Thursday, December 16, 2010

Anti-Oppression Lingo I don't quite "Get" yet...

I am still very new to anti-oppression work. However I do know enough not to bother those who are more skilled in recognizing and dismantling various oppressions with questions I can easily answer for myself by doing research.  "Please explain why this is wrong" is the exact opposite attitude to take when learning about 'isms... If you aren't willing to take responsibility for your own ignorance, then you probably aren't willing to make any meaningful changes once you do learn.  So yeah, I get it.

But in spite of my study, there are a few items that I still don't get that everyone else seems to.  And apparently I am the only one who doesn't get it, which makes finding answers even more intimidating, because I don't want to be THAT BOZO, the one asking questions too ignorant even for a 101 Seminar.

 Let me just jump to the point.  I am supremely grateful for the anti-oppression blogosphere.. but I don't think it's culture is beyond critique.   Here are a few words/concepts/phrases I see commonly in anti-oppression discourse that I don't think I fully "get."  Or more accurately, don't fully agree with. I am not out to start beef with anybody or single out any bl og(s) in particular.   These are just a few linguistic phenomena I've noticed around and have found slightly troubling.  I suspect I'm not the only one who feels this way.  But even if I am... this is MY blog and if I can't say this stuff anywhere else without fear of reprisal, I can at least say it here.

1. CRAZY vs CRAZYMAKING.  I get that the word "crazy" has been used to demonize those who struggle with mental illnesses. I get that this is a word that has been used to invalidate more often than its been used to illuminate.  I get that Crazy is too often used in the same derisive spirit as the word "Lame," appropriating the experience of the mentally and physically  handicapped  (respectively) by assigning a maliciously negative and yet nearly irrelevant connotation to the word (crazy is used to mean anything socially outrageous and objectionable, not necessarily related to insanity, lame is used to mean anything considered unpopular and/or awkward, completely unrelated to an inability to walk)   for no other reason than to have a handy insult to use against somebody, a bad name to use as punishment,  a stigma for another's perceived social mis-steps.

So, I do NOT for the life of me, then, understand why the word CRAZYMAKING is just fine.  I can't think of any other word where on its own it is considered an insufferable slur, but in  conjunction with another word, it is considered a valid critique.  (There is no such word as "Fatmaking"  or "Uglymaking" for example, altho the words Fat and Ugly are often used in the same derisive vein as Crazy).   To say that certain harassing behaviors are "crazymaking" to me seems to lend support to the idea that there IS such a thing as crazy and that its okay to call it that. 

So is there such a thing as crazy? And is it ever okay to call it that?

I refrain from asking this question at other blogs, even tho I see the word "crazymaking" all the time... as if it means something non-abstract and obvious. But even more frequently I see commenters getting called out for being ableist, even banned, for commenters  for saying things like "You must be crazy if you think ...." yadda yadda.  

I am NOT trying to obtuse here. I am not advocating for the use of Crazy in spite of its ableist stigma. I really am confused about the so-called anti-oppression culture's use of this world.  How can Crazy be verboten, but Crazymaking is right on?

2. DEHUMANIZING.  I get the concept alright. I understand the definition.  But I feel like this word gets waaaay overused. 

Often when I see Dehumanized used in posts or conversation, I feel like what the author really means is closer to "Subhumanized," or even "Animalized." Made into a creature that is less than a human, more like an animal.  Well  duh, isn't that what dehumanizing already implies?  Only if you accept that being human is a binary state.. you are either human or you are Something Else.  And while I do believe that is exactly the goal of all oppressions.. to make people feel the tension of this particular binary.. I am not comfortable leaving the paradigm unexamined.

Plus I feel like Dehumanizing isn't specific enough.  The action specifically being critiqued as "dehumanizing" can be understood not only as stripping a person of their status as a human being, but actively re-creating that person into a subhuman being.  Thereby, putting them on par with animals, that other class of creatures we commonly recognize as living but not endowed with any rights relative to human beings. (I have always had a big problem with the premise that human beings are the natural "superior" of animals, but I have an even bigger problem with animal rights activists and their raging racism and classism, so I tend to stay quiet on this score).

Let me put it another way.   When somebody calls me the N Word... I don't feel Dehumanized. I feel like I've been ANIMALIZED. I feel shamed and insulted, exactly as if they had called me a Gorilla.  I feel like they don't see me as a human being so much as this mythical creature they call  N****R.  

I don't just feel stripped of my humanity, I feel like I've been categorized as something much worse than a human altogether.

IMHO this is a small but very important distinction to make.  It's the difference between simple erasure and being flat out lied on. 

I know I have alot more to say on this score, but its still tangled up in my head, so I will move on for now.

3. DOUCHE/DOUCHEBAG/DOUCHEBAGGERY.  This one REALLY bothers me because I feel its hypocritical of anyone who resists Misogyny to use this term as if it were an innocuous insult and in no way related to female genitalia.  I mean come ON.  Every feminist understands that calling someone the P Word or the C Word is horribly misogynist.   Comparing people, particularly "men" to vaginas is considered the ultimate insult to their manhood and their very character.  Associating a man with items specifically designed for use with vaginas is the EXACT SAME MISOGYNIST LOGIC. 

