Daily Archives: October 26, 2016

Interesting

So yesterday I get a Facebook message from a long-ago editor wanting to talk to me about freelance writing.   I don’t do the freelancing thing any more, but having just asked GOd what was I supposed to be doing with myself, I took this as an opportunity to find out.  He wants me for some future role in the revamp  of his magazine.  He didn’t say what exactly until I told him I would be willing to do literary type stuff like book reviews.  He said he really needed book reviews actually.  So maybe I will start that in the next season or so.

Otherwise it’s been a long blank day.  I need help, I know it.  But I don’t know where to get it besides GOd, and he’s not acting much like he’s interested in my problems right now.   The depressive symptoms are starting to affect my mood, which they weren’t before.  I just think it’s hangover from last year’s slide that began in October.. At least that is what I am telling myself. 🙂.

Hope everyone has a good rest of the  week.

 


Check Your Spam For Me, Please!

For my fellow bloggers. If I usually, or even occasionally, comment on your posts, you may not have seen comments from me recently. Nearly half of all my comments are dropping into peoples spam folders. I don’t know why, but this has happened before. I have technical support looking into the problem. Please check your spam folders and see if…

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Lessons From a Street Urchin

This past Sunday I participated in the Los Angeles AIDS walk. Along the route was a wall where red ribbon stickers were available to write a loved one’s name. My husband, Maurice, asked if I wanted to stop and put up a sticker in honor of Eric. I told him no. His name was Eric, but my ex-boyfriend, Mike, and…

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Cis Writers: Do Your F#cking Homework Before You Write About Trans People

You tell me if this makes sense:

I know nothing about this topic, but I’m just going to wing it.

I think I have a vague idea what this word means? So I’ll just make up my own definition.

Lots of people are going to read this, but I’m not going to check this for accuracy.

It seems like no writer should ever utter those statements. In theory. And yet the number of cisgender writers taking this approach when they talk about trans people is truly astonishing.

Today was just one of those days. You could say I’m fed up. In this last week alone, I’ve come across countless articles that ranged from offensive to downright violent when discussing transgender people.

And here’s what I don’t get: Why aren’t cisgender writers doing their homework?

A quick Google search will reveal a Transgender 101 Guide that I personally wrote if you need to start at square one, and there are countless other resources, including media guides like the one from the folks at GLAAD and another from Trans Media Watch, that exist solely with the purpose of educating folks like yourself.

But let me be clear: A transgender person should not have to spell out where these resources are, because as a writer, being able to use the internet to get information is kind of in your job description. I am fairly sure if you don’t have a working knowledge of Google, you’re in deep shit.

Cis writers, it’s not often that I try to speak for all trans people. But I’ll take the liberty this once. On behalf of transgender people everywhere, if you can’t be bothered to put in a real effort to respect our community when you write about us, maybe you shouldn’t be writing about us at all.

I’m a writer and an editor for a living. I often talk about the struggles of marginalized people, either directly or indirectly. And with these roles, I understand the immense responsibility that I have as someone with access to a platform. I understand that it’s my responsibility to be truthful and accurate, and to not harm the communities that I write about.

If I do not have expertise on a topic, I ask myself two questions: Is this my story to tell? And if so, how can I do it respectfully?

Cis writers, I want to push back first on your impulse to cover stories on transgender people. Why is it your place? Is this article better told from the perspective of a transgender person? Hint: In many cases, you’re swerving out of your lane and you need to get a grip on your steering wheel.

But sometimes we are in a position where we feel we can take it on ethically (hopefully you’ve got a compelling reason, because I’m already suspicious), or we are trying to be trans inclusive on a piece within our usual beat (i.e. how can I make sure I’m being intersectional), and this requires us to talk about transgender people – sometimes for just a paragraph, other times throughout the piece.

More questions for you, then: Have you done enough reading to make sure you aren’t harming trans people with what you’ve said? Have you consulted a transgender person (or even multiple trans people) to review the piece? Are you compensating them for their time?

Yes, even for that paragraph you’re using to cover your ass so you don’t seen trans erasive (which, when it’s done right, I totally appreciate). If you’re talking about trans people, even for a sentence, you need to be diligent and responsible.

