Category: Questioning Narratives

In the controversies today, I often find myself somewhere in the middle, seeing the pieces many others willingly gloss over. Take a look here.

Coming Out To My Past Self: A Letter To Me

Dear past self:

We need to chat. I’m re-reading Out of the Closet and Into the Meme War, and I just have one question. What were you thinking?

Okay, let’s back up and handle this point by point, like adults. First, a fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality. Yes, that’s the fifth definition. Still, every definition involves the idea of objective existence. That means separate from perception.

So no, R. T., it’s not a fact that you’re a transman. It’s a fact that you’re female. Self-identity is almost entirely subjective.

Even as I type, I can feel you reacting somewhere in the depths of my subconscious. How can I say such things about my own self? Am I a masochist?

Maybe. Or maybe I’ve learned a thing or two in this last year. The first is you were right on some points. First, yes, women are quite attractive. Men? Eh. Except Jacob. ūüôā Second, Yes, we did marry him, and we’re quite happy we did. But women are still sexy.

In fact, most of what you wrote is pretty accurate. Life before the wedding was straight up madness.

Really, I just wanted to chat about two points you didn’t really understand.

  1. We got sick during massage school. It wasn’t “just stress”. Something broke, and I still don’t know what, but I’m working on it, for both our sakes.
  2. You have no idea what it means to be a Daughter of God. Truth be told, I don’t either, but I finally started learning.

The mystery illness that walloped you upside the brain and ground any plans to a halt? Lab work is happening, and I’ve got the process as under control as it’s possible to have such trouble.

The Daughter of God thing? Well, that’s bigger. See, when you wrote your post, you wanted so badly to be visible. You wanted people to see and understand all the parts and pieces of you. Even followed it up with Realizing I’m Not Invisible a few months later.

Yesterday, I learned that no matter how badly you or I want it, parts of us will always be invisible in some situations. You can’t fight a crusade against the world. And the world will make its assumptions. I know, it can be frustrating.

Just remember, those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.

Really, though, the reason I say you didn’t understand then what it means to be a Daughter of God is this. You still clung to your identity as a transman. You clung to your identity as ONLY Raidon T. Phoenix. You tried to forget Tanith Rose.

When I moved to California, I still carried your idea of identity. Except that idea hurt. Every day, it hurt. So I gave it up.

In fact, I gave up the idea of identity entirely. And in doing so, I found the freedom to be ME. Not you. Not Tanith.

I found the freedom to be Raidon Tanith Rose Phoenix Taylor.

I still use masculine pronouns on social media. I strongly dislike the inundation with ads directed at women. I live in California and see enough bikinis to last a lifetime in the summer.

Not to mention the makeup ads are way too trippy.

I’m still getting our name legally changed. After all, we chose it together, and it’s part of us now.

Thanks for everything you taught me, R. T.

Sincerely,

Raidon

 

Opinions Are Safer Than Slices of My Soul

I’m not certain who originally created this meme. That person is, however, entirely correct.

You may be yourself all the time. Except when your boss only needs one aspect of you. Except when your friend needs another side of you. Except when being yourself means breaking social norms, or worse, laws.

We dedicate thousands of hours and tens of thousands of words to advice on how to be better members of society.

And right now, I don’t know if I’m failing or succeeding. I’m also trying desperately not to care.

After all, I blog. I want to blog more. (Some would say I NEED to blog more.) Most of the time, I blog about opinions on stuff I see online. Why?

Because it’s easy. It’s safe.

I don’t have to slice of a piece of my soul and risk baring it to the entire world. After all, opinions change. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but they change.

/\ Actual footage of some of my opinions changing. /\

Basically if a random internet stranger cares to tear my opinion apart? The wounds only go skin deep.

Blog: What Is It?

Often? The blog is merely a series of what may be termed personal essays. I set my fingers to the keyboard, type up an opinion and send it off into the ether. Then I wait, and wonder if I’ve said something that mattered to anyone but spammers?

So what happens? I run out of steam. I don’t know what to write about. I don’t want to write about my principles, because I have learned to fear the reactions of total strangers on the interent, when I actively refuse to fear the physical strangers I encounter every day.

I put stock in posts like Virginia Woolf: There Are Way Too Many Personal Essays Out There.¬†I mean, how do I know if I’m “[using]¬†this medium from genuine inspiration because it best embodies the soul of [my]¬†thought.”? Or if I’m just rambling.

In the end, I don’t know. I just have to hope what I’m typing helps.

Why Opinion Is Safer Than Principle

We all have opinions. Some can be as simple as whether the blue shirt or the red shirt is better today. Frankly, the only one who truly cares what shirt you wear or what you eat for breakfast is you.

Then we have our principles. Those codes and convictions we hold so strongly they guide the ship of our lives. And I frequently only talk about principles when I have an ill-informed opinion on a principle I’m struggling to understand or implement in my life. I rarely speak of the genuine challenges and difficulties I face in learning a principle. I only share what may be “acceptable.”

I may change this as I can. To start with:

I am a faithful, attending member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (I am not a perfect member.)

This Coming Out post is not longer completely accurate to my perceptions.

I don’t like talking about myself in-dept to the internet.

ADHD makes it far easier to spout off to people one-on-one or in person.

I may or may not come off as a know-it-all. Blame what you will. It may have something to do with how I was taught to write, and the fact that I defend myself emotionally from being wrong. (Last I checked ALL humans do this.)

So yes, this is a personal essay. Yes, I may or may not have gotten very personal.

Just admitting I have difficulty writing this is a step towards genuine, I suppose.

Now I’m going to go make bread.

When He’s The Victim, And She’s The One In Charge

As a fiction author, I occasionally encounter roadblocks in my work in the form of thinking errors, usually because of what I call Instinctive Norms. While the term Instinctive Norms carries a whole blog post, the short explanation is this. An Instinctive Norm is an idea that I or any person carries in their mind as normal on an unconscious level, not because there is any proof the idea IS normal, but because the idea is so inherently ingrained in our society it is impossible to distinguish whether the idea stems from nature or nurture.

Take gender as an example. I’ve spoken to many of my friends who hold no dissonance between the gender in their mind and the sex of their body, and it has never once occurred to them to consider which of the things we consider normal for boys and normal for girls comes from biological sex and which comes from cultural stimulus.

And yet despite my biological female sex, I internalized much of the cultural narrative reserved in my upbringing for boys. Not because I was ‚Äúallowed to be a boy‚ÄĚ growing up. I wasn‚Äôt. Simply because my mind sees me as a male.

