As part of the “moving to Keene, New Hampshire” process, which you can speed up by buying my ebook for $2.99 or the paperback for $7.49, I’ve also been seeking a job there, since that will speed up the process far more than anything else. After receiving a series of promising emails, I found myself conducting a phone interview, at the end of which the person said, “Thank you, sir.”
Now, this is a bit more serious than “RAWR DID YOU JUST ASSUME MY GENDER?” I’ve of course applied to the job as myself; one of the primary reasons for moving, actually, is that I’m transsexual, although I know that, realistically, I need vocal surgery and minor cosmetic surgery. Despite my best efforts, and use of very expensive vocal training regimens, I’ve met with no success (though I have become a much better singer, so good that I’m considering picking music back up) in feminizing my voice. Hell, eating large amounts of Hostess mini donuts is doing nothing to help me gain weight, either, which is badly needed.
So I was faced with a problem. Realistically, I know that it can create problems in a service-driven industry. Whether the employer has an issue with it or not, clients might, and individual businesses can never be compelled to continue using one vendor or another. It’s why I continue to work as a male: the clients would unanimously fire me here. Will that problem exist in New Hampshire?
Because I can’t expect the employer to risk losing clients by having an employee who makes them uncomfortable. And my voice is clearly still so off that I was called a “sir,” though I’m not surprised by that. There’s a huge mental block there that I’ll get into some other time. Realistically, I know that I need to continue working as a male until I’ve made the money (which shouldn’t be much of an issue in NH) to afford the needed surgeries. Until then, it has the potential to create issues with clients.
But what about once I’ve had those surgeries? Being a male to them one day and female the next is likely to create even more issues.
“Thank you, sir.”
How to handle this delicate issue when the vast majority of potential employers will simply refuse to discuss it in any meaningful sense, for fear of saying the wrong thing and inviting myriad lawsuits?
Yet it had to be discussed: “Thank you, sir.”
I know the SJWs out there would contend, “At most, you should have corrected him and requested he refer to you as ‘ma’am,'” and, yeah, perhaps. But that doesn’t sit well with me, and never has. It’s disingenuous and dishonest. And it invites even more problems. Following that correction, they’d certainly have googled me (honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t already). And I don’t know, but I imagine reservations would be extremely high about hiring someone who felt they had the right to be treated as a female despite not conforming sufficiently to gender expectations.
I unambiguously take the stance that being considered a female is something that I have to earn, not something to which I am entitled. Other people have expectations of female and male, and their expectations are as valid as anyone else’s. Since I’m the one who wants to be considered female, the onus falls to me to conform to their expectations, not to make them conform to mine in full disregard of their own. And this served as proof that I haven’t achieved that. Hey, no biggie–it means I have more work to do, which I already knew anyway.
But how to handle the matter now?
It immediately became clear to me that I should have sent my resume as a male, but I didn’t. Again, that’s the primary reason for the move, so I didn’t think twice about it; when I applied for a job, I did it as Aria. It just seemed normal and natural to me, not worthy of second guessing. But even if I had, I’m transitioning, and the day is inevitable (and not as far away as it used to be) that the male persona is forever put to rest. There is an entirely different, and heightened, degree of difficulty transitioning in a single job–being a male (albeit unusual) to the employer and clients one day, and a female the next. It’s actually easier to be a non-passable (I’ll not apologize for that phrase) female one day, and a more passable one the next. People are already prepared for it at that point, are already getting used to it, and it’s much less jarring.
So, ultimately, I think I made the right choice: apply as a female and tough it out, unpassable in several critical regards, and, in time, get those issues handled (cosmetic surgery is likely limited to brow bone decreases, so it’s not major and shouldn’t be expensive). With many of the employers clients being government agencies, it’s actually not terribly likely to be a problem for clients. But there is still a problem at hand:
“Thank you, sir.”
Merely mentioning my gender identity could be enough to cost me the job, for exactly the same reason that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell existed in the military; it immediately creates the danger of legal action. By mentioning it, I’d put them instantly into a No Win situation. Either they don’t hire, and then there’s the threat of lawsuit on the basis that they didn’t hire me because of my gender identity, or they do hire me simply to avoid the risk of that lawsuit. Of course, I’m an anarchist. Government is a weapon, not a tool. I didn’t sue a realty company who let their dog bite me twice in a service call, and that was the most solid lawsuit most people have ever heard. But I don’t think that’s right. But while I know there’s no chance I’m trying to bait them, a la Dale Gribble in King of the Hill applying as a waiter to Hooters, there’s no possible way they could know that. A company I’ve worked with for seven years asked me to put in writing that I would not seek any legal action, after all–the threat is very real, too real, and cannot be discounted. I know it exists, and they know it exists. Though I’d never, ever use such a vile weapon to force others into certain actions, they have no way of knowing my principled stance against such things, nor any reason to believe such claims. Yet there it was.
“Thank you, sir.”
In their zeal for anti-discrimination protections, liberals have created Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Even mentioning this disparity between my birth sex and my gender, the mention of which became necessary (as I don’t think anyone would dispute), violates that policy and places everyone into a minefield that is impossible to navigate. Say the wrong thing, bam. Lawsuit. Don’t hire me, bam. Lawsuit. Don’t respond, bam. Lawsuit. Suggest clients may have an issue with it, bam. Lawsuit.
I need them to be open an honest about whether it could impair client relationships, but they can’t be. Even if it would cost them half their clients, they simply can’t tell me so. They have to lose those clients with a smile on their face, resenting me all the while, because I’m protected by the violence of government action. They can’t fire me, because then, however roundabout, they’d be firing me for being transsexual. Nor can they use fear of that for reason not to hire me, for the same reason.
Yet it’s completely true. No amount of denial will change that, and no amount of good feelings would change my I.T. company in Mississippi going under because I worked as a female. All the liberal protestations that “gender identity shouldn’t matter” won’t make it not matter. It will matter. It does matter. And we can work on that, sure, but we can’t outlaw it, not as we’ve done, because that closes off honest communication. That conservative woman to whom it matters is as right as the liberal man to whom it doesn’t. Now, though, that woman simply can’t discuss it, and we can’t talk to her. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell reigns. She must grit her teeth and act with secret motives to avoid lawsuits and government bludgeoning. If she doesn’t want to work with a transsexual person, she has to keep that to herself, and fire them over something else. The issue goes unaddressed, and she continues unreached and unpersuaded.
“Thank you, sir.”
The reality is simply that it matters to some people, whether it matters to the potential employers or not, and we all know that. A client needs to give no reason for firing a vendor. They simply stop calling, and start calling someone else.
“Thank you, sir.”
But I can’t mention it, can I? At most I can inform them that I prefer to be referred to as a female. No further explanation, no consideration of their wants and needs, and no recognition of the fact that, you know, I share this planet with seven billion other people, many of whom disagree with me about various things. We have to deny the existence of those people. We have to deny reality itself, and behave as though x is true when we know very well that x is false.
So what did I do?
I laid it out in an email that friends criticised as being overly long. But they don’t understand. This is a matter that I live. It’s tertiary to them; they’re spectators. I live and breathe it, and I know it’s a sensitive and delicate issue, not to mention that bringing it up at all places everyone involved into a minefield where the slightest misstep, as far as they knew, was a legal explosion.
And even despite my lengthy email (it wasn’t really that long–three paragraphs, which I consider damned good for an issue of this complexity and sensitivity), they asked for clarification on a few things.
Because I expressed a willingness to work as a male. Though I don’t like it, I recognize that it may be the path of least resistance for them, and that’s a fair compromise, I think. Maybe they could still employ me post-transition, and maybe they couldn’t; we could cross that bridge later. But I recognize that being a non-passable female could create problems for them, and could harm their business. It’s WRONG to demand them unilaterally take that risk.
But they can’t even admit that it could create problems. Whether it would or wouldn’t, they can’t admit it, nor can they openly factor it into the decision of whether to hire me. Would it be a factor? Who can say? Rest assured, it wouldn’t be their personal issue with transsexualism, but their recognition that clients may have an issue with it. Therefore, hiring me would not be good for their company, because it wouldn’t be good for their client relationships, because their clients may have problems with it.
Nothing can be done about that, because they aren’t allowed to say, “Okay, yes, we think it’s prudent that you work as a male for the time being.”
They aren’t allowed to say that.
I’d rather work as a female, but I’m aware that stepping stones are a thing, and we must sometimes be uncomfortable today to secure comfort tomorrow. It’s why I’m a capitalist. That notion of investing in the future–it’s exactly the same here. Working as a male for a strong, vibrant, well-paying, successful firm in New Hampshire is an investment in my future, and one that I don’t mind making, although I’d rather avoid it. Working as a male for six months there while I save up the money for vocal and cosmetic surgery is a small price to pay considering the rewards–a much better job, a much better area, freedom to be me…
But I can’t make the decision. Government and liberals have made the decision for me. I’ll work as a female, because they can’t tell me otherwise. The only way I could make a choice at all would be if I chose to work as a male. I can’t choose to work as a female now; working as a female now would be a product of government coercion, not my personal choices. And yet, without them being able to admit even the existence of potential problems, contacting them and telling them to consider me a male by another name would be construed as flaky, uncertain, and unstable; it would be far more damaging to my employment prospects than anything else.
“Thank you, sir.”
When they replied, it predictably contained mention of Equal Opportunity Employment, and the assurance that being transgender (I went with transgender because, generally, it’s more palatable) would not factor into their decision. Upon reading it, inwardly I sighed. I know enough to know that my email was very clear in those regards, but the gauntlet was tossed back to me: “Are you saying you wish to delay the interviewing process until you’re finished transitioning?”
Thank you, sir.
No, and they knew I wasn’t saying that. And I know they knew I wasn’t saying that, and they know I know that they knew I wasn’t saying that. They were more cleverly saying that they’d have nothing to do with it, that they would under no circumstances say “Don’t transition yet, then, if you feel it could create problems.” Instead they were saying, “We have no comment.”
Because they’re not allowed to comment, regardless of the reality in New Hampshire. Is it as big a deal there as it is here? I don’t know. If it is, they can’t admit it, and we can’t address that problem together. They airlifted themselves right out of that minefield, but the mines remain there. If it could be a potential issue for clients, that’s something that, at most, they’d have to discuss among themselves in secret, or keep to themselves entirely.
Instead of working through the problem together, if there is a problem, then they’ll simply not hire me, and will give any number of other reasons for that. Because they aren’t allowed to state the reason, if that’s the case, and so we can’t compromise to deal with it.
It’s not “Thank you, sir.”
It’s “Thank you, liberals,” said with a deep-seated, resentful anger for creating an environment where potential pitfalls and issues can’t be discussed openly and honestly.
Everyone is suddenly a gender and sexuality expert when it comes to transgenderism and transsexualism, just as everyone is suddenly an economist when it comes to “price gouging.” Obviously, one doesn’t have to be transgender or transsexual to understand gender and sexuality, but one does have to evaluate things rationally and scientifically, and, in my experience, it’s less likely that this has happened among the cisgender. Nor does it help the situation that even trans people are muddying terminology and making the whole thing more confusing than it has to be. So, one more time, let’s have a thorough analysis of this topic.
Gender & Sex
First, it must be observed that there is a difference between sex and gender. Gender is a matter of culture, while sex is a matter of biology. Gender is sort of an extension of sex, but there is not a perfect correlation; there is even plenty to be said that biological sexual characteristics predispose one sex toward certain gender behaviors. For example, that women wear makeup is a statement regarding gender–it is a behavioral and appearance norm–yet it stems from biology, ultimately, as it is traditionally the female who attracts the male, and the male who is the hunter (or “seeker” if you prefer). This is not unusual among humans; many animals have the responsibility of attracting a mate falling to one sex or the other. Men engage in grooming to help their chances of being approved when they approach a mate, primarily. These biological tendencies that stem ultimately from some genetic hard-wiring that leads men to predominantly be hunters and women to primarily be “the hunted” ultimately morphs into women wearing makeup and men not.
The brassier is another example. That women wear bras and men do not is a gender norm, but it quite obviously stems from biological sex characteristics. One of the two sexes has something there that benefits* from the additional support. It is like the jock strap and athletic cup in a way–that male athletes wear cups is a gender norm, extending from the fact that men have something there to be supported and protected. It is still arbitrary, though–if nature had decreed that men have breasts, then men would wear bras; that they don’t is essentially a fluke of nature.
I’m not going to attempt to define what the male sex is, or what the female sex is. It would be a good idea, and it would be helpful, but I’m not convinced that such a definition exists. As I wrote in my upcoming book Beyond Words & Labels, a set definition must include all members of that set while excluding all members not in that set. If we could produce a definition of “the male sex” that included every single person we consider male and excluded every single person that we don’t consider male, then I suspect the definition would take 4,000 pages of legalese texts, 3900 pages of which would be exceptions and exclusions. I think it’s a futile task, and that every person will ultimately come to their own understanding of what the male sex is and what the female sex is.
That’s fine, as long as they recognize that their definition is their definition, and that they have no authority or right to force other people to recognize their definition as valid. Just this week, I had someone tell me that I would never be a real woman because I cannot have children (not true–I cannot carry and give birth to a child, but I am most certainly capable of impregnating a woman). I naturally pointed out that there are plenty of women who similarly cannot have children, some of whom were born barren. He stated, “That’s a different reason, though.” So his definition of woman isn’t just “can have children.” In fact it is, “A person is a woman if she can have children, except those women who can’t have children, and who can’t have children because this particular reason and that particular reason, but not this other particular reason.” It’s asinine and arbitrary, isn’t it? He’s just using his gut to tell him who is and isn’t a woman, and, now that he believes this distinction is real, he scrambles to find some way of clearly defining it–a task that cannot be done.
So sex is a matter of biology, though I’ll not attempt to define what parameters distinguish one sex from the other. For every example we find who fits within our definitions, we’ll find one who doesn’t, and this will require the sort of exceptions I just mentioned. In the end, the definition will be enormous, and still incomplete. Sexually, whatever you think a woman or man is is what a woman or man is. Sure. There’s really no other way to handle it, unless someone out there wants to produce that gargantuan definition. It’s no problem if you believe a woman is “someone who can get pregnant,” as long as you don’t attempt to turn that definition into law through the state, by forcing me to have “male” on my identification because your definition is the one that the state uses, when the state has no business weighing in on the matter at all. As long as you don’t do that, what definition you use is of no importance to me.
However, if we are to communicate, we must have some sort of common definition, however vague and generalized it is. In fact, we do have such a definition, but it is terribly flawed. The common definition is that men have penises, and women have breasts and vaginas. Obviously, this definition has plenty of problems, but in ordinary conversation there isn’t usually a reason to drag a fine-toothed comb through delineations. If I tell you to get out of the way of a car, it wouldn’t really matter that it was a van coming to hit you. I would technically be wrong, but I was still able to communicate to you the gist of what was happening. That’s the best that our definitions of the sexes will do–they’ll generally communicate the gist of what most people consider to be male and female. This is, again, necessary for us to communicate, although we should certainly keep in mind that our definitions are not the End All, Be All of Sexuality.
Gender is also not some neatly-defined set of archetypes and cliches. “A man has a beard, has a favorite beer, and eats his steaks rare!” is one such gender statement, and it’s certainly true for some men–and some men genuinely believe this–but it isn’t the definitive criteria of what a “man” is. Neither is having long hair, wearing makeup, wearing skirts, and playing with Barbie dolls the definitive criteria of what a “woman” is. These are all cultural tendencies of one gender or the other, but they’re certainly not universal. And, one will notice, they’re not all extensions of sexuality.
A preference for beer and having a beard, for example–one is completely arbitrary, and the other is an effect of testosterone that is present in both males and female. My great Aunt May had a mustache. An even better example is the notion that women don’t have hairy legs–this is flagrantly false, as demonstrated by women who don’t shave. Their leg hair is generally as thick as any man’s. That women shave their legs is a gender norm–it could just as easily be men who customarily shave their legs. Even so, not all women shave their legs anyway, and are still considered women by gender.
While many aspects of gender are extensions of sexual characteristics–such as women wearing makeup to attract mates–not all of them are, and some are either totally arbitrary or are actually customs pushed onto them by the other sex. This is the primary feminist complaint regarding bras, in fact: that they were not designed to provide support, as is so often suggested, and were actually designed simply to conceal what men thought had to be hidden. That it remains socially unacceptable, and often outright illegal, for women to be topless while no such restriction is placed on men, suggests that this is the case, especially given that wire bras are a relatively new thing.
Gender Identity Disorder / Gender Dysphoria
This is a condition that afflicts some individuals, and it occurs when a person’s expected gender norms and behaviors do not sit well with the individual, and when the individual has an inclination toward the other sex’s gender norms and behaviors. It is an illness, in effect. It is not equivalent to being transgender or being transsexual.
I find myself having to repeatedly point out that observing the differences between “having GID” and “being transgender” does not in any way demean a person’s Gender Identity Disorder (GID). “Being transgender,” however, is the most common treatment for GID–it is not the only treatment, and it is not universal. Having Gender Identity Disorder does not make a person transgender; being transgender is a choice as a way of coping with Gender Identity Disorder. To be sure, the GID needs to be dealt with one way or another, and a person does not get a choice about having GID, but how one is going to address it is a choice, and not everyone chooses to be transgender.