I'm pretty sure if people started calling men who behave like insufferable jerks TAMPONS, the misogyny would  be loud and clear.  But Douchebag is somehow... totally kosher?  Please explain this one to me.

I know I have other stuff that irks me about anti-oppression culture, but my back is killing me and I need to get ready for bed.  Work comes deadly early tomorrow.  And yes, the jobhunt still goes on. I turned down two offers because they were too far away.  But I will take that as an encouraging sign that my resume is out there, doing its thang.

More on this post later.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hiatus complete.

Many good things came from taking time off.  I was able to channel the emotional energy I had been wasting fretting about how to blog about my life and my relationship back into ... my life and my relationship.  I gained much needed insight.  Mainly, I really do need the guidance of a professional if I'm going to manage my PTSD properly. 

That said, I haven't had much opportunity, financially speaking or schedule-wise, to find that professional help.  Still very much in the throes of job hunting.  That slowed down a bit once I realized the background check won't be happening til January or so, and there is a small but viable chance I might be able to opt out of it altogether by requesting a shift of duties...   but at any rate. I need another gig.  Even without the threat of being outed, the place is toxic on many other levels.

I have also learned in this time off that, in the longterm, I will never be happy in any job that I do if it doesn't involve the uplift of the trans community and other vulnerable populations I happen to be a part of.  Which is why I have decided to partner with Mr. Laplain on building a non-profit organization devoted to this end.

It's been a pet project of his for a while but he's only just been able to give it some legs  this year.  I won't go into great detail about it here as it's his baby and I don't want to create any coflicts of interest.   But, overwhelming new responsibilities notwithsanding, I am delighted to be of service to him and to our community.

As for Mr. Laplain and I, our brief split did us a solid.  I got a much needed wake up call that life with me shouldn't revolve around my triggers and recovery.  That other people's triggers do still matter.  And that having somebody love you unconditionally is not an open invitation to test  the boundaries of that love every freaking chance you get. 

I can't speak for him or to whatever he gained from our break, but he seems to be more committed than ever before.   I love him. I do.

And uh, I still intend to, like, totally use this blog as a personal space to dissect my overlapping identities and whatnot as well as a public forum for conversation with others who do meaningful work resisting oppressions.  I'm just not going to obsess over it like I was.... it was getting me nowhere.

Promises promises.  The proof is in the blogging. We shall see.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Scrapping Jane Laplain... for now.


I hate cliches with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Particularly when they turn out to be 100% correct.  But it's true what they say about Life:  It's the stuff that happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

I had planned this blog to be so much more than what I was able to make it out to be. I had planned this blog to be a vehicle for exploring complex issues of intersecting traumas and life changing experiences good and ill I've failed to process or integrate to this day.  I had planned to be the kind of person who could connect with others about their passions and their pain.  I had planned for the first time to be someone who is able to open up about her pain and be honest about the life I've created for myself, rather than just going thru it on autopilot wondering what's wrong.

What I discovered is that I'm in no shape to do so at this time. And instead of slowly becoming that capable integrated person, I quickly became the same old paranoid, critical, defensive control freaking villain I've always been. Even now with every opportunity to change and reasonable expectation of privacy and safety, I still cannot.

I've tried to write fully three times as many posts as you see here on this meagre blog.  I was simply unable to complete any of them. No matter how much I plan "catharsis" thru self expression, I just cannot bring myself to say these things without compromising my own sanity and ultimately, my ability to support myself and sustain a routine or any kind of relationship with another human being.

In short I'm figuring out that this healing business is the sort of stuff I can only do when I have the time and emotional reserves to focus on doing that and nothing else.

And honestly priorities are what it's all about right now.  Due to several reasons that were both outside of and entirely within my power to change, I am forced back in to survival/autopilot mode.  I must find a new job and I must create a new routine in the sudden absence of the life partner I'd planned on spending my life with.  Again with those plans.

This may seem like a histrionic overreaction to being dumped but in truth I've been thinking carefully for the last several hours and coming to terms with several truths.

1. The kind of help I need can't be done alone.  And it apparently can't be done while I'm in a relationship either. Must figure out third option.

2. What I had thought of as my reaching a space of emotional honesty and "safety" in my relationship, the freedom to let the pain out for the first time ever in the context of a loving safe environment,   actually was about me giving myself free license to abuse others rather than (or perhaps in addition to myself) and neglect others' needs (in this case my partner's) rather than my own.

3. I have to somehow live with the fact that I became an unbearable monster to the one person who I can say ever cherished me and did NOT treat me as such.

4. I have (yet again) sabotaged my chances for true healing by returning myself to a situation where I have no choice but to be alone and to struggle alone.

5. I have to face that the problem, no matter how many awful things others in this world may have done to me, the problem  has always been ME, and my reaction to what happens to me.