And yet I find myself writing some characters that necessarily must be one sex and gender as the other, simply because of my own INSTINCTIVE understanding of the two.

Thus I present to you the thought exercise below. I’ve taken a fairly standard blog post about domestic abuse and domestic violence, and flipped the gender language on its head, mostly so that I could more broadly understand one of my novel’s key antagonists. The original post is here, and all due deference to the author, as she has pulled her material from her own experiences.


I’ve provided 20 signs someone is in an abusive relationship, many from firsthand experiences. Some are glaringly obvious, while others are not as evident to an unobservant eye.
Domestic abuse victims and perpetrators have no demographic or sexual orientation.
For simplicity‚Äôs sake, I‚Äôll speak in terms of woman-on-man abuse or manipulation. ‚ÄúHe‚ÄĚ is the victim, and ‚Äúshe‚ÄĚ is the manipulator or aggressor:

1. He neglects his beauty habits relative to is pre-relationship routine.
He may stop his katas, no longer get manicures, or stop wearing makeup. He may gain or lose weight. His partner is lowering his self-esteem, which now hinges upon her judgment.

She likely instigates these changes in order to prevent other women from ‚Äúwanting‚ÄĚ him or to make him feel unworthy of being wanted.

2. He may have physical wounds.

Bruises, scratches, lacerations, jammed fingers or worse (black eye or a broken nose) are giveaways of physical abuse.

Abusers are often strategic enough to inflict these wounds in inconspicuous areas.

3. His clothing could change to disguise evidence of physical abuse.

A man who previously sported denim shorts and tank tops might transition to long-sleeved shirts, scarves, and pants to hide his wounds.

This clothing shift could also be another tactic his girlfriend uses to fend off potential suitors.

4. On the flipside of appearance changes, a victim‚Äôs looks may ‚Äúimprove.‚ÄĚ

He is molded into her trophy; he is her Ken, her prop.

If he’s not immaculate, he’s embarrassingly unacceptable to her. She has boiled down his self-worth to how good he looks on her arm. She snidely comments on what he eats and wears.

5. The abused man is significantly less social. He doesn’t make lighthearted small talk in the hallways or break room anymore.

He no longer eats lunch with his friends in the cafeteria. Where does he go? He avoids women and conversations by retreating elsewhere.

He doesn’t have a guys’ night anymore. You will rarely catch him at a party or social function without her.

6. He is noticeably less confident.

He’s no longer the life of the party or a major contributor to discussions. He is less talkative.

He lost the electric air about her. Where‚Äôd his personality go? If she‚Äôs around, he constantly checks for her approval of every move he makes. He ‚Äúblends in‚ÄĚ much more now.

7. His body language changes.

He doesn’t walk into a room with his shoulders back and his head held high anymore. That would open him up to others. He’d rather beeline for a seat in the corner of the room.

He likely walks around with downcast eyes because eye contact opens him up to people he’s becoming increasingly distant from. He avoids conversations; he doesn’t want people to get close.

What if they ask questions? She doesn’t want him to talk to anyone.

8. He is always distracted or preoccupied.

Now that he has an abusive significant other, he is constantly walking on eggshells. He‚Äôs distant, even when ‚Äúengaged‚ÄĚ in conversation.

You may have to repeat yourself as he glances over his shoulder, at the clock or at his cellphone.
When he is speaking, you can almost hear him choosing the ‚Äúright‚ÄĚ words in his head.

9. He is attached to his phone when he is not near her.

His phone is always on hand. If he misses a call ‚ÄĒ or, gods forbid, two calls ‚ÄĒ from her, he‚Äôs screwed. If he fails to reply to a text in a ‚Äútimely manner,‚ÄĚ who knows what words (or fists) will be throw his way when they reunite.

At times, she forces him to be connected on a call with him, even though the phone is in his lap or on his desk. She’s eavesdropping on his every waking moment.

10. He only talks about his relationship on a very superficial level.

‚ÄúHow are y‚Äôall doing?‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúGreat. Just fine, as long as you stop prying.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúPrying‚ÄĚ into (i.e., caring about) a male you suspect to be in an abusive relationship could go one of three ways: First, if she catches wind of the questioning, she could punish him or psychologically manipulate him into thinking the person is bad.

Secondly, he could internalize the questioning along with the rest of his toxic relationship.
God willing, a third thing occurs: He comes to realize how seriously he needs to get the agency of his life back, starting by ridding himself of her.

11. His social media presence changes.

He is no longer on social media or he is significantly less active.

In reality, she’s acting as his social media manager by screening him from receiving help or being exposed to people she deems inappropriate (i.e., people she feels threaten the balance of power she has constructed).

They may now have a joint Facebook account.

12. His communication habits change.

He’s ignoring your texts, calls and emails because he’s only allowed to talk to certain people and do certain things. He might even get a new phone number.

If you’re lucky, perhaps he replies every once in a while, but he’s probably keeping the conversation short and superficial. As a result:

13. His relationships break down.

His close friendships dwindle. Relationships with his family members are extremely limited, or they’re the only acceptable kind of relationship.

Those people know (or knew) him the best, so they’re a threat in her eyes. She’s isolating him.

14. He avoids everything related to the past.

Life before her doesn’t exist. Experiences once reminisced about are now off limits. Don’t talk about anything or anyone that could trigger interrogation (or worse) from her.

That life is over, if she has her way. According to her, he should feel guilty about past relationships.

15. He’s disinterested.

He quit the dance team. Though previously his favorite activity, ocean swims are now few and far between. He stops going to the theater to watch new movies every weekend.

Of course, he stops going to places to do these things because attractive women, acquaintances or someone with the same car as his ex could be there.

If his significant other is not interested in something or able to be right by his side during an activity, he’s no longer involved.

16. He’s always in a hurry.

If she’s not with him, he shouldn’t be there. If he must be somewhere, he’s in and out, no nonsense.
No more chitchat before and after class and no more conversations in the break room.

17. He often has puffy or red eyes.

He is sleep-deprived from fighting and worrying all night long. He has been crying. He tries to sneakily wipe tears away.

You heard him sniffling in the restroom; you’ve caught him in the act. His eyes well up with tears when you try to reach out to be his friend or ask how he’s doing.

18. He lies.

He skips class because she won’t let him out in public today, but he tells his professor he got in a fender bender.

He can’t make it into work. He tells coworkers he woke up with flu-like symptoms, but he’s really at home cleaning up a vase she smashed, replacing a painting she punched through, and giving his swollen nose 24 more hours to heal.

He can‚Äôt go to dinner with his friends because he has to ‚Äúclean the garage.‚ÄĚ And the biggest lie of them all; He‚Äôs happy.

