Archive | January 2016

Women in Video Games

A sister post with https://dimezzogaming.wordpress.com.

I love video games, and I always have. I’ve been playing video games since before I could walk. I hate saying it now because the film Grandma’s Boy so pervaded the public consciousness that people think I’m ripping it off, but I did beat The Legend of Zelda at an early age–not before I could walk, but I had beaten it before kindergarten. I’ve been playing video games my entire life, and the last thing that I want is to promote something that would damage the hobby.

Hell, I even make a partial career out of reviewing video games for the aggregated website Cubed3. Everything I say about video games, I say because I want them to improve.

However, white men in the United States have an unusual amount of fear toward… pretty much everything that isn’t a straight white man. I don’t know whether this is typical in other parts of the world, but I do know that the average American white man is absolutely terrified that “everyone else” is trying to take his toys, freedom, and power away. Speaking historically, I understand where they’re coming from. White men have a long, thousands-of-years-long, history of enjoying power over and oppressing everyone else. Women, blacks, Asians, natives, homosexuals–the list is really all inclusive. I say this as a former white man, and with a family full of people with that exact mentality. I’m not trying to rip on white men for what they’ve done; these are just facts.

So on the one hand, if women, blacks, gays, and Muslims gain more rights, then white men do lose some of their power–of necessity. If we think of a society’s power as a percentage, then it becomes clear that one can only have power at the expense of rights. In fact, this is an idea I advocate and is one of the reasons that I am an anarchist: power comes only at the expense of others, because the universe is built around scarcity and because nothing exists in infinite supply. But I don’t intend to get into all of that right now.

By the same token, though, I believe white men are deeply afraid that these groups they’ve disenfranchised and oppressed, often for literally thousands of years, will abuse their power in the same way that the white men did. In my experience, this was the main issue that people had with President Obama: they were terrified that white people were going to be treated the way that white people had treated black people for decades, if not centuries. These fears came to nothing, but that has done little to mitigate the long-running, overarching fear the straight white Christian man has for everyone who isn’t a straight white Christian man. From one boogeyman to another the white man turns, all the while lamenting how society is falling, moral standards no longer exist, and homogenization for the sake of Social Justice Warriors will destroy everything they hold dear.

This is the typical reply when gamers ask for more inclusiveness in their video games: for some bizarre reason, it is alleged that this will harm creativity. I fail to see how being able to play as a gay Inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition harmed creativity. If anything, it gave us something new and something that has not been explored much in the gaming world; this is anything but stifling creativity. Saints Row allows players to play as male, female, or trans characters, and, again, this has done nothing to hinder the creativity of the people behind the Saints Row games. Yes, this game where you can beat people to death with an oversized dildo is more tolerant, open, and inclusive than Grand Theft Auto V, a game that gave us not one, not two, but three white men to play as.

The ubiquity of straight white men in video games is not to be understated, but you’ll have a hard time getting a straight white male gamer to admit this. When they do admit it, they turn around and, in the same breath, say that it’s not a bad thing, that it’s “just the way it is,” and that it’s perfectly acceptable that if you grab a random game off a game shelf, you can safely bet that the protagonist is a straight white male. In many ways, it reminds me of the people at Fox News who made the argument that there is no racism in America because “At almost any company, there are private emails between employees that are racist in tone…” Jon Stewart called them out on this ridiculous failure to think–that because something is so common it is ubiquitous and therefore stops existing or stops being a problem is the height of stupidity.

Sexism exists in video games. It does. Accept it, come to terms with it, I don’t care, but do not deny it. If you are fine with the sexism that exists, that is one thing. I can even respect that. I don’t like it, and I think you’re wrong, but I can respect that you at least acknowledge its existence. But denying the existence of sexism in video games is aggressively absurd, fully equivalent to how many Americans deny that there is racism in America.

In a 2005 study, it was revealed that more than 80% of women in video games were sexualized. And before anyone dares reply “Games sexualize men, too,” I want to remind you of a few things. First, predominantly men make video games, and if they want to sexualize themselves, then that is their prerogative. There are female developers as well, but as we’ve frequently learned in the past few years, it’s not just video games as a product that are sexist but the gaming industry as a whole, with LoL coaches demanding to see players’ breasts, workplace discrimination being commonplace, and the like.

Nor is sexism unique to video games. There is sexualization of women everywhere, but Hollywood at least must be given the credit it deserves. For one, Hollywood predominantly uses actual actors. If a female character is beautiful and sexy, then it’s because the actress is beautiful and sexy. Video games do not have this luxury. If a woman is beautiful and sexy in a video game, it is because she was specifically designed to be, not because the actress is beautiful and sexy. There is certainly a tendency of Hollywood to prefer the beautiful over the less-beautiful, but Hollywood does have room for the unattractive, and Hollywood sexualizes both men and women. Women do receive it worse, often with vicious rape scenes serving to act as softcore porn and gratuitous nudity that, for whatever reason, isn’t turned onto men–such as Saw 2 and the Hostel films.

It would be much like if Grand Theft Auto had one black guy on their team who “okayed” the constant use of “nigga” in their games. How would we react to that? How would the gaming public react to learning that Rockstar hires only one black guy, and then said that it’s okay for them to say “nigga” constantly because they hire a black guy and because they use “cracker” too? We wouldn’t react very well to that. Indeed, that’s part of the reason that the Assassin’s Creed series has its own disclaimer before the game begins.

Whether we like it or not, it’s simply true that if you want to do something offensive toward someone, you need to do something offensive toward yourself, and you need to let them in on the joke. This is the part where sexism diverges from the use of racial slurs in Grand Theft Auto. Because black Americans generally speaking are in on the joke of Grand Theft Auto. Grand Theft Auto is taking shots at everyone, and the majority of its criminals are white men; it would be a different matter altogether if Grand Theft Auto was focused on the Crips and Bloods, rioting and inflicting self-destructive violence onto their communities, as a game made almost entirely by white people.

On the subject of sexism, women generally aren’t in on the joke, because there’s no joke to be in on. It’s just a case of men liking asses, boobs, and revealing outfits on hot chicks. Rather than being inclusive, that’s outright insulting to women who don’t have nice asses, boobs, and revealing outfits. It’s no surprise that Zero Suit Samus is the 4th most played character in Super Smash Bros. 4, while her unrevealing, clothed form is number 31. This isn’t a great example because there are some major differences between Samus and Zero Suit Samus, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that not only are the revealing outfits a large part of it, but the most chosen outfits for ZSS are the blue or orange booty shorts and halter top.

And don’t get me started on Other M, the Metroid game that reduced the heroine to a bumbling, weak, emotional crybaby with daddy issues–a legendary bounty hunter with unrequited love for her father-figure so wrapped around his finger that she’d let herself die rather than disobeying him. Don’t get me started on how the prudish, haughty Yuna was reduced to a JPop fanservice singer by Final Fantasy X-2, either. Even Venetica, which at first bucked so many trends by giving us a charming, likable female protagonist who was out to avenge the death of her boyfriend, ended up ultimately being a game about collecting a certain dress.

I gave Mortal Kombat 9 a glowing recommendation, it’s worth mentioning at this point. And I said “It’s a game about beautiful, scantily-clad women cutting people’s heads off.” And it is. But it also has plenty of fanservice and objectification of men, and that’s always been my argument in favor of the Mortal Kombat series. Is Kitana fighting in what amounts to a bathing suit? Sure, but so is Johnny Cage. I’ve no interest in counting them up to see if the Mortal Kombat series objectifies women more than it does men, or men more than it does women, because the very fact that it does it to both indicates that it’s not really objectifying anyone. And I applaud it for that. The Mortal Kombat series knows exactly what it is.

Jim Sterling made a video a few years ago where he basically asked for a character who met these conditions:

  1. was female. Obviously.
  2. was not conventionally attractive.
  3. was not sexualized.
  4. was not the primary villain.
  5. was strong and determined, but did not have to endure a load of bullshit to become strong and determined.
  6. was not a player-made character.

The only character he found who met all the criteria was a dinosaur from the Primal Rage games. And, as he said, the very fact that it sounds like he’s joking shows us how bad the gaming industry really is in its treatment of women. This has not changed since the video was made. And while the criteria may seem quite arbitrary, just think about it for a moment. How many male protagonists meet the requirements? How many battle-hardened, ugly-as-sin soldiers in 3rd person shooters are there?

