Sex vs Gender … Again

It’s a common thing among trans people, especially genderqueers, to talk about identifying with our natal sexes. Some people seem to think that once you go GQ, you don’t look back on your binary past. Others identify as a male genderqueer. As you may imagine, these two views don’t always play well together, and I? I run the middle ground.

I am a FAABGQ – female assigned at birth genderqueer. While I find it overwhelmingly unnecessary (and indeed, sometimes damaging) to include the first part of that when introducing or describing myself, it’s still an important part of me. I’m not female, but I was raised as a female, and I still face many of the same things that females do.

If someone makes a post advising all women to read some important medical thing, I’m going to go and read that important medical thing, because I can be affected by many of the same medical things – problems and hooray-new-drug both – as many women. If someone makes a post called “Ten Things All Women Should Know Before Walking Alone At Night,” I will read it and (depending on content, of course) recommend it to people regardless of their genders. If my sister needs to know it, then I probably need to know it, and even though my brother is large and muscular and fast, it certainly won’t hurt him to know it. I’ve been socialized to expect that it’s more important for me to know it than him, and most people who would cause problems for a woman walking alone at night wouldn’t stop to ask me if I’m a woman before thinking to themselves “small vulnerable person! target!” And because that’s true, and because I was socialized to expect this to happen to me, I have a lot of the same worries that many women do. So women, I hope you don’t mind a GQMF hanging out in your spaces occasionally, looking out for sy health and well-being beside you. And I hope you don’t think that just because I look at these things, I must be a woman, too; my male cousin sent me the last female health alert I read.

I can understand wanting to leave behind a past full of bad memories and misgendering. I can also understand holding onto a past that wasn’t all bad, if a little misguided, because it made you who you are today. What’s right for you isn’t right for others. Let’s move past one invalidating the other and get to that point where we support each other’s differing needs, shall we?

Disability in Fiction: You Can’t Get Everything Right the First Time

So I was reading a story the other day that was, really, a very well-written story with interesting characters and an interesting plot and a pretty respectful look at disability. (The story also included a couple characters who were less than respectful of disabilities, and that in no way detracted from the actual respect in the story; these characters were unilaterally told off for their disrespect.) However, one thing stood out to me, a couple days later, as being less than awesome.

Character A walks into a college office with Character B to meet Character C to discuss accommodations. A is … let’s say A is using crutches to get around. From appearances, this could be because of a broken ankle that will heal in the next month, or it could be because of any number of more permanent conditions. C says, “Oh, I see that you are disabled.” B adds, “Yes, and A has a handicapped parking tag in sy car to prove it.”

First off, I’ve had temporary handicapped parking tags on several occasions for breaking various things in my legs. That does not indicate that I need to run on down the disability office on campus and get special in-class accommodations. (in fact, all I did was say, “Hey, Prof, broke my leg, mind if I change my assigned seat to one I can get into a little easer?” and the prof said, “Of course, pip!” I imagine if that scene had gone differently, I could have gone to student disability services for backup, but I would never start there. I would never register a broken leg as a disability.) The presence of a hangtag in one’s vehicle does not prove one’s disability.

Secondly, there are conditions that would result in a permanent hangtag that would indicate a need to register with SDS, and there are those that wouldn’t. There are conditions that indicate a need a register with SDS that do not involve a hangtag at all, that are completely invisible if you are just glancing up at me as I walk into your office. Take, for example, a traumatic brain injury that impairs someone’s ability to memorize long lists. This person may or may not drive, but either way, sa wouldn’t get a handicapped tag just for a memory impairment. Sorry, but your TBI (in this particular example) does not make it more difficult for you to walk further to enter a building. However, it does affect your performance in the classroom. The absence of a hangtag does not prove the absence of a disability.