19. He’s strapped for cash.

She controls his finances, even if he’s the breadwinner.

‚ÄúWhere‚Äôs that $10 go? Did you give it to your good-for-nothing brother? Or did your skank ass buy condoms to sneak away with some other woman while I was at work?‚ÄĚ

She’ll use the money as she wishes, or she’ll manipulate him into using it only as she deems fit.

20. He fakes his emotions.

He forces smiles. He forces laughs, then glances in her direction to see if that was okay to laugh at.
She forces him to cry in order to destroy his self-esteem. “I know you had sex with that woman. You’re a slut.

You have nothing to be proud of. I can‚Äôt believe I have a hoe for a boyfriend. You‚Äôll never find anyone else willing to love you.‚ÄĚ Love? Yeah, if you want to call it that.

If you notice someone who displays a telling combination of these red flags, then whatever you do, don’t ignore it. The longer he stays in the relationship, the more manipulated his mind becomes and the more likely a psychologically abusive relationship is to turn physically abusive.

The longer he stays in the relationship, the more ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ the manipulation and abuse becomes to him, and the less likely he is to end the relationship.

If the suspected victim shuts you out, you could always slip a note with the phone number of the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

If you are the victim, know that you are worthy of real love. Take your life back!


Could you read it without getting jumbled as to which was the man and which was the woman? How often did you read the abuser as the man, even though I specified in the beginning? Tell me in the comments where you got lost.

Also, for anyone reading this who is having trouble, the hotline is available. If you’re a man in trouble, I’m not sure where to direct you, but I will listen.

Is Compulsory Public School Killing Our Desire to Learn?

A long Habit of not thinking a Thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of Custom.

~Thomas Paine Common Sense

What’s the purpose of compulsory public school?

Ask a conservative American, a liberal American, a moderate/unaffiliated American, and a Canadian (whose personal political identity I wouldn’t pretend to define in American terms) and you’ll get radically different answers. Know why? We live in completely different cultural contexts.

And I’m not going to answer the question of its purpose in this post. I’ll leave the answer to you to decide.

I will, however, examine my own understanding of the history of and assumptions behind compulsory education. A short reminder, this is not an educational essay, it’s my own observations through experience.

Take notes, there will be a standardized test at the end, eligible for conditionally usable in state scholarships. ūüėČ

No, I wouldn’t do that to you.

A Short History of Public School

So much me… Anyway, back to the history of school.¬†Let’s jump all the way back to Hellenic Greece for a moment, where Plato published one of many ideas in his The Republic. (Seriously, it’s like we revere this guy as some kind of modern-day god of all things philosophy…) Plato’s idea?¬†The ideal city would require ideal individuals, and ideal individuals would require an ideal education.

Allow me to point out a single word.

Ideal.

Two questions:

Is the world ideal?

If you have a child, is a complete stranger capable of telling you what is ideal for that child?

I doubt I’m the only one on Earth who answers no to both. I know people on any part of the political spectrum answer a resounding NO to the first one. There’s too much shouting about what needs to be fixed.

So, fast forward to British Colony Massachusetts in 1647. First colony to institute compulsory education. Also, first state. In 1851. Approximately 60 years after the founding of the United States. New York followed quickly, and it wasn’t until 1918, another 67 years that every state had compulsory education laws in place.

Funny how these laws started in the only place in the United States where the colonies HAD public education. Yet the rest of the colonies managed to read and write, as well.

Another interesting note. ¬†These laws began over 60 years after Thomas Paine’s Common Sense sold 500,000 copies in the year 1776, its first year of release. Which means 20% of the population bought it. An equivalent number of copies in today’s book sales would be 60 million. Not even Harry Potter sold that many copies the first year it was out.

Incidentally, it’s not what I’d call light reading. Browse the first two paragraphs, and you’ll see what I mean.

Remember, this is BEFORE compulsory education was a nationwide norm, even before the United States of America WAS a nation.

So, points to remember going forward. British Colonies had public schools in the New England area, and compulsory attendance laws as early as 1647. New England states were the first to enact compulsory attendance nearly two thirds of a century AFTER the United States was founded, reinstating their custom from before the Revolution. It took the rest of the nation another two thirds of a century to instate similar laws.

Compulsory Attendance Laws

I’m not learning much…

And I wasn’t. First, let’s establish one thing. For all the national legislation concerning schools, there is no federal mandate on compelling children to attend public school. That said, many parents are left feeling like there is no option. Remember that appeal to custom Thomas Paine mentioned?

So why this appeal to custom? Why this insistence that children will fall behind in critical social skills, etc if they have no public (specifically government provided) education?

I have no idea.

Perhaps I’m bitter.

I needed one class to graduate high school, and because of that, I had to attend all eight hours of my senior year. Because my grades weren’t great. Likely because my ADHD and the expected structure of a school mix like sodium metal and water.

I digress. My point is, I needed one single class. That class was an English credit. Thanks to government interference – and no, I don’t remember if it was state or federal, though it may have been the whole No Child Left Behind thing – suddenly I couldn’t choose between AP Literature, which I would have loved, and Communication Skills 12. I had to take the Comm Skills 12. Which, aside from reading material, was exactly like Comm. Skills 9, 10, and 11.

But it was against the law for me to argue, since I was already enrolled in public school, and thus my parents had waived their parental rights to the school system for the duration of my time on campus. Yeah, they don’t tell you that part.

So I sat there, my desire to learn anything (what little remained) eroding away as I received report after report with the same old stuff. “If only he’d apply himself.” “He’s so smart, I don’t see why he doesn’t just work harder.” etc…

Self-Directed Learning as an Alternative

If you ask most people, there isn’t one. People won’t “get an education” if they aren’t forced, as kids, to get schooling.

That kid will forever be a failure. Behind. A problem child.

Really? Really?

I doubt it. I sincerely doubt it.

You know why? There’s an alternative occurring right now, both here in the United States, and all over the world. And the best example I can think of for it is computers.

How many of you attribute the ability to learn and understand computer and digital use to the technological age or some bit of tech wizardry that we have not yet measured, studied and understood? Raise your hand. You over there, spit out that gum, this lecture isn’t over! jk ūüėõ

You see, self-directed learning is what happens when kids play. Especially when they play unsupervised and left alone. A friend shared a fantastic article about this just the other day. No, I’m not a parent. However, I have plenty of friends who ARE parents, one a home-school mom of several kids. I listen to them, because I do want to have kids. And one theme that repeatedly comes up is that kids learn through play.

