Composition

my body is made of rusted iron and heavy shattered rocks. 

my right ankle is a half rotten turnip

my skin throbs

my muscles moan like elder trees in the wind 

fooshfooshfoosh

ahhhhoooooooooooooo

my head curls in on itself
a half realized defensive posture. 

i dont have the energy to cry

cold, dry, despair rolls down my cheeks

whispering its sweet sweet nothings 

desperation reframed 

for more empathetic consumption

innocuous smile and always gracious 

appreciative

inspirational

the yard stick my dignity is measured by 

right to thrive hammered out in meandering prose and brief spurts of productivity 

whatever that means

im to tired to even guess 

Allowing Myself to Flourish

Recently I bought myself a pronoun bracelet.* 

I dithered over the decision for weeks. Could we afford something so “frivolous”? Was I being selfish? What if I spent the money and then found the sensory experience off putting? Or I just didn’t end up wearing it to often?

Still I couldn’t stop looking as my dysphoria was creeping back into the edges of my life and whispering, always whispering painful things in my ear, until the weight of my sadness started crushing me. 

I have social dysphoria mostly with a smattering of physical dysphoria thrown in for good measure. I have developed a tenuous truce with my body over the years. It is lumpy, bumpy, and not congruent with my self. It is sick perpetually, weak, tired. I feel these things in my bones but it has also grown and fed four magical children, for this I am eternally thankful. 

Still the inability to bind due to my health combined with having small in arms children often means I get immediately socially coded as a woman even among close friends and family which causes me a deep and permeating despair. A despair so deep that when I do get inevitably misgendered by a loved one often all I can do is cringe internally. 

My hope is that with the bracelet I can simply point at it to remind people rather than trying and failing to navigate spoken language in that moment of high emotion. Even if that doesn’t always work, making my identity more visible, when generally I am invisible, gives me strength and peace. 

So finally I found this simple and perfect solution. It was six bucks with shipping, which was a price I could afford even with my heavy spending anxiety. I chose both pronouns and the colors. It isn’t fancy, and it probably is a bit to delicate for how rough I tend to be on jewelry but I love it. It allows me to feel more authentic and in charge of myself when illness and disability often takes away my sense of personal agency. I may not be able to many of the things I want to do, but I can do this.

 I can be me. 

I am me no matter what.

And now I have a way to remind you too even when the words twist up and hide behind my toungue. 

* I got the bracelet here. They sell Queer Pride, Autistic Pride, and Spoonie/Disabled Pride jewelery. I want so many more things from them.

Ageism in Radical Queer Communities

Guest post By Rhizome Syndrigast Coelacanth Flourishing

​This is from a thread I participated in earlier this year where folx had allowed  a uncritiqued ageism to reign over me:
“Folx use Elder as a label for all older/aging folx they encounter should rethink that.
The word is loaded with, yes, cultural significance, that is never unpacked in terms of expectations for folx who have that label affixed to their existences.
Most folx who have this label affixed to who they are, have often already accepted it as construct, never having realized there was space to question or even refuse it.
I refuse it.

I challenge it.

I am not interested in having the label and any accompanying, unspecified, coercive expectations that might or might not come with the word affixed to my existence.
If we’re radically unpacking ageism, Elder uncritically used as a term, has no place in this thread.
I don’t need you to keep my words in mind.
I need you to hear me saying using Elder as a general word for all older or aging folx without their permission, given that Elder comes with a whole whack load of historical, cultural and social significance, is oppressive.
Where and when possible unless you’re already dealing with folx who you know have accepted/embraced the term, you really should ask.
I don’t like being referred to as Elder by random qt folx who do not share precisely what they mean when they use this term in relation to me. 
I don’t like not being asked if I’d like to have the weight of their need, hopes and expectations attached to my existence, to my place among young/er politicized folx, to my sexuality, to my resistance work.
Elder, when used by high profile up and coming folx in community can also be a competitive, patronizing death sentence.
I have never been so insulted by the tones of folx I’ve been attempting to engage with as I have felt in this thread.
The perception of who older or aging people are is completely infused with faux gentle, condescending tones that say “hush, hush dear older person. don’t work yourself up into a lather over this. it isn’t good for your heart. here’s your rocker and your knitting.”
Radical anti-ageism is probably not ever going to be a thing because so many marginalized folx who are older are struggling for daily basic survival.
This does not mean that folx who are younger and generally politicized get to uncritically assume a particular power relation/social dynamic. ”

If you learned from and/or appreciate this post. You can pay Rhizome for their labor via PayPal with the email rhizomesyndrigastflourishing@gmail.com

Not Quite as Advertised

Fuck I’m exhausted.

Which words am I supposed to find, and arrange in perfect artistic harmony before the exhaustion worms it’s way from my bones, saturating my muscles and tendons?

The drum beat of my tired heart

Can’t I just take a nap? All the naps? I want to rest for a night or a lifetime.  

I want to feel strong again

Body is as body does 

Body tries at least

Tries to breathe, be productive, contribute to my family, to communicate, to understand, to convince people to see me as I am, not suited to this binary system, stim stim stimming my life happily away.  

