Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

It’s TDoR today. Transgender Day of Remembrance. A day specifically devoted to the memories of our siblings who aren’t still here today because of the hate and bigotry of the societies they live in.

This year, we have 221 reported murders. 221 people killed. There’s been an increase. And that’s just those of us who were directly murdered. It doesn’t include those who have died in other ways from society’s hatred.

It’s frightening. It’s rage-enducing. It’s wrong.

And I know that a lot of people think that these figures represent freak incidents. People claim that there isn’t an underlying culture that fosters this degree of hatred and violence directed towards trans folks – primarily, it has to be said, people marginalised in several ways. The intersections are always the most dangerous places to walk – and continue with their casual cissexism, their casual binarism, misgendering, delegitimising, essentialism… and never stop to think that this is how a culture of hate and violence grows.

It’s a slight cliche to argue that history is written by the winners, but unfortunately it’s true. Admittedly the phrase does imply somewhat more of a martial perspective, so let’s adjust it; history is written by the dominant.

As marginalised people, we only have to look at our own histories to see the truth in that. We are absent from the historical narrative to a very large extent; sometimes there are obscure glimmers of proof of our previous existence, but most often even those of us who achieved a place in the historical hall of fame have been bleached with the ideals of the dominant groups that did the writing.

I am a historian – still studying, and not yet studying exclusively history, but a historian nevertheless – and it frustrates me. Written primary sources were often written by privileged people whose perspective neglects the marginalised. Secondary sources also tend to reflect academia’s skewing towards the kyriarchal ideal. There are ways of finding out about the marginalised, but we rarely find their uncensored voices ringing down the ages.

What effect does that have? A huge effect. Some groups find themselves cut off from their roots, with much about their past lost irretrievably. Others find themselves entering the record only on the terms of their oppressors, with their personhood denigrated and their voices erased. Others find no reflection of their existence.

The neglect of the history of some groups combined with the elevation of that of others has a profoundly harmful effect. People have always looked to the past, for lessons and for inspiration and guidance, and if they find only certain groups reflected there it is very easy to have the idea, already implanted by the kyriarchy, that only those groups are worthy and important validated. It’s also used to denigrate people in the present, implying that they’re making things up because they only came into existence recently when the only evidence we have for that is a void in the general historical narrative with clues generally so small most people wouldn’t pick them up.

It’s important to factor this in as we write our own histories. How will the English Riots of this summer be remembered? Will the memory of the alienation and disillusionment suffered by those who rioted survive, or will they be painted merely as thugs? And the Occupy movement – when protestors say one thing and police say another, who will be believed by posterity? As for the Arab Spring – how will history perceive that?

The privileged classes have always tried to write their history on a higher level than the rest of the populace. Sometimes, just access to the tools of recording ensures their voices are the only ones heard. Other times, restricting access to academia or to certain media spaces is their preferred method. And quite often, they merely rely on their privilege to amplify their voices, as it so reliably does.

People’s minds tend to run a lot on patterns and associations. When someone says a word, we can generally summon up a bunch of connotations from our experiences and the messages we’ve imbibed from our culture. If I try this with a random word generator and get ‘chat,’ I think, ‘room, little, office, experience of the words ‘wanting a chat’ preceeding a lecture that I will squirm through and not dare speak up in.’ (I think this means that I never caught on to using the word ‘chat’ when talking about ringing someone up to talk…)

This gets really important when the words we use impact on people. Words and the way we use them are really influential when it comes to the way we think, especially as we are growing up and learning how to weave those words into expression. We learn them through communication and connotations, which means that the things we associate with a word will forever have an impact on how we perceive what that word is attached to. I had a slight negative reaction with ‘chat’ because it appears I’ve mostly come across it as a prelude to earnest conversation directed at me that I felt very uncomfortable being a part of. That’s what I associate it with; squirming in my seat and feeling silenced.

