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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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ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: July 31st, 2016 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nonbinary person waves "hi"

>> Liking to cook doesn't make me feminine any more than having boobs makes me a woman. It's not outside the range of what I can do, but neither is it my core identity. <<

Precisely. And it's a big step for folks who haven't had much of an encounter with gender-variant people.

What makes it such a big step is that so far, the narrative they've been overwhelmingly exposed to is that gender is what other people say someone is, instead of what the person asserting the gender identity says it is. And that other people control the narrative of what forms of expression affirm someone's gender identity, instead of the forms of expression the person says affirms their own gender identity. And they're often conveniently ignoring the broad range of behaviors that are considered to affirm mainstream gender identities. They are in many cases as broad as mine, but are less visible because they all lie within the bounds of a recognized gender identity containing a large number of people.

Heck, it's a big step for me -- one I appear to have understood I was always going to need to take, but one I didn't actually take until the facade shielding my sexuality and gender identity from unwelcome scrutiny got dropped on the floor and broke. It wasn't until then that I realized it actually was a facade, and hurting me in at least as many ways as it had helped me. I'm still struggling out from under the wreckage. Being able to share my feelings with understanding people helps with that -- a lot.

>> But metasexual is ... I might as well try to explain quantum mechanics, most people can't think that far out. <<

Yeah. Thinking that far out is intrinsically challenging, and those who haven't, or aren't willing to, face that sort of strenuous intellectual activity are in the same state as the person who goes to the gym for the first time and looks at the stacks of weights the regulars are casually working out with. They pretty quickly come to understand that it's going to be hard work, and it's gonna hurt -- and a lot of them walk right out the door because of that, and never come back.

>> People can think what they want, and be wrong, but then they get mad when the data doesn't match their predictions. *shrug* They can't figure out the traits of some deities either, and it's because some are better at emulating masculine or feminine expectations while others just go, "Dear humans, I am a Trickster. Leave your assumptions at the door or you're just going to hurt yourself dropping them on your foot later." <<

And so much of the pain variant folks face stems from so many people believing this all Matters, rather than just being a trait providing an occasionally useful guide for forecasting behavior.

>> Sooth. I think it's a range in that some nonbinary people don't seem all that different from the expected options, while others are so conspicuous that passing is impossible. Much the same is true of gay, trans, and other QUILTBAG folks. Especially, if most of your traits are common and only one is rare and/or if a trait is present but does not dominate your identity, you may feel "I'm just like everyone else except for this one quirk." But a person who has many differences and/or one that is paramount to their personality, is more likely to feel and express as far out of the ordinary. <<

Good point. And everybody's "just like everyone else, except" point is different, so the way two people of similar gender identities choose to express their identities may be wildly different -- which complicates things further.

I got an interesting example of this recently. Approaching a city I occasionally pass through (and used to live near and pass through more frequently), I was struck by how I had switched from perceiving its skyline as the one I was familiar with, with a few new exceptions, to an unfamiliar skyline with some recognizable landmarks.

>> *hugs offered* Society is an ass. It is a lot of work. <<

*gratefully accepted and returned* Thanks for noticing, and caring.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 1st, 2016 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nonbinary person waves "hi"

>> Precisely. And it's a big step for folks who haven't had much of an encounter with gender-variant people. <<

That's another reason we need outfolks, so that everyone can see this is part of humanity, a species' natural and necessary variation.

>> What makes it such a big step is that so far, the narrative they've been overwhelmingly exposed to is that gender is what other people say someone is, instead of what the person asserting the gender identity says it is. <<

That's why the phrase "sexual reassignment surgery" makes me grit my teeth, and I use "realignment" instead. The main problem is caused by society thinking that gender is assigned instead of an innate trait. They can't even be arsed to check the the chromosomes; they just look at a baby's crotch and guess. And then blame the child if the adults guessed wrong! *epic facepalm* The only stupider method I can imagine would be assigning genders randomly by lot.

>> And that other people control the narrative of what forms of expression affirm someone's gender identity, instead of the forms of expression the person says affirms their own gender identity. <<

That is a problem with all manner of mismatches, not just gender.

>> And they're often conveniently ignoring the broad range of behaviors that are considered to affirm mainstream gender identities. They are in many cases as broad as mine, but are less visible because they all lie within the bounds of a recognized gender identity containing a large number of people.<<

Yyyyeah. That's especially damaging to cisgender people whose flavor of identity and expression don't fit expectations. Like Chiara's motive: "To be beautiful. Muscles are beautiful. If you say they are unfeminine I will hurt you." :D Conversely, there are gentle and nurturing men, like Heron, who often gets mistaking for gay. There has to be room for people's gender identity however it is. Gender policing harms everyone. Because when you attack the outliers, and the fringe, it makes even the core people feel anxious -- as evidenced in all the dialog about being "a real man" and "proving his manhood" etc.
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: August 2nd, 2016 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nonbinary person waves "hi"

>> That's why the phrase "sexual reassignment surgery" makes me grit my teeth, and I use "realignment" instead. <<

I realize I've started using "surgical intervention", adding "in support of transition" where the context isn't clear. Similarly, "hormonal intervention" for those for whom that is a worthwhile part of their transition plan.