I’m not convinced this stops. And I’m not convinced that changing their play to the adult cultural concept of “structured” learning, especially making it legally compulsory, is actually all that great.

Because I learn by play, too. I learned more about morals, honor, friendship, and the foibles of human nature through reading the Dragonriders of Pern than I EVER did in my human psychology class. I flunked out of video editing in high school, and now am teaching myself how to run a video editing program using YouTube videos and the company’s own tutorials. Why?

It’s fun. I can play. I enjoy it.

I know a few scientists who may not term their work as play, but light up like a kid with a brand new toy when doing it. How is that NOT play?

Structured Learning vs. Compulsory Education

Would I say get rid of structured learning and schools altogether? No. Plenty of private schools and charter schools provide an amazing education. To those kids for whom the system works. Unfortunately, not only does our current system not work for everyone, I’m not convinced it works for even half.

So, what is the purpose of compulsory education? Take some time to look into the history, examine your own personal opinions and narrative, and get back to me in the comments.

 

Stoic Musings: Acceptance vs. Passivity. What’s The Difference?

So, Wednesday, and we’ve got two out of five pieces to the puzzle I’m trying to work into my thought process.

Control what you can.  Ignore the rest.

Events don’t upset you. ¬†Beliefs do.

Now we come to number three, which is where things really started coming together for me. ¬†Because while the two pieces help, without this third piece, well, I spent years spinning my wheels on a variety of beliefs that wasted a lot of energy, a lot of pain, and just didn’t work.

Accept everything. ¬†But don’t be passive.

So what does it mean to…

Accept Everything

All of this will come to you in life. What you do with it? That is choice.

“Denial is just a river in Egypt.” ¬†Ever heard that one? ¬†Most of us have. ¬†And if you haven’t the idiom presents the idea that to deny something that has affected us is both unwise and unhealthy. ¬†Yet to embrace acceptance is to be seen as weak, for a pervasive, subconscious idea exists that to accept a thing has occurred must mean that we agree, condone, or in some other way approve of that thing occurring.

To divert momentarily into politics, take the numerous individuals who stated, “I will not accept it if X candidate is elected to the presidency!” ¬†As if to say that by accepting¬†such an event, they would be admitting some character flaw or agreement with that candidate or what have you.

Yet every four years someone is elected president in the United States that several million people don’t want as president.

So how does this relate to acceptance? ¬†Well, it’s a simple example. ¬†Once the candidate is elected, we have two choices. ¬†Accept that the candidate is now President Elect, or deny it.

This is the same with any event in our lives. ¬†We may either accept that the event has transpired, or we may attempt to deny it. ¬†A major diagnosis, a death in the family, a horrific car accident. ¬†If we accept that these things have occurred, does this truly mean we wanted them? ¬†I doubt it. ¬†I didn’t want a lot of the events in my life. ¬†Some events I wanted have never transpired.

I WANTED a troubling result on my thyroid blood work, because then I’d have a physical reason for the depression that at times has turned my ability to function on its head. ¬†Blood work came back normal. ¬†I can deny that,¬†though the consequences would undoubtedly be less than ideal.

You see, acceptance in terms of Stoic thought is nothing more than recognizing the inevitable.  Events are, in fact, inevitable.  Triumph and tragedy both are inevitable.  Your actions harming others and the actions of others harming you are inevitable.  By the same measure, your actions and the actions of others aiding you are inevitable as well.

Why are you looking at me like I’ve suddenly become a nihilist? ¬†Think about it. ¬†Have you ever been able to prevent a bully from being a bully? ¬†Have you ever had someone help you just because they could?

My point is, we cannot stop events from occurring, and we can’t choose the nature of events that occur because of forces outside of our actions. ¬†That doesn’t mean we must resign ourselves to being doormats, either.

But Don’t Be Passive

Our beliefs are the door mat to our mind and emotions.  We covered this a bit yesterday.  Crafting our beliefs is part of our actions.  Those actions are vital to this piece of the puzzle.  That wreck left you unable to work the same job?  Accept.  Now ACT.

What will you DO now?

Often in the movies, this question is asked in an almost pitying tone, yet it doesn’t need to be. ¬†I didn’t get the job I¬†wanted? ¬†That was the choice of the hiring manager. ¬†What will my¬†actions be now?

Certainly I could come home and wallow in self pity, waiting for another depressive episode to overwhelm me. ¬†Or I could take a shower, turn on some music, and start writing. ¬†The first is a reaction, embracing passivity. ¬†The second is an acceptance that no, I didn’t get that job. ¬†That means only as much as I allow it to mean to me.

Beginning To Put The Pieces Together

So this is the big one I’m working on right now, because a big part of it is learning to accept one of the truths that we so often shy away from. ¬†That my thinking and beliefs may be flawed in one way or another. ¬†Because my beliefs drive both my reactions to events and my actions in an attempt to influence or control events.

Most of us like to believe we’re capable of seeing things from a logical perspective, and drawing conclusions from there, and yet, speaking from my own experience especially, we find ourselves unwilling to examine the possibility that some of our deepest pains might come from flawed beliefs.

Is it because the belief is too hard to find? ¬†Too painful to confront? ¬†For me, it was because I just couldn’t imagine that I might need a different belief altogether. ¬†I’d like to hear your ideas in the comments.

Stoic Musings: Control What You Can. Ignore The Rest.

Ever get the feeling life is spiraling totally out of control, and not only is there nothing you can do about it, but it’s completely disrupting your peace of mind? ¬†Or maybe you read that one comment on the internet that just got your blood boiling? ¬†(I’ve done that a few times in the last month. ¬†We’ve all been there.))

Well, fret no more, the Stoics have an answer for you! ¬†It’s quite simple, and for just $19.99 a month… ūüėČ

In all seriousness, though, it is simple, and completely free.  And really, REALLY hard sometimes.  This answer comes in two parts.

1. Control what you can.

2. Ignore the rest.

Stop staring.  I see your mind balking.  What about world hunger?  What about the rights of oppressed groups or marginalized people or this cause or that cause or etc?

I get it!  I do.  Each of us has values.  However, in Stoic thought there is literally only one thing we have any control over at all.  Perhaps it would help to know that another way to say this is: Worrying never fixed anything.

Our Own Actions

Try telling that to good old Rumple, though, right? ¬†We’ve all got a Dark One inside that would LOVE to remake the world and put it under our control, if only to stop those things that we consider wrong, bad, or just inconvenient. ¬†(Admit it, you do it to. ¬†You know, that one person that keeps popping up on your news-feed with THOSE posts? ¬†Hint: That’s what Unfollow or Hide buttons are for. ¬†Moving on.)