So what happens when people-words get bad connotations? Those connotations generalise to the people concerned, and negative, prejudiced attitudes creep under the carpet of people’s minds. Also impacted by negative presentations and cultural messages, these negative attitudes are generally at the root of discrimination. Where inequality is legislated, it comes from the underlying prejudices of the people who created the legislation, the people who passed it, the people who elected them and so on. Where inequality is tolerated, that comes from discriminatory behaviour striking a chord with those same underlying prejudices. Language, presentations, culture – they’re important. There is other stuff to fight for, big stuff, solid stuff – but these underlying currents are where they come from. When the big stuff gets fixed, it’s unlikely to stay fixed until the culture changes, as the underlying attitudes find new ways to mess the marginalised up or push the big stuff back to its original position.

It’s very uncomfortable to see people-words get bad connotations, and yet it happens all the time. ‘You throw like a girl,’ makes ‘girl’ the object of contempt, something to be avoided, something lesser. And negative attitudes towards women and girls and those perceived as such are reinforced. I… may be overstepping myself here, since I’m white, but ‘acting black’ troubles me since I’ve generally seen it used against people who act in a way seen as negative – thus enforcing racism. ‘That’s gay,’ one of my own little hobby-horses, associates gayness with something pathetic, contemptible, useless, bad – thus enforcing heterosexism. Slurs work this way. Longer messages, such as the many that enforce rape culture, work this way.

And the worst thing is, it looks like nothing. It’s hard to correct, because you’re seen as being pedantic and petty-minded. And to be honest, merely, ‘don’t say that word’ is unlikely to work. We need to examine the reasons why we’re saying what we’re saying, and the message that sends out, and consciously work on changing it. It’s definitely important to salvage the stuff floating out of reach, issues that have a concrete impact on our quality of life, but one can’t ignore the little eddies and swirls that show the current beneath the surface, the current that could eventually tear the solid stuff out of our reach.

Trigger warning; cissexist/binarist erasure, sexist rhetoric, discussion of reproductive coercion

Oh now this is encouraging. Not. The Government caving in to plans to reduce abortion rates by adding another layer of counselling. A lot hinges on the word ‘offer’ – is it being used to mean a service that is there if wanted, a compulsory ‘service’ or one that may as well be due to the level of throat-shoving people receive? However, I’m going to post independently of that – my personal opinion is the latter option, but I don’t know. And anyway, it doesn’t sound like the extra counselling would be from anyone good. I’m not the biggest expert on abortion issues (I’m staunchly pro-choice but don’t follow the discussion as much as I should because there’s often an unfortunate degree of erasure of uterus-having non-women), so I will probably miss a facet or two. EDIT – such as the demonisation of abortion providers implicit in the idea of trying to stop them doing the counselling.

So basically, boil this down to the bones and we get the claim that abortion-seekers (of any gender/s/non-gender/s, although no doubt the introducers of this are thinking purely in terms of ‘women’, sigh) need extra counselling, need to have the process slowed down, because they can’t be trusted to know what they want for their own body. Great. That really shows dedication to people’s welfare, doesn’t it? Ha ha. As if most of these abortion restrictions are even about welfare. They’re about control. They’re about asserting the power of the kyriarchally-privileged over the marginalised, about restricting the marginalised’s agency, about controlling them.

There’s this delightful quote from Dorries on the issue; “The abortion process is so fast – seven to 14 days. Women who do have doubts or niggles are on the other side before they have a chance to think it through. The majority may feel it’s fine but there are a growing number thinking it wasn’t what I wanted to do. As it gets faster and faster more women are falling off the edge. This is a women’s rights issue.”

Translation; Women don’t know what they want and are too emotional and weak to deal with things happening at this pace, they need everything slowed down for their tiny little ladybrains. Abortion is wrong and I’ve pulled some vague stats out of nowhere, and now I’m going to use emotive language and completely ignore the fact that there is a kyriarchal component to who is most likely to be pressured into aborting. And besides this, I’m incredibly cis privileged and will continue to erase the selves of anyone who might need an abortion who isn’t a woman.

We’ve seen so much of this stuff from the USA, and these ‘additional counselling’ things so often end up being barely disguised attempts to discourage abortion. There are people who get pressured into abortion, but that sort of thing is not the way to help. As for the people who choose it – their choices are valid. It’s their body, their choice.