It is fast becoming a pet peeve of mine to see everyone with GID describing themselves as “transgender.” I recently read an article from someone who stated, “I am transgender and, no, I am not coming out or transitioning.” What this person meant is that they have Gender Identity Disorder, and calling that “transgender” is little more than a way to jump on the bandwagon. It’s like they consider “transgender” to be “like having Gender Identity Disorder Times Ten!” Gender Identity Disorder certainly sucks, but it is not synonymous with “transgender.”
I’ve had Gender Identity Disorder at least since I was three years old, as I described in my book Dancing in Hellfire, which is available as an eBook on Amazon for $2.99 or in paperback for $7.49. However, I have only been transgender for a little over two years, and have only been transsexual for a little over a year.
I want to state, before going further, that there is an enormous difference between Gender Identity Disorder and cancer, and that I do not in any sense stack the suffering of GID against the suffering of a cancer patient. I’m using it only as a quantitative analogy, and not a qualitative one. To be sure, I’ve seen trans people suggest that having GID is as bad as cancer, but we can’t take such “Oh, poor me!” people seriously.
Gender Identity Disorder is akin to cancer, and being transgender or transsexual are akin to chemotherapy. One is the disease, and the other is the treatment. It’s readily apparent that they cannot be synonymous. Having cancer doesn’t make one a chemo patient, and undergoing chemo doesn’t mean that one is a cancer patient. Having Gender Identity Disorder doesn’t mean that one is transgender, and being transgender honestly doesn’t mean that a person has Gender Identity Disorder–see the transtrender people out there who are doing it “for the fun of it” on college campuses. Or play World of Warcraft, and you’ll quickly learn that 25% of the people you know as females are actually males, and many of them simply state that they’re females (we’re not talking simply playing as female characters)–that’s transtrending. They don’t have Gender Identity Disorder, but when they throw hearts in chat all the time, they’re adopting the gender chat standards of the other sex as their own. It’s a minor thing, and not an irritant, but it’s crucial to observe: one can be transgender without having Gender Identity Disorder, and one can have Gender Identity Disorder without being transgender.
Transgender or Transsexual?
Now that we’ve pointed out, and demonstrated logically, that having Gender Identity Disorder is not equivalent to being transgender, there’s one area left to dissect: transgenderism and transsexualism. They are also not synonymous, just as gender and sex are not synonymous.
Being transgender involves adopting the other sex’s cultural norms as one’s own. A male who acts like a female, wears makeup and dresses, listens to Beyonce or whatever–that is an example of transgenderism. It is rather like a drag queen, except that it is done perpetually, not occasionally. It is limited to behavioral and cosmetic changes, such as crossing one’s legs like a woman, wearing makeup, or growing one’s hair long. It includes no biological or physiological changes.
Being transsexual is a bit more nuanced, and there are three varieties of it: pre-op, post-op, and non-op, and these divisions depend upon Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS). A pre-op transsexual is someone who intends to have SRS, and is, to some degree, in the process of doing so, perhaps by starting with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). A post-op transsexual is someone who has had SRS. A pre-op intends to have their penis cut off and replaced with a vagina, or have a penis added to them; a post-op has done this already. A non-op transsexual is someone who undergoes physiological changes excluding SRS. I’m a non-op transsexual, and I do not intend to ever have SRS. People are right to observe, then, that I will not ever sexually be a woman, and this is a point that I gladly acquiesce, hence my use of “S” for my sex–“Shemale.” I have the biological characteristics of both sexes (what many would call “Intersex,” but I won’t, because “transsexual” already covers it).
Besides which, “Intersex” raises more questions than it answers, and the terminology is sloppy, awkward, and clumsy. When I tell you that I’m a shemale, you immediately understand what that means, and no further questions are necessary. If, however, I said, “I am intersex,” then that raises a ton of questions. Did I start as a male or female? Do I have a penis or vagina? Which direction am I going? Even someone steeped in LGBTQIAAAP+ALPHABETSOUP culture is going to have to pause and think about what “I’m a male-to-female non-op transsexual transgender lesbian” means. When a friend of mine said that they were transgender, it confused me–me!–because this person appears to be an ordinary male, and is doing absolutely nothing to transition toward female. So… is this person F2M? Does this person have a penis? Did this person have breast reduction surgery? In actuality, the person has gender dysphoria, but is not transgender or transsexual–confusion that should never have risen in the first place.
This tendency of people with GID to call themselves transgender is conflating the issue and confusing people, even other transgender and transsexual people, and it needs to stop. It’s happening because of transtrending. They think it makes them more special, more unique, more snowflakey to call themselves trans rather than accurately calling themselves sufferers of GID. These words mean things. Being transgender isn’t a statement. It’s not a label. It’s a series of actions, a bold choice, a way of life.
Trans-ism is WORK
…which brings me to what I really wanted to write about today, because I have met many people at the local LGBT club who claim to be transgender, yet who are doing nothing to transition. That’s fine, in a sense. They don’t have to transition to take care of their Gender Identity Disorder. Transitioning isn’t for everyone. It’s arduous, difficult, and, often, painful. However, if they are not transitioning, they cannot seriously expect people to use the other sex’s/gender’s pronouns for them. If they just look like an ordinary dude and even have a 5 o’clock beard, they can’t seriously expect to be called “she,” and neither can they get all offended when I call them “he.”
I know a dude who does this, though I told him about a month ago to stop texting me. The guy has a mustache, doesn’t shave any of his body, has short hair, doesn’t wear makeup, doesn’t wear any female clothes, or anything. Yet he claims to be transgender, and wants to be called “she” and “her.”
I’m just not going to do that.
Being called the other sex’s pronouns is something you earn, not something that you are given. You want to be called a “she” as I am? Put some work into it, sweetie. You’re not entitled to that, not from me. Other people can call you that if they so choose, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s something you have to earn. The dude I’m talking about is named Randy, but wants to be called Rebecca, and wants to have female pronouns used. When anyone points out that he presents himself as an ordinary dude, he cries, “But muh feminism! Women don’t have to shave their faces and wear pretty dresses!”
No, true, they don’t. But you know what else? Women who dress like men, don’t shave, don’t wear makeup, and all that… are going to be called “butch,” and, in a lot of cases, they’ll be referred to with male pronouns.
I couldn’t even guess how much work I’ve put into being transgender and being transsexual. Because it is work, my goodness. I’m wearing a waist trainer right now. I wear it every single day, from 9:00 am to 2:00 am, taking it off only to sleep and putting it on just before I leave for work each day. I shave my body every single day, and shave my face twice a day if need be. I’ve dyed my hair a more feminine color, and am growing it out. The one area I’ve lapsed is in voice training, and I’ve only lapsed there in the last two months, and resumed it earlier this week. Want to see an example of how much work I’ve done?
This shit doesn’t happen by itself, man. The “trans” people who demand to be called by the other sex’s pronouns who haven’t put in the work–you know what they remind me of? They remind me of the socialists who want the Minimum Wage increased because they want to make more money. They want to earn $15 an hour, but they don’t want to put in all the work, the training, the learning, the research, the effort to actually earn what I busted my ass to earn. They just want it given to them. You want to have what I earned? Then start earning it. Start shaving. Grow your hair out. Do pilates. Get a waist trainer. Soften your voice. Put one some makeup. Put on a dress. These stereotypes are the basis that we use to distinguish the genders and sexes. It’s true that you don’t have to submit to them, but perhaps being a M2F trans person while fighting the 60s feminist battles is a poor combination, you think?
I don’t care how passable you are or aren’t. God knows I’m not as passable as I’d like, and still have more work to do. What I care about is effort. You put in the effort, and I will happily encourage you and respect your pronoun preferences. But if you don’t want to put in the effort…? If you don’t want to put in the effort to be a “she” or “her,” then why in the hell should I put in the effort to call you a “she” or “her?” Demanding other people call you “she” and “her” when you’re putting in no work to be a “she” is like demanding that other people do your work for you. No, cupcake, it doesn’t work that way.
I have my own ideas of what “he/him” is, and what “she/her” is. So do you, and so does everyone else. However, as stated before, there is some commonality among our understanding–enough that we can communicate. I’m not going to put aside my understanding of “she” and “her” to call you that, and neither do you have any right to demand that I do so. And I can tell you this: neither will most people willingly put aside their own understanding of what “she” means to accommodate your mustache and call you a “she.” I’m not evil, wicked, or bad because I have my own (already far more versatile than the average person’s) understanding of what defines the genders and sexes, and that I will use my definitions and not yours. You can disassociate from us, have at it, but you cannot use the state to force us to use your definitions “to avoid offending you or hurting your feelings” any more than we can use the state to force you to be called “he.”
But it’s the worst of entitled behavior to stand there in a mustache and expect people to just know that you prefer to be called “she” when you aren’t transgender and certainly aren’t even transsexual. I get that you have Gender Identity Disorder, Randy, and that it hurts you to some degree to be called “he” and “him,” but that’s your problem to deal with, not everyone else’s. If you want to deal with that problem, do so, but don’t expect other people to deal with it for you. Maybe it damages us psychologically to have to refer to a dude in a mustache as a chick. “Damage” is certainly too extreme, but it most definitely causes dissonance and awkwardness.
Demanding that we accommodate your Gender Identity Disorder while you aren’t even accommodating it is bizarrely entitled. I’m sure most people would gladly work with you and begin calling you your preferred pronouns if you started transitioning–if, indeed, one chooses to transition in order to deal with it–because for most reasonable, compassionate people it’s not about being passable or non-passable. It’s about effort. Just put some damned effort into it. Don’t expect everyone else to cure your Gender Identity Disorder by using certain pronouns for you when you haven’t done a thing to address the GID yourself. And if you’re not going to transition, then you have absolutely no justification for demanding the other sex’s pronouns in the first place, as doing so would only exacerbate your GID. If you have GID but you’ve decided to stick it out as your birth sex of “male,” then it’s not going to help you one teeny-tiny bit for people to call you a female, is it? No–it will perpetuate the dysphoria.
Having Gender Identity Disorder doesn’t entitle anyone to anything, and having it doesn’t make a person transgender or transsexual. We should all be compassionate enough to assist and accommodate our brothers and sisters and others who are transitioning, but if they aren’t transitioning, then there is nothing to accommodate, and being “well-intentioned” by trying to accommodate them anyway will only exacerbate their Gender Identity Disorder. Being transgender isn’t for everyone, and going even further into being transsexual certainly isn’t for everyone. They are difficult decisions, deliberate and willful courses undertaken as ways of handling Gender Identity Disorder, and they are not the only ways of doing so.
But I’m going to use the pronoun of the sex you’re presenting as, and so will most people who aren’t dicks.
When you stand there with a mustache and cry that it’s offended to be called “him,” you are insulting me and everything I’ve done in my transition, just as fully as the Minimum Wage workers who assert that the rich didn’t “earn” their wealth are insulted by those entitled, bratty demands. I am not offended, but I am most definitely insulted. If you want what I have, then you better be ready to put in the work that I’ve put in–and have yet to put in. You think it’s been a walk in the park to acquire estrogen? You think it’s pleasant to wear a waist trainer? You see all those marks on my stomach? Do you think it’s fun to shave my face every single day, sometimes twice a day? Did you think that plucking my eyebrows was something that I do for fun? Or that I’m force-feeding myself more food than I want in an effort to gain weight? No. All of this stuff sucks, and is between “very painful” and “very unpleasant.” And I do it because I don’t expect random strangers to call me “she” and “her” unless, you know… I appear to be a “she.” I’m not entitled to be called “she” even though I don’t look, act, or sound anything like what they understand “she” to mean.
And neither is anyone else.
Put in the work, or don’t. Be transgender or transsexual, or not. Deal with your Gender Identity Disorder. Don’t demand other people deal with it for you.
* Arguable. In fact, a recent study revealed that women who don’t wear bras have perkier breasts than women who do.
I know it’s considered heresy among libertarians and anarchists, but I feel it’s important to remind people that “The Free Market” isn’t always an acceptable answer. Says the anarcho-capitalist, right–what many would rightly call a “free market anarchist,” in fact, given the history of the word “capitalism” and whether the market as advocated by anarcho-capitalists actually is “capitalism,” but it’s not important. I’ve written loads praising the free market, and now that we are seeing widespread cheering for the firing of white nationalists, I’m going to write something condemning the free market as the solution.
But let me explain, before you get all worked up and say that I’m abandoning the market now that it’s targeting Nazis, because, in fact, I’m not, and I’ve written this exact thing before targeting traditional values“” and other Nazi-style aphorisms. So, you see, rather than contradicting myself, I’m actually staying true to what I’ve said before, and am now applying the same logic and principles now that the shoe is on the other foot. In this article praising the virtues of personal relationships as the destroyers of bigotry (by all accounts, a positive thing), I said:
There are only three ways that liberty can work: homogeneity, diversity, and individualism.
I also said this on Facebook, drawing attention to the inherent absurdity of attempting to use homogeneity to achieve liberty–we would recognize this as a direct attack on paleo-libertarianism, a weird and twisted school of libertarian philosophy that, in essence, argues that liberty is only for white people:
Homogeneity is obviously broken as an idea–it’s simply impossible. There will always be differences between people, and those differences will always be highlighted. Hitler wanted to basically produce an all-white society, and what happened? The differences among white people were immediately targeted as points of divide: those with blond hair and blue eyes were considered superior to someone who had brown hair and brown eyes. By definition, a society can never be truly homogeneous. Even if Hitler had succeeded in eliminating everyone but white people with blond hair and blue eyes, the divisiveness wouldn’t have ended; instead, it would have become “tall people are superior to short people” or something else. I’d venture the statement that the more homogeneous a society is, the more petty are its points of division.
The idea that any group of people can be truly homogeneous is laughable. If that divisive mentality is there, then it is there regardless of the characteristics of the people in the group. With the divisive mentality in place, paleo-libertarians, the alt-right, and Neo-Nazis think that all non-white people are the problem. Let’s presume for a moment that they somehow manage to get rid of all the non-white, non-straight, non-cisgender people. Do they suddenly stop hating people? No. They merely redirect their hatred to some other minority. Redheads become the target of their hatred, or people who are under 5 feet, 6 inches tall, because the core of their hatred–that there are differences within their group that cannot be tolerated–remains. As long as that idea remains, they will identify any and every difference and pinpoint it as the problem, and will continue on until only one person remains standing and everyone else is dead.
The point I’ve been driving at since I began thinking and writing about this subject a month or so ago is that neither homogeneity nor heterogeneity can deliver on the free market promises of “ultimate equality,” despite its ups and downs. The market, as any market advocate will tell you, swings like a pendulum, and it isn’t always fair or just. It does, however, tend to come to a point of equilibrium, one that is based on the dominant positions and ideologies about what constitutes “justice” and “equality.” If a market comes to rest indefinitely* on inequality, then it is merely a reflection that the majority of people in that society do not value equality.
As written in Fight Club, “on a long enough timeline, the survival rate of everyone drops to zero.”
Just as that is true, so is it true that “on a long enough timeline, the values embraced by a free market are reflective of the people who support that market.” This is why it’s so damning to see that so much child and sweatshop labor continues to go into much of the gimmicky, cheap bullshit bought by people at Wal-Mart; that these things have not vanished in the last few decades since we learned of the child and sweatshop labor is a tacit endorsement of child and sweatshop labor. We know that Indonesian children are making our Nikes. We just don’t care. We know that diamonds are steeped in blood. We just don’t care. We know that the cobalt that goes into our phone and laptop batteries, and soon into our Tesla electric cars, is stepped in blood and horrific child labor. We just don’t care.
With this enormous preamble out of the way, let me get to the point.
People are cheering the firing of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I’m actually inclined to view this as a Pandora’s Box–one that we painstakingly managed to close in the 60s and 70s, and one that we should not, under any circumstances, open again. It was arduous, difficult, and unjust for black Americans, Asian Americans, women, homosexuals, transsexuals (ongoing), and all of these others to have to fight an uphill battle to take back their jobs, to not be fired for these things. Thirty years ago, we all (those of sound mind and reasonable ideas–I didn’t even exist then) condemned the idea of firing a man because he was a drag queen two Fridays out of the month, because he and his wife were swingers, because his wife was black, because he was living with his girlfriend and they weren’t married, or because he was gay. How far have we truly come, if we now revisit these ideas, but simply reverse the power structures so that, instead of the white supremacists firing the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual for being a transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual, the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual fires the white supremacist for being white supremacist?
I’d argue that we haven’t changed anything. We simply turned the table around.
It’s important to remember that swords like this cut both ways, which we should damned well know from the history of American injustices against black people, LGBT people, Hispanic people, women, Asians, and everyone else. We know how this shit feels when it’s done to us, and we know that it can be done to us. As it stands, “we” have the cultural power–there is no doubt of that. We are currently the ones holding the reins of power, freely able to bend society to our will in whatever ways we want, with very few exceptions. We will not always be the ones holding the power. Less than a century ago, we were not the ones holding the power.
It so perfectly mirrors the growth of the executive branch that it’s staggering. For years, Republicans gave their approval to the growth of the executive branch, apparently never considering the possibility that it could end up in the hands of someone they didn’t like. Then Democrats did the same. Now we have Trump in power, and people are like, “You know? Maybe we shouldn’t have created this power structure that is now ripe for abuse against us instead of in favor of whatever we happen to want at that particular moment.”