And rest assured that number 5 is important. Because it seems the only way developers know how to create a strong female character is to inflict ridiculous degrees of pain and suffering onto her. Just play Tomb Raider 2013 if you want to see what I mean. The idea that a female could be strong without some traumatizing shit making her strong is a totally foreign one to game developers. You want to talk about stifling creativity, how about that? How about the fact that they always jump to the same things to present a strong female character?

It’s better than television, movies, and that horrible mess called Game of Thrones, because these always jump to freaking rape as the hardship the woman must endure in order to become strong, but being better able to say “At least we only beat the shit out of women, instead of raping them” isn’t really a good thing. And not to derail too much, but fuck Game of Thrones and fuck that lazy hack named George R. R. Martin. I’ve seen some pretty tasteless writers in my day, but Martin trumps them all. Evidently the only way Martin knows to give a woman hardship is to have her be raped.

And we wonder why Cosmopolitan even has to write articles about how many women claim to be raped when they never were… That’s the biggest problem with this frequent use of rape in fiction. It creates the impression that a woman is strongest when she recovers from sexual abuse. So, for some women, if they want to make you believe they’re strong, they will say they’ve been raped. My ex-wife did exactly that, claiming that she had been molested when she was a teenager. As she continued telling me the story, it became clearer and clearer that at best the sexual advances were unwanted, but first the only thing that occurred was a bit of fondling and second she never told the guy to stop and third she didn’t try to extricate herself from the situation. And that whole conversation began with her saying that she’d once been raped. I’m not saying every woman who claims to have been raped is lying, but it does happen, and I blame the tendency of fiction to use rape as a vehicle for “giving” women strength.

Of course, Tomb Raider 2013 played with this on purpose, intentionally using a scene that looked an awful lot like it was about to get rapey, when it didn’t. Don’t bullshit us, Crystal Dynamics. You know goddamned well you did that shit on purpose, that you had the actress panting and moaning like that on purpose so that you could then stand back and say, “No, it’s not our fault! We didn’t make rape so common in fiction–you jumped to that conclusion, not us!”

Bullshit, Crystal Dynamics. You staged it to look like that intentionally. And considering you spent the first 25% of the game beating the ever-loving hell out of Lara Croft, you don’t get to claim the high road here anyway, because you still fell into that same exact mindset–you just didn’t sink as low as George Martin. *Golfclap* You didn’t sink as low as the lowest fiction writer alive. Bravo. *Golfclap*

There is the real possibility that the sexualization of women in video games, and the overall sexist bent of that, is simply so common that people can’t see it. I’ve dealt with that before. I’m an atheist–do you have any idea how pervasive theism really is in American society? It’s literally everywhere. Just spend one week listening, really listening, to how many times people mention a god, an afterlife, or souls. It’s everywhere. It’s so common, so ubiquitous, and so pervasive that the average American has no idea it’s even there. The same is true for racism in the United States: it’s so common and so ubiquitous that many Americans have no idea that it’s there, even as they openly admit that it’s there. Sexism in video games is the same way.

I want to stress that I have nothing against straight white Christian men, or any other white man of any description. I generally don’t even think in such terms. And the gaming industry itself needs sexism eliminated from it; once that is done, it will go a long way toward eliminating sexism from the games. Because, yes, if more women designed games then the games would, ipso facto, become more inclusive of women. The sexism we see in games is largely a byproduct of the people making the games, not the byproduct of the players. But it’s something that needs to be taken care of, because it’s pretty pathetic that the best example we can do if a strong female character is a fucking dinosaur. We’re better than that.

Beneath the Chestnut Tree

The final chapter of George Orwell’s 1984 has always resonated strongly with me. Though I’ve obviously never been in the depths of Minilove, the arc of entering the labyrinthine darkness to square off against the greatest foe is something I can relate to, as well as the after effects: nothing is the same, and there is no going back. The only thing that can be done is to shed a tear beneath the chestnut tree, where “I sold you and you sold me.”

Similarly, the mythos of Ariadne and Thesseus resonates strongly with me, and I have a musical duology called by each character. The Hero’s Journey is always an inward journey; everything external is merely a symbol of the hero’s own inner conflict. Descent into the labyrinth to face the minotaur is not about a mythological beast nearly as much as it is staring unblinking into the mirror and facing mistakes of the past.

The Hero’s Journey, as Joseph Campbell observed, has clear trends across all manner of fiction. The Hero begins at home, but it is not long before the Hero’s Journey begins; indeed, it has already begun. The Hero leaves, endures trials, and returns home. The Hero’s Journey is far from over, though, and there is never anything to which the Hero can actually return. Often this is achieved through the destruction of the home, as in Star Wars and Dragons of Autumn Twilight, but not always.

The key aspect is simply that the Hero can’t return to the pre-journey life. Something has changed; something is different. In The Anvil, Leraneon returns to his home and finds that it’s no longer his home. He can’t explain it, and he doesn’t understand it; it’s simply a feeling: I am not home.

Years ago, I thought I was losing my mind, because I was handwriting something. I was really high, sitting down, and just writing. Then suddenly “I am not home” appeared on the page, and I had written it. A friend started talking about freewriting, and I guess that’s what happened, but the strange thing about it is that I’ve never really had what most people would call a home. Since kindergarten, irresponsible parents have carted me all over the place, so what “home” was I talking about?

 

“What is this motherfucker prattling on about?” you may be asking.

I’m not entirely sure. A longtime friend came and stayed the night with me last night, and some bits of the conversation have really stuck with me. This is someone who knew me before I left the ex-wife, before I went to Vegas–she, in effect, saw me before the journey (because we are all the Hero in our own story), and she’s seen me after the journey.

 

Clearly, the damage that has been done to me is readily apparent to anyone who knew me previously. Whereas before I was quiet, now I am withdrawn. Whereas before I was a bit distant, now I am surrounded and protected by impenetrable walls. The most glaring, however, was that before I participated, but now I observe.

It was really disheartening to hear her constantly refer to a transgender friend who had undergone full SRS as “he,” and three times I had to ask for her to not call this person a male. I understand that part of this is that old habits are hard to break, and I completely appreciate that, but the old habit won’t break if she doesn’t try to break it. Another good friend of mine had issues when he and his wife came over, and he constantly paused to correct himself when referring to me. It’s not something I’m going to get hung up about, not now, but there will come a time when it will be flat out insulting to me. I can’t imagine undergoing SRS and still have people refer to me as a “he.”

A lot of people don’t get the significance, but how many women do you know who get offended when someone on the phone says “Yes, sir” to them? How many men do you know who would lose their minds if someone says “Yes, ma’am” to them? No one likes being referred to by the wrong pronoun–no one. So why are transgender people, for whom the gender identity question is even more important, expected to be less bothered? Logic dictates that the transgender person would be, and even should be, more bothered.

But, as I said, I don’t tend to get torn up about it. Call Caitlyn Jenner a man, and, yes, that will press my buttons. That goes beyond force of habit and leaps boisterously into the territory of offense. Call anyone who has had SRS by their own pronoun, and, again, you’ve gone too far.

It’s actually rather simple. Bruce Jenner is a male. Caitlyn Jenner is a female. Bruce no longer exists, so when referring to this person “she” is the way to do it. By the same token, I have to be a male for work. So when friends see B., it’s normal and expected that they’d say “he.” This is part of the reason I don’t fixate on the pronouns presently–I do still present myself as a male to much of the world. And no doubt, this person that is me who encapsulates both B. and Aria is, on the whole, female, and it’s certainly true that Aria is “pure me” whole B. is “sorta me, but with a lot of masks on.” But that doesn’t change that it’s unreasonable of me to expect my friends to look at B. and say “she.”

Anyway, before I somehow digressed onto that, I told Calliope years ago, when our relationship was on the rocks, that I’d been into the labyrinth, I’d faced the darkness, and I came out the other side. That’s certainly true, but what I entered was a small section of the labyrinth. With each return, I realised that it was larger and filled with enemies deadlier than I’d ever imagined. Most of these returns were not by choice. Unlike Thesseus, I did not choose to go down, and the motif of my songs deals with Ariadne failing to give Thesseus the sword and string; in my versions, Thesseus enters unarmed and without a method of finding his way back.