Now, there’s plenty about the stuff in this article (technology to ID online avatars) that worries me, but I’m neither tech-savvy nor feeling well enough to articulate most of it. However, there is one bit of it that I am going to tear a large hole in.

I notice that the main interviewee remarks that ‘Working out if [the avatar’s] controller is male or female has an obvious commercial benefit.’ What obvious commercial benefit? Oh yeah, so that an oversimplified binary view of humanity can be even more starkly entrenched. And how on earth can this stuff tell that anyway?

Tip – you cannot know a person’s gender (or the gender of a person’s online avatar) unless they tell you. There is no ‘male’ behaviour or ‘female’ behaviour, the binary system of sex/gender is far too simplistic and erases large sections of the population, the idea is a minefield when the fact that non-cis people exist is taken into consideration and this whole thing is gender essentialist pile of failure with the supposed ‘goal’ of further entrenching the kyriarchy and capitalism. Gendered ads should not be gendered; enforcing a strict division between ‘men’ and ‘women’ hurts everybody, binary or not. It enforces sexism, can easily contribute to cissexism and is binarist in its very nature.

I don’t know that I like living in the outside spaces. But the fact is, they’re the only place I can.

‘The outside spaces’ doesn’t refer to outdoors. The term refers to being outside people’s knowledge, outside of gendered spaces – not outside of perceptions, because there is no outside to that, but outside of the boxes that confirm or deny the gender others think one is. Personally, I hate leaving the outside spaces. It may be uncomfortable to not know what gender a person thinks I am, but it’s more uncomfortable knowing that what they think is wrong. It may be uncomfortable going without the toilet for – well, my record is 15 hours – but it’s worse for me to leave the outside spaces.

But what happens when the outside spaces close down – when the bed I sleep in is gendered, and there’s no friendly home with a neutral toilet? That’s horrible. I’m lucky in that I can, just about, swallow and get on with it – but I shouldn’t have to.

Binarism, implicit and explicit, is heavily tied in with other kyriarchal notions. To take the example of gendered housing, there’s a lot tied up in that. Heterosexism, cissexism, sexism, rape culture.

So again we find this individual thread supported by a web of others, all so hard to cut and fight.

What we can do, in the absence of a flamethrower with which to burn away the entire web, is to try to expand the outside spaces as far as is within our power. The spaces where gendering oneself is not compulsory, where a person can be themselves without being required to lie. I’m appealing here to anyone in a position of authority, to anyone who is a creator or a moderator or a poller or whatever – don’t force people to make the lie-or-leave choice by placing your sphere inside the gendered spaces.

Lying is what I have been doing. I spent a week doing things that I love with great people, but I had to lie on the form to go there, I had to lie every time I went to my room. I may not have chosen to do so, and it is a perfectly valid choice for safety’s sake (and in fact I did remain closeted for the first couple of days until I felt a bit more settled and safe), but it was still a lie. I still lied by staying in gendered accommodation, by using documentation with the old gendered name on. I don’t mind lying in a good cause – like safety – if I have to, but I resent being forced to it.

To live in the outside spaces is to be vulnerable. Because at any point, someone might come along and start shrinking them, demanding people leave the outside spaces. Or you could be forced through a door into a place that you couldn’t see, and find yourself somewhere where there’s no way into the outside spaces. And because the outside spaces are deemed unnecessary, there’s nothing to stop peple closing them off, shutting them away.

After all, they think, it’s not like the inside spaces are too small. We don’t need that extra outside space. And of course everyone will be fine in the inside spaces! Just look at the little letter on the passport, check the associations of the name, and send them in. Ignore the people pounding at the walls, pounding to get out –

– the walls must be broken down.

Forcing people out of the outside spaces who need them to survive is an act of erasure, bigotry and violence. And it hurts people like me. Like us.

I’m being really bad with this blog at the moment. Not that that’s anything new. Hopefully I will reinvigorate myself sometime soon, but till then all I can give is my apologies and what posting I can do.

