<

>_<

>> It's pretty deserted, and many of those who might wish to join me here wind up on the other side of those boundaries.<<

Sad, but it matches my observations. Most humans are highly contextual creatures. They fare poorly when their nature is rejected by those around them.

For me, acceptance is a luxury. I enjoy it when I have it, but I don't need it in order to know who I am or express that. My ability to fake being not-me is around three hours at maximum effort. It's just going to leak out no matter what, so I rarely waste the energy on trying to suppress it. Most of my ability to pass is really other people's lack of attention. This is one of the more salient ways in which I am weird.

Another is that I don't feel being a freak is a bad thing. I mean really, look at the mass of humanity, they're butchering the biosphere. That makes being different a good thing in my mind. When they stop risking species survival on greed and petty squabbles, then they can try to lecture from a moral high ground.

>> I'd like to think that I can find an expression that says "nope" to people who would wrongly categorize me, but it's hard in an environment where essentially nothing is categorized in a way that allows me to assert my gender identity. Maybe this will evolve over time. Maybe I can contribute to that evolution. <<

"If you can't find it, found it" is something I've said a lot. When entering uncharted territory, it's the explorers who get to map it. My contribution to this process is not just personal skills but also my ability to look for other worlds in which that process is farther along and say, "Hey, over here people are doing X and it works for them. We could try X here and see if it works for us too."

Most societies prefer clothing that sends consistent signals. This is valuable information. They may use it to show rank, wealth, occupation, gender, marriage status, religion, or other things they consider important. Gender is really popular to encode in clothes. So societies with several genders often have different fashions for each of them. Prior to the advent of sexual realignment surgery, transgender people usually indicated their status through crossdressing, and many societies simply treated everyone in women's clothes as women (or vice versa for men). It is therefore helpful for a subgroup to develop signals that communicate their identity to others.

That means those of us active in genderwhacking now have an opportunity to use, and therefore suggest by example, things which may become the standard later on. This is why I look closely at the form and function of these symbols. That's everything from colors to heraldic geometry to garment design. What sends a message, looks good, is comfortable and functional?

I wear boxer-briefs both for physical comfort and psychological pleasure. I prefer boy-buttoned dress shirts because they reduce the snagging potential of objects (originally intended to facilitate right-handed draw for swords) and psychological pleasure. I like some maybe-colors (teal) but not others (mauve) and I adore shot-silk (woven with different colors of warp and weft to create color changes in motion). Because I have examined the underlying reasons for my choices, and similarly analyzed options from a variety of cultures, I am better equipped to solve new problems I may encounter or help other people work through their challenges by suggesting a menu of possible solutions.
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