There was a time, years ago, that I stumbled by accident into the labyrinth, and there was a time that Ariadne failed to give me the sword and string, and I trusted her to do so. That’s not an unreasonable trust: I had married the girl, after all, and if you can’t count on your spouse to help pull you from the darkness then who can you count on?

“No one,” I learned, and that’s the best way to characterize me. I trust no one. Everyone I’ve ever trusted has either let me down or betrayed me outright.

I fell into despair and darkness. “I’m lost,” I said, because it was all that I could say. I have no idea what I went through, or what caused it, but in less than a month I’d left my ex-wife, and she immediately turned her back on me, even though all I freaking did was go to my sister’s. Of course, it would never have reached that point if she’d done as I asked and just left me be, but she kept pushing and pushing, caring only for herself and how it hurt her that I was distant, and caring nothing for the fact that I was in far worse shape.

For months afterward, I felt that I’d lost my center, that I’d drifted away from myself, and that I’d never find myself again. And I tried repeatedly to get her back, but she wasn’t having it. Her dad, who vehemently disliked me and spurned her through our entire marriage, welcomed her back as the prodigal daughter–suddenly, she had daddy’s happy love again. On top of that, a longtime friend with whom she’d fallen out of touch (because the friend didn’t try to keep the flame of friendship alive and got caught up in her own world that my ex wasn’t part of) had just left her own husband, because he’d been using Craigslist to… do things a husband shouldn’t be doing. So she also got her old friend back at exactly the same time, and though neither of these were my fault, it felt to her that she’d been rewarded when I left her. I left her, then she got her daddy and friend back–though these people had each turned their backs on her for different reasons, that’s simply not how the ordinary person views things; the average person doesn’t bother to analyze to such depths.

Meanwhile, I re-enrolled into college and graduated, opened an I.T. firm, got to speak on Fox News as an I.T. Expert regarding cryptoware, got published, became a writer for Cubed3, wrote two books, moved to Vegas…

…and was promptly thrown back into the labyrinth, and this time I was beaten to near death before I woke to find myself shrouded in the darkness of the underground maze. This time… was different. The stakes were high–so very high–and it was far more like:

 

 

This time, it was that. That right there, that video… That’s it in a nutshell. Except, instead of donning a totalitarian mask as does Pink, I removed the mask and there was Aria.

 

If you liked this post, feel free to click Like, Share, and Subscribe. 🙂 I’m also interested in swapping guest-writing posts. You might also like “Dead or Alive”, on Amazon for 99 cents: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AS5NJHM?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

You may already be interested in helping with my transition. Www.gofundme.com/ariatransition

Or you can just pop in occasionally and see what I’ve written. That works perfectly, too. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Place – A Short… Thing…

I wouldn’t really call this a short story. I guess it technically is one, but it’s only like 1200 words, and that’s extremely short. This was written before I started having severe problems with brevity, though, an issue that culminated in The Anvil, which is a novel I’ve written that is longer than the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy combined. Still, I guess it counts as a short story, but not publishing material. I found it earlier while looking through the thousands and thousands of Word documents on my old hard drive. Absolutely no editing has been done.

She slid backwards in the tub slowly, allowing the warm embrace of the water to crawl up her flesh until stopping just short of her face. She’d sealed the doorway with towels and switched off the lights, and her environment now was nothing but darkness and silence. It was a weight that she had never experienced, and, for a moment, she was afraid and wanted to turn the lights on, but it didn’t take long to banish her fears back to the part of her heart from which they came.

She released a sigh that was far more similar to the release of an orgasm than to breathing. It was the sigh of exhaustion—the sigh of intense effort and expended energies that all led to a single and short euphoric moment.

This was her moment. This was her release. And while she couldn’t actually see her release, she knew it was happening. She could feel her energy seeping from her body, as though it had been trying to escape all along, and she was finally allowing it to run free. It rushed out with the haste of criminals fleeing a prison during a riot.

And then she saw in the darkness That Place. That Place that she never wanted to see again. She didn’t know where it was, she didn’t know how she’d end up there, and she didn’t know anything about it all. All she knew was it was That Place. And in That Place was the cold. There was no warmth, no fire, and no light; there were only the cold and the darkness. There were walls. Uneven walls, like you’d expect from someone digging a deep hole. The walls certainly felt like dirt, but it was too dark to see. On some days, she could look up and see—far in the distance, at the top—a sliver of light, a tiny beacon of hope, but it was rare, and on most days: only darkness and cold.

One minute in That Place is a million years anywhere else. That Place is nothing, and it is, ultimately, everything, she learned. That Place held nothing for her to do but weep, and so she did. She wept and clawed at the walls with the fury of a caged animal, but it was to no avail. Then, some time in the future, she had no way of knowing how long, the light suddenly grew and came toward her. Everything was encapsulated by the light; she was taken in by the light. Her unadjusted eyes squeezed shut in pain, and when at last she opened them, she stood in The Field.

The Field was hardly different from That Place. It was only bigger, and instead of dark coldness, she was embraced by lighted coldness, which was no help at all, because there was still nothing to see. All around her, there was an endless expanse of the same terrain, repeating infinitely and stretching like forever in every direction. There was nothing in The Field but the opportunity to look Despair in her face, and catch for a moment the reflection in the mirror that bonded the two together.

And That Place, which she had prayed to never see again, was gone again, and she could feel the loving embrace of the water. A black veil gripped her consciousness, demanding her to sleep, but she couldn’t yet. She wanted to—it was, after all, her release—but the moment was not right.

That Place returned, as she thought it might. She didn’t want to fall asleep in That Place—she couldn’t fall asleep in That Place. It would be a sentence of forever standing at the bottom of an immeasurably deep hole, clawing at the walls, screaming with the primordial rage that fury and injustice alone sustain, and crying out to the Heavens for mercy, while knowing there would be none.

Yet there she stood—clawing at the walls while her consciousness slid from her like sand in an hourglass.

It never mattered. One minute, one day, one million years—it was all the same. There was no Time here. There was only Now, and Now could not be measured, because there was no Next or Before with which one could use to compare it.

There was only This when you were in That Place, and This is too horrible a thing for words to describe. Words are but imitations. The most elegant and descriptive of prose is nothing but an imitation, a mockery, that attempts to capture the essence of something and portray it so that another can understand or relate to what the words express. There is no word for This. There is no phrase for This.

How does one explain being trapped in a dark and narrow space, surrounding by nothing but cold, and not knowing when—if ever—you will be released? There was no hunger, no thirst, no sleep, for That Place existed in the Heart—and the Heart does not need such things. The Heart is immortal, and therefore, all experiences in That Place are immortal. Each trip to That Place could be the one that never ends, could be the one that saps away the remaining desire of a conscious spirit to continue its miserable existence, and could be the one that stands true while the energies of the blood flee from the prison of the flesh, forming a symbiotic eternity of something that tastes like forever in That Place.

Tell me—how does one convey that with such a mundane medium as words?

The word “despair” tells you nothing if you’ve never experienced true despair. And if you have experienced true despair, then you know that the word is a woefully inadequate description. The same is true of every conceivable emotion. Hopelessness is another great example. If you’ve never been truly hopeless, the word itself can tell you nothing about how it feels to be hopeless, and if you have had the misfortune of experiencing hopelessness, then you know the word is a hollow, arbitrary, and meaningless thing trying to capture and convey a depth that is simply too enormous for something so ordinary to encompass.

Nonetheless, there she was—once more in That Place, still with no idea how she got there, how she stumbled upon That Place, or what she did to deserve This. And even if she left That Place, it would mean nothing, because she would just be in The Field, then, which was just as horrifying and traumatizing as That Place…

But she couldn’t claw at the wall any longer. Something was hurting her. There was a burning. An intense burning on her wrists.

She breathed in deeply in the tub and ran a few fingers over the open wounds on her wrists, and she barely had the strength to do so. The release was coming. The inmates were free. That Place would cease to exist.

For it was Her Place, after all, wasn’t it? It belonged to no one but her. And when she was no more, Her Place would be no more. She would find release, after all, she realized, leaning back again. She was destroying That Place. That Place—that integral part of herself that she’d become lost in—that part of her that isolated and destroyed—could not exist without her. And soon, she would be released, and she would no longer exist.

All she knew was that she did not ever want to go to That Place again. There were probably other ways to ensure that, but none of which could she do alone, and she had no choice but to banish That Place alone, because it was, after all, Her Place, and no one else’s.