As a non-binary person in a binarist society, I find myself thinking about my (non)gender a lot. How people are reading me, how to come out, how people think of me once I have. Whether I can go to the toilet, talk to someone, take an action without negative consequences. All sorts of things. Little worries, huge worries. Was that weird look I got the end of the issue, or are they going to spew hatred at me? Is this person I’m talking to now going to go all weird on me when I tell them who I actually am? How much longer can my bladder last? (The answer to this last is generally ‘as long as it needs to’ – I’m lucky). Will dressing in a way I’m comfortable with mean that authority figures will think less of me?

It’s a huge part of my life. I sincerely wish it wasn’t – I would love my lack of gender to be a non-issue – but it is. Sometimes it seems like I’m overthinking things – but when I hear about people who are similar to me getting hurt because other people are bigoted shitspits, it doesn’t feel excessive at all. The worst part is, I know that it’s futile. The actions of bigots are not the fault of the oppressed. Privileged, bigoted people are responsible for their acts of bigotry.

We should not have to hide to protect ourselves. Mostly I try not to because mostly I figure that I can deal with the consequences of living openly. That said, I still lie by omission. I still allow authority figures to make incorrect assumptions about me, because I am afraid of their power. I shouldn’t feel that fear. Nobody should be afraid to stand up and say, ‘This is me’ – but the kyriarchy makes so many of us afraid to do so, with extremely good reason. It hides us. We cannot be blamed for refusing to walk into the firing line, but that doesn’t change the fact that there should be no fire. We should not have to second-guess everything to try to keep ourselves safe. Our safety, our rights should be guaranteed by the fact of our existence.

I hate not being able to forget. I hate being reminded that I am different, that I am Other, by the slightest things in society. And I hate that it makes me second-guess myself. Thinking about gender so much makes me wonder all too often whether I am who I think I am. So I look inside – and there’s still no crash-crash-crash there, and it still feels wrong when I try to think of myself with gender. And I think, yeah, I’m right. This is who I am.

Ten minutes later, someone will say ‘Ladies and gentlemen’ or I’ll need the toilet or whatever – and I’ll be back to thinking about it.

Because the reminders are always there. There is no space away from them. There’s no space to just exist, as a person – I have to exist as an armoured fortress to protect that which makes me abnormal.

Has it really been nearly ten days since I posted here? I am so sorry. Just… stress, and a couple of days out of town, and… yeah, I’ve got no excuse really.

Also I have no inspiration. I’ve written barely anything for a week or more. Again, I’m sorry. I promise I will put up a proper post, with substantial content and social commentary, up on Thursday. Hopefully if I say it I’ll do it and hopefully I’ll buckle down to it then because I have a day off.

I hate microaggressions. I really hate them. It seems like absolutely everything in my life is out to get me or other marginalised people. I’ve had dyadist and binarist statements from authority figures, rape jokes from people others have invited into my ‘safe circle’ of people. I’ve sat through sexist lectures about clothing, had to interact with people who’ve been really shitty towards me, listened to ableist remarks go unchallenged, had my non-gender misrepresented persistently.

Doesn’t help that the abnormally hot weather is making my body dissonance ten times worse since the heat means I can’t wear the normal layers to disguise the shape of my body. I dislike heat at the best of times, but with body dissonance around sweaty bits that rub on each other it’s utterly intolerable. And it makes me feel really bad about my anosmia – I literally will never know if I’m stinking the room out. Which means that everything is awkward because I’m always thinking, ‘do I smell, do I smell?’

I don’t really hate being anosmic. I hate that people assume I can smell, and the idea of smell scares me… but I’m generally all right with not being able to. I’m just more all right with it in winter when I know it’s unlikely I’ve been sweating enough to smell. Or at times when I’m not actually going to be around people. The body odour negativity thing, I dislike it, I don’t see why we try to eradicate something that just happens naturally, but I realise that I’m not someone who has to be smelling it.

Trigger warning. Transhatred, misohomy, dyadism, slurs, transmisogyny, discussion of abuse, victim blaming, ableism, biological determinism, ageism, discussion of violence.

