Monthly Archives: July 2017

Queer People Deserve Nuanced, Dynamic Conversations About Our Bodies

It is undeniable that how we experience our bodies is often impacted by the identities we hold. I’ve known this deeply as a transgender, queer, and mentally ill person, trying to navigate self-love and body acceptance in a world that routinely denies my humanity and my worth. Our bodies are, perhaps, the most politically-charged battleground that we know; how we honor, protect, touch, and understand them often collides with the de/valuing of those same bodies in the culture at large.

Having conversations that acknowledge this complexity is a rare thing. Queerness, by its very nature, complicates the way that we move through the world — and by extension, the relationship we forge to our bodies and to each other. It’s worth talking about, and yet we are only beginning to collectively unravel this dialogue.

I’ve never known a queer person who hasn’t had some kind of complicated relationship to their body. Dive deep, and you’ll find there’s an abundance of perspectives and experiences. It’s normative ideas about what queerness “looks” like; the privileging of some bodies over others; the ways in which embodied violence intersects with different oppressions; the ways that our aesthetic and expression codes our gender, sexuality, and community ties; the notion of who is most and least desirable; the suggestion that only binary experiences exist; and the erasure or inescapable visibility of our queerness depending on how we present.

If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. We could talk about this for days and still only scratch the surface.

So when we consider mainstream ideas of “self-love” and “body love,” it becomes apparent that what queer people need from these conversation is real nuance. It is impossible for queer folks to have these conversations without some kind of acknowledgment about the unique ways we connect with and disconnect from our bodies — especially when we consider our bodies a site of struggle, trauma, and even violence.


When Elizabeth Cooper invited me to be a part of the Queer Body Love Speaker Series this year, all of these messy, half-formed thoughts really came to the surface for me. We need spaces like these, and we need vulnerable, dynamic, layered conversations from a multitude of perspectives.

We deserve unique resources that help us untangle the messy profoundness of our queer bodies, at every intersection they live in. We need to move beyond Lisa Frank bopo and stretch mark selfies, and sink our teeth into the very real work of queer liberation, beginning with our bodies and extending to one another.

I’m so excited to be able to share the Queer Body Love Speaker Series with my readers. It’s a series of video interviews with queer activists, leaders, and artists that expands the conversation of “body love.” It’s such a rare, accessible (the whole thing is transcribed!), and wonderful resource for queer folks and those that love them. It’s been inspiring to watch this unfold as both a viewer and a participant, two years in a row now. It’s easily one of my favorite projects I’ve ever had the honor to be a part of.

This year’s question is one that I’ve grappled with a lot since beginning this work: How do we love ourselves, our bodies, and each other in the face of oppression? 

Elizabeth invites you (and I do, too!) to explore this question with our amazing crew of queer speakers. She writes:

Personal and spiritual development in the Western world often tries to forget that we are humans living in bodies in society. And… we are humans living in bodies in relationship to other people. Our cultures and the systems we live in affect how we see ourselves and literally how we feel in our bodies.

It makes sense if you’re struggling with really experiencing your own, embodied sense of self worth. Most mainstream cultures teach us to de-value our authentic selves.

And there is another way.

Choosing self-love isn’t an individualistic endeavor. We need each other. We need to hear and know that we are not alone in the struggle to love ourselves. We need possibility models, hope, inspiration and practical ideas and tools to support us in really committing to self-love.

That’s why I’m so excited to share these amazing interviews with you. It’s time to explore what it really means to take pride in all parts of ourselves. It’s time for us to learn from each other how we CAN love our ourselves and each other in the face of oppression — and through it, to the other side.

You are so worthy. Let us show you how you too can believe that.

This is a resource that creates real opportunities for self-insight, healing, and community-building. If you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to check out the website here and consider signing up! Not only did Elizabeth interview me and some incredibly rad activists, but my cat, Pancake, makes a guest appearance as well… so it’s obviously worth it.

See you there!



Winding up the Summer

My oldest is coming home this week from her internship–she’ll be home until the 19th when she moves in to her dorm at the W.  We’re going to New Orleans for a short trip to see the Bible Museum at the Baptist Theological Seminary and to eat some good food.