Finally, the idea that a hangtag should be used as proof of anything is completely absurd. A couple years back, I kept a hangtag in my car, because I often picked up my mobility-impaired friend from classes. With this tag, I could park close enough for sa to get to the car. Yes, the tag was sy spare one, but it didn’t have sy name on it. (Tell me your local college or university would really go to the trouble of looking up the actual ownership of a hangtag.) If all it took to be registered at SDS was the presence of a hangtag in my car, well, I could have been registered despite no physical disability on my end. Likewise, I knew students who had their grandmothers’ spare hangtag, despite their grandmothers living hours away, simply so they could make use of the parking advantages and be lazy. (Their own admission, not me drawing conclusions.) I knew a student with documented fibromyalgia who had difficulty walking very far for classes but did not have a hangtag for various bureaucratic reasons – and sa was registered with SDS.

So, dear writer, I did enjoy your story, and you did an overall excellent job portraying a character with disabilities and sy home accommodations and characters interactions with sa. Overall, I have very positive feelings towards your story, both as a fun story and as a respectful and insightful look into the life of a person with disabilities. I just wish that one exchange had gone a little bit differently.

Pride

I have never really understood the concept of pride, okay? As such, I’m likely to offend someone. Instead of getting offended, though, please just explain how it is to you, because I am actually quite curious and maybe a little jealous. And you know, I’m not speaking out against Pride or pride, I’m just saying I don’t get it.

I grew up hearing that I should be “proud to be an American” – but I was never really sure why. For one, America isn’t the be-all end-all of awesomeness, and I refuse to pretend that my country can’t be improved. Whenever something good happens, I feel proud of the people involved in making that happen, but I never think “oh, I’m so proud to be American, because X just happened in the country.” If I didn’t do anything to make it happen, why should I be proud? Which brings me to my second and overarching reason for this post – I didn’t do anything to be an American. I was born in this country through no choice of my own and have never had to prove myself in order to claim the title of American (a topic for another day).

Pride is also a big queer thing. I should be proud to be asexual. I should be proud to be genderqueer. I should be proud to be transgender. Only … those aren’t accomplishments. Should I also be proud to have brown eyes?

I can say that I’m proud of the ace community much the same way I’m proud of the people who make good laws happen. I’m proud to be an out transqueer, but that is an accomplishment, in my mind. I’m proud to stand up with my peers for our rights – also an accomplishment. I take pride in my actions, in the actions of those around me, not in basic parts of identity that I can’t really control.

Maybe it’s because I also grew up hearing “don’t be proud” as a caution against overconfidence and haughtiness. So long as it’s not harmful to others, I have nothing against anyone who does take pride in their identity. I wish that I did – then I would always, always have something to be proud of. But I just don’t think that way. Anyone who does want to explain it to me?

A Carnival of Aces: Call for Submissions

What is this?

A blog carnival is an event in which many people write blog posts around a single theme. These posts are then collected at the end of the carnival and linked together by the carnival’s host. The Carnival of Aces is an effort to encourage a variety of different voices to speak about asexuality from their own perspectives. Anyone can participate, but the responses should deal with asexuality or the asexual spectrum (grey-As, demisexuals) in some way as well as relating to the month’s theme.

Theme: Invisible Intersections

Need some ideas to get you started thinking about what to write? Try one of these, or come up with your own:
+ Is there any aspect of yourself you feel like you have to play down when talking about your asexuality? What do you find important, but others feel that you shouldn’t care about, as an asexual?
+ Are there other aspects of your life where your asexuality is swept under the carpet? Do you feel like you have to hide your asexuality to be taken seriously when talking about disability, for example?
+ What are parts of your asexual identity that people don’t seem to think are related?
+ What kinds of things aren’t a part of your asexual identity that people seem to believe should be? (Do you consider your romantic orientation related to asexuality?)

How do I submit?

Share a link to your post in the comments here by April 1. If you don’t have a blog but would like to submit a post, Sciatrix is willing to host you – please email sciatrix [at] gmail.com! If for some reason you encounter a problem leaving a comment, feel free to email me: pipisafoat [at] gmail.com.