More bizarrely, we’ve already been through this. We’ve already been on the receiving end of discrimination, and it’s still the case that there are tons and tons of “non-protected groups” with whom we are allies to some extent, and who are free to be fired by their employees for upsetting someone’s personal moral sensibilities.
Drag queens aren’t protected.
Swingers aren’t protected.
Interracial couples aren’t protected.
Women who have had abortions aren’t protected.
Former partiers, musicians, rappers, and the like are not protected. In fact, we see this already with colleges and employers searching through people’s histories and firing them for getting a little too wild at a party 6 years before.
Polyamorous people aren’t protected.
In fact, if we look at things rationally and objectively, we’ll find that not a whole lot are protected from anti-discrimination laws. And while I don’t think we need anti-discrimination laws at all, and certainly not more of them, the overall sentiment appears to be that “It’s okay if we discriminate against them, because the law prevents them from doing the same to us,” and this simply isn’t true.
There is no protection for contractors, of course. You could wreck my entire life by finding out who my clients are and informing them that I’m transsexual. This was actually my biggest concern with forming the Libertarian Party in my county. Even if I was an employee, and not a contractor, there is still very little protection for transgender and transsexual people, legally or socially, and none at all in the state of Mississippi.
Do you think that the white supremacists and traditional valuists in positions of authority will not retaliate? Do you think that secret KKK member Bob Greenwich, head of the marketing department in some firm, won’t suddenly begin finding reasons to fire his black employees?
Unlike many people who seem to be talking these days, I reject both. I fully recognize the right of an employer to fire anyone that they want for any reason that they want. This does not mean, however, that having the right to do something makes it the right thing to do. I have the right to fire someone for being gay, for being a white supremacist, or for being lazy. But this doesn’t mean it’s right, just, or moral to fire someone for being gay, or for being a white supremacist. The only factors that should go into employment are the person’s capabilities to do that job. I said this exact thing two weeks ago when arguing against Trump’s proposed trans military ban, and people applauded. I say it now, and I’m called a Nazi sympathizer.
On July 27, I said this:
Banning trans people from a job is dumb.
As an employer, you shouldn’t be interested in what characteristics a person has; you should be interested in their ability and skills to do the job. If you hire them according to any other criteria, you won’t be hiring the best unless it’s by complete accident.
This applies to every job.
If you want the best military in the world, then you have to hire the people who are the best. If you hire the people who are second-best or third-best because they have whatever characteristics you prefer, then your military will be second-best, third-best, or worse.
People are looking at this thing all wrong. Perhaps, on average, the extra medical and psychological needs make trans people inferior to other potential employees. But then you have people like me, whose only “need” is to be left the hell alone by people with more free time than common sense. “Can this individual do the job? Is this individual the best person for the job?” The hardships and struggles of the collective are fictitious. We are dealing with individuals.
I don’t give a damn if I hire a guy who seduced his dog, if he’s the best damn tech in the area. The “best” are usually pretty quirky, to put it kindly.
No one disagreed. No one took issue with it. It was common sense, and I was obviously right. Earlier today, I said this:
People are cheering the firing of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I’m actually inclined to view this as a Pandora’s Box–one that we painstakingly managed to close in the 60s and 70s, and one that we should not, under any circumstances, open again. It was arduous, difficult, and unjust for black Americans, Asian Americans, women, homosexuals, transsexuals (ongoing), and all of these others to have to fight an uphill battle to take back their jobs, to not be fired for these things. Thirty years ago, we all (those of sound mind and reasonable ideas–I didn’t even exist then) condemned the idea of firing a man because he was a drag queen two Fridays out of the month, because he and his wife were swingers, because his wife was black, because he was living with his girlfriend and they weren’t married, or because he was gay. How far have we truly come, if we now revisit these ideas, but simply reverse the power structures so that, instead of the white supremacists firing the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual for being a transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual, the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual fires the white supremacist for being white supremacist?
I’d argue that we haven’t changed anything. We simply turned the table around.
… which you’ll find written above. I do that often, where I write something in an article and preview it on Facebook. Anyway, I was immediately accused of being against freedom of association. That’s quite remarkable, considering that I have a long ass history of arguing in favor of freedom of association.
On an individual basis.
I wholly reject as immoral, reckless, stupid, and irresponsible the idea of disassociating from an entire group of people because of the actions of some, the words of some, ostensible similarities among its members, or whatever-fucking-else is proposed. If someone wants to fire the racist asshat Bob because he treats black customers like crap, I have absolutely no issue with that. But if someone wants to fire the racist asshat Bob because he’s a KKK member even though he’s never displayed any tendency for treating black customers differently, I have to take issue with that. Sure, they have the right to do it, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
And it’s really just a back-handed, passive aggressive forceful coercion, when it comes down to it, especially in these hypothetical numbers I gave above, where 99.99% discriminates against the 0.01%. As someone pointed out, “Then the 0.01% of people who are racists need to change their minds.” Yes, and that’s a moral hazard. “If the 0.01% don’t want to die, then they need to get on board with my ideas and stop disagreeing with me.” I’m not saying that it violates the NAP. Nor does it violate the NAP if 99.99% of people are cisgender and insist, “Then the 0.01% need to stop being transgender if they want to work.”
I’m kinda surprised that I’m saying this, but the NAP isn’t the ultimate standard on what is and isn’t moral. It’s only the standard of what must be tolerated and what must not be tolerated. It’s not a moral guide. It’s a minimal level of acceptable behavior guide. One’s morality is something for one to work out themselves, and I have many thoughts on morality–many of which would you would disagree with. I’m not saying that my moral proclamations that collectivist discrimination is morally wrong is objectively correct. I’m saying that it’s subjectively correct, and here I’ve outlined the subjective criteria for making that assertion.
It has also been stated that the 0.01% are more than welcome to form their own little society, despite that I’ve pointed out that, even in the United States, this would produce a society of only 30,000 people–nowhere near enough for a self-sufficient society in any modern terms. Besides which, the nature of leaving a society where food is bought from stores to form one where there are no stores from which to buy groceries, and where food would have to be raised and farmed, is effectively a death sentence without outside help–do we need to be reminded that the only reason the Puritan settlers survived the first winter in the New World was the benevolence of Native Americans? There’s a rather large gap there between “leaving society” and “growing one’s own food” that results in rather a lot of death.
Now I’ve got someone who says he’s closer to anarcho-communism than anarcho-capitalism suggesting market solutions, while I’m pointing out that a free market, in order to achieve liberty, requires either pure heterogeneity (practically impossible), pure homogeneity (theoretically impossible), or individualism. You know–the same thing I said a month ago, when another group–*cough* trans people *cough*–were being treated as a collective instead of as individuals with their own merits regardless of these characteristics and behaviors that had absolutely nothing to do with their ability to do a job and function within the confines of a free market.
And though I was right a month ago… Now, I’m wrong. In fact, one of the people who liked my status about this very subject when I wrote it about trans people in the military is not arguing with me, because I’ve had the audacity to say the same damned thing about individuals who, regardless of their ability to do the task they are required to do, are also white supremacists. And, in so doing, this person–who alleges to fall closer to AnComs than AnCaps–is suggesting market solutions.
I will be debating this person–presumably–on the 25th, where we will use Lincoln-Douglas format to discuss “The nature and scope of self-defense.” Honestly, I don’t think the debate is going to happen. I’ve not heard anything about it since I challenged and Matt accepted. This isn’t the way I do things, you know? I iron out the details beforehand, and I still don’t know the venue where we are having this debate. But, as soon as I have that info, I’ll share it.
I made that crappy thing. Someone is, again presumably, making a better one. Since they’re doing it for free out of kindness, I’m not badgering them about it, but it doesn’t seem to have been made, and that further makes me wonder whether this debate is actually going to happen.
* Markets never rest indefinitely, but that’s not the point.
You ever do something that you know, beyond almost any doubt, is going to have severely negative consequences? Because I’m about to do that. And I’m really not sure what the fallout will be, but it’s going to be an interesting ride.
First, I was successfully voted into the Audacious Caucus of the Libertarian Party. In fact, I was voted in unanimously with 18-0, and am the second prison to have been voted in with no dissent (The other was Starchild). Even Arvin Vohra isn’t likely to be voted in unanimously.
Second, speaking of Arvin, he was chosen as the first inductee into The Call to Freedom’s “Libertarian Drama Hall of Fame.” It was decided that Arvin is basically the LeBron James of Libertarian Drama, and that’s true, although the drama around him has been pretty mild lately. It’s sort of like South Park–once upon a time, people were outraged, but not it’s just like, “Well, that’s just South Park being South Park…”
That’s the trick of being audacious. If you’re audacious all the time, it becomes almost passé. It’s like the left protesting constantly and marching all the time; eventually, people stop paying attention, because it’s just expected. It’s not exciting or interesting. Arvin seems aware of this (hence his place in the Hall of Fame), because he’s generated no controversy lately, but I’m positive that he will. He’s Arvin. It’s what he does.
In other interesting news, perpetual dickbag Augustus Invictus followed in Austin Petersen’s footsteps and left the Libertarian Party to join the Republican Party. As with Petersen, actual libertarians celebrated the development.
This seems to be the beginning of the exodus of the paleo-libertarians and alt-right fascitarians from the party, including the likes of terminal idiot Jared Howe, Molyneaux, Cantwell, and others who thought the Libertarian Party meant “liberty for me, not for thee.”
And, on that note, the stupid thing I’m about to do: I’m forming an affiliate for the county I live in. The first meeting is July 29th, but I don’t expect it to generate much buzz. The second meeting is when things will begin to get interesting, because by then word will have spread.
I’ve no intention of peddling being transsexual to any sort of advantage or as any tool for getting publicity, but I’ve been a resident of Mississippi long enough to know how this is going to play out. Once that ball gets rolling, it’s going to snowball to unknown degrees, but I expect that at least half the county will be buzzing about the transsexual atheist chair of the county party. This, of course, will motivate many of those people to learn about libertarian philosophy and, especially, how a transsexual person isn’t a Democrat and actually advocates for the right of free association (and has years of history doing it).
It will surely warrant a statement at some point, to which I’m looking forward, which will allow me to change a lot of people’s minds about trans people and liberty. I’d rather the transsexual matter never be brought up, but it will be–persistently. I will be the #1 thing people bring up when they discuss the Libertarian Party of the county, because the chair of the county party is a transsexual atheist.
This will create many problems. Many of my clients are old school, and needing to earn money to not die has left me in the awkward situation of having to continue working as a male, but it’s the elephant in the room. Everyone has noticed. Dudes don’t typically dye their hair vibrant red. Some employees at various clients have even discussed it with me or my colleague; it’s not exactly hard to notice for people who only see me once every few weeks.
I think that’s going to go better than other people expect, though, because the effect of rapport cannot be denied. I discussed this recently–relationships are the destroyers of bigotry, and I’ve got existing relationships with the clients and their employees. They like me. They already know that I’m strange (everyone knows I’m weird), and they don’t mind. The revelation for some of them will just be that I’m more weird than they knew.
Yet there is at least one client for whom it will present an irreconcilable problem, because the client is managed by a couple with a gay son, whose sexuality they are in denial about, and who pulled him out of school to shelter him from the corruptive agents of mainstream society. I could be reading that entire situation wrong, but that assessment is based on my conversations with the guy and with my own experiences with oppressive guardians. So I don’t think that I am.
The remaining two members of my family whose opinions somewhat matter to me will learn the truth, but that’s just as well. I sheltered them from it, but the bell is going to ring, and it really doesn’t matter to me any longer.
There is a real risk of danger and attack. I’ve been attacked before, both for being trans and for being an atheist. A year ago, someone was trying to find out where I lived so that they could pay me a visit. Oh, well. My shotgun stays loaded.
I fully expect the message of liberty to form a bridge between me and most people, because that’s what liberty is: a truce. From there, personal relationships will pick up the slack and allow people to at least rely on cognitive dissonance to not fire me as their I.T. contractor. Or I could be wrong, and they all fire me. I could very well be digging my own grave almost literally.
But I don’t think so. As I said, most of them already know. They can only make so many comments about how I remind them of their step-daughter before it gets to the point of, “Yeah, just go ahead and say it.” Like I said, in most cases it’s the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.
Let’s have some conversations about liberty, and let’s disabuse people of some incorrect ideas.
Want to read the whole story? Well, now you can! For a limited time (until June 15), Dancing in Hellfire is finally available for sale, for only $3.49. You can buy it here, through this very site, using PayPal or a typical credit/debit card (payment is processed by PayPal, so I don’t see the info), after which you’ll be given access to the book as both a PDF and an ePub.
Whether being four years old and watching one of my parents’ friends shoot up peanut butter on our couch and dying before my eyes; whether being effectively kidnapped at the age of eight by my meth-addicted mother and forced to endure a summer of being too poor to buy food, with our water turned off due to non-payment, and with mom being beaten mercilessly by a violent alcoholic; whether coming to terms with her disappearance like something out of a murder mystery show; or whether being transgender in the midst of all of this and trying desperately to come to terms with it while surrounded by a fundamentalist Christian family that forced me to not merely repress who I was but also to forget who I was, I have seen a great deal of tragedy.
It’s strangely easy to forget how devastating all of this must truly have been, even as I was the one who experienced it, because it’s easy to forget how it truly felt to lie awake, crying and listening to the sounds of shattering glass as my mother was thrown brutally through windows. It’s easy to forget how angry I have the right to be at my father and grandmother, for forcing me to oppress myself and attempting to turn me into something that I am not.
Today I am a transgender woman and resident of the state of Mississippi. This is as frustrating, difficult, and dangerous as one would expect, but I survive, and I roll with the punches. I have no choice, just as I had no choice those early mornings as I bore witness to horrific domestic violence.
So this is my story–a story of how low human depravity can sink, but also how the human spirit can stand resilient and refuse to surrender. However, I know that I am one of the lucky ones. The majority of people who endure such childhood trauma, and who are forced by religiously oppressive authorities to repress their own natures, are not so fortunate. Most of the former lose themselves in a sea of drugs that allow them to forget, while the latter often lose themselves to the blade of a razor. Yet I know, because I have lived it, that we can survive the struggles–and not merely survive, but become stronger through them.
Where to begin, in this sordid tale of devils and demons?
My family is exactly what one would expect of a north Mississippi lower middle class / upper lower class white Christian family; it was only a few years ago that I first heard the acronym WASP, but I have to admit: aside from its redundancy, there is no more apt description of my family. They are almost stereotypical in how typical they are of an ordinary white fundamentalist Christian family from the southern United States.
Everyone in Mississippi isn’t like that, however, which is a point I’ve tried to stress in the past: Mississippi does contain many people like myself. As a friend recently put it, “We grew up in an area that is run-down, poor, and stupid, over all, where most of the populace is indoctrinated by religious nonsense to the point where they can’t even recognize rational thought. We pushed through what it takes to fit in here, and we defined ourselves. That’s something to embrace and be proud of.”
My friends and I have reached the end of a long and grueling journey that was filled with adversity and people who would use any means at their disposal—terrorism, fear, violence, and coercion—to bend us to their wills, and we’ve looked back at the paths we traveled and rejoiced that we survived and stayed true to ourselves. Friends are priceless when one is transgender in a family full of fundamentalist Christians.
Both of my paternal grandparents would reject me entirely—they do not yet know, and they will be among the last to know, since I see them only a few times a year. “You don’t know how they’ll react,” I’ve had people tell me. “Give them a chance. Sometimes people surprise you.”
With all due respect, those allies and friends have no idea the type of people we’re really dealing with. My Mississippian friends know better, too; they know that there is no chance that my family will ever welcome me at Christmas dinner as a female. When my grandfather (who, for the record, is on his tenth or eleventh wife) learned that my sister was living with her boyfriend, he wrote her a lengthy letter, wherein he quoted Biblical passages and called her a whore. When my grandmother found girls’ clothes hidden between my mattresses, she wanted to send me to a foster home and asserted that she would not have that in her house. If they had thought I was gay, they would have sent me to one of those awful “pray the gay away” camps.
This isn’t to say that I’m perfect, and acknowledging my own faults and mistakes will be the most difficult part of writing this. I have made plenty of mistakes and stupid decisions that brought people around me severe difficulty and hardship, particularly regarding past relationships.
My memory is also not perfect, and I am likely to make mistakes, and, given that some of the information comes from extremely unreliable sources (like my father), some of that can’t really be helped. It doesn’t matter, though. The point of this is to show how awful parenting shaped me, and the countless lies that my dad told me are part of that. I strive for honesty, integrity, and sincerity in all things. Consider this my vow that everything within is, to the best of my knowledge, the unaltered truth, except that names have been changed.
I was born premature, thankfully, since the umbilical cord had wrapped around my throat and I was choking to death. This was surely a result of my mother’s cigarette smoking and eating painkillers while pregnant. My father insists that she didn’t do drugs while she carried us, but… Yeah, she did.
I certainly don’t remember my birth, but I do remember some things from shortly after my birth. Though my family says there is no way I could remember it, my introduction to the world came with overwhelming confusion: I was in some sort of cradle, and the back of my right hand hurt because a number of needles and tubes penetrated my flesh. The details are blurry and fuzzy, as one would expect from such early memories, but the needles burned and itched. They irritated me, and I wanted them out. I was afraid and confused, with no idea why these things penetrated my hand and no understanding of what was going on. I knew only that I was hurting and helpless to do anything about it.