I like doing this because it helps decenter genital surgery being the definitive marker for marking transition. It recognizes that facial plastic surgery, electrolysis, breast reduction, top surgery, and all the other approaches people in transition might choose to employ can be every bit as important as the detail of what's between someone's legs -- and every bit as affirming of the transitioner's gender identity. Likewise for someone for whom hormone blockers, or low-dose sex hormones, suffice, and full-on hormonal protocols are not required or unsuitable.

>> The main problem is caused by society thinking that gender is assigned instead of an innate trait. They can't even be arsed to check the the chromosomes; they just look at a baby's crotch and guess. <<

Have I shared my word for this activity with you yet? Not quite a couple of hundred years ago, a fad for examining the shape of a person's skull and attempting to infer from that various aspects of their personality, and other inclinations, gained considerable popularity. This fad, known as "phrenology", was eventually discredited by scientific inquiry as the fallacy and fraud it always was, and sank into disrepute and eventual disregard as other than a generator of what are now antique curiosities.

Switching Greek-derived medical prefixes from the skull ("phren-") to what the page I consulted euphemistically referred to as loins ("episi-") yields "episiology" as the appropriate name for the modern pseudo-science, still extensively practiced today, of attempting to infer from observation of a newborn's genitals by supposedly qualified people their future personality traits, interests, and likely behavior. Perhaps in another couple of hundred years it will be regarded similarly to phrenology.

>> Gender policing harms everyone. Because when you attack the outliers, and the fringe, it makes even the core people feel anxious -- as evidenced in all the dialog about being "a real man" and "proving his manhood" etc. <<

Amen! Not very many people are comfortable being in a place where their identity is under unpredictable and constant threat of attack. This tends to empty out those places, which widens the gap between genders and increases the cost and danger of constructing the bridges by which experiences are shared.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 1st, 2016 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nonbinary person waves "hi"



>>Heck, it's a big step for me -- one I appear to have understood I was always going to need to take, but one I didn't actually take until the facade shielding my sexuality and gender identity from unwelcome scrutiny got dropped on the floor and broke. It wasn't until then that I realized it actually was a facade, and hurting me in at least as many ways as it had helped me. I'm still struggling out from under the wreckage. Being able to share my feelings with understanding people helps with that -- a lot.<<

I'm glad I could help. \o/

For me, I've always known that I'm weird along many lines. It's interesting to compare that to people who discover it along the way. Halley has always known; so has Victor. But Hyperspaceman and Cal only figured it out much later in life. That matches what I've observed in other queerfolk; identity awareness can come at any time.

>>Yeah. Thinking that far out is intrinsically challenging, and those who haven't, or aren't willing to, face that sort of strenuous intellectual activity are in the same state as the person who goes to the gym for the first time and looks at the stacks of weights the regulars are casually working out with. They pretty quickly come to understand that it's going to be hard work, and it's gonna hurt -- and a lot of them walk right out the door because of that, and never come back.<<

Some of it depends on people's body/mind, and some on where they start. Some bodies are predisposed to athletics, and it feels good to them, even if it's hard. For me it's linguistics; even the lengthy parts don't feel like work. Sometimes I try to explain people's fumbling over gender by imagining, "It's like trying to do hours and hours of math." But I've always had a knack for gender studies, and I think only part of that is being genderqueer myself. Some people are more flexible in general, and can do all manner of mental yoga. I've had people just shrug and go with the flow. Others, not so much. There have been a few people I cared enough about to just try not to spill my weirdness on them, and other cases where a mismatch mangled relationships I treasured.

>> And so much of the pain variant folks face stems from so many people believing this all Matters, rather than just being a trait providing an occasionally useful guide for forecasting behavior. <<

Absolutely. Gender has a lot to do with sexuality, as most people only want a partner of a certain sex/gender, and it influences child bearing and raising in some regards. Beyond that, there are some broad trends that cross most cultures, but no absolutes. Most of the problems are thus human-caused.

>>I got an interesting example of this recently. Approaching a city I occasionally pass through (and used to live near and pass through more frequently), I was struck by how I had switched from perceiving its skyline as the one I was familiar with, with a few new exceptions, to an unfamiliar skyline with some recognizable landmarks.<<

Fascinating. It's familiarity in action, I guess.
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