In my travels through the Internet, I sometimes find things that are really, really fucking terrible. Such is a file being distributed by reactionary Catholic groups at the UN. I strongly advise nobody to click on the link, although I’ll put it here (http://www.couragerc.net/Transsexual_Issues/Sex_Reassignment.pdf). The trigger warning lists most of what they manage, but I’m pretty sure I’ve missed out some awfulness. Put it this way, they quote and support Janice Raymond… Yeah. This post is mainly referring to binary trans people – I am actually glad to be erased, and that’s something I never thought I’d say. However, I am grouping myself in with the trans label for the purposes of this post, even though I prefer non-cis.

I am not going to let this go past my radar unargued. It is really terrible. Frankly, we could play transhatred bingo with this. Only I think we’d have to have more squares than normal.

They accuse us of living in a fantasy world – and yet, they believe that sex is a binary. Their world is rather more fantasy than ours is – and their fantasy has been supported by blood and by murder, by hatred and by mutilation (such as they condemn). They also believe that the genotype can be told from the phenotype, which is again a fiction, a fiction you’d think they wouldn’t believe since I’m pretty sure you need to have some kind of biology qualification to be a psychiatrist.

They also have no idea of cause and effect, or the mechanisms of oppression. Their privilege is showing, and it is incredibly disgusting. Trans people experience high levels of abuse, bullying etc because of society’s non-acceptance of being trans. Not because experiencing those things makes one trans. Transhatred (and misohomy) is a real problem – and it’s a problem which their arguments have illustrated perfectly.

Besides this, they appear to believe that the so-called ‘trans panic defence,’ the defence often given by partners of trans people who have responded to the fact of their transness with violence, is evidence against our validity rather than evidence for the unacceptable level of transhatred and misohomy on the part of those reacting like that. Transhatred and misohomy that they are helping to support. The real ones supporting others in their fantasies are them; they, who support the oppressive delusions of the bigoted privileged rather than the people who are at risk and vulnerable. The non-acceptance of trans people means nothing about the validity of our gender/s/non-gender/s, but everything about the existence of hatred. Victim blaming is never okay.

As is par for the course for these people, they also believe that they can determine cisness from looks. Thus, they hold trans people up to an impossible standard of performing their gender that many cis people do not reach, and justify that solely on the basis of birth assignation. Everything will be interpreted by them as evidence of the trans person’s assigned gender being their true one, every. little. thing. Everything that cis people are never scrutinised about. Everything. And then they blame us for failing to live up to their unethical level of scrutiny. We are not actors, to be caught out in a mistake. We are people. We cannot fail to be ourselves, even when we are forced to lie by the pressures of a cruel world, of which they are a part. We seek the surgeries we seek – if we seek them – because we know what we need, because we are ourselves, we are more ourselves than our bodies are, and we are hurt by our body’s fundamental wrongness.

We cannot be spoken for by the cis gatekeepers of the medical process. While they continue to make us jump through hoops for the surgeries we need, they can never know our experience. And their voices can never replace ours, especially when they speak to discredit us.

And we are not mentally disordered. We are not unfit to make decisions. We know who we are, and we have made a commitment to telling the truth about that – and can any of those who hate us say the same? No, since they insist on upholding the lie that we are inferior – and supporting the lie that people who do not fit their narrow standard of ability are inferior.

Our youth are not incapable of knowing who we are. I would like to know at what age those who hate us knew that they were cis – and then I would like them to imagine that the world turned against them for it. We are the only people who can know who we are, what we are, and no other person, especially people who have never experienced what we do, can speak for us in that. The only person who knows us well enough to know our gender/s/non-gender/s is ourselves and those we have explicitly told.

Dissonance cannot be trivialised in this way, by calling it an ‘autogynephilic desire’ or the like. This is not a paraphilia. You will never know dissonance until you feel it, and when you feel it you will know why those of us who do seek the surgeries we do. Dissonance is pain. Dissonance is pain, and all society and hateful ‘medicine’ like this can offer is hatred and more pain. We are not making this up.

Neither are we motivated by a desire to deceive. We are motivated by the precise opposite.

We desire to tell the truth.

That’s more than one can say for those who hate us, who spread their lies to discredit us. Who accuse us of victimising ourselves, rather than looking within to see the true source of that which oppresses, hurts and kills us.