If you liked the story, maybe you’d like my story “Dead or Alive,” available on Amazon for 99 cents. You may also be interested in checking out my GoFundMe page. 😀

A Psychopath and Her Victim: Abusive Relationships and Walking Away

Sunday night, I received a message from the Vegas chick: a strange apology fixated almost entirely on herself rather than me, the recipient of the apology, which was so blatant in its narcissism that it contained references to herself 46 times. While I do have to give the Vegas Ordeal its treatment one day and fully describe the thing from start to end, it is likely to soak up thirty thousand words alone, so it’s almost certain to be reserved for Dancing in Hellfire. But it’s okay–I don’t intend to harp on about it today. It was damaging, it was severe, and it was unparalleled to anything most people will ever experience.

And it was, I see now, nothing more than the sadomasochistic dance of a psychopath and her victim.

She knew of my needs, because I’m an upfront person. I’ve just honestly been through too much to have interest in playing games, so I’m straight up with people. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve by any means, but I don’t beat around the bush. If I expect something of someone, I tell them that; I don’t leave it to them to guess what I want, what I need, or what I expect. A lot of people make this claim, in my experience, but I actually mean it. If I say “I need direct communication from you, or I’m walking away,” then take it at face value: if I don’t get direct communication from you, then I’m walking away. I don’t throw ultimatums lightly, and I never back down from them. A great deal of consideration and introspection goes into me and everything I do; I do nothing lightly, and I do nothing to manipulate. When I make such a claim, it is because I want direct communication, but that’s hardly manipulation; it’s a warning that I’ve been pushed to the brink, and that I will tolerate no more.

Between my old website, many long conversations with her, and years of circling around, she knew me very well; she knew exactly how to exploit me. She knew exactly what to offer me, exactly what to say, and exactly how to say it. She knew exactly what to do to turn me into her thrall, and she succeeded. I thought she was genuine, because she knew that I sought someone who was genuine, and so she knew to present herself as genuine. It was like this in every area. She knew what to do and what to say to take me off my guard, to manipulate me, and to bring me under her control. And she succeeded, as she knew she would, because I’d given her the tools she needed to do it over years of friendship and borderline relationship.

It was jarring when I realized, shortly after my return to Mississippi, that she had done this exact thing to me before, when she lived in Alabama and offered for me to come see her on one of my birthdays. I was excited; she seemed to be excited. And I got about halfway there when her sister texted me and explained that we couldn’t go through with it because of some ridiculous bullshit. Before the Vegas Ordeal, she knew that she couldn’t do that again, and that if she tried that shit when I was halfway there I was likely to absolutely hate her forever, no holds barred, and would be uninterested in ever speaking to her again. But what would have been the next closest thing? Turning me away within days. And that’s precisely what she did.

Blinded by the hope that we could repair our relationship and unable to see that I was playing directly into the hands of a psychopath, I stayed in touch with her; we immediately went back to talking on the phone every night, and I did my best to keep a smile on my face as the fallout from the Vegas Ordeal struck me repeatedly. As I said, evidently I was supposed to be more cheerful about the inevitability of living out of my car then, because she turned away from me for being a downer. Yes, this chick for whom I’d given up my entire life, closed my company, spent all my money, and moved across the country to be with… threw me out of her life because I was being a downer about the incredible consequences I faced from all of that.

Then I dabbled and thought about reigniting my old site, and she almost immediately contacted me through it. I emailed her explaining something she’d misinterpreted. She replied with a post on her blog. I replied via email. She replied with another post. Soon we had fallen into a cycle of posts, where I would post something direct and meaningful, and she would post vague, non-sensical poetry that had to be interpreted–and even then didn’t make a lot of sense. I grew frustrated and threw the gauntlet at her feet: engage me directly, because I’m finished with this stupid shit. And it was stupid, to be communicating that way. She clearly wanted to communicate with me; I clearly wanted to communicate with her. But she wouldn’t give me the “satisfaction” of doing it directly.

Through all of this, I was motivated by need–the same need I’ve written about before–and it’s no coincidence that I was only ever able to go to her blog to read her replies as Aria. Otherwise, it was just too painful. And though I’ve minimized that need substantially, and though she went to great lengths to make that a need for her (as psychopaths do) and succeeded, I did force myself again to throw my hands up and walk away, which made this the third time I’d had to do it. If you’ve ever walked away from someone you love, you know how difficult that is. And I had to do it not once, not twice, but three fucking times. It is more complex because of the psychopath/victim game that she has played, but that doesn’t change the fact that I do love her, and that this is merely on top of the standard relationship interplay of a psychopath and her victim.

The manipulation in the apology she sent is blatant. Out of respect and love for her, I will not post it here, but suffice it to say that it’s the most unapologetic apology I’ve ever seen. While professing to be sorry, she creates a shadow version of herself that “has no empathy” and magically has an “undiagnosed mental disorder” (a refrain I’ve seen so often from women attempting to excuse their fucked up behavior), and, here is the best part, “a work in progress.” As though we’re not all works in progress. But it’s more insidious than that, isn’t it? You can’t be too harsh on a work in progress. When aspiring musicians share their music, they say it’s a work in progress as a buffer against criticism. Shitty Early Access games on Steam hide behind “It’s an alpha build” or “It’s a beta build” as a matter of policy, because they know–we all know–that you can’t judge a paper too harshly when it’s still a “work in progress.” It is the phrase of a coward, someone who wants to indemnify themselves against criticism and consequences; it is not the phrase of someone who admits they were wrong and is genuinely apologetic for it.

It’s of extreme significance that among the last things she’d heard from me, before I walked away in October, was that I demanded an apology. Because it made her aware that the only way she could keep playing with her toy would be to offer me an apology–and so she did. In the most insincere way possible. At the end, she also added that she wants me to know that it wasn’t my fault. That blew my mind to read.

She didn’t have to tell me that. I’ve known that from the beginning. I have never said or believed otherwise. I have said countless times that I rolled the dice, but she was the one who determined the outcome. I have never said or implied otherwise. Why does she think that she can make me believe it was my fault? She can’t. I was there; I know what happened. I know how it went down, and I’ve known from the beginning that none of this was my fault. That doesn’t have to be said.

This would be the fourth time that I’ve had to walk away from her, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. But I know now… that walking away doesn’t do any good in this sort of relationship. It simply doesn’t. I have to make her lose interest, and I do that with the Gray Rock technique. You can’t always walk away from a psychopath who has targeted you as her toy, because she won’t leave you alone; like clockwork, she will pop back up and rip the wounds open again, all while denying that it was her intention to do so and all while apologizing for how sorry she is in the first place. See why I can’t accept the apology as sincere? The very fact that she would contact me to voice her apology is ipso facto proof that it isn’t sincere and can’t be sincere.

In talking to a friend, I was asked what kind of apology I would accept as sincere. If she showed up on my doorstep one morning, in tears with her arms wide, saying, “I’m so sorry” when I answered the door, then I would accept that as sincere. But she wouldn’t do that under any circumstances. But I don’t want that, really. I don’t. What I want… is for her to be sincere. And she can’t do that. Or she won’t do that. It doesn’t matter, whichever is the case. The result is the same.

If you’ve never been in such a relationship, count your blessings, because it’s much easier to become ensnared than one might think. The psychopath knows what you want. The psychopath knows what you need. The psychopath knows where you are weak, and the psychopath knows how to exploit those weaknesses. The psychopath knows where you are strong, and the psychopath knows how to avoid those areas. The psychopath knows how to get into your head and into your heart, and how to keep herself there. The psychopath knows how to hook you, and the psychopath knows how to keep you on the hook.

And walking away doesn’t always work; it depends on what the psychopath is getting out of it. The key thing is that the psychopath has to lose interest. The psychopath has to come to believe that her toy is broken; only then will she move on to find a different toy. As long as she is getting what she needs out of the toy, she will keep picking it up. I don’t pretend to know what she wants from me or what she is getting out of this, but her apology was most assuredly not for me or my benefit, and her immediate switch back to cold, one-line responses is all the proof that I need of that. She just wanted to elicit an emotional response from me, and I gave it to her, because I reacted emotionally–because she knew how to stir those latent emotions back up, how to rip those scabs back off. The psychopath has to be made to lose interest. And this means I must be a gray rock to her.