At the end of the day, all we control is how we act. ¬†Why? ¬†Well, quite simply, because we DON’T control anything else. ¬†At all.

We’d like to think we do. ¬†We’d love to believe we can control our kids’ behavior or other peoples’ reactions to our behavior, or even our own health. ¬†Come to think of it, in the United States, we’re rather obsessed with control of the external, but we’ll cover that a bit further down. ¬†The key to Control What You Can is to remember that you control Your Own Actions. ¬†Master that part, and then we move on to Part 2.

IGNORE the Rest

So, wait, Raidon, you’re saying we should just embrace apathy and never bother with anything?

Not at all. ¬†However this is only one of five core concepts from the Stoics. ¬†There’s another entirely devoted to acceptance without passivity. ¬†They work together. ¬†Essentially this is an admonition to not allow those events, circumstances, and people over which you have no control to disturb the peace of your life.

This is the hard part of the admonition. ¬†After all, I’m not a cat. ¬†I’d love to be capable of looking at someone who’s probably annoying me, and walking away genuinely unperturbed in the long run, but I’m human. ¬†My response is usually much closer to, “Stop bugging me, and fix your neurosis before I can be part of your life!” ¬†Talk about a mini-abandonment complex. ¬†(ADHD moment: Surprising what one can learn from their own characters, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment.)

Anyway, my usual response is based in the belief that another’s actions are capable of long-term, detrimental effects on me – my well-being, my emotional stability – and while this may have been true when I was a young child, it need not be true in my adult years. ¬†This is not to say I will never have an emotional reaction to something someone says or does, but I need not allow that reaction to swell past reasonable means, nor scar me for good.

Yet the society I am part of purely by birth seems obsessed with the almost paradoxical ideas that our emotions hold near-absolute sway over our lives, but we hold near-absolute sway over our external realities.  Welcome to the American Dream.

External Control, Safe Spaces and The American Dream

Nailed it! I think… Maybe?

So what do I mean when I talk about this paradox of emotions controlling us but us controlling our realities? ¬†Allow me a phrase here that carries a good deal of risk. ¬†Safe Space.¬† Whatever you personally think of the idea of safe spaces, good idea, bad idea, what have you, here’s how they fit into the paradox I see. ¬†It is the idea that external reality CAN be brought under enough control that it will not harm vulnerable individuals.

Friends, this is, sadly, an impossibility. ¬†If there is a safe space in existence, we must, through our own actions, make our own minds that safe space, for there are times when even our homes are not a safe space. ¬†It’s a tragedy, but it’s true. ¬†Thus the concept of an external safe space, in my experience, is a paradox. ¬†In large part because a space that is safe for some will never be safe for others.

Now where does this leave us with the American Dream? ¬†Well, the idea that external safe spaces could be created seems to stem from the concept wrapped in the American Dream that we, as individuals, control our own destiny. ¬†Except we have no control over the future. ¬†Our actions may inform and persuade the path of our future, certainly. ¬†It’s unlikely someone who goes to medical school will get a job as a welder upon graduation. ¬†On the other hand, it’s possible that a welding student may sustain an injury outside of their training that leaves them unable to pursue their chosen craft.

A car crash or a hiking accident, for example, that leaves them physically incapable of sustaining the demands of a welding profession.

Perhaps the stress of medical school triggered an autoimmune disorder that leaves the medical student disabled and only able to sustain two to four hours of work a day.  They can no longer be a doctor.

Let us suppose that these individuals make it into their respective careers?  Well, then they must contend with all the external, uncontrolled variables of a changing job market, changing regulations, employers, co-workers that may or may not approve of them, etc.  All they can control is their own actions.

Safety in Self Control

Yoda may be talking about questions, but think of this. ¬†If we can clear our mind of the expectation that we MUST react to everything, and instead we can begin to see that we are interdependent agents of action, perhaps we may begin to see the course of the world itself changing. ¬†I don’t know. ¬†That is a thing outside my control. ¬†ūüôā

Yet if we can begin to see that we control our actions, and simply move through the world without overt concern for those things we cannot control, I believe we will be more at peace with both ourselves and the world. ¬†And yes, there are four more pieces to the Stoic puzzle I’m just starting to work out. ¬†These are core concepts and my musings on them. ¬†The next one we’ll look at is this. ¬†Events don’t upset you. ¬†Beliefs do.

Complete Protein: Is Meat Our New Magic Pill?

“If you cut out animal products on your own diet, you’re going to have a full time job making sure you get enough protein.” ¬†Such was the reaction of a concerned friend this morning when I mentioned I’m seriously considering a gradual but radical total diet overhaul: cutting out grain because I already have and my migraines have decreased significantly, and eventually cutting out meat and dairy as well. ¬†My reasons for this are quite simple. ¬†I’ve been ill and in pain for a while, and I would like to not be ill and in pain if there is any possibility of that. ¬†I’d also like to not be on ten different medications by the time I’m forty. ¬†I’m already a fifth of the way there.

So I started doing the thing I do when I don’t know what else to do. ¬†I started doing self-powered research. ¬†If any of my high school teachers are reading this, I know I probably disappointed you in some way or other with my dismal papers, but I didn’t particularly care about the state of coal plants in China. ¬†(At least I think that was the topic.) ¬†However, when I care about something, I can find out a lot in a limited amount of time. ¬†So first, a glimpse into my research process.

The Process

  1. Assume Nothing: As soon as you assume something, you’ve decided it’s true, regardless of whether or not you’ve undertaken to research it yourself. ¬†We do this with any number of accepted “scientific truths” nowadays. ¬†Some of them are true. ¬†Some of them are mostly true. ¬†Some of them, fifty years down the road, will be known as a bunch of crock. ¬†Some of them have already been recanted but no one knows that.
  2. Do Not Limit Source Type: ¬†All sources have bias, even those trustworthy medical studies we’ve heard so much about. ¬†That’s not to say they should all summarily be discarded, but in the age where Wikipedia is now accepted as a starting point for college essays? ¬†Well, it’s best not to write off anything.
  3. Dig Deeper: ¬†If you find a term you don’t know, learn the definition. ¬†If you encounter concepts you can’t explain or have never truly examined, examine them.

That’s pretty much it. ¬†Oh, and last and most important, QUESTION EVERYTHING. ¬†Question every molecule of everything said to you, everything you read, and everything you think you already know. ¬†Chances are, you don’t know as much as you think. ¬†I know I didn’t. ¬†Still don’t.