Learning By Example: We Need You to Do Better Than This

The article that broke my damn back wasn’t even explicitly about transgender people. It was a single paragraph in an article about something else:

Before I go any further down the rabbit hole, let me clarify that when I say "men," I'm not referring to all people who identifies [sic] as male, but rather cis-gender men – men who have been anatomically male since birth, free of any and all struggle that many other people who also identify as male have gone through. This one is about you, biological men. HELLO to you!

This was written by @GigiEngle – I won’t link it here – and unfortunately, a well-intentioned attempt to acknowledge trans people turned into a total nightmare. This writer fell down a totally different rabbit hole that many cisgender writers fall down. It’s what happens when you didn’t educate yourself about trans issues, and start using whatever language seemed right without checking it for competence and accuracy.

I’m going to break this down, so other cis writers (and yes, editors too) can get an idea of what exactly I’m talking about when I emphasize the importance of research. Because these mistakes are easy to make when you aren’t putting in a genuine effort to responsibly write about trans folks – yes, even for a single paragraph.

Let’s look at this paragraph for a bit.

If you are talking about cisgender men, talk about cisgender men. Using the word “men” to exclude transgender men is a shitty way of revealing that you don’t actually see transgender men as men – they’re secondary to you, not inherently a part of the word “men” but instead a detachable part.

That’s garbage. And this is easily avoidable if you just say what you mean: Cis men.

Or at the very least, if your editor is resistant to modifying the word “men” every time you use it, at the beginning of your work you should explicitly state that you’re focusing on cisgender men – and state why you’re doing this, instead of starting an irrelevant, sideways conversation about genitals.

Because really, penises had nothing to do with it. Cis men are not “biological men” because the category of man (and men) have nothing to do with biology. “Anatomical male” does not mean cis man either, because the biology of cis and trans men are on a spectrum, and there’s nothing inherently male (or female) about it.

If you’d done your research, you’d know that phrases like these are not only unnecessary to your point, but have been used to oppress trans men (and trans people as a whole).

Cis folks, I want you to sit down and look at the terms you’re using, and really ask yourself what you mean when you’re saying it. Spell it out. And you’ll likely find that underneath those words are some really icky and problematic ideas about transgender people.

(And if you’re still confused, read this.)

You had it at “cisgender men” in this paragraph but lost it when you fell into essentialist rhetoric that harms transgender men and is downright inaccurate. And all of this has been written about – again, and again, and again. If you want to be inclusive, there are better ways to do it. Read up.

The really puzzling part about this article as a whole (which again, I won’t link, not interested in driving traffic there) is that it’s an article about toxic masculinity in relationships, particularly the trope of the “fuckboy.” And believe me, I love bashing manchildren and fuckboys and all the other bullshit ways that patriarchy encourages men to behave.

But notice how I said men, not cis men. Somehow transgender men are deemed exempt in that paragraph, as if they don’t perpetuate these behaviors? It suggests that you really, really don’t see transgender men as men at all, like they are a special breed that is untouched by misogyny and privilege.

If you’re a cisgender writer writing about gender and gendered norms especially, you really should be asking yourself: Am I being inclusive of transgender people? If so, have I done my homework? If not, what are my reasons for not including trans people? Have I stated that clearly, correctly, and responsibly at the beginning of my writing?

And as always, whenever possible, if it’s writing that impacts transgender people, involving a trans person or two to review the piece (for compensation) is critically important.

I’m going to need cisgender writers to do a hell of a lot better than this – and I know that they can.

You Aren’t Just Offending Us – You’re Harming Us

I get asked all the damn time why I’m so angry when I encounter writing that doesn’t get the whole ~transgender thing~ right. I’m told about how the writer is trying, or they meant well, or that no one is perfect.

I mentioned this on Facebook, too, but it bears repeating: Why is every fucked up article about transgender people deemed a teachable moment for cis people, rather than violence towards trans people?

Why are transgender people thrown under the bus and spoken about in ways that harm us, uphold our struggles, and outright oppress us, and cisgender people aren’t held accountable because “no one is perfect”?