The little one  Is still having some itching in her ear but the doctor said to wait until she was completely done with her anti biotic before worrying about that.  So we will see how that works out.’

I sent out a bunch of stuff this weekend and am  hopeful for the future that someone will pick something up.  We will see.  Everyone wants micro-this and flash-that, so I am sending out shorter pieces. I just hope I just get more responses now that July is over and more people  will start reading again  now that the summer is almost over. We’ll find out.

Still waiting  on the school to let me know if I will teach.  We will see what happens with that.  I am easy about it knowing it’s in God’s hands now

Hope everyone has a good beginning of the week and a  good end to their summer.


Reblog – The Next “Leg” of My Journey

Originally posted on My Medical Musings:
It’s nearly 3 years since my left femur snapped in two. Those first two years I can barely remember. It’s a blur of surgery after surgery, hospital stay after hospital stay, recovery after recovery.…

Frogs on My Skin

To give an inkling of how stressful my weekend has been…While driving earlier amidst the chatty Kathy doll in the backseat that is my child…A fly landed on my arm repeatedly and I seriously thought, I am so sick of these frogs getting on my skin.

Bizarre, fucked up, all that jazz, right? Not really a novelty, though. My brain is constantly substituting wrong words in my head and out aloud. (Have you read my posts, hello???I am not stupid nor bad with spelling nor illiterate, my brain JUST DOESN’T WORK RIGHT.) Least I have an idea where the ‘frogs’ thing came from. I was playing frog vs Shopkins with my kid earlier (the little plastic toys) so apparently I had frogs on the brain and metaphorically on my skin. Hmmmph.

Friday wasn’t awful. Mrs. R called and invited us to go for a car ride to the boondocks so she could pick up some dollhouse for her grandkids then she took us out for ice cream and back to the house for wine and lots of whine (Spook had to endure hanging out kid free, all the while bemoaning her boredom and how unfair it was for her to be so bored. Welcome to my life, kiddo.) R had a friend over he’s trying to teach guitar to, which of course, I was not warned about so that made me a little ill at ease. Oddly, the guy is from the neck of woods near where I threw up, er grew up, so his country ways were more welcome than the normal uppity company the R’s have. My kid acted like a spazz, saying it was creepy to be around two men playing guitar and she acted like Mrs R was gonna bite her and she was ‘nervous’. Yet she spends three days miles away from me meeting various yahoos my dad knows and she’s fine. The kid is turning my brain to Jello.

Saturday started out okay. Then dad darkend my step and informed me one of the kids Spook had played with during her time at their house had been found to have a louse in her hair. And BAM, down came everything crashing. I instantly checked my kid’s hair, having noticed almost no itching or anything visible and yet…I found two live buggers and a mix of nits and dandruff and scalp pieces. Into treatment mode we went. Tons of laundry, combs, brushes, mayo, conditioner, five different shampoos and conditioners, combs, tweezers…What a fucking nightmare. And doubly grueling cos I go ahead and treat myself with no proof I have it because I just won’t risk it. SEVEN times even after being told about lice and sent away her brat ass friends knocked on the door. Which made me get my yell on. (Horrid time to run out of real cigarettes, nerves toasted and roasted.)

Plus side, no friends, little stress. Spook and I got along ok.

Suck side, I lost my suck ass phone somewhere Friday night and no idea where and calling it from another line won’t help cos it was on vibrate and almost dead. Now I have to replace the damned phone at my own cost when I do not have the extra money and meanwhile, no one can reach us and I can’t even dial 911 cos I have NO PHONE. In a way, it’s a relief. They can accuse me of ignoring them but when you don’t have the phone to ignore, they’re the jackasses. Not a relief, having to cough up money for another phone. I hate phones but with school starting, I gotta have one. Not to mention it’s my alarm clock too so Spook and I overslept and she couldn’t go to church today even though I’d cleared her hair.