Who is causing harm? I think they should remember that ‘first, do no harm’ applies to us as well – and it harms us to hate us and to deny us the accomodations we need. It actively benefits us to align our bodies with our selves. The true breach in ethics lies with those who would knowingly deprive a large group of people medical attention they drastically need on the grounds of irrational hatred. As does the true inappropriacy.

They call our selves disordered. No human being can be ‘disordered’ in this way. Different, yes – needing accomodations that our cissexist, ableist society does not readily provide, yes – but disordered? No.

Our selves are valid, legitimate, good and true. And only we can know them.

Sarcasm mode : enabled. Sorry…

Hey, I’m really happy for the people who find my lack of gender funny. I mean, it’s just comedy genius, isn’t it, that I would ID this way? You know, I spent hours working on that gag and then dressing so that people would ask me ‘Are you a boy or a girl?’ and I could respond with ‘neither’. So utterly hilarious! I should be a stand-up comic, shouldn’t I?

Sarcasm mode : disabled.

But seriously, it’s not a joke. And if you think it is a joke, you’re a foul piece of shit who needs a lesson in basic human decency. This is my fucking life, my self. I can’t change it, I can’t escape it. Frankly, I don’t want to – what I want to change or escape is this terrible binarist society I live in. And you know what isn’t funny? Being a person that the world sees fit to erase, sometimes forcibly.

Yeah, this happened. A person with a history of asking ‘Are you a boy or a girl’ loudly and in public sees me, I think decides to put on a display for friends, asks and when I snap ‘neither’ back and move away quicker, everyone bursts into peals of laughter and start yelling something about ‘half a dick.’ Don’t even ask, I don’t know.

I just get so tired of it. It happens all the time, and then sometimes it catches me on a bad day and gets me down. Why the hell do people think it’s appropriate? Why do people think it’s acceptable? I’m just a person, for fuck’s sake.

Does it offend them, that I am outside of the binary? Does it impinge on their lives, does it affect their safety, does it even matter to them? No, it bloody well doesn’t. My gender or lack of it is my business – there’s no need to ask an almost-total stranger who doesn’t quite fit into your convenient little boxes. I don’t mind answering if directly asked – especially when the asker is both smaller than me and not between me and a way out – even if the person asks repeatedly because you know, minds change and that’s what I want them to, even though I don’t think asking loudly in public is ever acceptable or appropriate. It’s fucking dangerous. Just because I’m prepared to run the risk of answering doesn’t mean the asker gets a free pass.

But what is so funny about it? No, seriously now. I like a joke. I need more jokes in my life, since the world is such a shithole. I’d kinda like to know if there’s any genuine humour in the situation or whether it’s a ‘hahahaha different people are funny because they’re different hahaha let’s target them now haha’ kind of foke (not sure how you’d do the faux/joke portmanteau…)

If you think it’s a joke, and you think I’m the punchline, I think you need the bloody punchline explaining to you. Because I’m not a punchline.

I get really angry with hetero/cis/binary/sexual folks complaining about Pride. I’ve never been to one – and will be missing my local one this year because of an out-of-town trip – but that’s besides the point.

A common complaint is that we’re ‘shoving it in their faces’. If I may put it crudely – bullshit. My heart bleeds. Not.

For one, it’s pure hypocrisy.

Apparently they believe that the hetero, cis, binary, sexual norm is not shoved into everyone’s faces daily. I suppose that the fact that every compulsory primary school reading book features only normative characters is just coincidence, is it? What about the abundance of normative PDA? That’s just an exception I suppose. Oh – and the media emphasis on normative relationships? I guess that’s just representation. And surely the stigmatisation of non-normative identities has nothing to do with it? /endsarcasm.

Most of us had normativity shoved down our throats from an early age. We sung songs about normative relationships, watched programes, read books, saw films about normative relationships. We saw only the normative represented positively. Often we never even saw the non-normative at all.

That is having an identity shoved into your face. Not a group of people coming together one day of the year to celebrate who they are and try to cast a bright flare through the dark clouds that hover over their path.

For two, they’re complaining about something that has grown up as a reaction to oppression – oppression perpetuated by them. Really not their business objecting. Objections from within the community are fine, but from without?