The Myth of Complete Proteins

Okay, okay, before I’m lynched, what have we, as Americans, even as urbanized populations worldwide, been taught for the last several decades? ¬†We need animal products in our diet. ¬†Since the 1970’s, the reason cited has been this idea of complete protein. ¬†And yet I’d bet more than half of us don’t even think about what that phrase really means. ¬†I didn’t until this morning. ¬†The reason I did was because of my friend’s comment.

The concern stemmed from the fact that because I can’t eat grain – yes, this is a thing for me, discovered recently – I will be unable to eat foods containing complete protein, and I would also be unable to utilize a concept known as protein complimenting, basically blending various plant foods to obtain all the essential amino acids found in complete proteins.

So what is an essential amino acid?

An essential nutrient of any kind is one your body can’t make itself out of stuff you eat. ¬†Here’s the part where I get a bit sciencey. ¬†I promise, there’s a good reason. ¬†The human body needs 20 different amino acids. ¬†TWENTY, people! ¬†Of those, we are able to make just over half.

The nine we can’t make are¬†histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

A food considered an “incomplete protein” is a food that contains some, but not all, of these amino acids. ¬†The idea of protein complementing actually came about in¬†the 1971 edition of Diet for a Small Planet, which advocated not meat, but plants, and ensuring that plants that contained complementing sets of amino acids were consumed at the same time.

So that’s when my logic center kicked in and went, “Hold it, but the human body is fully capable of pulling individual nutrients from a variety of food sources. ¬†Why must we have a single food that contains ALL of the essential amino acids? ¬†If our body is capable of distinguishing Vitamin A from Vitamin B, and B6 from B12, and tryptophan from isoleucine, and pulling them from whatever food they’re in, isn’t it just as feasible that we simply need to ensure a variety of food sources that contain these aminos?”

Something smells fishy to me…

Steak: The Magic Bullet

How would you like your steak cooked?
How would you like your steak cooked?

Well, after that thought hit, I went to Google again, and I typed in this phrase: plant foods containing…

And I filled in every individual amino acid. ¬†This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here’s most of the foods I found.

  • Soy showed up in over half of the lists
  • Green vegetables – from spinach to asparagus – abounded in over half of the lists, not always overlapping with soy
  • Beans appeared in nearly two thirds of the lists
  • Seeds, such as pumpkin, appeared in at least one third of the lists
  • Nuts appeared in a similar number to beans, often the same lists
  • Lentils sprung up as well
  • Squash made some appearances
  • Root crops like potatoes and radishes
  • Grains – though I can’t eat them – also cropped up
  • Fruits like melon and citrus
  • Mushrooms

All of these popped up in at least one list. ¬†While it’s true, the only items that popped up in ALL the lists were animal-based, I’m wondering if this is yet another example of the Magic Pill Syndrome that we, as humans, have fallen to over and over again? ¬†Do we need a single, all containing source of that list of nine amino acids when, with creative combining of a variety of plant based foods, we can obtain all nine of them anyway, and without the saturated fat, as well as adding a lot more fiber and trace nutrients in the mix?

I don’t know. ¬†I’m not a scientist, and I don’t claim to have all the answers. ¬†A lot of this started a few years ago when I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead on Netflix, followed by Forks Over Knives, and yesterday Food Choices. ¬†Those documentaries didn’t convince me. ¬†But they did get me to start questioning. ¬†This post is a result of taking it further. ¬†Share your thoughts in the comments, because I know this is an uncommon way of thinking, and I WANT to be challenged. ¬†It’s how we grow as people.

Stoicism: What The Stoics Knew About Realistic Thinking And Gratitude

Fascinating what we find when we dig into the history of a concept. ¬†Stoicism isn’t even an idea I found particularly interesting or appealing until two days ago, when Tim Ferris¬†shared a blog post from Aeon about the concept. ¬†Aeon’s post Indifference Is A Power discusses why stoicism is “one of the best mind hacks ever devised.”¬† Which is ridiculous according to the current understanding of the philosophy. ¬†Ask most Americans, and they’ll tell you that if someone can endure without complaining, well that person is stoic. ¬†Many of us have even forgotten this is, in fact, a school of philosophy dating back to Ancient Greece. ¬†I certainly didn’t know that.

Really I didn’t even know being stoic was anything more than white-knuckling through a problem. ¬†And if you’ve ever stared longingly at that last piece of cake at the birthday party when you weren’t the one throwing the party, you know just how tough white-knuckling is. ¬†In fact, most of the time, it doesn’t work.

It's okay. It wasn't my cake. Don't be upset. DON'T BE UPSET!
It’s okay. It wasn’t my cake. Don’t be upset. DON’T BE UPSET!

No, it wasn’t, but Jessi the Birthday Girl didn’t get that last piece either. ¬†Chris got it, the dirty rat, and that was their third piece!

So What Is Stoicism, Anyway?

I’ll be the first to admit, this post is a form of catharsis. ¬†Life hasn’t been particularly gentle to me in the past year or three, as those who follow this blog well know, and I’ve been searching for a way to cope through bouts of Major Depressive Disorder – you know, the version of depression that causes the ending of one’s own life to look like the only option. ¬†In fact, yesterday and this morning, I had a very personal experience that, in the past, may have triggered a severe episode.

So I’m going to try a new approach¬†this time. ¬†That new approach involves a heavy dose of Stoicism, because what it ISN’T is white-knuckling through until the problem goes away. ¬†It isn’t simply enduring a problem until it’s not a problem.

In Aeon author Larry Wallace’s words, Stoicism offers “lasting transcendence and imperturbable tranquility.”

For someone with both Social Anxiety and Major Depression, that sounds pretty darn good! ¬†Except I’ve heard such promises before, from things like yoga, Eastern spiritual practices like Buddhism and Taoism, and other esoteric cultures. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, those work for some people. ¬†Ever the skeptic, I kept reading. ¬†And found that Stoicism, at its core, involves a kind of gratitude so lasting, so durable that it was the source of the tranquility that allowed such seeming indifference towards the turbulence of life. ¬†In fact, if you take a glance at Urban Dictionary, it describes the Stoic thus (objectionable content redacted ūüėČ ):

stoic

Someone who does not give a *** about the stupid things in this world that most people care so much about. Stoics do have emotions, but only for the things in this world that really matter. They are the most real people alive.

Group of kids are sitting on a porch. Stoic walks by.

Kid – “Hey man, yur a [REDACTED]¬†an you [REDACTED]!”

Stoic – “Good for you.”

Keeps going.