Because she won’t leave me alone… And goddamn it all part of me doesn’t want her to leave me alone. Part of me wants her to be the person that she pretends to be. But she never will be. That’s what I want, though: I want her to be the person she pretended to be, to be the person she ostensibly wants to be. But she isn’t that person. And I’ve accepted this. I accepted it long ago.

“Dancing in Hellfire” Preview

I’ve temporarily put other projects on hold while I work on an autobiography. Don’t get me wrong–I’m no one special. I’m actually writing it because I’ve wanted to since I was about 13 or so, because… well, it’s been an interesting one. Between my parents’ heavy drug use, the alcoholic and abuse boyfriends my mom had after the divorce, the lengthy custody battle wherein neither parent was deemed fit, the loss of my brother for 6~ years because he was a coward, my mother’s “Unsolved Mysteries”-like disappearance when I was 12, the open secret that she was murdered by my uncle, and a few other things like that, my early childhood and teen years are interesting enough before the transgender thing is even thrown in. Once that’s added in, it really does become “Oprah Winfrey Show” level of “Seriously–wtf?!”

Rather than being split into chapters, it’s being split into time periods. There is the Introduction, Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Tween Years, etc, and each of these is divided into smaller chunks, depending on what happened. I hope you find it as interesting to read as I did to write it; it is interesting to dig up some of these old memories–they aren’t necessarily repressed; they’re just things I never think about. So here is Pre-Kindergarten: South Pontotoc. Enjoy. 😀

One of the first things that came to mind when I first began exploring this part of my memory was the superiority that I felt over North Pontotoc. It’s curious, especially from a sociological and psychological standpoint, because I couldn’t have been older than 5, as I hadn’t yet started kindergarten, yet I looked down on North Pontotoc and had the sense that South Pontotoc was superior. Despite having no idea what these divisions meant or what difference there might have been between the two, I essentially knew only that there were two groups, and I was part of one group, so the group I was in was better than the other.

It’s odd to think about how innate that sense of “Us and Them” really is in humanity, because I sincerely doubt anyone ever bad-mouthed North Pontotoc—there was no reason to, and I suspect that my three year old self was the only person who cared in the slightest that there even was a distinction. There was probably some rivalry between the schools, but not enough that would have spurned a pre-school child to look down on one.

I was born premature, though I no longer recall the exact circumstances of my birth, and the details aren’t pertinent enough for me to bother looking into it. It’s worth mentioning, however, that I was born black—and what I mean by that is that I was born the color black—because the umbilical cord had wrapped around my throat. It’s likely that this is a result of my mother smoking and/or eating painkillers while pregnant; my father once assured both my sister and me that our mother did not do drugs while she carried us, but that… No, c’mon, dad. Mom was stoned off her ass, and you know it.

My earliest memory, however, is of being in a small hospital bed. My family insists that there is no way that I could remember this, but… I remember it. It’s strange to have them insist that I can’t remember something that I brought up out of the blue and did not know about before I brought it up. I wouldn’t exactly call it a bed, though, because I don’t recall the details that vividly. I remember only that the back of my right hand hurt like hell, and it hurt because there were a bunch of needles and tubes and stuff in it. Apparently, I could have been no more than a few weeks old when this occurred, but I don’t care; I remember the syringes and tubes in the back of my hand.

The details are blurry and fuzzy, which is what we’d expect from such early memories, but I recall a few things nonetheless. I do recall that they hurt, and that they itched; they irritated me, and I wanted them out. I remember also being afraid and confused. I had no idea why these things were stabbed through my hand, no understanding of what was going on; I knew only that I was hurting and helpless to do anything about it. This is my earliest memory, this was my first experience with the world, and this is how I was introduced to the universe.

The first few years of my life were relatively normal, and were about what anyone would expect from a southern lower middle class white family that subsisted more off the successes of previous generations than the merits of its own. Most of the land and holdings in my family were purchased by my grandparents’ generation; my parents’ generation has done little-to-nothing to add to it, and more often than not they’ve taken from it. I’m not a materialistic person, so these are points of contention for me, but I do find it fascinating.

I was, of course, born a male, with a penis and everything. Whenever all my briefs, my tidy-whities, were dirty, my mother put me in my sister’s panties; it wasn’t a punishment or anything along those lines, if that’s how that sounded. I, being the clever child I was, soon began hiding all my underwear so that I could tell my mother I didn’t have any and could wear panties instead. I took them out of my underwear drawer and threw them all into the closet—the closet that no one ever used or looked inside—and reported the sudden lack of underwear to my mother.

So when I say that I’ve been transgender since birth, it’s as close to “since birth” as someone can get. I could not have been older than 3 at this point, because my sister had not yet begun kindergarten herself. I can only guess what was in the mind of my 3 year old self, but I intend to do so.

First, I know that I preferred women over men, even then; I loved my mother and sister, and even at that age I had a deep appreciation for feminine beauty. My experience with men at this point was limited to my father (who was fat and not overly pleasant to look at), my brother (who was thin, but who had nothing on my mother), and my grandfather (who was also fat). I imagine it’s typical that young boys love their mothers, and I surely loved mine; I wanted to be just like her, and I suspect that had a lot to do with it. Who can say? I was three when it began.

I remember also being a very horny child. Being only three to five years old, the point of masturbation was not to orgasm but just to pleasure myself, and I did so—in weird ways. I remember stuffing one of my plush stuffed animals into the front of my underwear on a few occasions, for example. But I was a child. An unusual child, who had a penis, wanted to be like his mother, loved everything about women, and wanted to be a girl.

Due to my birthday, I was six years old before I began kindergarten, and not a whole lot else happened between my birth and beginning school. The only really important thing to be taken away was that even then I wanted to be a girl.

Actually, there are a few other things worth noting. I had a blanket—what most people would refer to as “a blankie,” except I never called it that. It was just my blanket. It was one of those cotton-threaded ones almost like nets, it was blue, and I refused to go to sleep without it. I also had a pillow, but the pillow wasn’t that important; it was the pillow case that was. For whatever reason, I loved rubbing the pillowcase between my finger and thumbnail, a habit I occasionally still find myself doing to this day.

I also slept on the floor, on top of the central heating vents, much to the irritation of my dad. I don’t recall my mom ever complaining about it, but I know that my dad did. I loved it, though, sleeping on the central heat vent with my blanket over me and pillow under me; it was great. I’d venture the guess that a therapist or some other doctor would say that my sleeping on the central heat vent had something to do with my being premature and wanting to feel that warmth, like being in the womb. Whatever the case, the preference for heat continues today, as well; as I sit here typing, the central heat in this house is set at 78 degrees, and I’m still a little chilly.

Kindergarten was mostly uneventful, but even then I was sort of a loner. I believe I was friends with a girl named Tiffany, but I don’t remember anything about her except that she was pretty tall. Pretty soon, however, my mom left my dad, taking my brother, my sister, and me with her. This is when things really started to go downhill.

I’m almost positive that it was a schoolday on which this happened, because I just recall for some reason that we were supposed to be in class but got to stay home that day. My mom told me that we were leaving dad, and I’m sure I handled that about as well as a six year old would. It was pretty brutal, and I didn’t understand what was going on. I remember I spent the entire day crying, and I believe that my sister did, too. Whatever was going on between our parents had nothing to do with us, and I didn’t understand why I would have to see my dad less because of it.

Too young to understand what was really going on, my primary concern was that I couldn’t decide whether to leave dad “the good Nintendo” or the bad one. There was nothing really wrong with either, except that the “bad one” took a while to get working. Both my dad and I were pretty big on video games, as was my brother; my mom and sister also played occasionally, and there were plenty of family moments when we all took turns playing.

I agonized over that decision far more than a six year old should have, and I don’t believe my mom gave the situation the attention it truly deserved. She was tearing our family apart, breaking our home into pieces, and I don’t think she ever sat down with my sister and me to explain to us what was going on, to assure us that we’d still see our dad, or to promise us that it would be okay.

She was cowardly about it, too, because she did all of this while my father was at work—or looking for a job, I honestly don’t know which. I was told that the reason she left him was because he wouldn’t find a job, but I have no idea if that was the case, and it doesn’t really matter anyway. We lived in a trailer on my grandfather’s land, however, and I’d wager that my grandfather alerted my dad to the fact that a U-Haul was at his hosue and that it appeared we were leaving. I don’t know if that’s true or not, because my grandfather later offered to kill my mother for my dad, so he probably wouldn’t have been restrained enough to simply inform my dad what was going on.