To me, that sounds like a really awesome (read: shitty) way to dismiss any responsibility we have as writers for what we put out into the world, and the impact our words really have.

As a writer, I know that when you have access to a platform that people read, what you say on that platform has the potential to uplift people. But it just as easily has the ability to disempower people – we can fall into narratives and stereotypes that make people’s lives a whole lot harder.

And in the case of transgender people, who are already so often victimized and brutalized in our society, when we speak about trans people in ways that are dehumanizing, we literally encourage people to view us and treat us as less than – which far too often leads to violence.

Cis writers, you should care about how you talk about trans people. Your words are the microaggressions that make us feel like the “other.” Your words are the hostility that shatters our psyche and self-esteem. Your words are the battle cry for those waiting for an opportunity to bully us, assault us, or even end our lives.

If you’re a writer, you don’t need me to tell you how powerful words are. You already know that. And you wouldn’t be a writer if you didn’t believe that.

What trans people are asking of you isn’t hard. We’re asking you to think deeply about your choices as a writer. We’re asking you to be critical, to stay sharp, to be responsible. But more than anything, we’re asking you to view us as human beings worthy of dignity, respect, and truthful representation.

And frankly, we don’t deserve anything less.

 

Chatterbox

So…Several Tribe members popped into the new chat room and I AM ELATED. Even if you can only spare  a couple of minutes or just want to sit in silence…The room is there just for those reasons.

I soo enjoyed talking to those who popped in! Be it about meds, food, TV shows, or whatnot…Just setting up a nickname and popping in means so very much!!!

You may notice sometimes that my friend imptiness is in the room and she and I have a goofy sort of shorthand.

PLEASE DO NOT FEEL LEFT OUT OR LOST OR ‘TOO OLD”.

She is my oldest, closest internet friend, whom I met in a depression support chat room back in the early 2000’s. In spite of our age difference…when our “room mother” and founder of the chat room passed away…We got very, very close. Fifteen years or so now we have been besties. She even traveled across an ocean by plane to an unfamiliar country (in spite of anxiety/panic issues) to spend seven months living with me and Spook. We love her like she is family, if not even more, because she isn’t a cockweasel like my family can be.

If am I not there and she is…Trust that she knows what all this mental stuff is. It took her 19 years to get a proper diagnosis and meds (fuck you, socialized medicine). She KNOWS, I assure you. She’s a lot like me, introverted, a little shy and maybe awkward but if you need a shoulder and empathy…Bex (imptiness) is my spiritual counterpart even if she’s not been very active in our wordpress tribe.

I trusted this woman with my child. ( And she helped remove lice from my kid’s hair, which makes her a bloody hero in my book!) Fellow Greenday fans can bond with her, cos um…I’m still not big on them and she adores them so…Be my guest. She also has a weird fetish for toast, IDK.

Point being…No matter your location, time zone, mental state, etc…We are determined to be here whenever possible. In fact, if I am NOT available and you just need to text chat…Simply ask and I will give you my number. ( I changed to the 1000 free texts a month and would rather use them on you guys than texting chihuahua),

I tried to send out as many invitations as I could, but I don’t have everyone’s email addy so I am sure I missed some and I am sorry for that. You are not excluded, no one is, I just need to know where to send the invite. You can email your address ([email protected]) or create a fake email for privacy’s sake, whatever. I DON’T WANT ANYONE TO FEEL EXCLUDED, EVER. If you enter the chat room and feel the mood is too light to discuss your probs…Private messaging is available. You can even put those who annoy/trigger you on “ignore”.

This room is for support, but also…To honor me and Bex’s original chat room “mother”. Kathy, even though on limited disability income, actually paid for TEN of us original members too poor to pay for a subscription,  to join the paid service. She just cared that much. And if I had the extra money, I’d be paying for the premium virtual room for chat but alas, I cannot.

The chat room’s name “Freshly Depressed” is inspired by a graphic I saw posted on our dearly departed and greatly missed “Blahpolar” AKA Ulla’s blog. To honor her memory. To remind us all that while the law and society may call it “suicide”… we all know it was the depression she couldn’t live with and had to escape. I truly miss her but I truly hope she is at peace now. She is certainly not forgotten by the tribe, as this chat room proves.