I’ll take a hot bath, dark room, and fuzzy blanket for one please

Parameters of what I am and what I am allowed to be drawn and re-drawn in your personal context 

Come hell or high water they say

——–

————

Not your inspiration
Not your anything. 

———

————-

If only gravity didn’t weigh so heavily on me
Every cell in my body being dragged down into cold, dry, dust

I’m just so fucking tired

I reiterate ad nauseum 

The body no longer works as requested

As needed

Wheezing lungs, energy lost, pain creeping in and up 

——-

My reflection denies the labels of the flesh 

Angry 

hungry masses parcel my body 

Labeled with their personal gender expectations

-woman-woman-woman-woman-

Stamped in comic high relief 

hips and ass

Lips and tits

All this I refuse, leave it dripping off my fingertips 

To pool, curdling at my feet

Enough

Floundering Around in My Identity; Privilege and Marginalization III

I am not even sure where to start here honestly. 

I have known my sexuality and gender identity were out of the box since before I knew what sexuality or gender identity was. 

As a child I was constantly rebuked and shamed for being to masculine, for not having crushes on boys, for being to emotionally needy with my platonic friends. 

Censure for my differences started long before I had the language to say that I was non-binary trans masculine, queer/bi/pan, neuroqueer, nebularomantic/greyromantic, and demisexual.*

Most if not all my relationships both romantic and platonic have been negatively impacted by these differences in experience and identity. My emotional needs have until recently always been dismissed as incorrect or impossible, or over looked entirely without effective language to communicate how differently I function emotionally, than most people…which ultimately lead to both parties feeling heartbroken and unfulfilled.

I have spent a life time, being mocked, dismissed, erased, invisible, threatened, and misunderstood. 

Currently I live in a state where it is both (more or less) legal and socially acceptable to discriminate against me because I am obviously and undeniably not a cisgender heterosexual, even if most cis het folks aren’t sure what I am, they are sure about what I am not…and what I am not and have never been, is one of them. A reoccurring theme in my life time. 

Though I can legally marry my nesting partner, I can not be legally recognized as a nonbinary person. To be legally recognized as a masculine person, I would probably have to lie about my experience as a trans person and fake a “trapped in the wrong body narrative” to please medical cisgender gate keepers. I’d also have to be able to afford it…and non-binary top surgery? Yeah it happens but would I be able to afford it? To travel to a doctor who would do such for me? Who would work hard to keep my nipple sensation? Maybe…maybe in a world of uncertainty when you are  struggling to survive can be practically impossible. 

But without top surgery, being to poor and to unwell to pursue even low dose T, to unwell to bind, I am perpetually non-existent, a myth caught in an invisibility hole. My nesting relationship is dismissed as heterosexual. I am often wildly misunderstood by cis-het culture and not taken seriously by much of the cis normative lesbian and gay communities or even the binary trans communities. 

I feel by and large communityless, at sea in a universe of possibilities. 

I speak loudly in hopes that others who share my burdens may not have to struggle quite so much, the internet, friends, family, no one and no where is safe from microaggressions. This is in many ways no different than what any other marginalized group of people experiences. Injury via a constant onslaught of small but deep wounds. 

I’ve developed panic reactions to certain transphobic arguments. I sweat and fret instantly, my day, or at least the next few hours spent trying not to panic. Trying to convince myself that I am a real person, worthy of full humanity, worthy of dignity. 

Certain aspects of my identity are so new to the broader community as a concept that many people do not believe it is a real thing. Which can often lead to different sorts dismissal, a different sort of lack of space. 

These are a few small parts of how My queer identity impacts the way I move through this world. I will attempt to tie it all together in one more piece, as soon as I am able. 

*oppression for me as a white person who is read as female, is much different than it would be and is for queer, trans (women especially), and femmes of color. No matter which marginalized identities we white people hold, intersectionality tells us that our multiply marginalized siblings of color are more at risk of both systemic and physical violence.

You can read part one and two of this series here. 

Found at Sea…Again

Worn down

Blanketed in a soft, downy, envelope of exhaustion

Eviscerated for your viewing pleasure

Pain in small electric spurts

.
“I’m just so tired”

I whisper to myself or someone else

I’d be embarrassed if I weren’t so depleted

I’d be angry if I had the energy

I’d be something

Anything

.
Existing is all I have for the time being

Words worn threadbare and confused

Darting in and out of usefulness

Survival mode

Or something

I think

I think

I think

I can’t think right now

The Interplay of Multiple Points of Oppression and Privilege in My Day to Day Life part 2

Today I am talking about the aspects of my life that are impacted by various forms of oppression or marginalization. Often times these are much easier for us to identify because we can see how our experience differs from the majority, and because it often leaves us feeling sad, angry, frustrated, scared, or alienated. In short, it feels bad. 