Due to sheer coincidence, I suppose, dad happened to pull up while we were finishing and preparing to leave. I have no idea how things played out from there, and I truly wish that I could remember. The only thing I remember from it is my dad shouting and trying to stop my mom, and then pretending that she’d run over him. He threw himself into the side of the car and then hit the ground, fell onto his back, and then lie there in the grass. My sister and I screamed and cried—our dad had just been run over!—and our mom shouted at us to stop yelling. I remember looking out of the back window at my father, lying still and unmoving in the grass, thinking only, “Dad is dead.”

So there I was in the back of the car, crying quietly, having just watched my father die from being run over, at the age of six years old and being shouted at by my mother because I freaked out when I thought I’d just seen my dad be killed.

*************

If you’re interested in seeing more, maybe you’d like to donate some funds for my transition at GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/ariatransition

😀

Or alternatively, you could wait until I finish this manuscript and publish it to Amazon, probably for $2.99, although I think I’m going to provide it free of charge to those who have donated at GFM; seems fair to do that, at least. Or you could check out “Dead or Alive” on Amazon. It would also help just to have Share clicked under any of these. Or you can just keep reading–that’s perfectly great, too. XD

It also seems that my short story may be available on the galaxy’s most resilient website, but I don’t know anything about that.

“Dead or Alive” Now On Amazon

I’ve never been really comfortable with the idea of using a GoFundMe page to help fund my transition, simply because I don’t like just randomly asking people for money. Even if the cause is worthy–and, in my opinion, it is–the whole idea just isn’t… It doesn’t sit well with me.

So I have been looking into various options for dealing with the inevitable unemployment that will result, once the transition becomes too obvious too hide but isn’t complete enough to put behind me. No matter what, there’s going to be an awkward period lasting 2 to 6 months, possibly more, where I’m clearly not a man and clearly not a woman. It’s not like one day I’ll be a man, but the next no one will bat an eye when I introduce myself as Aria. It will be slower than that, and more difficult than that. It will also leave me unemployable for a period. While I do write for the U.K. gaming site Cubed3, that isn’t really making me any money.

I’ve been trying for about the past 3 months to find an agent to take the novel I wrote last year, and I’ve been writing another novel in the interim. Actually, I started the novel around January 3, and it’s about 20% complete right now. I’m still looking for an agent for the previous novel, and I hope to finish this one and start looking for an agent for it, as well, around March, possibly April. I can quickly edit and refine enough of the manuscript to begin submission while I finish editing and refining, especially since agents seem difficult to find, particularly for Fantasy novels. On that same token, my next novel–the one after the one I’m currently writing–won’t be Fantasy.

Self-publishing is not something I’m really interested in, and I’ve always sort of looked down on it. There’s no screening process for those who self-publish; anyone can self-publish a novel, so there’s no publisher or agent keeping out the junk. I know how that sounds considering I’m having a hard time finding an agent, but it’s not unusual for people to spend years getting their first novel published. Getting published is a ten thousand mile journey, and I’m still in the first few hundred miles. So that I haven’t yet found an agent is not a mark against my book; it’s a mark against the industry, particularly how hostile it is toward authors. The growth of a writer is not what agents are interested in; they are interested in the bottom dollar, and that’s it. I say this because out of the two dozen agents to whom I’ve submitted my manuscript, two have replied, and neither said anything more than “Good luck. This just isn’t right for me at this time.” This, of course, may conceal a reason it’s not right for the agent in question. The author will never know, and will never know what to change or improve.

I’m still not willing to self-publish my novels, but I realized today that there’s no reason not to self-publish my short stories. And that is exactly what I’ve done. The first of many that will be uploaded in the coming years and decades is Dead or Alive, a first-person tale about a man who appears to be dying–or who is in a hospital room–or who has already died. It’s heavily anti-organized religion, and takes a strong stance against religious indoctrination and the terrorism of the soul for which organized religions are notorious. It’s rather short for a short story, I freely admit that, but it’s entertaining, and I definitely think it’s worth it for 99 cents.

Check it out! You’d be doing a lot to help this young author move forward. 😀

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AS5NJHM?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Or, if you’re not interested in reading a short story, maybe you’d consider simply donating to the cause, or sharing the page? http://www.gofundme.com/ariatransition

Thanks, and have a good afternoon. 😀

 

Gender Dysphoria & Identity

Because I've nothing to hide.

Because I’ve nothing to hide.

A few nights ago, a guy asked me if it brings me into a dysphoric state to play with my penis. This isn’t the first time this guy made me think that he was interpreting me through the lenses of other people, not at face value, because at this point he knew several things I’d told him.

First, he was well aware of my love for shemales. I believe I called them “the most beautiful creatures on the planet.”

I think, though I’m certainly no expert, that Dysphoria isn’t going to be a problem for me, because I don’t see any disparity between what I am and what I want to be. Those who want vaginas could certainly experience Dysphoria* by having their penis pleasured, but I’m perfectly fine with my penis–

Because I’m into women. And I know that he isn’t listening to me here (nothing like being ignored to make you feel like a woman!), because he doesn’t seem at all to understand what I mean when I say I’m interested in trying things, that I’m not committed, and that I’m not interested in committing to anything. He’s asked me twice now if I’m interested in pursuing something beyond a single encounter, and I’ve lost patience for answering that.

Anyway, my penis is rather useful to have when it comes to women, and what I’ve got going on is a combination of several things. Although I’ve said that shemales are the most beautiful people on the planet, the most beautiful act is two women in love, kissing. There’s nothing sexual about this statement; I simply find it to be of unrivalled beauty.

What genitals a person has doesn’t affect their gender all that much to me, and I’ve got a bit of an ass fetish anyway. Strangely, or perhaps this is the most normal thing yet, this is unequivocally only women that this “fetish” applies to. I’m just not interested in what I’m not interested in.

Yeah, my gender identity and sexual preferences are complicated. Who cares? I think anyone who is truly honest with themselves will find their own to be just as complex. Reducing gender to a function of genitalia and sexual preferences to restricting labels like homosexual and heterosexual is, to me, the strange thing. I’m a shemale lesbian with exactly the right preferences to be drawn toward other shemales, and I’m okay with that. I’m perfectly okay with that. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I think people get too hung up on labels, and we’re definitely too caught up in binary thinking to always express ourselves within its confines. In the eyes of the male/female people who accept only heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, what am I? To them, I am an anomaly, a freak, falling outside the system of labels and categories. Since I am just as real and just as relevant as anyone else, what is to be done?

The system must be expanded. Gender is no longer a binary thing. A person is no longer simply male or simply female, which is terrific because this silly characteristic has divided and harmed our species far too much already.

What bathroom shall I use, people of the internet? Very soon my state ID will list “female” under sex–should I use the female restroom? I am interested in women, of course; how would they know that I’m not sneaking peeks (I wouldn’t be, of course, but that’s not the point)? Would they be comfortable with my presence in the restroom? If not, would they be comfortable with the presence of a more typical lesbian? Whose responsibility is it to adjust? Would it be suitable for them to make lesbians use a different restroom?

Maybe bathrooms should be divided along lines of attraction rather than gender. This doesn’t work, either, though: You can’t send lesbians into bathrooms with straight men. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Nor would I want to be in the bathroom alongside a bunch of men who would, more often than not, find me to some degree attractive and would likely turn leering gazes onto me, even if safely wasn’t an issue. And safety is an issue. Within days, rape reports would begin rolling in, and we all know that to be true; you just can’t pull a woman’s pants down to her ankles in a room full of guys attracted to women, even if a stall somewhat protects her. It’d be a disaster.

Should bathrooms be unisex? Should there be a unisex bathroom in addition to the gender-specific ones? If so, how is this different from when whites made blacks use different restrooms? Maybe there should be bathrooms for straight men, gay men, straight women, and gay women? No, we all just recoiled in disgust at the question.

What do we do, now that the ancient restrictions on our species superimposed by religious institutions are being destroyed? What do we do, now that gender is no longer either/or? What do we do when the man peeing next to you may be licking his lips and staring (which doesn’t happen, but some straight people do worry about it)? Maybe we should just accept that the basic human need to exercise these bodily functions in fact transcends the discussion entirely, and that the important thing is simply that you have to pee, not what genitalia you’re peeing out of.