I kept her inside until 1 pm and the kid shocked me by tearing into her nightmare closet mess and bagging up junk and old clothes and tossing them out. I was so proud of her for taking initiative and bursting into action. I, on the other hand, woke to find my shark week had arrived way earlier than usual (often happens when starting a new medication and hormones fluctuate, I did the research, it’s happened a few times with new meds.) Anyway, no smokes, shark week=bitchy listless Morgue. Kid was doing all this stuff and most I did was feed indoor and outdoor cats and wash dishes. In all fairness, I busted my ass yesterday with all the treatments, washing, vacuuming, dishes, cat care…

She decided after cleaning and three kids knocking that she was done and I said, let’s go through your hair again to be safe and so…tantrum began and she pouted in her room a half hour. Then she came out and let me comb and pick through her hair and I relented. Only to have yet another day of kids in my yard, asking for food, and her bickering with everyone or getting a booboo every five seconds. By the time she came inside, I was ready to drop into bed. But no, I had to play the Shopkin/Frog/Hello Kitty game with her and I set an amount of time because it was nearing bedtime and as usual..She kept trying to barter for more time by using guilt trips and accusations of neglect. Even after I let her have the TV to watch cartoons and asked for TEN SIMPLE MINUTES WITHOUT MOM MOM MOM…Ninety seconds in, there she was in my doorway, mom mom mom.

I should be bald from yanking out clumps of hair.

Speaking of hair, I really found I hated the way the dye turned all pink and orange this time so I dug out a box of black dye that’s been there for months and mostly went back to black with a few patches of the pinkish orange pieces. Which are likely gonna be dyed purple at some point. Because I can and because it’s fun to freak out the local rednecks who think anything but denim and flannel is “freak show” territory. Idgets.

Now she is finally out for the night and I am waiting for my Xanax and melatonin to kick in. I have shark week spinal pain and I just want to rest. It was the weekend from hell and I earned a rest. I say so.

Three…more…weeks. Then school starts and my nerve endings may actually stop fraying and bursting into flames daily. A mom can dream…

Capture Bonding: How I Both Need and Grieve My Gender Transition

If we were to believe the dominant narratives around gender transition, we could only conclude that it’s a magical, affirming, and life-giving process. With these stories—and the glorious “before and after” photos that accompany them—we’re told that the uncomplicated truth of transition is that when the transformation is complete, we emerge on the other side whole and shimmering.

I am not whole, nor am I shimmering.

I often wonder: Can it be true that I can’t inhabit this body anymore—with its curves and parts that alienate me—but am still bonded to it? Top surgery is on the horizon for me. While I can’t fathom living the rest of my life with this chest, a part of me is grieving this loss. These curves were always guests (never residents), but their absence still means something to me.

I understand it only in metaphor. Imagine the kidnapped person who bonds to their captor. Imagine that the trauma forces them to forge a bond that will sustain them and wound them all at once. Imagine the attachment that is both real and illusory, born out of a need to survive.

For many transgender people, we find ways to form attachments to the assigned bodies and identities that harm us so that we can bear the burden for another day. And so the euphoria, disgust, and the fear come all at once. Behind the joy, my transition has been grief. My transition has been letting go. My transition has been hard.

I am losing the face that I knew. I delight in my beard, yet I long for the softness that was once underneath. I am angular in all the right ways, yet I still have affection for the youth I once held in my cheeks. And I wonder if it’s possible that the face I rejected (the dysphoria and the distress still real) wasn’t mine to keep but still meant something to me.

I know the feeling of being misgendered, like a knife perpetually wedged between your ribs. And I know the feeling of entrapment in a body that isn’t “right,” a fleshy coffin that conceals and suffocates you. And someday, I hope I’ll know the relief of having broken free of those things—to recognize myself fully when I look in the mirror.

But I live in the real world, too, where the pretending had to be so emphatic, it flirted with the truth. I had to be something I wasn’t long enough to reasonably convince myself, and the feelings there are residual, even now. My breasts disgust me, but they are familiar to me, too—sometimes I cringe, sometimes I cry, sometimes I laugh, sometimes I even smile, and sometimes I feel nothing at all.