Confusion—pure confusion. I didn’t even have a sense of self. I had no idea that I existed, that I was a baby in a hospital, and that I was a being. I could feel the needles in the back of my hand, and they hurt. The pain, however, was not unbearable, and wasn’t the main facet of that moment. It was confusion. I was not afraid—I didn’t have enough self-awareness for the confusion to make me scared. I simply knew nothing. I was a blank slate, onto which was being written reality in the ink of experience. I didn’t even know that I was a blank slate. I knew only that I hurt, and that I was confused. I was not in the arms of a loving mother whose warmth brought me comfort. I did not stare up and into the eyes of a nurse who was delighted to see a baby growing healthier by the hour. I was not being cooed by an older brother, or rocked in the cradle while a loving grandparent read a story. I was alone and hurting in a room bathed in fluorescent light.
That was my first experience with the world. That was how I was introduced to the universe—in the sterilizing, emotionless light of an empty hospital room, not the gentle and soothing light of a home. I heard the beeps and sounds of monitoring equipment, not the joyous laughter of a loving family. I lie alone in a hospital contraption with the shrill, uncomfortable hospital sheets, not wrapped in a blanket and the arms of a doting mother.
And the worst part—the indisputable worst part—is that I remember this.
The first few years of my life were probably normal, about what anyone would expect from a southern, lower middle class white family that subsisted more on the successes of previous generations than the merits of its own. There were some oddities, though, and signs even then of who I really was, but it was the mid-80s. It wouldn’t really be fair to blame my parents for not recognizing and embracing that I was transgender.
Of course, I was born male, “with a penis and everything.” But whenever all of my underwear was dirty, my mother would put me in my sister’s panties; it wasn’t a punishment, to clarify. Being the clever child that I was, I began hiding all of my underwear, just so that I could tell my mom that I didn’t have any, and so that I could wear panties instead. Somewhere around three years old, I took all of my underwear and threw them into the back of a closet that no one ever opened, and then I reported to my mother that, strangely, all of my underwear was suddenly gone.
So when I say that I’ve been transgender since birth, it’s as close to “since birth” as one can get. I couldn’t have been older than three years old at that point, because my sister hadn’t begun kindergarten herself. I knew then that I preferred women to men: I loved my mother and sister, and, even at that age, I had a deep appreciation for feminine beauty. I also thought that my Aunt Diane was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, and my mother used to make fun of me for my enamorment with my aunt.
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), my grandfather (who was also overweight, and a jerk), and my Uncle Danny (who has always been an asshole). Although it’s typical for young boys to love their mothers, I wanted to be just like mine, and I suspect that had a lot to do it with, but who can say? I was three when it began, and I simply wanted to be a girl.
I had a blanket (what most people would call a “blankie,” though I never called it that), and it was one of those cotton-threaded ones similar to fishnet. I refused to sleep without it and my pillow. The pillow actually wasn’t that important, but the pillowcase certainly was. I rubbed the pillowcase between my finger and thumbnail, sleeping on the central heating vents in the floor and driving my father crazy with all of it.
A Look at My Father
I would love to say that my father isn’t a bad man.
But he is.
That’s a difficult thing to say and accept, but I have to stress that it doesn’t really make me love him any less, and that the dominant emotion I have for my father is pity. Even so, I would be lying if I said that he was a good man who simply made some mistakes; that isn’t the case at all. He’s a bad man who has made some good decisions, not a good man who has made a few bad ones.
His own childhood was no walk in the park, damaged by my alcoholic and abusive grandfather beating the hell out of my grandmother. Though not much of that has been shared with me, I can certainly relate to what he has said, and it’s clear the recollections are as painful to him as it is for me to recall the abuse my mother endured at the hands of alcoholics.
At some point, my grandparents divorced—Go, grandma!—because my grandmother wouldn’t put up with the abuse. My grandmother is easily worthy of her own story, because she is an unsung hero of the feminist movement without even trying. In the sixties and seventies, she left her violent husband and blazed her own path in Mississippi, won the house in the divorce, and then worked at a college until she retired at the age of 67.
True to the family history, my grandmother endured her own screwed up childhood, and was even sent away by her mother to live with Uncle Bill and Aunt Edna on their farm. Evidently, Aunt Edna didn’t like my grandmother one bit, and was very unkind to her. What internal strength caused my grandmother, in what must have been the 40s, to graduate as the valedictorian of her class? What quiet resolve allowed my grandmother to learn the necessary skills to work in the administration section of a college during the 60s?
These are questions to which I would love answers, but I’ll never have them, because they are not things that my grandmother is willing to discuss. Questions about her past are met with short answers, and I can’t blame her for not wanting to talk about it.
On one particular drunken rampage, my father held a gun on my grandfather so that my grandmother could limp out of the house. While I truly hate that he had to do such a thing in the first place, I’m also jealous that he was old enough to do something about it. When my mother suffered under Everett’s hands, I was in the second grade, and too young and weak to do anything to intervene.
For years, my father insisted that he was drafted to Vietnam, and he even talked about how he was called a murderer and spit upon when he returned. Eventually my sister and I realized that there’s no way this is true. Either he was actually the oldest between him and his brother (and thus wouldn’t have been drafted), or the Vietnam War ended when he was 16. In this little alternate reality he had constructed, he had to be older than our mother was (which was blatantly false—she had always been recognized as the older one), his brother had to be lying about his own age, and almost everyone had to have falsified birth records.
He changed his story to say that he was in Vietnam during the 80s, through another offensive that we did, but I have been unable to find any military record for him. Whether he actually fought in Vietnam, he did mislead us into believing he’d fought in the Vietnam War, which is a lie of such magnitude and scope that one has to marvel at it.
He is a religious man, though it’s hard to tell by his behavior: heavy drug usage, constant lies, and steady manipulation. Although he is less religious than other family members are, his secularism is applied selectively, and he’s generally as fundamental as everyone else is. He continues to believe that President Obama is a Muslim, is more or less openly racist, and is a diehard Republican, despite that he’s effectively a ward of the state who benefits substantially from liberal policies.
I obviously don’t see eye-to-eye with him, but we do have some similar interests. It was he who introduced me to Fantasy literature and tabletop gaming, both of which almost immediately became passions for me. In turn, I exposed him to the tenth installment of a popular roleplaying video game, and I’m still happy that I was able to show him to something that he enjoyed so immensely. He must have played through it a dozen times, and he certainly discovered more of its secrets than I ever would have.
There is some kinship between us, and I do love him, despite the numerous differences, and in spite of the fact that he has done me far more harm than good. More than anything, I pity him, because his childhood evidently destroyed him; he is one those who did not escape unscathed. He was swallowed by the mentality that the world owes him something, and oblivious to the reality that the world will never give it.
The rifts between us began because I was not the son that he wanted. He hated that I loved sleeping on the heating vents—I’ve always loved heat. I wouldn’t sleep anywhere else. I had to sleep on one of the floor vents, and the heat had to be on. There in the floor, I had the pillow and pillowcase that I refused to sleep without, and the blanket that I required as I slept.
My father hated all of these things. We went to visit some relatives at one point, and I left my blanket and pillow at home. With no other way to shut me up, my parents took me to a store to get a new pillow, and there I went from one to the next, tearing open the plastic just slightly, and “testing” it until I found one that was satisfactory. When we got back to our trailer a few nights later, dad went outside and told me to bring my pillow.
As I stepped out into the night air, I saw him kneeling just outside the small stone circle beside our front steps. It had once been a flower garden—conceived during one of mom’s highs, when she was bolstered with energy from painkillers. The high wore off, but the flowers remained in that little circle of rocks—at least for a while. Then they died, shriveled, neglected, and forgotten.
Almost like a demon out of a child’s horror story, there was my dad, grinning devilishly and eagerly, urging me to throw my old pillow onto a mess of crumbled newspapers soaked in lighter fluid as he held his flaming lighter above it. “We need to burn it!” he said, but I refused. There was no need to burn it. They were already making me throw it away—they were already making me discard this pillow that I loved and had slept with every night for years. Was that not enough?
“We need to burn it!” he said again, as I ran inside and cried to mom that dad wanted to burn the pillow that I loved. It may seem strange that I had such attachment to a pillow, but I did, and both of my parents knew it. My father certainly knew very well that I loved that pillow.
That’s why he wanted to burn it. Because I loved it.
We didn’t burn random things, and I doubt that we ever burned anything there at all. He wasn’t content to force me to throw away this pillow, the symbol that I was an emotional person and not the crass son that he apparently wanted. The pillow had to be destroyed in flames because I loved it, and because “real men don’t love.” This silly, feminine weakness, this emotional attachment to an object—it had to be gotten rid of, and in the most dramatic way possible.
It was not the pillow that my dad wanted to burn.
It was my heart.
My mother intervened, though my father came inside and continued insisting that we needed to burn the pillow, because he was afraid that I would be able to talk my mother into letting me keep it. One has to wonder why it was an issue that I wanted to keep it. In the end, I placed it gingerly on top of the garbage can in the kitchen and told it goodbye. I hated to do so, and I cried, because it didn’t make sense to me.
It’s understandable that I developed such strong emotional ties to objects, as neither parent spent much time with me, and there was not much hugging in the family. Mom and dad were always high on one drug or another, lying on the couch and borderline comatose. I don’t know how Brandi handled it then, or what she did in order to get through the long and miserable days, but it was surely as awful for her as it was for me. Unlike our older brother, we didn’t have friends with whom we could go hang out. Or, at least, I didn’t. Brandi was friends with a girl who didn’t live too far from us, and I hope that my sister was happy then.
Aunt May and Kay-Kay
For a while, mom did work, as did my father. While Brandi and Eric were gone to school and my parents were at work, I was babysat by our great aunt who lived next door, a relatively kind woman who I remember as mostly humorless. My father fleeced her out of most of her money, just as he did to my great-grandmother, and just as he is currently doing to my grandmother. However, I was too young to comprehend that, and there isn’t much that I remember about Aunt May.
It was horrendously boring at Aunt May’s. There were few places worse for my pre-school self. I wasn’t allowed to take my Nintendo, which left me there alone with an eighty-year-old woman and very little to actually do, because there was no one to play with and nowhere to play at. Aunt May wasn’t unkind, but she was also not particularly joyful. I don’t blame her for that—she was a very old woman, and probably not happy to babysit a four-year-old.
I should have been outside having fun, rather than sitting in a living room with an eighty-year-old woman and playing with paper dolls that she cut out of a magazine. Of course, such things seem droll only from a modern perspective, but I was accustomed to video games and cartoons, the heightened entertainment possibilities of the late 1980s. In the 1880s, a child would have been thrilled to sit on a couch in an air-conditioned house and idle away the hours with paper dolls.
However, imagine the horrified response one would get if a modern child was asked to spend day after day in that environment, with only a very old woman as company. There would probably be allegations of child abuse, though I’m not making that claim. However, many modern parents would likely consider that to be, at the least, borderline child abuse. To me, it was simply boring, and the time passed so slowly that I probably lived more moments there at Aunt May’s house than all the moments I have lived since.
I don’t intend any of this to be disparaging to Aunt May. I have no doubt that she did the best she could, and significantly better than many people in her position would have. Still, I dreaded those days when both parents had to work, and it was routine for me to ask mom each afternoon, “Do you have to work tomorrow?”
Aunt May had a moustache, as well, but I never noticed it. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and I was shown a picture of her that I learned she had a moustache. I was pre-kindergarten when I spent time with Aunt May, so the idea that a woman didn’t have facial hair wasn’t in my head yet, so it seemed perfectly normal to me. My father had a moustache and Aunt May had a moustache. Cars had tires, and houses had walls.
One horrible day, as Aunt May sat in her recliner, concealed from view of the kitchen as I sat on the couch near the front door, there was suddenly a crash in the kitchen. The backdoor entered into the kitchen, and I will never forget the fear that fell over this old woman’s face. Someone had broken in through the back door.
She and I hid in the living room, cowering in the corner behind her chair. I don’t believe she ever called the police (she didn’t have a phone), or did anything about it, but my memory of that ordeal is vague. I recall only the noise, the unmistakable terror in her eyes that I was able to recognize even at four years old, and the hiding.
Because she was very old, it simply wasn’t possible for Aunt May to always babysit me, and I had another sitter called Kay-Kay—a hefty, middle-aged woman who seemed to be doing pretty well in life. She had a house, at least, which I recognized to mean that she was okay—we lived in a trailer, and most of the people we knew lived in a trailer. Living in a house… That was a grand thing to me. I didn’t mind that we lived in a trailer, and I was much too young to know that being the child of two fast-food workers (even if they were supervisors) who raised Confederate flags, shot up heroin, and ate Xanax made me the definitive example of “trailer trash,” but I knew that it was a great thing to have a house.
Kay-Kay was an ordinary woman, and there was much going on beneath the surface that most people never saw. As I sat in one of her bedrooms, playing a video game, there was suddenly a banging on the door and people shouting, demanding to be allowed inside and promising that, if Kay-Kay refused, they would tear the house down.
Although I was shocked and scared at first, Kay-Kay put my fears to rest by handling it expertly. She answered in an almost aloof way, as though she had no concern about it. Even as they banged and screamed, I was unafraid, because Kay-Kay didn’t appear to take it seriously. After a minute or so, the banging stopped, and then the rhythmic pounding echoed through her home, coming from somewhere in the back.
“They’re going to tear the house down!” I shouted to Kay-Kay, scared once more. In my head, I had the image of two enormous, burly, and angry men outside with huge hammers, smashing away the bricks and crashing through the walls.
“Oh, no, they’re not, sweetie,” came Kay-Kay’s reply as she dropped to a knee and hugged me. “They’re just mad. They’ll get over it and leave in a few minutes.”
Sure enough, Kay-Kay was right: they did leave shortly thereafter. In actuality, they probably just had given up on the front door and gone to try the back door. Finding it locked, they banged and shouted some more, and then left. I never learned what it was about, and Kay-Kay asked me not to mention it to my parents, which made sense: that isn’t the sort of thing a mother wants happening at the selected babysitter’s home. I didn’t stay quiet, though, and that was the last time Kay-Kay ever babysat me. It was also the last time that I saw her.
The Rise of Tumult
There was a “friend of the family” called Doc, and I liked him a lot. Everyone liked Doc—he was a friendly, charismatic person. Being my parents’ friend, he was heavily on drugs, but Doc was also in a motorcycle gang, which created a problem, because shooting up was explicitly against the gang’s laws. Just to be clear here: this is the world I grew up in. This was normal to my three-year-old self. On any given day, I was likely to see one or both of my parents shoot up heroin with a buddy who was in a motorcycle gang, smoke a joint or two, and collapse onto the couch in a stupor and droning out “Yeah…” to no one.
I watched my mother, laid out on the loveseat, look to my father on the other side of the living room. She held up, toward my father, a syringe full of some red liquid, and then she asked in a seductive voice, “John, do you want some of this?” And as she spoke, she pressed in the syringe and sent a jet stream of this stuff—whatever it was—flying across the living room. They were both out of their minds, just high as hell.
Disheveled, frantic, panicked, and terrified, Doc stopped by our trailer and wanted to sell my father a half-pound of weed for fifty bucks. My father had twenty dollars he could pay. Knowing my father, it’s amazing that he had any money, but he did, and he explained to Doc what he had.
Doc in turn explained that he had to get out of town. “Had to,” he said, and my father understood what that meant. The gang somehow learned that Doc was shooting up, so Doc had to get out of town before they found him and forced him to run “The Gauntlet.” Because, apparently, that actually happens. My father bought the weed, and Doc fled, but it was to no avail, and he was later found dead.
We frequently drove north to visit my Aunt Diane and Uncle Danny (the man who would later go to prison for murder and, in all likelihood, killed my mother, though there is no body or evidence), as well as our cousins. One of these trips proved to be one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood.
As Brandi and I rode with dad in his yellow truck, in a secluded area where the road was surrounded by steep ditches that spelled death for anyone who lost control and went over, a truck driver decided to pass us. The trucker blew his horn a few times, and then he went for it. As he passed, he veered to the right—or dad swerved to the left. The enormous side view mirror of the rig crashed through the window beside dad and sent a spray of glass shards through the cab of our truck. Luckily, neither my sister nor I sustained any injuries.
The fault was probably my father’s (driving under the influence of one drug or another), but the reason officially given was that the highway wasn’t wide enough to pass. This excuse came much later in the day, after the trip got significantly worse.
We passed through Memphis as we traveled, and came upon an intersection. Not paying attention, I couldn’t tell you exactly how it happened, but there was shaking and noise. We rear-ended another vehicle. It’s possible that my father didn’t stop quickly enough, and it’s possible that he pressed the gas too hard and too quickly after the light turned green. Regardless, we hit the vehicle hard and sent it careening into the intersection. Reportedly, it traveled fifty feet from the impact.
The woman driving that car died on the spot with a broken neck.
Someone obviously called the police, and they arrested my father. The police placed Brandi and me in the back of the police car with him, which made us feel as though we were also being arrested, and that is terrifying when you’re four or five years old and have no comprehension of what is going on. As though we were playing out a scene in a movie, the very same trucker who had hit us earlier happened upon the accident, and presumably told the police that dad was driving erratically. The next thing I knew, the trucker was banging on the glass beside me, shouting obscenities at us—not just at our dad, but honestly at the five-year-old children, too. I was terrified, confused, and frightened out of my mind, and it didn’t help that dad, with his hands cuffed behind his back, was frothing at the mouth, rocking the police car, and demanding to be let out so that he could fight the truck driver.