Oh hey there kyriarchy, I saw you a mile off.

People within the gender and sexuality norm do not get to interfere. Simple as. How hard can it be? If your privilege has made you think that people being themselves are shoving stuff in your face, you need to examine your privilege rather than their motives. It stinks the whine of the privileged person who just can’t accept that the oppressed people have needs too. We need to be recognised as the equals of anyone else. We need to resist our erasure at the hands of the privileged. And one way we’re doing that is through Pride. Is through throwing up a light to our youth so that they can find themselves. Is through taking the aspects of us that the kyriarchy hates and celebrating them defiantly. Is through sticking a finger up at the dominant norms and saying ‘We exist too!’

So if the privileged people think we’re shoving it in their faces, they need to examine why they think that and why we need to do what we do in the first place.

Something of the same applies for any situation in which the marginalised – on any axis – are accused of shoving their selves into the privileged’s faces. In a lot of those situations, though, there’s the additional point – if the privileged are allowed to do it, the marginalised should be. If you don’t object to hetero-perceived PDA – don’t claim that gay-perceived PDA is bad. Because that’s just perpetuating oppression.

Again, posting has lapsed to sporadic, and I apologise – I’m in the middle of exams, but it’s not like I’m not having time for anything but revision.

*   *   *

This is a personal post, and is intended to apply to me and only me.

I honestly have no idea how to walk the line between my comfort (being out) and the possible consequences. I’m now in a situation where I don’t have to declare gender – and haven’t declared birth name – but would feel a lot more comfortable declaring who I am. I haven’t done so yet, and am extremely undecided about ever doing so, because I am afraid that bringing my self to the attention of people in positions of authority would put a black mark against my name.

This is the line we have to walk. Until we declare ourselves, we are held not to be our selves, we are held not to exist – but we are allowed to survive, hidden away behind the panels of the kyriarchy. When we declare ourselves, we risk everything – being labelled a freak, being denied, being rejected, hurt, discredited or worse. Until we pull the panels away, we don’t know what the place we will enter is – a room full of soldiers in kyriarchy’s service, or a room of healers, or whatever – unless someone is already there, finding out.

So as more of us come out, more of us will come out because there could be a voice in the room beyond the panel saying, ‘I don’t know if any of us are in there, but I am out here and it is livable,’ and we will come out because we want to see daylight. Don’t write it off as a trend. Just because we were walled in here, too scared to break out, does not mean we never existed. Do not make the mistake of taking the dominant group’s view as fact, when all other groups have hidden in the woodwork.

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Yesterday was the Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (referred to henceforth in this post as Misohomy and Transhatred, because oppressiveness =/= phobia), and I didn’t do a post. Now, there’s three main reasons for that and two of them are incredibly prosaic. One, I have basically given up on blogging for these ‘days’ because I can never think what to write other than ‘yeah, this oppression is bad, uh, yeah,’ and two, I had… other stuff going on that was sapping my energy. The third reason is that it’s just another day. I imagine most people affected by oppressions that have ‘Day Against’ events going on think this – for them, it’s not just a single day. It’s every day.

For me, it’s every day because along with binarism, misahetery/misohomy/heterosexism and transhatred/cissexism are the oppressions that crop up most in my life. I don’t have the privilege to dedicate a day to fighting them and then take most of the rest of the year off. I fight the damn things whenever they pop up because if I don’t, guess who they’ll end up hurting? That’s right, me.

I do it by existing. I do it by challenging oppressive views – not just against those few oppressions, if something bigoted pops up I try to tackle it, even though I do sometimes mess up. I do it by insisting on being recognised for who I am. I do it by eradicating oppressive language from my vocabulary, and tackling the oppressive attitudes in my own head that caused that oppressive language to surface. I do it by trying to lead others towards doing the same.

This is a constant, ongoing battle. It’s not something we can win with a day of positivity and condemnation of bigotry. All that will do is drive the kyriarchy underground for the one day, around the people who do it, and it will resurface very soon afterwards to continue its oppressive regime.