When your body is the captor, and your urge is to survive, how do you go on? For some of us, we dissociate, we separate, we detach. But I believe that some of us form attachments, too—to our dead names that our protectors used to coo as they cradled us in their arms, to our bodies that lovers used to gently trace with a finger or lusted after from across the room. And while we know in our hearts that we must change, the intimacy and meaning of what we were was never lost on us.

And it’s this attachment that too many trans people are deeply ashamed of. How can I be seen as valid if I am not willing to abandon the entirety of what I was, of what that felt like? Am I truly transgender if I am unsure, afraid—or grief-stricken, even? If this is everything I need, but it hurts just the same? How can I hold this contradiction if it threatens my existence?

My brother, on occasion, slips and calls me his “sister.” Like a good trans person, I correct him. But some part of me cannot admit that when he says it, I am sometimes comforted—not because I am a woman or was ever a girl, but because I remember the warmth and protection his voice carried when he said it to me, when I was small and still new to this world.

When he says “sister,” it evokes a memory—a very particular one—of blood. When I cut my head open when I was 13, and despite his undeniable phobia of blood, he held his breath and a towel firmly against the wound while I cried. He was brave and he was sensitive and he spoke so softly to me. Then, and many times over, I was so proud to be his “sister.”

I admit that I am still learning to be proud of being his “brother,” too.

Like many trans people, I am learning to reattach to new words and new parts. I imagine what my body will be with immense joy and fear, worried and wondering what of “me” I’ve gained and what of “me” I’ve lost. Every year that passes, I fall more deeply in love with my name—Sam Dylan Finch, which rolls off the tongue like a tender incantation—while still wondering if the name I buried lives on someplace else. The unfamiliar becomes sweetly familiar, while the once familiar nips at my heels like a neglected dog.

It all had to mean something—and in a parallel universe, I think it still does, living on just as it was—because for this life to be bearable, I had to make meaning of these things. Because while the trauma of my assigned gender was at times like a clenched jaw around my body, it was, at first, the only thing I knew. And I created safety with what little kindling I had; I built a fire. Though it may have burned me and even, for a moment, engulfed me, it also kept me warm.

The truth of transition, they will tell you, is that it is pure and unadulterated joy and discovery. It makes for a touching story, to be sure. But quietly, I hold the space for something more—the messy reality that mingling with that joy is also raw and relentless grief, a letting go that too many of us struggle to make sense of.

To live these lives—to survive the trauma of being transgender in a world that denies us, invalidates us, destroys us—we’ve struck a delicate balance of detachment and attachment, forming bonds with our captors that we are unlearning as we become who we’re meant to be.

They tell us that those bonds make us confused or invalid. But I write these words to speak the truth: those bonds are a testament to our resilience. And whether you choose to break them or protect them, what matters most is that you’re still here.



This piece that I wrote originally appeared at Unapologetic Feminism.

…And On It Goes

Sometimes I feel like life is just relentless.  It just goes on and on and on whether you like it or not.  I guess I’m talking about this damn job search.  It just goes on and on.  Week in and week out and I have no news.  Jesus Christ!  Granted, Colorado has the lowest unemployment rate of any state, so the jobs are few & far between and the competition for the few open positions seems to be fierce.  I’m starting to feel desperate.  Fuck, I just applied for a job with HUSTLER!  Yeah, you heard me right.  They have a video-streaming operation in Boulder, apparently.  Can you even imagine?  “Who do your work for?”  “Oh the local porn streamer.”  I’d have so much pride.  Cocks and balls all day.  Oh joy!!  But goddamn these bills ain’t gonna pay themselves!!  WATCH.  Out of all the damn jobs I’ve applied for, I’ll hear from Hustler.

On the Parental Unit front, Dad seems to have C. Diff again, which if you don’t know, causes uncontrollable explosive diarrhea (I know, you could have done without that knowledge).  In addition to that, he tripped over the dog the other night and fell and injured his knee, so he’s not too mobile.  Bad combination.  I am one big stress and worry ball over Dad.  He’s been near death from the C. Diff in the past (yes it is that bad) and no matter what is wrong with his knee, doctors can’t do much, because he can’t have surgery due to his pulmonary fibrosis, and he can’t take any good painkillers due to his terrible stomach.  So, Dad is in terrible shape.  Getting old is cruel, I tell ya.

