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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 30th, 2016 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nonbinary person waves "hi"

>> That's another thing you'll get a lot of different viewpoints on. My personal view is that "spectrum" is a misleading oversimplification of an incredibly complex issue -- much like the difference between looking at a picture of a landscape and actually being on the land, relishing the variations in color, feeling the ground under your feet and the wind in your hair, noticing the varied scents. And maybe you've got a photograph, and maybe it's a painting -- but by Rembrandt, van Gogh, Picasso, or Jackson Pollock? And you don't really know, and won't unless someone who's been there tells you. <<

I like spectrum, and range, because they break down the binary illusion. (Male/female is biologically as well as socially incomplete.) It goes from two points to a line. Add another spectrum and you have the XY grid, for instance, gender and sexual orientation. Add a third and you have a cube such as sex, gender, and sexual orientation. But there are plenty more things, and this is why I say my sexuality is a tesseract. Some of us are things that can't be plotted into conventional dimensions. To go back to one line, masculine to feminine, someone who has a completely different gender (such as neutrois) is in a different place "above" the line compared to someone androgynous who is toward the middle. A line is much more expressive than a pair of pigeonholes, but still not sufficient. I do often use "spectrum" or "range" to mean "wide variety" instead of specifically "line" because saying "chart" or "tesseract" confuses people if I don't have time for a long explanation.

>> So, spectrum? It's like that for some nonbinary people, who can say something like, "Today I feel like 30% man and 70% woman. Yesterday, it was 80/20 the other way. Tomorrow it might be 10% man, 30% woman, and the other 60% something else our culture doesn't have a name for." <<

Some genderfluid people shift back and forth between masculine and feminine; some have one or more additional points. Some people's gender is mixed but stable. And some really treat it like two points where they are either masculine or feminine. It's interesting to compare the versions.

If I look at my characters, Salvo is genderfluid and uses the crossdressing to support his feminine side. He's shy about it because he's been picked on, so I don't think he does it as much as he naturally would. He's not trans, and doesn't even present as a woman like most crossdressers try; he just feels like being pretty sometimes. Cal is trans but uses the gendershifting in binary mode: either Calvin or Calliope, not a mix of both. I think keeping the Calvin identity as a cover is creative but hazardous, because pretending to be a man can wreck women, but it's her life so none of my business. I just make an authorial note that as a gender scholar, I know that's risky based on observations of Prolonged Adaptation Stress Syndrome in trans lives. She probably has one of the best-protected secret identities in cape politics, though.
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: July 31st, 2016 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nonbinary person waves "hi"

Tried (and crashed up against the comment size limit) to weave my responses back into a single thread. So, three individual comments.

>> I like spectrum, and range, because they break down the binary illusion. (Male/female is biologically as well as socially incomplete.) It goes from two points to a line. Add another spectrum and you have the XY grid, for instance, gender and sexual orientation. Add a third and you have a cube such as sex, gender, and sexual orientation. But there are plenty more things, and this is why I say my sexuality is a tesseract. Some of us are things that can't be plotted into conventional dimensions. <<

Indeed. It's the "map vs. territory" distinction again. We each are using maps that suit us while we cringe at the crumpled, outdated maps that have been handed out to people trying to navigate the territory defining these things and wondering why there's not even a line around the different identities where the map shows a wall. To anyone who's following this thread, we're sharing our maps with you, inviting you to draw your own, and providing some information you can put on it to help you navigate the unfamiliar parts of the territory.

My map, so to speak and as much as possible, is the most recent online version of "A Field Guide to Gender Identities." I find it valuable because the content is generated by the folks who assert the various identities, and compiled by folks who realize why that's important, and care about it.

>> To go back to one line, masculine to feminine, someone who has a completely different gender (such as neutrois) is in a different place "above" the line <<

I like "off" the line a little better, because there's less of an implicit value judgement in that term.

>> compared to someone androgynous who is toward the middle. A line is much more expressive than a pair of pigeonholes, but still not sufficient. I do often use "spectrum" or "range" to mean "wide variety" instead of specifically "line" because saying "chart" or "tesseract" confuses people if I don't have time for a long explanation. <<

Fair enough. I relate to "range" a little differently in my field guide metaphor, as representing how far from their core identity folks asserting various gender identities might venture.