My sister and I were taken to the hospital, and police, doctors, and therapists repeatedly questioned us about the accidents. We were separated from our father, but also from each other, and that made the experience more traumatic than it had to be. We were finally told that we would be going into the care of Aunt Diane and Uncle Danny briefly, and they were the ones who picked us up from the hospital. My grandmother acquired a good lawyer for my father, and he was able to go to rehabilitation rather than prison, or something to that effect.
For a long time, my nerves were absolutely shot, and it was nearly impossible to get me into a vehicle, which is probably the normal response of a four year old child after being in two accidents in a single day, one of which resulted in a death, all because the parents didn’t mind driving after eating a bunch of pills. Naturally, their solution was to shove pills down my throat, giving me what they called “nerve pills” that were probably Xanax or Klonopin. This was the only way to get me into an automobile for several months after the accidents, because otherwise I would scream and throw fits. Eventually the anxiety faded, but knocking me out with drugs was the only way to get me into a car for a while.
Things returned to what we considered normal, though that isn’t to say that either of my parents stopped doing drugs. I doubt either parent was clean for any notable period, and they continued inviting friends over. These parties, while they were more or less tame and consisted of people drinking, doing drugs, and playing spades, would not constitute “normal” for most kids.
On one such occasion, one of the people with whom they were hanging out decided that it would be a brilliant idea to inject peanut butter. Presumably, he’d heard that “The high is incredible, man!” and wasn’t much interested in maybe asking a doctor before doing something so horrendously and creatively stupid. According to my father—who is a known pathological liar, it’s worth remembering—the man died on the spot, so they took him home and left him on his couch, dead. I have no memory of this, but it allegedly happened sometime around my fifth birthday.
I started kindergarten, and I loathed it. Up until that point, my life was fantastic. I could wake up whenever I wanted, spend the entire day watching cartoons and playing videogames, snacking whenever I desired, and just doing anything I pleased. Then suddenly I couldn’t do that any longer; I had to wake up at a specific time, go spend the entire day in a boring school, and then only had a few hours afterward to do the things that I enjoyed doing. As early as kindergarten, it struck me as absurd: if the point of life is to be happy, as everyone constantly insisted to me, then why did I have to go to school?
We were poor—dirt poor, as you might expect, given the heavy drug usage. Although both parents were managers at various fast food restaurants at times, my mother eventually quit working altogether and got onto disability for her migraines. It was with tremendous excitement that we were approved for food stamps, and we waited for weeks with palpable eagerness in the air, though I had no idea what it even meant. There are two times that I distinctly recall the entire family waiting anxiously for something to happen, and the anticipation was identical on both occasions; we waited for food stamps and we waited for our cable to be activated with the same sense of impending thrill, as did I, even though I had no understanding of what either meant.
Being approved for food stamps felt like having a birthday, and so did the cable company finally coming out, after weeks of waiting, to connect our cable television. While I understood that having cable meant that we would have Nickelodeon, there was no way that I understood the concept of food stamps, so my excitement was surely nothing more than a mirror of my parents’ own eager anticipations. It was just months after this that I began school, and that mom became convinced that dad was not really working, that he was only disappearing while he was supposed to be at work.
It was a school day when it happened, because we were supposed to be in class, but mom kept us at home. My much older brother, my slightly older sister, and I were told that we were leaving dad, and I’m sure I handled that as well as any six year old child would, which is to say with naked emotion untempered by the jaded self-control we are taught to exercise in later years. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I was devastated nonetheless. First, the life I had come to know and love was wrecked by having to go to school, and then what little semblance of it remained was being irretrievably shattered by this upheaval. I spent the entire day in tears, as did my sister. Whatever was going on between our parents had nothing to do with us, and our lives were being cast into the hurricane because of it.
Too young to truly understand what was really going on, my primary concern was whether to leave my father “the good Nintendo” or the bad one. They both worked, but one of them was much more difficult to get working. Both my dad and I were big on video games, and so was my older brother, and even my mom and sister played occasionally. There were lots of family moments when we all took turns, and we even had a device that allowed four controllers to be used.
I agonized over that decision far more than a six year old should, and my mom didn’t give the situation nearly as much attention as it deserved. My entire world, prior to school, consisted almost entirely of playing video games. That I even debated which one to leave was a tremendous indicator of how much I loved my father, how much I didn’t want to leave, and, above all, how poorly equipped I was to cope with the chaos I suddenly was confronting. Mom was tearing our family apart, breaking it into two pieces, and she never sat down with my sister and me to explain what was happening, to assure us that we’d still see our dad, or to promise us that it would be okay. While to some extent that’s understandable, since she had to pack and load things up, the utter failure to remember that she was literally wrecking her youngest kids’ lives is very difficult to excuse.
To make matters worse, she was cowardly about it, too, because all of this happened while my father was at work. We lived in a trailer on my grandfather’s land, and it’s very likely that my grandfather was the one who alerted my father to the moving truck that was at his home. However, seeing as my grandfather later offered to shoot my mother for my dad, I doubt he would have showed the restraint simply to inform my dad of what was happening.
Regardless, dad pulled up while we were finishing and preparing to leave. The next little bit is a blur of anger, hostility, and shouting from which I am able to pull very few details. In a flash, dad went from anger to pleading, but mom refused to listen; her mind was made up, and she cranked the car, put it into gear, and hit the gas. Dad 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 mom shouted at us to stop yelling. I gazed out of the back window at my father as we drove away, and there he was, lying unmoving in the grass, and all I could think was the horrible thought, “Dad is dead.”
There in the back of the car, crying quietly, having just watched my father die from being hit by a car, I sat at the age of six years old, being shouted at by my mom to shut up because I freaked out when I saw her kill my dad.
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One of the people who has greatly influenced me said that to me once–actually, he said it several times. It didn’t take much introspection for me to realize that he’s absolutely correct: emotions are internal things. They are internal reactions to external stimuli. While we lack control over the external stimuli, we have full and total control over our reactions, and we are not at the mercy of our emotions.
How many times have we heard something like, “That makes me so angry,” or, “You make me so sad”? I’m sure we’ve all uttered similar phrases, and I know that I have, yet the truth is that these statements are incorrect. It would be correct to say, “I react angrily to that,” and, “I react sadly to you.”
Saying something or someone “makes us” feel an emotion is a convenient way of pretending like we’re victims, and an insidious method of passing the blame from oneself to the external stimuli. “You make me angry,” after all, is a statement that carries some kind of implication of wrongdoing–the person is doing something they shouldn’t be. This usually results in a misguided apology: “I’m sorry [for making you angry].”
In fact, just moments ago I sent an email to a colleague about how a cop parked beside me made me nervous. In the email, I corrected myself: “I react nervously to the external stimulus of a police officer nearby.”
Because the cop didn’t make me nervous. I’m fully aware of what the police are: they are footsoldiers of the state, its lowest level enforcers. They are pirates and thugs who inflict their violence and evil openly, and nothing more than that. Yet despite all their immoral power, they cannot make me nervous, because they cannot determine my internal reactions. Through all their aggression, theft, malevolence, hatred, and murder, they cannot make me feel anything.
Believe it or not, I’m going somewhere with this, and I’m going to show many ways that this manifests and, often, contributes to the Victim Complex dominating western society. I like looking for underlying causes, and this is certainly one; the misattribution of internal emotions to others obviously has ties to the Victim Complex. Instead of properly taking responsibility for how one feels, it is blamed on others, and it is demanded that others change their behavior, instead of the “victim” changing themselves.
Over the weekend, I read this:
This is curious for a number of reasons. First, there’s nothing “annoying” about being trans. Whether one feels annoyance over something is internal. It would be more accurate to have simply stated, “I’m annoyed.” Nothing can make her annoyed, after all. That’s an internal feeling, and she controls it. Or, at least, she should, rather than letting it control her.
Next, she assumes that she knows how others feel. And what do they feel? The need to compliment trans people so that trans people feel validated. Good god, it’s such a mess of confusion, arrogance, and presumed omniscience.
How does she know that other people “feel the need” to compliment her appearance? Perhaps it’s just a “want.” While it’s obviously one or the other, since sans aggression people always do things they either want or need, it’s quite presumptuous to assume that others need to compliment her appearance. Notice, however, that she didn’t say that; she said “feel the need,” because it’s too easy to be called out saying, “…people need to compliment your appearance…”
It’s simply a euphemism that masks the presumptuous nature of the statement. If she’d said “need” instead of “feel the need,” I daresay she’d have gotten much less support. Regardless, she claims to know what others feel, and what they feel is “need.” How does she know this? Has anyone ever told her, “I feel the need to validate you by complimenting your appearance”? Bloody unlikely, but possible.
She doesn’t stop there with her omniscient assumptions, though. She goes even further and asserts that what they feel is the need to make her feel validated. So she knows what they feel, she knows what they need, and she knows what they want to “make” her feel. Quite a powerful bit of mind reading, and all based on the errant idea that one can make another feel anything at all.
It’s curious that she’s assumed others want her to feel validated, a sentiment she implicitly rejects; she didn’t say it, but what is “incredibly obvious” is that she rejects the notion that she needs validation from compliments. This rejection causes her to reject the compliment.
What Does She Want?
I’ve recently come face-to-face with the SJWs who have invaded libertarianism, and this is clearly one of them. The overall sentiment of her message is that she’s offended by compliments. Of course, that’s not quite the case. She assumes that she knows why people are complimenting her (attributing emotional needs to them in the process), and what she is annoyed/offended by is not the compliment, but all the things she has assumed about the person giving the compliment.
She’s not necessarily offended by being complimented. She’s offended when those compliments are given by needy people who want her to feel validated by the compliment. How does she know this is what they want? Either she has the gift of telepathy or she doesn’t know, and I don’t believe in telepathy. So she will assume this or not by whatever arbitrary internal reactions she has; if the mood strikes her, she assumes you’re a well-intentioned person motivated by the need to make her feel validated. Maybe sometimes it’s “just a compliment,” but we can’t say. In fact, only she can say when she chooses to interpret a compliment as a kind gesture and when she chooses to interpret it as a well-intentioned person fulfilling their own emotional needs. After all, it is her interpretation.
This would be fine, really, if she understood that it was solely upon her how she took the compliment. Even if the person meant it in such a way, it’s still solely upon her whether she accepts it as anything more than a nice word, and still solely upon her whether she reacts with annoyance.
This is the essence of the SJW, though. If you tell her she’s ugly, she’ll be offended. If you say she looks like a boy, she’ll be offended. If you say she is mentally ill, she’ll be offended. If you say she looks pretty, she’ll be offended.
Being perpetually offended is not a skill.
Having been dealt a hand in life that didn’t allow me the luxury of feeling sorry for myself by painting myself as a victim of actual fucking kindness, I have never seen much point in being offended.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s a “thing” to compliment trans people. I’ve experienced that countless times. Whether such people want me to feel validated or what, I don’t know. I’m not Jesus Christ. I have never asked what they want, even when they say things like “…in my experience, trans people could use a compliment…”
Who doesn’t appreciate a compliment?
I could assume his motive was simply to make me feel validated, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case. When men compliment other women, is it an attempt to make the woman feel validated? And here we’re getting to it, aren’t we? The answer is usually “No.” Often, it’s to make the woman feel better after having a bad day, reminding one’s wife that she’s beautiful, making her smile, or any number of reasons that have nothing to do with validation.
And that’s just it; that’s precisely it. “I’m trans, so if you compliment me, I’m going to interpret as you feeling the need to validate me, and that’s offensive.”
Her words suggest that she’d like to simply have no one speak of her appearance at all. You can’t tell her she’s ugly; you can’t tell her she’s pretty. It puts anyone interacting with her into a lose/lose situation–no matter what, she’s going to be offended. I would venture the assumption that she would say that she wants to be treated as any other woman, but that can’t be the case–you are allowed to compliment a woman’s appearance without it being interpreted as an attempt to validate her.
She doesn’t want equality. Like so many of the SJWs, she pays lip service to equality, but what she actually wants is special treatment–you aren’t even allowed to compliment her. She *sigh* wants to be treated like a special snowflake, handled with kiddy gloves, such that even complimenting her makes her into a victim.
And if she reads this, she’s surely unfriended me by now. It doesn’t matter; I warned people Saturday morning that I was no longer going to just ignore posts like that. It’s so blatantly wrong.
We are not victims, and we don’t have to choose to be victims. No one has the power to make you feel anything, and no one has the power to make you a victim. You’re only a victim if you choose to be. Until you give in, you’re a fighter, not a victim.
Take control of your emotions and recognize them as internal reactions that you control, and that no one else can control. Self-ownership includes one’s emotions. Don’t surrender them. We’re not pathetic animals controlled completely by emotional impulses that we can’t affect. We can affect them; they’re our emotions, and no one else’s.
After sharing my previous article to an Anarchist, Voluntaryist, and Libertarian page on Facebook–not something I do often; in fact, this was only the second time in a year that I’ve done so–the very first comment was, predictably, that no one cares about my mental illness. Right, because that is a conversation transgender people aren’t sick of having. And it’s extremely common. With almost every video, every post, every article around the Internet that is from a transgender author about transgender things, there is very likely to be some asshat who thinks that he, and only he–because, sorry, I have yet to come across a female doing this–understands that gender is binary, transgender people are insane, and being transgender undermines everything else you have to say because you’re insane. Remembering now that I posted this to a closed group of like-minded people, I found myself having to point out that there is no such thing as a “legitimate reason” for kidnapping, sexual assault, theft, or ransom.
I was also called a “transgender fascist” because of my desire to force the state to accept my right to define myself and to identify myself. This, in the mind of the confused person who is so terrified that I’m going to force my beliefs onto them that they are eager to force theirs onto me, is nothing short of fascism. It’s a remarkable disconnect, and showcases just how warped a person’s brain can get when they hold reverence to dogmatic values and insist they aren’t arbitrary. I once stated that sex was a binary thing–I was mistaken. Sex has never been a binary thing; we simply treated it as one. Initially, we understood sex as XX and XY chromosomes, but more recent developments have revealed how horrifically inaccurate that was, and that the reality is that every cell in a person’s body has a sex, and they’re not all the same. This literally means that, far from being a binary matter, sex is an infinitely fluid matter, ranging from 0.0000001% male to 0.0000001% female.
If we look at these three shades of blue and just say they’re all “blue,” and then spend decades treating them all the same, does that really mean that there’s only one blue? No. It just means we were short-sighted, overly eager to simplify, and mistaken.
And, as we’ve learned more recently as our technology advances and we peer deeper into cells, genes, and chromosomes, what looked like a single shade of blue when we stood back seventy feet from the television and looked at little boxes actually turned out to be totally different shades when we got up close and examined them. So yes, I was again wrong; sex is not a binary thing and has never been a binary thing. So to be so beholden to the idea of sex as a binary concept when all scientific evidence disputes that idea is the very definition of dogma, especially since what we’re talking about is evidently an arbitrary human construct of generalities and oversimplifications. I would call dogmatic loyalty to an artificial construct so severe that it causes one to utterly lose the ability to empathize with another human being the “mental illness,” if we really want to talk mental illness.
Of course, it was brought up that “gender dysphoria” is classified as a mental illness. This is true. And I pointed out, though I can’t find the source, the AMA has gone on record stating that they did this in order to ensure that transgender people’s medicines, hormones, and surgeries were deemed “necessary” rather than “cosmetic.” It’s rather like how some dental plans won’t give you a full set of dentures because it’s deemed cosmetic, and will instead cover only partial sets. That rift between “cosmetic” and “necessary” is a big deal, and while I appreciate their reason for doing it, people who have chosen to treat it like the holy grail of definitive medicine–even as they dispute numerous other diagnoses in its pages (“Addiction isn’t a disease! They’re so wrong about that! Addiction is a choice! But gender dysphoria? No, they’re right! You’re insane, because they said so! Because ‘mental illness’ obviously means ‘full-blown insanity!'”)–end up causing transgender people in the real world no end of headaches.
When I pointed out to this person that gender dysphoria is the disease and “being transgender” is the cure, he replied, “They’re the same thing.”
It’s frustrating, because, as I said, this is a conversation that any transgender person has had countless times. Almost any time the subject is brought up, there’s at least one fuckwad who does this, and it’s always hard to ignore. It’s hard to ignore someone sitting there and calling you insane because they don’t have any understanding of things that are pretty easy to Google. But even if we don’t reply–and for the most part, I didn’t, because a wonderful other person took up the cause for me–it still stings. How could it not? It’s like a white kid being told he’s insane because he likes rap, or a guy being told he’s insane because he’s gay.
More to the point, the basic issue is his inability to understand that this interaction between transgender people and the state… doesn’t impact him in any way. If I fight the state, succeed, and force the state of Mississippi and its police officers to recognize people as the gender they identify as, this does absolutely nothing to force this random person to accept my definitions or gender identity–unless he is one of the police officers in question.
This gets into messy territory, doesn’t it? Do I have the right to force the state to recognize my gender identity?