So, we’ve got a possible porn job, and explosive diarrhea.  Such an uplifting post, I know.  I’ll try to come up with something better for my next post.  Maybe a yeast infection.  I’m not making any promises, though.  I’m seeing the dickhead Dr. Drugs in the morning, wish me luck.  We are going to WAR over my antidepressant.  Hope you are all well.  Peaches!

Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar and Anxiety, Bipolar and Stress, Bipolar and Work, Bipolar Disorder, Mental Illness, Psychology, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Blogging, Depression, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader

Stigma Won’t End Until…

I wrote a post once about the difficulties of the mentally ill in finding and keeping jobs, how little employers think about hiring them, and how a mental disorder must often be kept secret if employment is to continue. And all that despite legal protections that are unknown or ignored. I received a vitriolic response that “those people” shouldn’t be hired, much less be promoted above and be supervising other employees like the writer. I couldn’t answer it, for fear of my keyboard bursting into flames.

There is no doubt that there is a stigma surrounding mental illness. People with mental disorders are blamed whenever gun violence occurs, even though the mentally ill are more likely to be victims than perpetrators. We are often considered to be violent, disruptive, and incurable – when we’re not ignored completely, especially in health care planning and treatment options.

The stigma even adheres to people around us. Mental disorders are still often linked in the media (particularly true crime books) to dominating or cold mothers, ineffectual or authoritarian fathers, and incest or abuse from any family members. While many mental illnesses have at least a genetic component, blaming the parents or family is an easy explanation that doesn’t hold water. Family or other kinds of trauma may cause psychological problems, but they don’t cause disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar.

These falsehoods have wide circulation and many – perhaps most – people believe them. They are perpetuated by the media and by lack of knowledge about the realities of mental illness.

Part of the problem is how people find out about mental illness. Largely, mental illness is an “invisible illness.” Most people know little about it until it touches them or their family in some way. Even then, misinformation and prejudices against the mentally ill may impede or delay treatment and devastate families and other relationships.

Books, movies, and television are little help. The drama and horror of the “psycho killer” drive the plots of many kinds of “entertainment.” Even programs that try to present a more balanced view of mental illness do not have a great track record of getting it right, often perpetuating stereotypes even when they don’t intend to. Among these notions are that psychotherapy lasts forever, medications don’t work or create zombie-like affect, treatments are brutal, hospitalization is for psychotics and schizophrenics only, and the mentally ill are an occasion of comedy.

Then there’s suicide. The mixed messages about that are incredible. Suicide is cowardly. It’s easy. It’s noble. It’s a viable solution to problems. It is usually interrupted. The suicidal give no indications. Most suicides are successful. Bullying causes suicide. Teens, bankrupt businessmen (it’s almost always men), and people who have terminal illnesses are the most likely to die by suicide.

Yes, there are messages that promote understanding of mental illness and those who have mental disorders. Celebrities like Glenn Close and Carrie Fisher have used their star-power and their personal experiences to shine a spotlight on the subject. Unfortunately, 60-second PSAs aren’t the best vehicles for explaining complex and difficult problems that affect people in so many different ways. Autobiographies are better, but given how few Americans read these days (and the thrillers and romances they choose), how much of the message makes it out to the general populace?

Most of us with mental illness are talking primarily to each other. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; in fact, it’s necessary to support one another and share information about our personal struggles and what has helped us survive and heal.

But more coordinated public information campaigns are needed. Think about Susan G, Komen and other organizations promoting awareness of breast cancer. Think how many Facebook messages you see about lost dogs or endangered wild horses. Think how schoolchildren are learning about protecting the environment and saving dolphins, whales, and pandas. Hell, people know about the Girl Scouts primarily through cookie sales and the Salvation Army primarily through Santa-clad bell ringers.