It’s not easy. None of this is easy. None of us can do everything. But we can all do something, and that something isn’t lip service on one day of the year. That something is work on our own minds. The great thing about anti-kyriarchy activism is that we all have that one area in which we can be incredibly successful, because our minds are our own. Each mind for us is a mind against the kyriarchy. Each mind against the kyriarchy is one brick gone from the wall, letting in one ray of sunshine, one glimmer of hope.

No condemnation on those who did blog yesterday – these days can be good times to get our thoughts in order about the ongoing struggle. The problem is the idea that one day – not just this day, any day – is going to fix all the problems, make our kyriarchal attitudes go away and make the oppression stop. Because it’s not. There’s things you can do that might make a difference on that day, but that’s really only as a catalyst for long-term change.

I claim my identity because if I do not, a label will be forced upon me. All words are merely a concept given shape, and the words I use for my identity are no different – except, they make sense. The concept they have been formed from is one that resonates with me, and the words themselves feel right.

While they are there, I have the weapons to fight being non-consensually labelled. I can say, ‘No, I am not [assigned gender]; I am agender,’ and the word I use will be a shield to protect me from the assumptions and the labels others slap on without thinking about it. While I have those identities, the labels that I have chosen, the socially-assigned ones cannot cling to the stuff of my self and twist it to their own will. People may assign them – but I can cast them off because they never fit, and they cannot stick to the shield of my own self-identification.

I also claim my identity to allow for community – to signal to others like me that we are alike, we face similar things, I have your back. I claim it so that others know my standpoint, but first and foremost I claim it for my own self, my own piece of mind.

Some people choose not to ‘label’ themselves, not to claim the words for their identity, to allow it to go unnamed. That’s fine. But it’s not okay to police people’s choice to use them. I have claimed these words as a shield against non-consensual labelling, and that works for me. Some of us need to claim the words, shout them out or treasure them in their heart. We are not ‘fencing ourselves in’. We are ships seeking anchorage in a storm, and the identity is a place where the waves are broken before they can break us. Or we are merely seeking a way to describe our experiences, words that will not erase or oppress us, and when we find those words we are using them, settling down among the blankets and creating a nest with them, using them to carve ourselves some space of our own in a world that would much prefer us not to exist. We can expand the words, use them as they are or define them for ourselves, in line with our own experiences. Or we can choose not to use them at all. And that’s something only the individual person can know; what words, what usage they will be comfortable with.

If a person is polyamorous/married to someone of the same legal sex, records it on the census and the ONS ‘corrects’ it, are the ONS’ results accurate?

NO.

The ONS’ results are blatantly inaccurate and the ONS is guilty of researcher bias. Yes, bias. Erasing the entirety of who people are is bias. I have also found that non-binary people’s responses will be ‘corrected’ too. Bias. Bias and the most obvious sort of erasure.

Do I have to tell statisticians, I, who did a half-arsed GCSE in statistics and gained only a B, do I have to tell statisticians why bias and adjusting results is wrong? Do I really? It appears I do.

So here’s the lowdown. Investigator bias is a real problem because it means that an inaccurate picture emerges. If the research is important and likely to be used for important purposes – which this is – this produces huge problems. Research that builds upon it is wrong. Conclusions drawn from it are wrong. Policies based on it are wrong. Trends identified by it are wrong. EVERYTHING ABOUT IT IS WRONG. You may think that people in these situations are such a minority that it doesn’t matter, but really and truly EVERY INACCURACY MATTERS.

In this case, it matters to people’s LIVES. We are who we are, and we are human, we are here, we matter. Taking a rubber to the records when you present them to the world denies us our existence. Your altered data will mean that the world will continue to revolve in a way that excludes us, and since officially we don’t exist we are virtually prevented from seeking redress with any kind of official backing about our existence. Your altered data will give people the backing they wanted to continue to try to push us out of the existence that is our birthright as humans.

We have been written out of the past, and we are being written out of the present. Our youth are dying, hurting, despairing because they are cut off from any acknowledgement of their existence. We are constantly hit with censure, with official backing, for trying to exist as our selves. We are erased every time we open our eyes by every second that ticks through the clock.

We exist.