These questions may seem silly, but they’re anything but. These questions are critical. Our society is being forced to reexamine its binary systems and expand them. The impact of the next few years will be tremendous, as our entire species is slowly crawling out from under the oppressive rock of a limited binary system. Nothing has changed with the people themselves. I’d still be me if I’d lived two thousand years ago; the difference is that I would have been put to death. Gay people have also existed for as long as the species has. Again, they were simply called perverts, cretins, degenerates, and executed for the crime of being gay.

Now society can’t simply kill us. That “fall of society” and “end of morality” the religious right screams about? That’s them losing the ability to outright kill us. Only the religious mind could view tolerance replacing murder as a decline in moral standards.

So I’m a shemale lesbian who prefers other shemales. I exist. How you deal with that, Society, is up to you, and I’m certainly willing to ease you into having your collective mind expanded beyond the confines of a binary system. But I do exist, and I will continue to exist, and so will others. The binary system is obsolete, deprecated, and irrelevant. We are as we are, and we deal not in absolutes, dualities, and false dichotomies; we deal in individuality, infinite subtlety and complexity, and an endless spectrum.

I do hate continually plugging this, but it’s a serious issue for me. My new novel is coming along very quickly (about 20% written in about two weeks), and I’m still looking for an agent for my last novel; I’m writing for Cubed3 and trying to expand there. But once it becomes impossible for me to disguise myself as a male, it’s going to be very difficult, and impossible for a few months, to find employment. Any help you could provide, such as sharing the page, would be infinitely appreciated. Thank you all for all you’ve done already:

http://www.gofundme.com/ariatransition

* This is by no means the only possible source of dysphoria for people, and I didn’t mean to imply that it was. What I meant was that if I wanted a vagina, I would certainly experience dysphoria when it came to my penis. But I don’t identify a woman as “someone who has a vagina,” so that entire line of thought is pretty irrelevant to my case. That’s all I meant.

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Friends

I have to take a moment to gush about how great my friends are–and how great I am at choosing friends. They say you can choose your friends and not your family, and that’s obviously true, and the past six months have shown me that and why it’s so important to have good friends.

Considering that my family is awful and exactly what you’d expect southern fundamentalist Christians to be, I knew I was going to be leaning heavily on friends to keep me going. For all intents and purposes, I no longer really have family. Though most of my family still doesn’t know, they will soon, and they’ll turn their backs on me much faster and easier than my sister did. Strangers say, “You don’t know that. Your family may surprise you.”

None of my friends say that, though, because my friends know how my family is; they know how their families are, and this isn’t a movie where the side of tolerance and openness triumphs over bigotry and closed minds; this is Earth, the United States, the South, Mississippi. The only state in the union to keep the confederate flag as part of its state flag. And I’ve often spoken against the way the media and television portray the South, because my friends and I are such enormous exceptions to how the area is portrayed, but that doesn’t change that the average person IS pretty close to how Family Guy portrays them.

 

When I began coming out as transgender, I added my friends on Facebook slowly. It was because I didn’t want to overload myself, and I knew everyone would have questions. And they did have questions, but I also knew that none of them would take issue with it.

Among the most amusing replies was when I was talking to DB, and we were talking about an old friend of ours, DC.

“Oh shit heads up DC and CP are married and get this they are Bible thumpers now and they live close to there. I’ve tried to stay in contact with DC but he’s just weird now and he always blows me off he’s not rude just not pursuing the friendship so fuck it.”

To which I replied:

 

“‘Daniel is just weird now,’ said Dustin to the shemale lesbian.”

Other friends were more direct in the conversation.

“So that’s where the hell you went off to.  Well, don’t let anyone get in the way of what your heart is obviously telling you to do.” And that was it in regard to that. All I did was add him as a friend, and that’s what he said.

And another:

 

“I think everyone should be free to express themselves without fear of persecution, no matter how they do it, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Staying true to my own personal views, I must even include religion. Of course you know I’m not religious myself, but if a person is for whatever reason, I think they are entitled to that. As long as it doesn’t become an organization that tries to push those beliefs on others or does anything else that “inconveniences” others, for lack of a better way of putting it, I think that’s ok. Same goes for anything else an individual feels they have to do to express themselves or feel whole. There isn’t a single, solitary thing wrong with what you’re doing and if ever necessary for whatever reason, I’d be prepared to publicly support you.”

My friends have all been really great. I even preemptively attempted to explain to one of my oldest friends, and he cut me off with:

“It’s all good. You don’t owe me any kind of explanation. Just as long as you’re doing what YOU want to do.”

My friends stand as a stark contrast to my family, but I couldn’t choose my family. I did choose my friends, and I fucking chose well. Longtime friend and colleague JM was going to be the last to know about it, and asked pointedly in response to something I’d sent him if I have an interest in cross dressers or in cross dressing. To clarify, he is a friend, and our relationship is far beyond “just business.” And he said:

“For what it’s worth, I’m glad you told me that, and I don’t care. Really. I’d rather you express it than suppress it and get sick. Who knows why we like and don’t like what we do and don’t. Billions have been made speculating, but in the end, fuck knows. That’s who.”

So I just wanted to give a shout out to the important people in my life and say “thank you.” It could definitely be a lot lonelier, but it isn’t–because of wonderful friends.

Though they are great friends, none of them can employ a transgender person. Though it will be possible for me to secure clients who are unaware that I’m transgender, losing my current clients is going to be devastating financially. Any help that can be provided would be appreciated, especially sharing the url:

 

http://www.gofundme.com/ariatransition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stepping Through the Shadow

Sorry for the “not posting stuff lately” thing. I’ve been rather busy, and have been writing this post over the past few days; it may seem disjointed as a result.

1Earlier today, I saw a picture that a friend had taken of some drag queens, and it struck me as a really bad picture. It was because they weren’t smiling–their mouths were open, but that’s not the same as smiling. Take a look some time: 90% of people you’ll see in pics aren’t smiling; they’re grimacing with their mouths open. When people ask why I don’t smile in pics, that’s why. I’d rather wear a natural expression than open my mouth in a “smile.”

I sent the picture to my colleague–my main colleague, and very good friend. He was to be the last person to know. You’ll see that I said “was.” That’s because in his reply he asked if I’m interested in cross dressing/cross dressers, saying he’d been wanting to ask since I considered pulling a prank on my uncle by showing up at his church looking not like myself but like an obvious man in drag. It’s complicated, but I didn’t do it; I did, however, send one of the pics to my colleague.

I told him “Yes,” but also said that I’m not really a cross dresser, but that’s as good a way as any to characterize it for the time being, as long as he knew that wasn’t really the case. And as I knew he would when I answered affirmatively, he replied that he didn’t care what I do outside of work, and then started talking about my tattoos.

Without that hanging over my head, that’s everyone who needs to know. The colleague and I can cross the work problem when we have to, but I can continue working as a male for several more months at least. There will come a time when I won’t be able to, but I can now and have enough going on without addressing issues before they have to be addressed.

There is officially no one from whom I must hide, and there was clearly some extra bounce in my steps yesterday. I’ve also been stretching out a bit, because I think it’s in my best interests to try lots of things. I did do a lot of wild stuff from 18 to 20 or so, but my options were really limited. I couldn’t experience how it felt to be myself and have a guy make love to me; in fact, I never experienced anything remotely close to that. The only guy I’ve ever been with was a straight guy who was ultimately just horny, not bisexual, and he tried to touch me as little as possible. It was awful.

But, really, it’s become evident to me that I don’t really know what I want. I’ve known for years that I don’t know what I want out of life, but the idea in my head of what it would feel like emotionally to experience that is certainly tempting; I just have to be careful not to build the expectations to something that reality could never meet. But since I don’t know what I want, it just makes sense to try some things that seem like I would enjoy.

But I live in Mississippi, and just a few years ago, some poor gay kid was tortured, raped, and killed just a few miles from where I live. Last night I was going to meet this guy I found in craigslist, and I had a bit of a hard time finding his house. It was night, and I’m not overly familiar with the area, which was kinda secluded and dark. As I approached, a large white truck pulled into his driveway, waited a moment, and then pulled out.

Since I wasn’t sure that was his driveway, and since there was a truck in the way, I drove up to another street and turned around. It was 9:30 at night in a dark neighborhood, and a truck used his driveway as a turnaround at exactly the time I was supposed to arrive; I’d just texted him and told him I was turning into his road, after all. A moment later, I came through again, looking for the pale green light he’d said would be on–and it wasn’t on.