See, that’s the wrong question, and it reveals how skewed this discussion even is. The actual question is: Does the state have the right to dictate my gender? Does any state employee have the right to say whether I am male or female, and to treat me accordingly? This is the real heart of the question, and the answer is obviously “No.” If state employees could do this, then an officer could tell any woman he arrested, “No, you’re a male. Now get naked. It’s time for a strip search, dude.” According to this guy who thinks I shouldn’t be able to prevent the state from forcing its definitions onto me, this would be totally acceptable. The state defines me, regardless of what I say, and to this Voluntaryist, Anarchist, or Libertarian, that’s totally okay–because the state’s definitions are the same as his definitions. But no, that’s not bias or hypocrisy. It’s just a happy coincidence that it happens to be his definitions that the state is forcing onto people.
By treating me as a male, the state is forcing their definition of genders and sexes onto me. My telling them, “No, you can’t do that. You have to treat me as the gender that I am, not the one you say that I am,” is defense, not offense. It would not be an issue if the state was not attempting to force their definition onto me. But they are, and they did. When I say that I’m a female, absolutely no one has the right to dictate over me as though I’m male. This random person can use whatever definitions he wants and believes me to be whatever he wants, but he has no authority to dictate over me, no ability to impact my life unless I allow him to. If he wants to insist that I’m a male, that’s his right, and it’s my right to call him a bigoted, ignorant idiot and stop having anything to do with him.
See? That’s the difference. I can’t just “stop having anything to do with” the state or the police.
This is the state we’re talking about. I’m not talking about this random dipshit on Facebook. If he wants to treat me as a male, fine. I don’t care. If he says “Turn around and drop your pants,” I don’t have to obey him. And if he pulls a gun on me, I can pull one back out on him. If he attempts to rape me, I can fight back without risking getting beaten to death by fifteen freaking people. He has no authority to trap me in a windowless concrete box with the steel door shut and command me to drop my panties. So I don’t give a flying fuck what he thinks.
Whether we like it or not–and I don’t like it–the state does have authority. It’s stolen authority, it’s immoral authority, and it’s disgusting authority, but the reality is that they have it. In a moral world, it wouldn’t have been an issue because no one could have kidnapped me and held me for ransom at gunpoint yesterday. In a moral world, it wouldn’t be an issue, because someone wouldn’t have a badge giving them the authority to coerce me into doing a strip tease. Without a state, these wouldn’t be issues at all. Fighting against the state’s attempts to define me as a male in full disregard of my own wishes, physiology, preferences, and identity is reactionary–by definition–but it is also necessary, defensive, and justified. It is the equivalent of shooting an armed burglar who has broken into your home. By kidnapping me at gunpoint and coercing me with the power of the badge to do a striptease, the officers roundly violated my rights as a human being. I should not have to explain this to anyone who claims to be a Voluntaryist, Anarchist, or Libertarian.
“What perceived rights do you think were violated?” someone asked.
Well, that’s an interesting question. All the more interesting because it came in this same group of people who are supposed to understand these things. I guarantee you that when the Constitution was written, the American Founders didn’t intend “forcing a prisoner to do a strip tease” to be any sort of reasonable search.
I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone that a male officer forcing a woman prisoner to do a striptease while she’s being processed for a misdemeanor traffic violation and waiting on the paperwork to be completed so that she can leave is a full and total violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. I don’t give a SHIT what the Supreme Court has ruled about it. Besides all of that, this person has completely missed the point–a few other people have totally missed the point as well.
It’s not about whether the strip search can be justified. It probably can’t, and I’ve now spoken with nine other people who have been through this jail–in fact, I’ve been there twice and this is the first time I was strip searched–and none of them were strip-searched, including several people who actually were in custody for a few days. You can’t hide behind “Standard Operating Procedure” when I can present a list of a dozen people who passed through that very jail for the very same charge in the very same circumstances and were not forced to do a strip tease. You simply can’t, because the evidence is against you. If you attempt to play that card, you are being a statist apologist. I can point you to these people right now, my own sister among them. She’s been to that jail twice. She was only patted down on both occasions. You’d better believe I’m compiling a list of names of people who will swear before a grand jury that they weren’t strip searched.
What it’s actually about, though, is related to the above–the fact that I was strip-searched because I was transgender by a cop who abused the authority of his badge to sate his curiosity. That’s the allegation–one of them. Because that’s clearly what happened. I know females who weren’t strip-searched, I know males who weren’t strip-searched, and I’ve now been in that jail three times–once when I was 17, once for 3 days when I was 19, and yesterday. Only on one of these occasions was I strip-searched, and only on one of these occasions “was I transgender.” Holy crap, the evidence is overwhelmingly against Tate County and the officer in question.
Furthermore, there is the fact that I’m transgender. And while this will be the messiest part, and will inevitably land before a federal appeals court, I have full confidence that it is a legal battle that I will ultimately win. A long-time friend asked me today, “If you found a competent lawyer, and Tate County offered you $10,000 to settle, what would you do?” It was a question of such profound ignorance that I didn’t know where to begin.
Dude, you think this is about money? Me? The quasi-Buddhist? The chick who shuns materialism? You think I’m motivated by money?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be fighting for money, because that’s all they can offer. They can’t undo what they did, and they can’t fix what they did. Will ten grand be enough to satisfy me? Not by a fucking long shot. The real answer to that question is that I will do whatever my attorney suggests that I do. What the hell? How can he be that unfamiliar with litigation? The attorney would advise me whether or not to accept the settlement. I don’t even understand how someone can ask me such a question barely 12 hours after the incident even occurred.
Beyond that, I do have a goal. Not just for Tate County, but for the state of Mississippi to institute a policy regarding transgender people that is identical to the city of Seattle’s: that all transgender people will be recognized and treated as the gender they identify as. That is what I want. That is my goal. If they don’t give me that, then absolutely no amount of money will appease me. They could offer me ten trillion dollars and I would not take a penny of it if they will not adopt that policy.
If I hadn’t been bailed out last night, do you know what would have happened? I have to wonder if these people have given this sufficient thought. If I had been forced to spend the night–or a few days or weeks–in jail, I would have been tossed into a men’s cell block–panties, makeup, bra, boobs, curves, and all. This happens. In fact, looking into this issue makes me enraged that people are discussing bathrooms, because I read about a transgender woman who served a prison sentence in a men’s block, where she was reportedly raped more than two thousand times. And what are we discussing?
It’s true that there is much less rape in county jails, but this isn’t to say there is none, and my friend’s attempt to assuage me by saying there is “very little risk” of being raped in a county jail is nothing short of sociopathic. “It’s fine. There’s only a 0.2% chance that you would have been raped, so what’s the big deal?” It’s a mark of how fucking ridiculous this entire conversation is that someone would even say such a thing. I tried pointing out to him that he would never say that about his sister, his wife, one of his daughters, or even any female friend of his, and that the only reason he’s saying it to me is that I’m transgender. It stems from more of that “You’re not really a woman” stuff that pervades more of their thought processes than such people understand.
He infuriated me in his attempt to play the devil’s advocate, because there was just so much wrong with it. For one, the event, as of right now, happened barely more than 24 hours ago. This shit just happened. I was just sexually assaulted. Yesterday. I was just forced to do a strip-tease by a male cop against my will. 24 hours ago. No ordinary or reasonable human being would ever say, “But what harm was really done?” to someone in such a situation, much less when not even a full day had passed since it happened. He got pissed off when I replied that he was being borderline sociopathic, but I absolutely stand by that assessment. Actually, I’d say psychopathic to stand by the assessment.
No judge, jury, prosecutor, defendant, or attorney in their right fucking mind would ever dare ask a sexual assault victim what “demonstrable damages” were done. That is a question of such extraordinary offensiveness that I informed him bluntly that I would henceforth not discuss the litigation or my transgenderism with him again. Because of that line of questions, he has all but been thrown from my life. These are not questions that any jury would ask. They are questions that Charles Manson would ask. They are questions that the desperate pedophile on trial for child pornography would ask: “But, Your Honor, what harm was there really? I only downloaded the pictures. I didn’t perform any of the acts or take any of the pictures!”
It is unbridled madness to even ask such a thing. There’s being a devil’s advocate, and there’s being an absolute dick. No woman in any modern American court–transgender or otherwise–would have to explain to any sane juror the harm of being forced to do a strip-tease by a male cop. And I told him that if he was to ask anyone the same questions that he asked me, his wife would divorce him, his sister would never speak to him again, and he’d find that everyone thought he was a psychopath. It’s like asking a rape victim, “But you didn’t get pregnant and it was over quickly, so there weren’t really any damages, were there?”
It’s sexual assault. The very act itself causes damage. That’s why we outlawed it.
I didn’t mean to get into all this, but it’s been a full day as I’ve learned who my friends are and who my friends aren’t. It’s been a devastating day. Before I began writing this, I lied in my bed, cuddled with my cat, and cried. I did that for about an hour, and then I forced myself to get up, because I’m not a crier. I won’t lie down and cry–at least not for long. I will fight. I will fight against anyone and everyone who stands in my way. It’s more “You’re not really a woman, though” bullshit.
Because it would unequivocally be sexual assault if a male officer did this to a natural-born female, and even this “devil’s advocate” wouldn’t challenge that. Even asking such a thing is a tentative admission that he doesn’t consider me a female–just a guy wearing women’s clothes. Because I refuse to believe that any sane person could imagine their sister or wife or other female friend in a closed cell with a cop being forced to do a strip-tease and somehow dispute whether or not it counted as sexual assault and whether or not that entailed damages. And naturally when I got pissed off, he pulled the “You’re too emotional to talk about this” card.
You’re goddamned right, you fucking dick, and your bigotry and borderline psychopathy are the fucking reasons why. If your wife came out of this situation and was looking into attorneys and you asked her about “demonstrable damages,” she would divorce your ass. It’s understood, by the act itself.
The Senatobia cop who was both polite and professional, I didn’t care if he referred to me as a male, or called me “dude” or anything else. I didn’t tell him that I’m transgender because I insisted that he call me “ma’am,” although he did. I told him because I wanted him to know in case it became relevant. It’s just like I don’t care if my friends occasionally call me “him,” or if clients think I’m a guy. Their opinions don’t matter to me, and their misgendering me isn’t a concern, because it’s best for everyone involved if they do misgender me.
But it matters when people have authority over you. Holy fuck, does it matter when you’re being forced to do a strip-tease for a curious male cop and facing the prospect of being thrown into the men’s cell block. Despite this “I’m such a devil’s advocate I’m almost a psychopath”‘s assurances, it is not true that “everyone” is in there awaiting DUI trials. I’ve been in county jails before. There are some people waiting on murder trials, some waiting on rape trials, some waiting on drug trials. Some of these people face 25 years. Some face life.
And American prison and jail systems have a long fucking history of placing gay men in cell blocks where they know the men will be raped, only to then say, “You must have been asking for it.” This guy had the audacity to say to me, “They wouldn’t want to add on a rape charge to their jail sentence.”
Dude, how many occurrences of prison and jail rape do you think result in charges? It’s been a long time since I looked at the numbers, but the last I checked it was like 5.7% or something along those lines. It would have been my word against the rapist’s. The rapist would have insisted that I consented to it, and I would have obviously disputed that. It’s a profound ignorance about not just male-on-male rape and prison rape but rape in general. The rape culture hysteria is certainly overblown, but we do have a problem with police officers putting forward and accepting the rationale that “she was asking for it” and “she actually wanted it.” This problem is particularly prevalent with male-on-male rape and prison rape.
One of the main reasons that most men don’t report it when they are raped is the psychological damage of it. Through no desire or enjoyment on the rape victim’s part, his penis will become erect–at least semi-erect–from stimulation of the prostate. It is well-known that rapists use this to their advantage, saying things like, “Yeah, you know you like it–that’s why you’re getting hard.” And you don’t think this ignorant ass officer who forced me to do a strip tease for him would say, “Well, her penis got hard, so clearly she enjoyed it, and she wouldn’t have enjoyed it if it had been rape”? How insulated in a bubble can a person be?
Last night, the state forced its binary, unscientific, and inapplicable definition of “male” onto me, despite my protests and explicit statements otherwise. Realistically, at the very moment I told the officer that I’m a transgender female, it could damned well have meant that I have a vagina. This has to be considered–the officer had no idea what type of transsexual I am, and didn’t ask. Rather than ask, he forced me to do a strip-tease to find out.
For the most part, it’s just so not important what people call me. I call myself the Anarchist Shemale. Almost all of my clients call me “he,” and a few of my friends still call me by my old name. It’s so meaningless to me. These transsexual and transgender people who get up in arms–“Did you just assume my gender?! Did you just misgender me?!”–they are undermining the actual problems out there. Those things are irrelevant. They are issues created by people who have never truly suffered. One of the greatest revelations for me in the last few months was that the Dunning-Kruger Effect applies very much to a person’s understanding of what suffering is. I don’t blame them for that. I applaud them. Congratulations–they have lived lives of such ease and comfort that some random person at a store calling them by the wrong pronoun is an offense and losing an election is traumatic. I don’t care what this asshole on Facebook wants to call me, or if he wants to label me as a male. It makes no difference to me. It’s tedious and exhausting, but I don’t care.
I’m not and will never fight to force Random Joe to call me a female. In fact, I have a long record of fighting for the right of Random Joe to exercise all of his rights, including the right to hate me and disassociate from me.
So anyone who accuses me of trying to force other people to accept my gender identity is either not listening, not paying attention, or purposefully misunderstanding me. In his overzealousness to prevent me from forcing him to accept my gender identity, he becomes okay with the state forcing me to accept his and their gender definitions. I’m not trying to force him to accept my gender identity. I’m trying to stop him from forcing his definitions onto me. And I hate myself for even saying this, but his inability to understand that difference is the very essence of the whole “privilege” thing.
When you’re that accustomed to forcing your way onto everyone else, it does seem like someone forcing their way onto you when they stop you from forcing your way onto them. This doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there trying to force their way onto them–there are. Lots of them. There are lots of transsexual and transgender people who think it should be totally illegal to call a transgender person by the “wrong” pronoun. I’m not among them, and any idiot who reads anything I write would quickly realize that. It was outright stated in the fucking initial article about this.
I refused to vote for Gary Johnson, and my primary reason for that was precisely that he wouldn’t allow religious people the right to conduct business in accordance with their religious beliefs. This is a message to all those fucking idiots who don’t understand simple concepts. I have been fighting this fucking battle for the right of people to discriminate against me for years, and I have the record to prove it. To all those people, I have stood by their rights for years, even when it actively harmed me and went against my own direct interests, and I will continue doing so. Now it’s time for those people to shut the fuck up and stand beside me like I stood beside them. I’m not asking them to accept me. I’m asking them to help protect me from the goddamned state, just like I fought to protect them from the state.
I apologize for how this next paragraph is written, but there was no other way to convey it in written words.
I also learned from this experience how seriously damaging it is to be transgender–to be struggling to be transgender because more than 5/6 of your life was stolen from you and you’re fighting against every single day you’ve lived past puberty without the correct hormones coursing through your body… To already be struggling everyday with doubts about “Am I feminine enough?” To look in the mirror at every opportunity, hoping and praying to see yourself more feminine, more how you should be, more how you want to be… To already struggle so much with day-to-day life as a transgender person, not to mention all the other stuff, the family stuff, the parasitism, the economic and financial struggles, the struggles to get a book published… To be depressed deep down inside and constantly in a state of mild cognitive dissonance–because I know I’m not as feminine as I want to be, that I’m not as passable as I must be… And then to have an authority figure slap you back down viciously, rebuke you firmly, and state that no, you are not female, so turn around and drop your pants.
It’s always painful to look in the mirror and not see what I want to see, to have the fear constantly nagging in the back of my mind that maybe I’ll never see what I want to see, that maybe it’s too late, maybe there’s no hope. To then have long-time friends reveal that they consider me a guy in women’s clothes–even if they don’t have the balls to outright say it… That’s painful. And to have an authority–not just any authority, but the ultimate authority, the state itself–rebuke you, spit on your efforts, spit on your life, your hopes and your dreams, and insist that you are a male whether you like it or not. Most people won’t understand. Most people can’t understand.
I’ve got a difficult choice to make, about whether I want to try to fight this battle or not–whether I can fight this battle, whether I have the emotional strength and emotional need to fight this battle. It will be messy, and it will be painful. It will certainly land in a federal appeals court.
Earlier today I was arrested for driving on a suspended license. I’m not sure how long my license has been suspended–it’s part of the $3,000 the state wants from me because it decided that I owed it that money. So today when it found out that I was going about my life in full disregard of how they wanted money from me, the state did what the state does best: it used its armed thugs to kidnap me and hold me for ransom. The fines I’m faced with aren’t major, and aren’t even really of concern. What is of concern is a much more serious matter.
I was strip-searched.
I was strip-searched by a male officer.
I was strip-searched by a male officer over a traffic misdemeanor when my bail bondsman was literally there waiting on me and after I’d already explained that I’m transgender and identify as female. For all intents and purposes, a male officer strip-searched a female prisoner today when she was arrested over a misdemeanor and while she was waiting on paperwork to be processed so she could be released.
It may seem minor. The officer didn’t touch me while I was naked, after all, but if you’ve never been there, then you couldn’t imagine. These are the police. The “Do as we say, or we beat you or shoot you” people. It’s hard to express what exactly it feels like to be told to turn around and face the wall, pull down your pants and panties, to lift up your genitals, and to stand there presenting your ass to a male officer.
Because he said so.
And if you don’t comply, he might just beat you to death.
So here’s how it happened, the events I wrote down as soon as it occurred to me a little while ago to write them down.