IF ONLY! ¬†How many times have I seen a stranger’s comment on the internet, or a political post, or some other manner of tomfoolery or skulduggery, and felt the need to become a web Avenger, slaying idiocy with the stroke of the Post button! ¬†How many times has that foolishness sunk into my being and percolated there in the deep recesses that fester and later become episodes of depression?

Do I think this will be a cure? ¬†Not at all. ¬†It’s simply a piece of the puzzle. ¬†It is, however, a philosophy I have, in some ways, already put into practice.

The Power of Gratitude

Most of us were taught as kids that Please and Thank You go a long way. ¬†Yet I don’t know how many of us were ever taught that gratitude is a lifestyle. ¬†It’s even in the definition, “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” ¬†I also had another thought. ¬†In its own way, it’s a form of sacrifice. ¬†And it brings power. ¬†Not the obvious kind of power that rules worlds, but the quiet, simple power that shapes them through individual lives and choices.

Why are you looking at me like that?  I see your eyebrow.  Put it down and hear me out a second.

I’ve seen my mother go through two divorces. ¬†I’ve seen my family fall apart. ¬†When I was a teenager, I decided I’d do everything in my power to keep that from happening to any relationship I wound up in. ¬†One significant pattern I noticed was a lack of genuine gratitude, and so I promised myself that in my future romantic relationships, I would ensure that my partner knew what I was grateful for in them, and knew it often. ¬†I don’t just do things to show my husband I love him and appreciate him. ¬†I tell him, quite specifically, the qualities in him that I am grateful for. ¬†And I do so frequently.

However, until just now, I hadn’t decided to attempt to expand this practice to my friends, my family, or life in a general sense, though somewhere in my pile of notebooks, I have one that is simply a list of things I’m grateful for.

So how, you may be asking, is gratitude a sacrifice? ¬†It is, in my eyes, a cultural thing. ¬†You see, we aren’t really encouraged to see what we have and recognize it as good or great. ¬†We are encouraged – always – to strive for more, better. ¬†Yet how can we know where we’re going, if we’re not truly aware of what we are? ¬†Gratitude is the sacrificing of falsely positive thinking. ¬†Of “if only I had, did, was, then I could have, do, be.” ¬†Gratitude is the choice to look at what IS, and look at it AS IT IS, not as it could be or as it “should” be, or as you would like it to be.

The Value of Realistic Thinking

I wanted to find the image, but I can’t off hand. ¬†I’ve seen a quote floating around about trees, and the concept is this. ¬†Often, we go out into nature and we see trees or plants or rock formations, and we simply accept what they are. ¬†We have no need to change them, because they simply are. ¬†Yet often we do not apply the same thinking to people, others or ourselves.

In doing so, we begin to create expectations, often without having the full story, and when those expectations aren’t met, we find ourselves trying to change the person in question.

Now, the original quote is dealing with the idea of judgement, however I see this applying to Stoic thinking as well.  After all, is it truly realistic to expect anyone to live up to any expectations but their own?  Especially if we often fall short of our own expectations?  Not really.  Much more realistic to do what Marcus Aurelius is said to have done every morning.  He was a follower of Stoic thought.

Every morning, he’d tell himself, “I shall meet with meddling, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, and unsociable people.”

He’s not wrong. ¬†Plenty of people exist like that in the world. ¬†Yes, plenty of kind, loving caring people exist as well, but if we only tell ourselves we’ll encounter the latter, the former have the power to ruin our whole day. ¬†Prepare for the former, and be infinitely grateful for the latter.

I’m only beginning to study the concepts of Stoicism, and I’ll keep you updated on how it turns out. ¬†I’m hoping it helps, and it seems like it might. ¬†If you’ve made it this far, leave your thoughts in the comments. ¬†I’d love to hear your ideas about the Aeon article, Stoicism, and what you knew about it before this post.

I Want To Be Banned: Genuine Art and Why The Ban Threat Can Be A Good Thing

Genuine art gets you banned.

Wait, what? ¬†I know, you’re probably wondering if I’ve had too large a dose of Monday, but that’s not it at all. ¬†Notice I didn’t say “real art.” ¬†I said genuine art.

No, I’m not on something new – unless you count the excitement high of two new projects, one a collaboration that you all will see soon. ¬†I’m just doing that strange thinking I usually do. ¬†See, any art that is created is real art. ¬†It exists in reality and the creator considers it art and created it as such, thus it is real art. ¬†Genuine art, however, is the stuff that makes the world stop spinning, if only for a moment.

It’s the book that demands a reread because the universe just grew an inch.

It’s the painting that makes you forget to breathe because the world could not be expressed in a more eloquent way.

It’s the sculpture that forces your gaze back again and again, always looking for something new.

And last but not least, it’s the piece that gets your thoughts spinning, thoughts blossoming that you never dared think before, just because that art existed, and within it contained a story the mind grabbed onto and couldn’t let go of.

Story and the Human Creature

We Humans are funny, funny creatures.  Many of us claim a dedication to logic, reason, and rationality, not realizing that this, too, is a wonderful story to distance us from our nature as rationally emotional beings.  Even our rationality is swayed by emotion, or easily can be, and we may never be the wiser.

In fact, I told myself a story about this post back in May when I started the draft. ¬†The story was that this piece would be an exploration of the differences in cinema franchises and comic books and why it’s easier to show controversy in comics. ¬†Well, someone sort of already did that.¬† Why do I need to rehash the point?

Revisiting my draft, another direction emerged, reminding me of an earlier post of mine regarding the stories surrounding physical transition and mental health for transgender people.  Stories are everywhere, and nowhere are they more prominent than in art.

Of all kinds.

Those stories shape our beliefs, character, actions… Our. Very. Lives.

It’s been this way since the time of cave paintings and oral mythologies, and no matter how hard we try, all the neuroplasticity in the world won’t change the fact that it will continue to be this way. ¬†So why do we ban them?

Art & Controversy: Sordid Affair

Before we continue, take a look at this list of banned books, which includes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird, Moby Dick, and (of all things) Where The Wild Things Are, which was my absolute favorite childrens’ book. ¬†(Confession: I still have my stuffed one, the one with the orange hair and pointed teeth.)

That’s far from a comprehensive lists of all the books in history that have ever been questioned, censored, or outright banned in the history of the world. ¬†And the three I mentioned were books I read as a high school student. ¬†Oh, yeah, and we read Lord of the Flies, which¬†comes in the top ten for banned and challenged books on the American Library Association list. ¬†And that’s just books. ¬†Here’s a handy list of paintings deemed controversial over the years.

Take a look at these lists and you’ll notice a theme, especially among the books. ¬†They talk about things people don’t want to think about. ¬†And they do it in a compelling way.