To clarify, when I termed it “beta”, that simply meant a test run to gauge its features and interest garnered. There is always a learning curve, always a glitch, but I was tired of waiting for expertise and just wanted to get the show on the road, so to speak.

The fact half a dozen people popped in, even with little time to spare, exhausted and not feeling ebullient…Means there’s interest and so the room shall remain up unless I have to shut down for awhile or whatever.  I will always be back. Please keep coming back or pop in to test the waters. Ask for an invite if need be. No one will force you to talk if you’re not feeling it. In the past, I have often found it comforting enough to simply sit aside in a chat room and read what others are saying. Helps to feel less alone.

In closing…Thanks to you who popped in. Keep visiting, please. For those who have not popped in…Please do when you get a chance. And if anyone did not receive an invite…PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF PEGACORN LET ME KNOW AND GIVE ME YOUR ADDY SO YOU CAN BE INCLUDED.

I really want this chat room to work out. It’s important to me because I cannot count the number of times over the years a chat room pretty much saved me from self destruction or going down the rabbit hole. If we can offer that to others…It is time well spent. No one should ever have to feel so alone in this battle with bipolar/depression/schizophrenia/borderline personality disorder/anxiety/panic attack/ unnatural love for balloons…Seriously. The humor may be a lot off kilter or gallows or inside jokes…

The support has no strings.

Freshly Depressed is for ALL of us doing battle.

Please feel free to repost this and let your followers choose whether they need this  support.

I love you all, tribepolar members. From the deepest, sincerest recesses of my heart…I love you guys. You’ve been there for me…

Now let’s be there for each other when time allows.

 

 

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Good news: the weight loss continues. I’m down 38.3 lbs. as of this morning. I’ve never dropped weight like this in my life, not even with strict dieting and exercise, neither of which I’m doing. I haven’t been at this weight in over three years. Needless to say, I’m tickled pink!

What a difference a few pounds off can make, even for a person as big as I still am. All my clothes are loose, and I’ve gone down two sizes. I can fasten my seat belt without getting winded or half-strangling myself. I can cut my own toenails and tie my shoes, which is really a good thing since Will isn’t here to help me. I can bend over and pet the dogs or pick up something off the floor. I can get into (and out of) the back seat of a car. Even my freaking bifocals fit better. Who knew?

I still don’t know quite how I got here. I mean, I’m not drinking soda or eating much in the way of sweets, and it’s no big deal. I don’t crave those things. I’ve got half of a chocolate shake in the freezer from a week or two ago; it’s like I eat part of something and forget about it. I have a box of Sugar Babies and a bag of cookies in the pantry that I’m not eating. I drink lots of water too. The funny thing is, I eat whatever I want…but for the most part, I’m making better food choices.

None of this was intentional. Where did this blessing come from, and why is it happening?

My appetite is better nowadays, but my stomach capacity is about half of what it was and it shows no sign of expanding. It really doesn’t take too much food to satisfy me; I don’t like the feeling of being too full, so I only eat till the hunger goes away. Fast food makes me feel gross, as does too much sugar. I still love burgers, fried foods, and Chinese and Mexican cuisines, and I indulge those cravings periodically.  The difference is that I always end up taking at least half of my leftover food home and eating it a couple of days later.

So, I’ve become the Incredible Shrinking Woman. Being almost 40 lbs. down from a weight that wasn’t even the highest it’s ever been—I’ve been as much as 60 lbs. heavier than I am now—means I’m going to take up less space on the airplane than I did when we went on our vacation last year. It means being able to walk around Walmart without needing to sit down every 100 feet or leaning on the shopping cart.   It also means that maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to go on some rides when we go to Disney World next December. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

 

 

 


A Boring Day

Today when I woke up my direct TV wasn’t working so I had no TV. I was not in the mood for anything that I had that could be streamed so I spent most of my day on Facebook and listening to Pandora on my iPad.

I went for a walk around the block even though I feel like shit and caught two new pokemon.

Other than that it was a boring day. How I dread getting out of bed on depressive days. Which honestly seem to be every single day right now.