After being arrested by the Senatobia officer–I’m horrible with names, and even though I tried damned hard to take note of them, I don’t recall them–I was taken to the Senatobia Police Department for processing. The officer can vouch easily for my good behavior, respectfulness, and politeness. It was always “yes, sir” and “no, sir.” The officer admitted this and handcuffed me so that my hands were in front of me–in fact, they were loose enough that I could have slipped out of them if I’d wanted to. I didn’t want to, obviously, but I did tinker with them during the ride. I still had my phone, my pocket full of things; the officer had given no thought whatsoever to me as a danger, and had let me finish smoking a cigarette precisely because I was polite, well-mannered, and cooperative.
On the ride to the Senatobia Police Department, I informed this officer of the fact that I am transgender and identify as female. I pointed out that it probably wouldn’t matter since I was immediately being bailed out, but if it became important to know, he needed to know it. He asked a few questions mostly out of curiosity and, as he said later, to make sure that all of his “i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed,” a position that I completely understand. As I’ve said to all of my friends and everyone else, I’m not going to get worked up over someone using the wrong pronoun to address me, or using my old name. So I made it clear to the officer that there was no chance that I was going to make it unnecessarily difficult for him; I was just verifying that things wouldn’t get unnecessarily difficult for me.
As further evidence of how the officer considered me no threat and nothing but polite, during the processing he left me alone for long periods of times, never searched me, and only asked what I had in my pockets. I complied to the fullest extent to his offhanded query and placed all the contents of my pockets on the desk, and put my phone on silent, even though he had requested none of these things. In fact, he explicitly told me at one point that it was fine for me to look and reply to a text message. He removed the handcuffs through my stay at the Senatobia Police Department, and left me more or less to wander at my leisure through the room. Clearly, nothing about my demeanor or appearance suggested that I was remotely a threat.
Then he had to take me to the actual jail, the Tate County Jail, and again handcuffed me with my hands in front for the ride. They were even more loose this time, and as we pulled into the parking lot he remarked that my father and grandmother were already there with the bail bondsman, and that they’d beaten us to the jail. I didn’t reply, because there were too many thoughts racing through my mind. He asked if I’d heard him, and I replied that I had, but had been lost in thought. Through this ride, he listened to music and invited someone to go with him to a ball game after work. It was a relaxed ride–considering–and more evidence that I was nothing but polite and compliant.
Once inside the jail, the processing began again, and I was told to turn and face the wall, where I was patted down. This was done professionally, and was not odd in the least. The officer who had brought me there–the Senatobia Police Officer–had gone. This other male officer emptied out my pockets and patted me down while the other officer on duty, a female, helped him process the paperwork so that I could go. He then took my shoes and my belt, as well as the rest of my possessions, and placed them in a basket. He then instructed me to enter a nearby room, and I did so.
He asked something about my size–I don’t recall exactly what, but he made it clear that his intention was to get one of the jailhouse jumpsuits for me to wear. Thinking he must have overlooked the fact that the bail bondsman was there and had already been talking to both officers on duty, including the officer I was then speaking to, I said, “Is it really necessary to do all this? The bondsman is right there to get me out, and… I’m transgender. I’ve been taking hormones for months. I’ve got breasts, I’m wearing a bra and women’s underwear.”
Then he stated that no, it wouldn’t be necessary, but he would still have to search me for weapons–one would have expected this to be included in the pat-down that he had done, but more than anything there was the vibe that this was in response to my statement that I’m transgender. It may not have been, but it absolutely felt that way, and is a moot point anyway. The moment that I informed the officer I’m transgender and identify as female is the moment it became unlawful for him to search me. Regardless, he shut the large steel door, leaving just the two of us in the concrete box. “Turn around and face the wall,” he instructed, this authority figure with a gun.
I obeyed. You don’t have a choice but to obey. It’s “obey or get the shit beaten out of you.”
“Drop your pants and lift up your shirt,” he said.
I gulped, and braced myself. God only knew where this was going, but none of it felt right–obviously. So there I stood, door shut, with this officer standing behind me, with my pants down around my ankles and shirt lifted, broadcasting to him my panties and ass.
Then it got worse as he said, “Pull down your underwear and lift up your shirt.”
Again, I complied. What manner of society is this, where a man can lock you in a concrete box and command you to drop your pants and underwear to your ankles? It was humiliating, degrading, and terrifying, to stand there with my pants and panties around my ankles, effectively presenting my ass to this male officer. He instructed me to lift up my genitals. So I stood there then with my pants and panties around my ankles, one hand holding up my shirt, one hand holding my genitals out of his view, naked and presenting my ass to him.
I don’t know how long we stood like that. I was busy trying to convince myself that I was literally anywhere else and doing literally anything else. I really don’t think it was very long, but there was absolutely no reason we should have been in that situation in the first place, as I was arrested for a misdemeanor and was simply being processed, with the bondsman already waiting outside. After some period of time elapsed, the officer said “Okay, you can pull your clothes back up.”
I’m sure it seems minor. It may even seem routine. But no part of it felt routine, and I’d already been patted down and searched–one would presume that he was patting me down for weapons, after all. I identify as female. That has been the case for more than a year. I’ve got A cups, some curves, and I perpetually wear both a bra and female underwear. Because of the nuances of life in Mississippi and still being relatively early in the process, it is necessary that I still pretend to be a male some portions of the day, especially in regard to work. This is done, though, not to present myself as a male but to minimize the consequences of certain people finding out before I am able to deal with those consequences. When you’re being arrested, the consequences of not informing the police are multitudes higher than the consequences of telling them, and at that moment it became illegal for the male officer to strip search me–alone in a concrete box with the heavy steel door shut.
As soon as I told him I’m transgender, it became unlawful for a male officer to strip search me alone.
Much less make me stand there with my pants and panties at my ankles with my balls pulled up and showing him my ass.
I do believe I’m going to pursue this. I haven’t stopped shaking since the event happened, and I’m sure that it’s noticeable on the lobby camera, since we returned the lobby after this utterly pointless strip search by a male officer of the female prisoner who was arrested for a misdemeanor and whose bondsman was merely waiting on the paperwork for her to be released. Even if they could justify the strip search–which isn’t at all likely, given the circumstances–there is absolutely no justification for a male officer strip searching a female arrestee, and certainly not in that manner, certainly not in private.
I don’t like the government, and that includes when the government has things like its Civil Rights Act and all that other stuff that is supposed to help transgender people. But clearly the state of Mississippi has no transgender policy. When they entered my information into the system, I saw this second officer–the one who had performed the strip search–enter me as “male.” The prompt offered him only the choices of “male” or “female.” It is backward, and the police exist to lord power over people and hold them at their mercy. If anyone must have their feet held to the flames, it is them.
Look, I’m not talking about how society is rigged against females or anything like that when I refer to sexism as being real. In fact, the only way in which I can verify that sexism is real is that women are repeatedly told that they are being emotional. Despite repeatedly putting forth factual and logical statements, I was just again told that I was being emotional–actually, I was told that I was on an “emotional rampage.” Wow, right? So what did I say that showcased this emotional rampage?
It could, but there wouldn’t really be any benefit, while there would be terrific harm.
I’ve had a pain when breathing deeply for about two weeks. So what makes more sense?
A) For me to ask a doctor.
B) For me to establish a national poll providing a bunch of information, none of which is complete and all of which is complicated, and ask the entire nation to vote on what my treatment should be. Note that if they vote “Go see a doctor,” then they’re advocating representative democracy. No, I’m needing from them a diagnosis and treatment, and I’m going to do whatever they suggest.
It’s madness, isn’t it? Social matters aren’t simple ones. Most of these complex issues take years of study to understand. Democracy is turning the control of the ship over to the passengers, none of whom know anything about operating a ship and all of whom think “It’s just common sense” or that the gut feelings they have about this or that issue are enough to make an informed decision.
Economics is actually a pretty complex subject, but people tend to take their emotions and use those emotions to support their idea. Rather than learning about economics and how we might raise the standard of living, for example, masses of people who know nothing about economics instead vote to raise the minimum wage—a rash act based in economic ignorance that has severe consequences. It’s the Dunning-Kruger Effect Governmental System: people who know almost nothing about these complex, technical subjects instead think they know enough to dictate the course of the ship.
It’s certainly possible, and the Democrat Party seems to want it to happen (hence their party name), but it would be folly. The problems of democracy have been known and explored for thousands of years; there are very good reasons we’ve never tried it. Especially in the age of the Internet (if we could get a handle on our tech security), it wouldn’t even be that difficult from a logistic standpoint. But from a cultural and social one, it would (hopefully) be hard to sway people to give control of the ship to the passengers.
Replacing our government, whatever type it is, with one more suited to our liking is a right—the right of self-governance. If we decided we wanted a direct democracy, then by all rights our current government should step down. They wouldn’t, of course, and it would require revolution, and then the new government would be just as bad as the old one. Just different.
Every generation has the right to choose its own government. People who lived 200 years ago had no right to determine what type of government we must have, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. However, a republic government really is the best of a terrible situation. If we must have a state, a constitutional republic is the most pro-liberty and restrained.
So far, so good, right? Nothing emotional or irrational about that. Just a few facts and a few rational arguments. In came the comment:
Your answer relies upon a very narrow view of human nature and ignores extremely important principles of democracy. “Economics is a complex subject” is true and that is why there must be widespread and strongly independent news media along with journalists having investigative powers. In the US there used to be journalists who specialized in those issues and released their findings for all to consume. The “news” used to solve that problem for us but corporations have totally destroyed that part of America. [emphasis added]
Not overly polite, but okay. I decided to give Don Tracy the benefit of the doubt and replied:
I’ll be courteous and give you an opportunity to explain how my answer ignores fundamental aspects of democracy and is extremely narrow.
Obviously, I’m not too happy to be insulted–even if the insults are so dim and weak. Retaliation never gets us anywhere, though, and if Don was correct, I wanted to know it. Don replied:
You are narrow minded in forcing people into ignorant masses that can only think emotionally which is the whole premise of your answer. Without the metaphor of passengers passively going along for the ride what is your point? That is not democracy; it is not “mob rule” which immature philosophers of the ancient past claimed – they didn’t even know about the concept of a nation-state. Granted you say we have two thousand years of additional history but rather than claiming we haven’t learned in that time like you say the truth is exactly the opposite – mankind has learned a lot about government and politics over history. The “Democratic Party is folly” shows your biased agenda. Finally, you need to know that a republic is a type of democracy so your answer relies upon a weird personal definition of democracy that no one agrees with and is not accepted in general.
More viciousness. As it happens, I am correct, though, in my initial answer, so I defended my points:
See, and here I was being courtesy. *sigh*. That’s how it goes, though. Pro-democracy people really do love their insults.
You are exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger Effect, I feel I should warn you. It is a statement of fact that areas of complexity and expertise are significantly misunderstood and woefully underestimated in their complexity by the masses. I’ll provide this so that you can read it over it: Dunning–Kruger effect – Wikipedia
Democracy most certainly is mob rule, and that you cite “immature philosophers” as saying this shows how wrapped in the Dunning-Kruger web you must be. Some of the greatest thinkers in human history—those “immature philosophers” you are referring to—rejected democracy on exactly the same grounds that I did. Here is further reading on the nature of democracy—two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner: Is democracy in reality just mob rule?
If you would suggest that you know better than these people who dedicated their lives to the study of governmental processes and society—those “immature philosophers” again—then you are, again, exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger Effect in shocking ways.
The last part of your reply shows exactly why democracy cannot be allowed: you have confused the question’s discussion of “direct democracy” with universal suffrage—that is, the right of the people to vote. In a republic, the people vote for representatives who enact policy. In a democracy, the people vote directly on the policies. No one has stated that universal suffrage is bad. I said that democracy is bad; e.g., the people voting directly on matters of policy is bad, for reasons outlined above.
You seem to think that universal suffrage and democracy are the same thing. They aren’t. A Democracy is a type of government where the people vote directly on the issues via referendums. It is not the right of the people to vote; that right is called universal suffrage. What, exactly, the people are voting for is what differentiates a democracy from a republic. If they are voting on matters of policy directly, it is “a democracy.” if they are voting for representatives who then vote on matters of policy, it is a republic.
“Democracy” has been twisted by the layperson into meaning “universal suffrage.” I agree with you on that, just as “theory” has been twisted to mean “educated guess” to the layperson. Use the layperson’s definition of “democracy” and “theory” if you would like; I will not. The only thing that differentiates the democracy from the republic is what the votes are for, not the existence of suffrage.
Regardless, the question deals with direct democracy—i.e., the people voting directly on the issues rather than going through representatives. The question is specifically whether the U.S. can/should remove the representatives from the process, not whether we should or shouldn’t have universal suffrage.
You’ve called me narrow-minded, limited, and biased. I’ve been nothing but polite to you. Learn the difference between universal suffrage, a republic, and a democracy, accept the wisdom of the people who came before you instead of calling them immature, and stop assuming that you know everything while you reject what people who have studied the matters have to say.
A lengthy rebuttal substantiating everything that I said. Cool. And Don’s reply?
Well, there you go again. I must say with all kindness that your ideas definitely are limited and biased but absolutely not you personally. I’m afraid you are on an emotional rampage but please understand that I am not a debater, not a professor, and not a lawyer. I have no idea what a Dunning-Krueger thing is but since you do then you must be pretty smart. So for a smart person, I don’t understand how you can have such stupid ideas. I checked the web page for “Democracy is mob rule” and have warn you it is obviously biased with an agenda to promote – you should not used it. Please re-read my comments above and give them some honest thought and consideration. Good luck my friend.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Now I’m having an emotional reaction, because now I’m pissed off. To present a valid, reasonable argument with citations and evidence, only to be insulted by some ignorant, sexist pig who can’t face the reality that he has no fucking idea what he’s talking about… It’s infuriating.
So I deleted his comments, but they’ll stay here as a testament. This happens quite a lot, and it never happened until Aria existed. Anyone who can read my rebuttal and take away “emotional rampage” is an unequivocal moron. It’s ridiculous that he doesn’t know what the Dunning-Kruger Effect is, since I gave him links to it. Rather than checking it out, he vomited out this spiel.
Look. If you reply to a girl who presents a rational argument with links and citations as she rebuts your insults and your unsubstantiated silliness with the accusation that she’s having an emotional rampage, then you’re a sexist piece of shit. Sorry, but you are. Because you know you wouldn’t say that to a guy.
Look deeper into what he said, too. “You must be pretty smart. So for a smart person, I don’t understand how you can have such stupid ideas.” I’ve talked about his before, this way that people tie their beliefs to their estimation of their own intelligence. It’s so… Dunning-Kruger-ish. “I’m right because I’m intelligent, so anyone who agrees with me must also be intelligent. If they are intelligent and don’t agree with me, then something is very, very wrong, because intelligent people agree with me! Maybe they aren’t intelligent after all.”
It’s so obviously circular.
The new deity with which they make their own ideas sacrosanct: intelligence.
It is such a dangerous thing, to tie “being right” with “believing what I believe” and with “being intelligent.”
Because no one thinks they’re wrong, and no one thinks they’re stupid.
Yet loads and loads of people are both wrong AND stupid. Yet no matter how wrong someone is, and no matter how stupid someone is, they will always–all caps, underline, bold–ALWAYS believe that they are both right and reasonably intelligent. You don’t see half the American population running around saying, “I’m wrong, but I believe it anyway!” and “I’m stupid! Hur hur hur!”
No. You see everyone saying that they’re right–self included–and everyone saying they’re intelligent–self-included. Why, it’s almost as though being right or wrong and being intelligent or stupid are completely and totally unrelated to a person’s ability to recognize whether they are right or wrong or intelligent or stupid!
If you gauge your intelligence by your own beliefs, such that people who agree with you are deemed “intelligent” while people who disagree with you are not, then you’re closing your mind to the possibility that you might be wrong about something. After all, “wrong = dumb” in that worldview, and we all value our egos too much to ever even allow the possibility that we might be stupid.
This is what I mean when I say that intelligence has become the new deity by which we make our beliefs sacrosanct. We all cradle our egos–right, wrong, intelligent, and stupid. So if you assess intelligence by whether or not people agree with you, you divide the world not into “people who think x” and “people who don’t think x,” but “smart people” and “dumb people.” This is an excuse to not listen to them–they become idiots, stupid–heathens, pagans, and apostates.
Being right or wrong have NOTHING to do with intelligence. They have to do with INFORMATION and a willingness–or unwillingness–to accept that information.
I’ve talked previously about the extreme nihilism of western society, and how we have become so confused that we hate strength and love weakness, which in turn causes us to glorify victimization–since a victim is, by any measurement, a weak person who was abused by a strong person. The victim, then, is the embodiment of our values–a rejection of reality and a hostile universe that literally kills off the weak–an embrace of undue and universal empty sympathy while genuine sympathy is derided as selfishness. We hate survival of the fittest, and so we hate capitalism, just as we hate all of the underlying socioeconomic, biological, and behavioral characteristics that brought us to this plateau, where we have done nothing but reject those characteristics as backward and archaic, choosing instead to embrace our new “progressive” values that just so happen to be wholly nihilistic.
Now, if the above paragraph seems to cover a lot of ground, then click the links. It’s necessary groundwork for the stuff I’m about to say. This series of not-really-linked-ostensibly articles is like a building, and those I linked are the scaffolding. We are building more scaffolding today–today, we are constructing the scaffolding that will hold the arch. I want to call your attention to something I read in what is literally a secret Facebook group full of Hillary supporter crybabies who are whining about having lost the election.