>> Some genderfluid people shift back and forth between masculine and feminine; some have one or more additional points. Some people's gender is mixed but stable. And some really treat it like two points where they are either masculine or feminine. It's interesting to compare the versions. <<

Indeed. These are also representative patterns. There are lots more, too, but I was aiming to not swamp the message with a necessarily incomplete catalog in a response that was already getting substantial.

>> I think keeping the Calvin identity as a cover is creative but hazardous, because pretending to be a man can wreck women, but it's her life so none of my business. I just make an authorial note that as a gender scholar, I know that's risky based on observations of Prolonged Adaptation Stress Syndrome in trans lives. She probably has one of the best-protected secret identities in cape politics, though. <<

"Pretending to be" something is Doing; actually *being* someone is Being. Having to Do instead of being able to Be can wreck anyone. It's the times I get to Be that get me through the times when all I'm able to do is Do. The times of Being are vital self-care for me.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 31st, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nonbinary person waves "hi"

>> Indeed. It's the "map vs. territory" distinction again. We each are using maps that suit us while we cringe at the crumpled, outdated maps that have been handed out to people trying to navigate the territory defining these things and wondering why there's not even a line around the different identities where the map shows a wall. <<

Yyyyeah. That's frustrating for everyone. Using the wrong pronouns to someone's face is grating. Telling other people that someone is a boy when she's a girl (or whatever) can be life-wrecking.

>> To anyone who's following this thread, we're sharing our maps with you, inviting you to draw your own, and providing some information you can put on it to help you navigate the unfamiliar parts of the territory. <<

Sooth. It helps to have a map. Not everyone is capable of advanced cartography.

>> My map, so to speak and as much as possible, is the most recent online version of "A Field Guide to Gender Identities." I find it valuable because the content is generated by the folks who assert the various identities, and compiled by folks who realize why that's important, and care about it. <<

:D I think mine would be "So You Want to Hang Out with Aliens."

>>I like "off" the line a little better, because there's less of an implicit value judgement in that term."

I was looking for something like that and didn't think of it at the time. Yes, there will be clusters above and below the line usually.

>>Indeed. These are also representative patterns. There are lots more, too, but I was aiming to not swamp the message with a necessarily incomplete catalog in a response that was already getting substantial.<<

Do the basics first, then iterate from there. I just came in at the iterate phase, after you filled in the baseline.

>>"Pretending to be" something is Doing; actually *being* someone is Being. Having to Do instead of being able to Be can wreck anyone. It's the times I get to Be that get me through the times when all I'm able to do is Do. The times of Being are vital self-care for me.<<

Well said.

Why I worry about Cal is that she takes time away from Being a woman to Do a man. It's hard enough to learn a whole new gender role without shortchanging your study time, a fact that has been lamented by many transfolk who for various reasons could not transition all at once and had to split time en femme and en homme. For some that's comfortable, for others not. Though I do think one of Vagary's few benefits is his blithe acceptance of Calliope as a woman. Transfolk need people who see them for who they really are.
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: August 1st, 2016 05:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nonbinary person waves "hi"

>> It helps to have a map. Not everyone is capable of advanced cartography. <<

One nice thing is that many of those who are are busy putting theirs out where people who'd like a better map than they can draw themselves can pick one up. It's not yet where I'd like it to be, where someone who realizes they need a map can find one that suits them best, but it's moving in that direction. And when I see someone who's struggling to find their way, map or no map, I like to offer to help.

>> Yes, there will be clusters above and below the line usually. <<

And sometimes the line isn't horizontal, or even much of a line. Sort of like the islands in many large rivers forming governmental boundaries, where which "side" they are on can be constantly open to interpretation.

>> Do the basics first, then iterate from there. I just came in at the iterate phase, after you filled in the baseline. <<

That worked fine in context, and is a good point.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 1st, 2016 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nonbinary person waves "hi"

>> One nice thing is that many of those who are are busy putting theirs out where people who'd like a better map than they can draw themselves can pick one up. It's not yet where I'd like it to be, where someone who realizes they need a map can find one that suits them best, but it's moving in that direction. And when I see someone who's struggling to find their way, map or no map, I like to offer to help. <<

Maps and menus and momentum, oh my! :D

>> And sometimes the line isn't horizontal, or even much of a line. Sort of like the islands in many large rivers forming governmental boundaries, where which "side" they are on can be constantly open to interpretation. <<

That's true. Gender is complicated.

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