In fact, many of our beloved stories of today – Disney movies, I’m looking at you – started as controversial tales as likely to get banned as published. ¬†Mulan. ¬†Aladin. ¬†Even Frozen, especially as it’s written now. ¬†Take these stories back to the cultural context of the original tale, and you’ve got some heavy stuff going.

Can Non-Controversial Art Be Genuine?

I doubt it, and here’s why.

Genuine art comes from a place of authentic creation in the mind and soul of the artist. ¬†It’s the unapologetic truth of the artist.

That’s not to say all genuine art is ban-worthy. ¬†Some of it is only controversial enough to make you decide you don’t want to go see that movie, or don’t care to buy that book. ¬†It disagrees with your particular view of the world, and so you choose not to indulge.

Other works, though?

We must always watch what goes on the shelves.  The cry goes up, Protect the children!  Protect the innocent!  Yet many of these books are not written for children, and today are barely understood in the context they were written in.  Take Lord of the Flies.  In high school, I hated that book.  A tale of a bunch of British choir boys trapped on an island that turned into depraved, animalistic little savages with no adults around to govern their behavior.

I didn’t understand til years lator it was a metaphor for the effects the horrors of WWII had on an entire generation of England’s young men. ¬†Suddenly, the book made much more sense. ¬†Context meant EVERYTHING. ¬†Even today, though, it’s a controversial piece, in large part because of the savage brutality it portrays these young men being capable of.

Why Aspire to Being Banned?

First, let me assure you, I don’t actually want any of the fiction I put out in the future to be universally seen as unfit for public consumption. ¬†I have no interest in being “edgy” or “hip” in that sense.

However, I’m under no illusions that my fiction strays into the exploration of topics that a variety of people consider “unsafe.” ¬†What is gender and how does it really affect our daily lives? ¬†How does sexual violence affect people, specifically men? ¬†What is justice? ¬†How do we decide whether an action is moral, immoral, or amoral?

I love these topics, and I could wax on in blog form about them for lengthy posts (and have), but the most effective communication method between Humans has always been, and will be until long after my generation, the story.

In the end, I don’t aspire to having my work banned. ¬†I aim to produce work that will challenge assumptions held so deeply it threatens individual world views, and thus invites the threat of banning.

In that way, yes, I WANT people to try to ban my work. ¬†That’s when I know it’s working.

The Gender Binary & Gender Invisibility

Welcome to yet another piece where I try to put into words a concept that has, well, none really, not in English, anyway.  Call it a think-piece if you want.

Yesterday, I mentioned a bit about how being trans* (or having any sort of nonconforming gender identity) is akin to wearing an Invisibility Cloak a la Harry Potter.¬† In my observations of our society, it doesn’t matter how “out” you are, this is still largely the case, and that is due to a concept that only became conceptualized into words between the 1980s and 1990s.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

The Gender Binary

Before I dig too much deeper, I want to define the term. ¬†At it’s core, the gender binary is the idea the a person is either a man or a woman because of the external genitalia and internal sex organs they possess.

Thus, as soon as a child is born, we allow a doctor to perform a visual examination, and now your baby has a gender role for life. ¬†Either wear dresses and makeup and look pretty, etc, or get rough and tumble and work your way up the corporate ladder. ¬†(I know, that’s way too simplistic and stereotyped. ¬†Those are other posts.)

For most people, this isn’t too much of an issue, and even in cultures that recognize more than two genders, third, fourth, and fifth gender people are the exception rather than the rule. ¬†The difference is, in these cultures, they are accepted as they are in many ways that I don’t see for United States or “western” individuals. ¬†That’s not to say all cultures do, or that any culture does it perfectly, however the one I find most intriguing to this point are the Bugis of Indonesia.

Now before you say, wait, Rai, that’s a three minute clip, it can’t possibly sum up everything!

I know.

I included it because it’s a better overview than I could give. ¬†The point is, they accept the idea that not everyone fits neatly into the box defined by their visible biology.

Why I See Invisibility

Take a look at this Gif. ¬†For an 11 year old kid at a magical school? ¬†Pretty freaking sweet! ¬†I’ve got a cloak that lets me sneak anywhere!

For transgender and gender nonconforming people in the society I live and move in every day? ¬†My body is that cloak. ¬†I got “lucky” according to some other transgender people I know, in that I do look a bit more masculine, and can pass without a horrendous amount of effort.

But why should I have to pass? ¬†Isn’t that another form of invisibility? ¬†I’m not a man. ¬†Never have been, never will be. ¬†I’m not a woman, either. ¬†The best term I have in English is transman, yet there’s no place or space for someone like me. ¬†It seems, even according to some quite vocal transgender personalities, that I HAVE to be one OR the other. ¬†The problem is when physical sex is one way and the mind is another, it’s not just one way.

I don’t see how it can be.

Yet I’ve seen vocal encouragement in the media for trans people to physically transition. ¬†I’ve disagreed vocally, and may follow my previous article up at some point.

I know the argument. ¬†Essentially a physical transition “proves” someone is truly transgender. ¬†I have yet to meet a man or woman who has to physically prove through risky, life-alterating, costly medical procedures that they either are or aren’t a man or woman.

I know, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. ¬†Here it is.

Acceptance: Let Us Take Off The Cloak

Stop asking us to take the highest risks anyone can take – including higher rates of sex-based cancers, intense surgical complications, and numerous side-effects, as well as the roller-coaster of a second puberty – just to prove what we see in our minds.

It doesn’t always end the way the magazines would like you to think it does.

Am I saying no one should ever physically transition?

No. ¬†That’s a choice I can’t make for another person.

I’m saying it needs to feel more like a CHOICE. ¬†Because frankly, it doesn’t. ¬†I’ve been called out by other transmen and asked how can I possibly be happy with my life and not undergo a physical transition? ¬†Well, it’s because I’m surrounded by a number of loving people who don’t expect me to undergo one in order to prove I am who I say I am.

I wouldn’t give these relationships up for the world.

I also know that’s not the case for many other people with identities. ¬†Often, when we come out, it doesn’t go as well as we’d hoped.

And then we get on social media, and¬†the world implodes around us unless we keep a ruthless hold on our newsfeeds in order to keep some shred of sanity. ¬†I don’t speak for everyone, but I believe it’s safe to say most of us don’t want the spotlight we’ve gotten because of these new social movements and the election cycle. ¬†We just want to live our lives the best way we know how, just like most other folks I know.

Once again, I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, comments. ¬†Share them in the box below, and don’t be afraid to ask me things that may seem a tad personal. ¬†I’m a pretty open person.