To reiterate, being oppressed in one area does not negate privileges in other areas. They may impact each other in various ways but they do not negate each other. A cis, queer, white person still has both cis privilege and white privilege and will therefore still have those protections as they move through the world, which is a very big deal. Queer and transgender PoC do not have that protection which deeply impacts their experience of and safety in the world on every level. 

So let’s start with what my identity is and isn’t. 

I am a chronically ill, invisibly disabled, autistic/neurodivergent, queer, multisexual/bisexual*/pansexual, nonbinary transmasculine, greyromantic/nebularomantic, and poor person. I also identify as demisexual, ethically non-monogamous, and pagan but as a liberal white person I find myself not overtly negatively impacted by those identities. Whiteness moving in more liberal circles makes being demisexual, “polyamorous”, and pagan, even in the unusual ways I may express those things, more or less accepted and even embraced as being “quirky”. Quirky in my experience is often either a sign of other privileges that person posesses or with more marginalized people, tokenization at work. 

I also have some situational or relative privileges which impacts the way I am oppressed. Because people in general expect  and assume parents to be cis gender and heterosexual, when I am with my cis male nesting partner and kids, especially when I am with my toddlers, I am not usually read as transgender at all, which means I usually don’t read as queer either. This protects us socially from homophobic harassment, me from transphobic harassment, and means both my relationship and children have more legal protection than I have or have had when in relationships with women, femmes, or folks socially read as “women”.  But the trade off here is that it erases my identity entirely. It is lonely, anxiety causing, infuriating, and upsetting, but it is less likely to be dangerous.

Other ways in which the complexity of passing privilege exchanges increased physical and social safety for erasure and dismissal for me personally is that my disability is invisible and most people seem to see me as weird or quirky rather than neurodivergent. This is a mixed social bag but is in most cases,  physically safer for me as a white, “educated”, disabled and neurodivergent person with a home and relative stability. It means instead of violence and dismissal as a human who deserves a life, I get a lot of isolating microaggressions and disbelief. 

One last relative privilege that bears reiterating is that as a white person raised and encultured as a “woman” I am more likely to be written off, dismissed, or scoffed at than violently attacked or murdered. Trans women and femmes of color, especially black trans women and femmes are frighteningly more likely to be brutalized and/or murdered. I should not ever leave them out when I am talking about multiple levels of oppression and privilege.

So where does that leave me? Well let’s talk about that. 

As a chronically ill person I was ever so politely forced out of my good stable job I had held for 8 years, almost 2 years ago exactly. I can no longer work outside my home or attend any social anything except in situations where my exposure to airborne chemicals, scents, smokes, and illnesses are at an extreme minimum. I am therefore perpetually under or unemployed, which impacts our ability to simply live reasonably. I can not attend support groups for my other identity aspects, social occasions, or gatherings because they will be inevitably to smokey or to perfumey. Most of the time I am unable to leave my house more than once or twice a week for anything more than a brief sedate walk. I am consequently locally, socially isolated and constantly both stressed and carrying an immense amount of guilt about our financial situation. 

Because my disability is invisible and varies with the ebb and flow of my illnesses, people often underestimate how heavily I am impacted, or disregard my struggle entirely as “made up”. I have only once or twice had people offer or ask about accommodation that might make it possible for me to attend something, mostly I am made to subtly and not so subtly understand that my affection, my friendship, my love, my time, and companionship is disposable, expendable, and categorically not enough to merit any time or effort. 

On a personal level it is nearly impossible to maintain local friendships, no matter how good our intentions may be. People tend to need time and energies I simply do not have, everyone slowly falls away. It isn’t their fault, it’s hard to be friends with a distant memory. 

As a neurodivergent person I have some social and physical difficulties, we would be here all day if I started listing every single potentially negative impact or aspect of oppression, of every single one of these identities. In the case of autism one thing that is weighing heavily on my mind lately is selective mutism and difficulty with words, compounded by sensory issues and anxiety. Lately I have been so stressed I have been unable to maintain contact with most people, and unable to reach out or converse “normally” when people reached out to me. This difficulty reached its apex three days ago when my brain became totally bogged down with so much anxiety and autistic burn out that it became almost impossible for me to speak, write, or even make simple decisions. My way with words was simply not there. This obviously has social impact, it understandably alienates most people but also it impacts my ability to contribute to my family. Writing, reading, my brain, and my hands encompass the entirety of my ability to contribute financially to my family’s well being. If one or more of those become compromised, it can be catastrophic for us….the stress of which only increases the depth and width of my burn out and anxiety. 

This very article has been written in fits and starts, in an exhausting struggle for the correct words and with twice as much proofreading needed, because of the complicated for me interplay between my need to earn a living and my need to honor my own reasonable boundaries and limits.

The overall arc of my queer, gender, romantic, and sexual identities are a complex stew of moving parts so rather than have this go very long. I will touch on that in the next installment of this series. 

*there are some generational differences in how people use the word bisexual, as a nonbinary transgender person who grew up using bisexual in a trans and self inclusive way,  I use the definition of bisexuality, genders like my own and unlike my own, or more generally, attracted to more than one gender.  

~~~~~~

Read the first installment or third installment of this series here.