I went forward and parked momentarily in a parking lot while my phone recovered from an app crash and hot reboot. When it came back up, I responded to his texts, made up some bullshit, and said I was now heading back, and was just right up the street. I waited a few seconds, then drove toward his house again. The white truck again, at that exact moment, used that driveway as a turnaround. Two times, almost immediately after texting and telling him I was almost there, a white truck pulled into his driveway, effectively blocking it.

Needless to say, the bizarre coincidence of someone using that exact driveway at that exact moment as a turnaround (given that they were less than 100 yards from somewhere that would have been much more effective as a turnaround) was enough to give me pause, but when it happened again, I knew better than to proceed. Everything may have been perfectly ordinary, but I’m not gonna risk that. This isn’t the first time this guy rang my warning alarms either, it’s worth noting.

As I left, there was another vehicle sitting in the parking lot, exactly where I’d been moments before.

So that was interesting.

I do have to admit… I do rather enjoy the attention I’m getting from guys. I’m not sure that I’m really interested, because I can’t imagine not being with a woman in the long-term, but I’m certainly enjoying how guys are tripping over themselves to text me. It’s a bit problematic, though, because I’m attempting to try being with a guy, to some extent, and none of them seem to understand what trying means. Darling, dear, doll… I don’t want to hear all that right now.

Anyway, my useful-dosage hormones are on their way! 😀

Though the hormones are relatively cheap, a lot of it isn’t, and the certainty of becoming unemployed as soon as I’m unable to hide the physiological changes looms largely over my head, even with my colleague knowing. It is, after all, beyond his control how clients will react, just as it’s beyond my control. And even if there were anti-transgender discrimination laws on the books, it would do no good in this situation, since I’m contracted with them, not employed. Any help you can provide would be invaluable, especially if you just share the page:

https://www.gofundme.com/ariatransition

Thank you to everyone for the visits, the likes, the contributions, the comments. I’m working on a post presently titled “To Parents and To Children” that I think could be pretty good, but completing it is taking longer than normal. Have fun, and enjoy life. 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not in My House!

Last night someone shared something with me on Facebook that sparked a lot of memories, a lot of recollections that I’ve kept locked away in that part of my mind to which I never wander. I would not call the memories repressed; I would, however, say that they were unconsciously avoided.

The first one that returned was one that I’ve actually thought about a lot through the past year: when I was 12 or so, my grandmother (snooping, as she does) found women’s clothing hidden between my mattresses. There were a few pairs of underwear I’d pilfered from my sister, a skirt I’d taken from my grandmother–it’s not like I had a way to get my own. This is one of the things that makes everything so bloody obvious in hindsight.

The fallout was enormous. My father took me out back with his belt, and, though he didn’t whip me, it was only because one of our neighbors happened to come outside. I’d forgotten that detail, but I never forgot the disgust, fear, and almost hatred in my father’s voice when he asked in exasperation, “Why are they there, son? Do you wear them?”

There was no window of opportunity to answer that question honestly, because I overheard my dad and grandmother’s conversation before he took me outside, and she wanted to send me to a home, saying that she was not going to have that in her house, and that she’d send me to a home for troubled youth. When you’re in danger of literally being kicked out of your home at twelve years old, honesty isn’t a luxury you’re afforded.

 

I’ve often fantasized what my life might be like if I’d answered honestly. I’d have been kicked out and/or sent to a home, but maybe some reasonable couple disgusted by such horrendous behavior would have taken me in and fostered, rather than stifled, my development. But it’s idle fantasy, because that wouldn’t be how it happened. I’d have been sent to what we colloquially called “The Village,” which was a sort of foster facility run by extremely religious people and funded by local churches. However bad my situation was at my grandmother’s, it would have been infinitely worse there, with no way to hide anything.

It did get better in high school, when I moved in with my father. I stole clothes from my cousin next door, because I had no other way to acquire them still, and there were also some left in the house that had belonged to my great grandmother. Despite all his flaws, my dad is an extremely loose parent, and he worked swing shift at the nearby Burger King. Another thing that I’d forgotten: the sole reason that I wanted to move in with my dad was to have that time to myself, to dress and be as I chose instead of how other people chose.

And I wasted no time. I recall clearly spending nearly every night dressing appropriately, talking on the phone with friends throughout, and finding great solace in video games, particularly those that let me play as a female. Like I said, in hindsight it’s all so obvious.

But in those days, it was largely a sexual thing for me. It had taken on a taboo nature of necessity, which pushed it closer to being about exploring the sexual taboo than addressing the larger issue. Plus, this was the late 90s and early 00s. There was no talk of transgenderism, at least none that would have reached a high school student in Mississippi. All I knew was that I liked cross dressing, which was a difficult thing to accept about myself when “That’s evil” came from every direction. Even then, I had already abandoned the dehumanization of organised religion, but indoctrination runs deep. Years later, in my early 20s, I had sex with a guy, and the overwhelming sense of shame and feeling that I’d sinned crippled me even then, and I had for a decade or so rejected the mantras of Christianity. But they indoctrinate children for a reason: because that’s how it sticks.

The first person I ever told was J., and she was just the right type of chick to handle it wonderfully; she thought it was the most awesome thing ever. Hell, she had me try on her prom dress before she did. So I did have that refuge. She gave me clothing and was tremendously helpful, but, as high school relationships do, it came crashing down and I handled it very badly. Very badly.

But it’s nearly impossible to hide things of this scope indefinitely. One day I accidentally greeted my cousin at the door while I was wearing jeans I’d taken from her. I don’t believe she ever said anything to anyone, but she did point to them and ask about it. I ran back inside and changed clothes, then denied that it had happened.

So much could have been different, and I’d just about give anything to have had different circumstances. And the doctors I’m dealing with don’t seem to grasp this. Yes, doc, I am in a hurry. No, doc, I’m not willing to wait two months for you and an endocrinologist to give me permission to move forward. I’ve lost 29 years that I’ll never get back. I’m not willing to lose another month. And since the hormones in question can be acquired legally in the US without a prescription, I don’t need a therapist’s blessing or an endocrinologist that I can’t afford anyway. I just need people to get the hell out of my way and let me be me.

Those who know me also know that I have nothing but vitriol for Caitlyn Jenner, but it’s not out of envy. It’s partially because of the supremely ignorant shit that she said a few weeks ago, and it’s partially because she still talks about playing roles when, for myself and the majority of transgender people, it’s about CEASING to play a role, not picking a different role to play.

It’s because Caitlyn Jenner will never understand what it’s like to deal with the struggles that the ordinary transgender person goes through, yet she has the audacity to speak out on behalf of transgender people. She will never spend long nights laying awake and trying to figure out how in the world she’s supposed to have a job while transitioning. She will never wonder how she’s going to pay for all this. She will never have family and friends reject her, call her evil, and cast her from their lives. She was praised for being brave enough to do this in full view of the media, but that isn’t the case at all. The media protected her from discrimination. No one could insult her openly, no family member could call her a wicked sinner, and no company could refuse service to her, because the firestorm of an unbridled media backlash would have decimated anyone who did. Let’s see her transition away from the spotlight, where she wouldn’t be able to run crying to the media when someone insulted her, where she would have to do what the rest of us do: just deal with it.

Caitlyn’s transition was a walk in the park, not the least of which was because she could just throw money at whatever problems rose. I don’t mean to minimize her internal conflict, because that’s something that every transgender person faces and can’t be solved with money, but the internal conflict was the only battle she had to fight once she made her decision. For the rest of us, the decision to proceed is simply the first of countless battles. For her, it was almost the only battle. I don’t begrudge her for that, but I do think it means she doesn’t have the right to speak about transgender issues.

As alluded to, the transition in Mississippi is inordinately difficult, and employment is going to become virtually impossible very soon. I am doing everything that I can to resolve that: I write for a website, I’m writing a new novel, I’m trying to find an agent for the novel I finished last year, and I’m now considering “camming.” I’m not that kind of girl, and I don’t think I actually have it in me, but I’m gonna have to pay for things somehow, and it’s just a matter of time before every client drops me. Any help you could provide, even if you’re just sharing the page, would be appreciated beyond my ability to express:

www.gofundme.com/ariatransition