The truth is, stigma will continue until we educate the general populace about mental illness – until they understand that it’s an illness like many others, with treatments and hope available, and a need for research, and places to find help.

Unfortunately, those kinds of efforts require money, and organization, and leadership, three things that are sorely lacking in society as we know it.

Do I have the answers? No. But I’ll keep talking about mental illness and hope some people listen. And act.

Filed under: Mental Health

ALPIM (ALPIM Anxiety-Laxity-Pain-Immune-Mood — Kitt O’Malley)

I just learned about ALPIM, a spectrum disorder, from my friend Kitt O’ Malley’s blogpost. It’s reblogged below.

ALPIM stands for:

A = Anxiety disorder (mostly panic disorder);

L = Ligamentous laxity (joint hypermobility syndrome, scoliosis, double-jointedness, mitral valve prolapse, easy bruising);

P = Pain (fibromyalgia, migraine and chronic daily headache, irritable bowel syndrome, prostatitis/cystitis);

I = Immune disorders (hypothyroidism, asthma, nasal allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome); and

M = Mood disorders (major depression, Bipolar II and Bipolar III disorder, tachyphylaxis. Two thirds of patients in the study with mood disorder had diagnosable bipolar disorder and most of those patients had lost response to antidepressants).

I have this whole spectrum! Except they’ve included Bipolar II and Bipolar III (Cyclothymia) but not Bipolar I… Why, I wonder?  But what does it mean as far as cause and treatment? They know this is a spectrum, how will this help us? Besides taking our physical symptoms more seriously, I get that, that’s obviously important. But for the treatment of the mental illness, hopefully the linkage with all these physical illnesses will shed some light.

its definitely the immune system, all of the above have the involvement of the immune system! Over active immune system. Is it our immune system that is making us sick? I hope someone is studying all this in relationship to over active immune systems. That may well be where the answer lies!

Many of us living with mental illness have other chronic illnesses. Often we are not treated for our “physical” illnesses, as many doctors dismiss them as psychosomatic. “Mental” illnesses ARE “physical” illnesses, and “physical” illnesses affect our “mental” illnesses. We are not just our brains, just our bodies, just our minds, just our feelings, or just our souls. […]

via ALPIM Anxiety-Laxity-Pain-Immune-Mood — Kitt O’Malley

ALPIM Anxiety-Laxity-Pain-Immune-Mood

Many of us living with mental illness have other chronic illnesses. Often we are not treated for our “physical” illnesses, as many doctors dismiss them as psychosomatic. “Mental” illnesses ARE “physical” illnesses, and “physical” illnesses affect our “mental” illnesses. We are not just…

First Editing Of Human Embryos Carried Out In United States

Wow! They did it. They used the CRISPR (see here: gene editing technology to correct genetic defects in embryos! They didn't let the embryos divide too much. Ethics, morals, scientific problems… the future of the human race…. well just have to see!
The link and article below.
(Reuters) – Technology that allows alteration of genes in a human embryo has been used for the first time in the United States, according to Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland, which carried out the research.
The OHSU research is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases, according to Technology Review, which first reported the news.
None of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days, according to the report.
Some countries have signed a convention prohibiting the practice on concerns it could be used to create so-called designer babies.

Results of the peer-reviewed study are expected to be published soon in a scientific journal, according to OHSU spokesman Eric Robinson.
The research, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, head of OHSU’s Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy, involves a technology known as CRISPR that has opened up new frontiers in genetic medicine because of its ability to modify genes quickly and efficiently.
CRISPR works as a type of molecular scissors that can selectively trim away unwanted parts of the genome, and replace it with new stretches of DNA.
Scientists in China have published similar studies with mixed results.
In December 2015, scientists and ethicists at an international meeting held at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington said it would be “irresponsible” to use gene editing technology in human embryos for therapeutic purposes, such as to correct genetic diseases, until safety and efficacy issues are resolved.
But earlier this year, NAS and the National Academy of Medicine said scientific advances make gene editing in human reproductive cells “a realistic possibility that deserves serious consideration.”
Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Michael Perry