I looked into the author’s profile, and there was absolutely nothing there that serves as any indication of any sort of trauma. Far be it from me to speculate about anyone’s past, but I’m willing to bet that anyone who genuinely has PTSD has true horrors in their past. You know that condition that some Vietnam Vets have that cause them to piss themselves and duck and cover when they hear a firecracker explode, because the horrors of the Vietnam War were so terrible that they left people permanently scarred?
Yeah, that’s what she has.
Only instead of firecrackers reminding her of mines going off and blowing her best friend’s legs off, or of bamboo traps springing up from the ground and Iron Maidening someone into a tree, it’s debate that triggers her PTSD. We can speculate, then, that the cause of her PTSD was probably something like her parents arguing when she was a child. Right? What triggers PTSD is obviously going to be a strong indicator of what horrors the person experienced. Vietnam vets duck and cover when they hear firecrackers because this reminds them of mines; she is triggered by confrontation and debates because this reminds her of some louder/greater event in her past that was about confrontation and debate. It’s not bitterness or being a bitch; it’s being logical. And, seeing how this person looks like she is probably still in college–and from a comfortably middle class life, probably upper middle class–we can readily surmise that it was probably something like her parents arguing.
You know what?
There is one area where I might actually have PTSD. This event is certainly the reason that I’m claustrophobic, why I won’t let anyone bind my hands during kinky sex, and why I don’t care what’s wrong–I am not crawling under the crawl space to fix the plumbing. It can cost me ten thousand dollars a month on my electricity bill, but I am not ever crawling under that house to fix it.
It’s not an experience that I talk about much. But when I was 16 or 17, my father had me arrested. I didn’t know it at the time, and thought I was being arrested for grand larceny. On pain pills years later, my father confessed that he had them arrest me to teach me a lesson. It was the same year of the A Perfect Circle The Thirteenth Step tour, which I know because I was still allowed to go to the concern just a few months after I’d been arrested. Okay, so this was 2003. I’d have been 16 or 17, depending on the exact day I was arrested. Even that isn’t a very big deal–16 year olds are arrested fairly often, after all.
Usually when this happens, the parent meets the police at the station, pays some money, or uses a bail bondsperson and the kid is let out. Not so here. My dad took me to the sheriff’s office at 7:30 in the morning. After talking to me for a few minutes, they arrested me and put me in holding, where I remained until about 8:45 the next day.
Now, under most circumstances, we would say that “holding isn’t solitary,” except… here, it was. This jail didn’t have separate solitary confinement cells; it had two holding cells that functioned as its solitary cells. So, yes, it was solitary. For more than 24 hours I sat in an 8 foot by 8 foot concrete box–concrete ceiling, concrete floors, concrete walls. There was a metal toilet in the corner–with nowhere near enough water to drown yourself, or I’d have done it. Along one of the walls was a large, steel door with no windows and with only a narrow latch about thigh-high for them to open and slide me a food tray through–not that I felt like eating. The lights were fluorescent and recessed, of course–impossible to get to, because you could smash one and use the glass to cut your wrists–which I’d have gladly done if they weren’t beyond my reach. Along three of the walls were what we’d call “concrete benches,” except they weren’t benches. They were just raised parts of the concrete and square-shaped. I had a horrible blanket that felt about like fiberglass, made up of billions of tiny threads glued together–that way you couldn’t pull the threads out and use them to make a rope to hang yourself with, of course. And I had what was basically a kindergarten mat, but larger. The blanket was nowhere near long enough to cover me–I’m a little tall–and it didn’t matter, because anyone with a brain used their blanket as a pillow anyway. The only thing to do was lay your horrible kindergarten mat on the concrete bench, lie down on it, and use that horrible fiberglass blanket as a pillow.
Surrounded on all sides by steel-reinforced concrete, there were no sounds bleeding into the room. There was nothing but silence, except, perhaps, the irritating hum of the fluorescent lights that my 16 year old ears could still hear, but my 29 year old ears wouldn’t be able to hear today. It was, for all intents and purposes, an isolation chamber that I was stuck in, held in against my will, knowing that there was no escape–not even death. There was nothing but silence, concrete, and the thoughts resonating in my head, for more than 24 hours. I didn’t know what was going on or how long I was going to be there. That room, to me, was jail, and that’s what jail meant–isolation, cut off not just from the outside world but from everyone, every other human being. There was no one to petition, no one to beg, to be let out. Trapped, a caged animal held against its will in a concrete box–indefinitely.
For my 16 year old mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it had given me PTSD. However, it manifests itself only in ways that aren’t very important to me. I’ve never been into BDSM anyway–to me that’s “kinky” sex for people who want to be as mundane as possible. It means that I always take the stairs when given the option, because I’m not going to allow myself to be trapped on an elevator. When I worked as a janitor at one of the casino’s hotels, we had a 9 story hotel in one part of the building; I never used an elevator unless I absolutely had to. It means that I won’t let myself be put into a small space, and it means I really don’t understand cats’ love for small spaces.
Then again, cats like small spaces until they’re not allowed to leave…
But that’s enough about isolation, imprisonment, and solitary confinement. It just has certainly occurred to me that this is one area in which I might actually have PTSD, and for fairly good reason–isolation sends adults into madness with some regularity; the same to a 16 year old would undoubtedly be devastating. I survived by inventing stories and watching movies in my head–movies that I made up as I went, featuring little marshmallow people and stupid crap like that. It’s been pointed out to me that I have exactly the kind of mind that would be most in danger of going insane in isolation, but also best equipped to handle that. I suspect there’s a correlation between those two things.
Anyway, I want to share some stuff about me to all the special snowflakes out there who are dealing with “trauma” from the election, who have “PTSD” that is triggered by debates. I’m not saying this because I want sympathy. I’m saying this because I want them to sack up, grow a pair, and at least pretend to be adults capable of functioning in the world. It could be said that all the horrors in my past are precisely the reason that I am strong today, but I reject that reasoning, because I refuse to believe I’m better than anyone else. Anyone can be strong. It takes only the conscious decision to not be a victim. It doesn’t take being tortured. It doesn’t take parental murders. It just takes one single decision to be strong rather than weak, to fight rather than cower, and that is a decision anyone can make.
So buckle up. I’m going to give you the cliffnotes version. There’s enough material that I’ve got about an hour and a half of Youtube videos discussing it, a 45 minute long podcast, have written an entire book about it, and have, no exaggeration, barely scratched the surface. I have stories that will make you weep and cry that anyone would do that to a child, that anyone would be so negligent, that anyone would be so hateful. But I am not a victim. Because I am alive and I control my destiny. I control who I am.
My mother vanished off the face of the Earth when I was 12. Of course, this was after 6 years of only seeing her once or twice a year, because she was poor, addicted to heroin and meth, and preferred using her money to buy more drugs than coming to see her kids. Of course, this was also after she had kidnapped me and put me through That Summer in Arkansas–one filled with so much horror that there can’t be a Cliffnotes version. After a string of abusive alcoholic boyfriends who beat the living hell out of her while my sister and I could only look on and cry, terrified of making a sound, she finally hooked up with one who murdered her–my uncle, my aunt’s ex-husband. Of course, it took more than a decade for me to figure that out, because no one on my mom’s side of the family had anything to do with us, and never called to tell us anything. My older brother was no better; once our mother disappeared, he came to see us only once in the next six years, and it wasn’t until my sister and I took it upon ourselves to go see them that we reconnected.
But, no, you go ahead and tell me about your trauma.
My parents separated when I was 5 or 6–depending on what time, during my kindergarten year, they actually separated. Of course, I didn’t understand what was going on, though I certainly cried a lot, and was mostly unsure whether to leave my dad the “good Nintendo” or the one that barely worked. “Didn’t work” would probably be a more accurate assessment. Naturally, I took the good one. I was 5. Rather than sitting and talking with my sister and me about what was going on, mom simply yelled at us all day–she didn’t handle stress well–and shouted that we needed to stop crying. We lived on our grandfather’s land in a trailer, and, strangely enough, he didn’t come over there with a gun to beat the hell out of mom; instead, he just found a way to let dad know.
Dad pulled up while we were loading the rest of the crap into mom’s car, almost like something out of a movie. He returned exactly as we were finishing up, and mom–in that tone that she’d been using all day that meant “shut the fuck up and do as I say”–told us to get in the car. So we did, my sister and me. We climbed into the backseat while Eric grabbed the front passenger seat. After they yelled and argued, mom got in the car. Dad, standing near the car, banged his fist against it while mom floored it. He immediately collapsed onto the ground and onto his back, pretending to have been hit by the car.
My sister and I screamed, hysterical, sure that our mother had just run over and killed our father. As we pulled away, he just lay there in the grass, not moving, and mom, once again, yelled for us to shut up.
Tim was one of mom’s boyfriends, and he really enjoyed lifting me up and holding me over the actual well that was in the backyard of this old ass house we lived in. It was an actual well, you know? Circle of bricks around it and everything. He really got a kick out of holding me over it while I kicked and screamed, while he laughed and threatened to drop me, saying that he might “accidentally” drop me if I didn’t stop squirming and kicking. I say he must have really enjoyed it, but I don’t remember how often it happened–more than enough, I can say that with certainty. More than once, at the very least.
Shall we discuss how I’ve been trying to wear women’s clothes since I was three years old, how I would hide all of my underwear so that I could wear my sister’s instead, even back then, before the divorce, before any of that? It’s fair to say I’ve been transgender my entire life. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to be. Shall I go into how when things finally settled down I lived with my fundamentalist Christian grandmother who threatened to send me to a home if they found girl clothes in my room again? Or how my father took me out back with a belt? Is there any reason to get into any of that?
No Water or Electricity
With some regularity, once I moved in with my dad around the 8th or 9th grade, he had me stay home from school in case someone from the electric company came by to disconnect our electricity, but this was already something I was familiar with. We didn’t have electricity through most of That Summer in Arkansas, and one day mom left me alone–keeping in mind this was the summer between the 2nd and 3rd grade, so I was 8 years old–and someone from the city came by and did something to the water line out front. I secretly watched him from the window, not sure who it was.
Well, mom returned and learned that we didn’t have any water. So naturally, I got yelled at and in trouble for not opening the door and telling this stranger that I, an 8 year old kid, was home alone but if he could come back in a few hours my mom could totally arrange something with him–probably fucking him, of course. I’m not kidding, either. She honestly screamed at me for not opening the door to a strange man–I couldn’t recognize a city employee–and informing him that I was home alone.
That wasn’t the first time she said something that indicated that she wanted me to be kidnapped, either. Of course, she knew kidnapping pretty well, as someone had tried kidnapping her when she was a teenager. I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but he pulled a knife on her as they drove down the road, so she jumped out of the car. Because that’s what you do when you have a problem to be dealt with: you deal with it. You don’t sit there and beg the man not to hurt you as you undress so he can rape you. You handle it.
Arkansas summers are every bit as bad as Mississippi summers, though they might be slightly less humid. Not having electricity meant there was nowhere to escape the heat, and not having water meant that every day my sister and I had to carry a five gallon bucket to a nearby gas station and fill it with their faucet outside when no one was looking–because we’d already been chased off.
And when your mom is an idiot who tears down a shed in the backyard–as requested by the landlord–and sets it on fire, it tends to chase all the bugs and creepy-crawlies out of the backyard and into the front yard. Then your mom really shows her idiocy by choosing to deal with the problem–of being unable to step out the front door without immediately being assaulted by hundreds of fleas–by lighting a bonfire in the front yard. This, of course, chased the fleas into the house. And holy crap, they were everywhere. No amount of bug bombs or flea powder did a thing about it. It was full on infestation. No electricity, no water, and a house filled with fleas in the middle of July in Arkansas.
But no, I’m sure you’ve got trauma that gives you PTSD and forces you to flee debates.
Naturally, this entire situation had fried my nerves, to the extent that I couldn’t eat. Not that we had anything to really eat anyway–as I said in one of the videos I linked earlier, on those rare occasions when we did actually have money to buy food, Treet Meat was an actual treat. If you’re unfamiliar with Treet Meat, it’s basically generic spam. Mm-mm, good.
My sister and mother fought all the freaking time. Dad stood at the edge of the driveway and cold-bloodedly threatened to kill my mother, saying, “I will kill you.”
Death and Murder
Of course, that wouldn’t be the first time my father killed someone. When I was real young–somewhere between 3 and 5–my sister and I rode with him to my go visit some relatives. He, of course, was high as hell and shouldn’t have been driving. Some dick in an 18 wheeler decided to pass us. I was too young to really know the problem. My father insisted that the highway wasn’t wide enough. It was a scary highway, out in the middle of nowhere, with a steep ditch on both sides and heavy forests on both sides. Going into that ditch would have been virtually instant death. Whether the highway wasn’t really wide enough or whether dad swerved, I don’t know, but the sideview mirror of the 18 wheeler smashed through the driver-side window, spraying a hurricane of glass through the cab of dad’s truck. We weren’t injured.
Later that day–later that same fucking day, man–dad rear-ended a woman driving an auburn car. Again, I don’t recall all the details. He either gunned it as soon as the light turned green, or he didn’t brake hard enough because he expected the woman to hurry up and go. I don’t know which. I know only that we rear ended her, hard enough for her car to careen more than fifty feet forward. Her neck broke. She died on the spot. My father, driving high, had killed her.
Obviously, the police were called. I can only imagine the horrified panic in my father in those moments, and I can almost sympathize with that–the Mistake To End All Mistakes, you know? You know that sinking feeling when you make a mistake… Now multiply that by a billion because now someone is dead, and it’s your fault, and you know you’re going to jail and nothing will stop it. I sympathize with the dead woman, too, don’t get me wrong.
My dad, my sister, and me were all placed into the backseat of the police car. No, I’m not kidding. I, somewhere between 3 and 5 years old, was being arrested too, as far as I could tell. My father was in handcuffs, and I wasn’t, but that didn’t change the fact that I was in the cop car, too. No one was telling me anything; no one was telling my sister anything. We had no idea what was going on. Then, wouldn’t you fucking know it, again, just like it was out of a movie, that same goddamned truck driver who had smashed out our window earlier that same damned day arrived. Next thing I know, he’s banging on the cop car’s window, shouting obscenities at all of us. My father started frothing at the mouth and demanding to be let out so that he could kick the truck driver’s ass, but the truck driver just kept shouting and yelling at us while my sister and I cried, our entire world slipping between our fingers.
I was traumatized by that, too. I know that for a fact. It was almost impossible, for a long time after that, for my parents to get me into a vehicle. They had to give me “nerve pills”–probably the Xanax that caused that mess in the first place–in order to get me to get in the car. I refused to. I’d get sick and start vomiting, crying, panicking, any time someone said that I had to go for a ride.
But I’m sure it’s totally fair and justified that debates trigger you.
That’s Probably Enough
If it’s not, then check the links I provided earlier, or check out Dancing in Hellfire when I finally get it published. It’s got some brutal shit in there, and I still didn’t cover everything. I’ll never be able to cover everything, because I remember things every other week. You can’t cover all the sordid details of a life like that. There’s just too much ground to go over.
Other people have certainly had worse lives, and I don’t mean to say they haven’t. But not many people had worse childhoods here in the west that they actually survived. I’m not trying to earn the sympathy of these special snowflakes, these suffers of Special Snowflake Stress Disorder. I’m trying to give them a bit of perspective. Because, yeah, if you have no idea how bad things can really get, then you might come to the conclusion that your parents arguing when you were a kid is a good reason to run and hide whenever arguments start.
But sack up, sunshine. It’s fight or flight, not fight, flight, or cower.
I’m not going to compare my suffering to yours. I have spent too long arguing that suffering is relative. Sure, I bitch about all of the above, but there are 12 year old girls who have now spent years as the forced brides and sex slaves of Boko Haram. We can, and should, say the same about your suffering. I know that people like to compare suffering, though, especially the kind of people who say that debates trigger their PTSD. Well, they like to when they think they can come out “ahead” with their suffering as “worse,” and why? Because they think being a victim is a good thing, so obviously the person who has suffered the most is the winner in their worldview–whoever has suffered the most is the biggest victim, and they want to be the biggest victim because being victim is a good thing now.
Someone always has it worse, but that someone has it worse doesn’t mitigate the suffering we have experienced. Suffering, after all, is relative. This girl crying in the corner because someone tried to debate her truly feels her own past suffering to exactly the same extent that I feel my past suffering, and to exactly the same extent that the kidnap victims of Boko Haram feel their suffering, and to exactly the same extent that poor woman was held in her father’s basement and raped for 17 years feels her own suffering. We can’t put a value on suffering, and it’s a fool’s task to even try.
But whatever value we place on suffering, if you survived your childhood, aren’t a serial killer, and live in the west, then chances are that the horrors I can point to cause yours to pale in comparison. My point isn’t to say “Oh, poor me, I had it so much worse than you.”
My point is exactly the opposite.
The past doesn’t matter. The past doesn’t shape you unless you allow it to. You cannot be a victim unless you consent to be a victim. My past is not marked by horrors and traumas that have victimized me; my past is marked by lessons that have taught me. I am not their victim. I am their beneficiary.
So make your choice, but don’t pretend like it’s not a choice.