6. I am nowhere near ready to be the kind of person I hoped I could be.

7. Due to my own desperate, stupidly stupid and selfish actions, I am further behind in that goal than I've ever been.

Or maybe not.  If nothing else, I've come to a space where I fully realize my own participation in the unhappiness that has been my life thus far.  This is not an insignificant thing.  Rather... it has given me new insight.  And perhaps new wisdom that the next time I attempt something as big as all this, I'd better do my homework first.

Thanks for listening.


*NOTE 10/22/10*   After a few days cooling off, Mr. Laplain  agreed to come back to try working things out.  Whether we do work out will be up to both of us, but mostly me. I still have all of the above mentioned work ahead of me.   I'll be back to blogging again, as soon as I get some real grounding.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

i never got a chance to say goodbye

i've been angry with you becuz you've been visibly hostile with me .. of course you've had right to be. I know that's my own fault for not even explaining why * I * was being hostile and distant with you, but I swear to you i was unable to articulate myself until i did. and then even after that, you were distant and snippy everytime i did try to initiate conversation with you, at a time when i was actually trying very hard to break thru this fog of panic.

i haven't handled this situation well at all and i apologize.. and perhaps it is unfair to ask this of anyone.. but please understand when im in a state like this... when im suddenly dramatically different and quiet for no reason.. when you know we haven't had a fight or a falling out to warrant this kind of behavior.. you HAVE to understand it has nothing to do with you its all on me. so the last thing i need is someone being angry and distant with me becuz im going thru an episode.. it feels like im being punished or mocked for being triggered. like im to blame for what im feeling. that may or may not be the case, but hostility and pouting is the absolute worst way to get me to come around...

i guess im asking too much of you tho. im asking you to be sane in the face of my insanity, be kind in the face of my hostility.. and thats not fair. under normal circumstances i would say, oh hell no nobody can deal with a double standard like that... but when im not in my right mind... there isnt any reasonable accomodation that i am able to make.

this is the loneliest part of dealing with my PTSD... the triggering, the paranoia, the rage with nowhere to go but inward... the being in need of somebody to be normal and stable and ACT LIKE NOTHING DIFFERENT IS HAPPENING other than i just happen to be freaking out for a little bit in a corner somewhere. its impossible to explain... but if you know im going thru something that has nothing to do with you, please give me my space and please don't let it crush you to your core that i can't be a normal person in that moment.. just wait me out.. be happy.. live life... write me a love letter if you need to... just don't sulk at me and resent me... it makes me feel like you think im choosing my trigger over you. please don't make me feel that way, i would never choose this feeling in a million years. please don't lie in wait for me outside after work to make me feel "safer" or actively try to change my mood after ive explicitly requested space and silence... it makes me feel stalked and manipulated.

please understand you are not dealing with an able minded person... please don't expect sanity from the insane. at least not all the time. it just sets me up to fail.

I missed my calling as a self fulfilling prophet

Several things. In no particular order.

I found out my job picked up a huge military client. This client demands that we all submit to background checks.  I am not out to anyone at work. It is in fact, not a friendly place to be openly queer anything, much less trans.

I am scrambling looking for a new job because I'm fairly certain that once I'm outed at work it will be a glass ceiling situation at best, ammunition for management to lay me off for "unrelated" reasons by the end of the year.

After a three year respite, I started spotting from my ancient surgical incision that has opened and closed over the last ten or 12 years.  This is incredibly painful and gross.
I had a slow motion nervous breakdown over the course of several days after a drunken or drugged (couldn't tell) thug grabbed my ass and breasts while we rode in the elevator of my apartment building.

I said some awful hurtful things during this nervous breakdown to Mr. Laplain.  This was his last straw and he left.  I just came home from work just today to a note and a halved out apartment, where his things used to be.

I am at a loss for how to proceed. 

Or whether or not I even should.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stuff White People Do: The Interview

You'll have to forgive me for sounding a bit like a high school student on summer assignment thru out this interview.    Macon of anti-racist blog Stuff White People Do (currently on hiatus), was so gracious to agree to be one of my first subjects, and then  ended up becoming my VERY first.  I'm glad it turned out this way.

As I've said here before, I credit SWPD with helping me come to a place emotionally where I finally realized that the seemingly far-flung aspects of my identity were in fact intersected as a survivor of domestic violence, sexual and physical assault and rape.  Namely, that race was NOT the least of my problems, as I had been given to believe, and that I actually HAVE experienced racism and even collaborated with racism during the course of my life.  Before this epiphany, I had believed that my being black was simply incidental to my identity... and that being trans was far more oppressive for me than anything else I'd ever been thru.  In short, SWPD snapped me out of my denial.

My views have since evolved a great deal and now I plainly see the intersection of race with other oppressions and privileges everywhere.  This has been as liberating as it has been daunting. 

SWPD is certainly not the only anti-racist blog online.  However,  I found it unique in that it openly invited white people to discuss race and anlayze their own white privilege, to be VULNERABLE in these difficult discussions and just deal with that.  And with the help of the commenting forums, unambiguously held white people accountable for their participation in White Supremacy, unwitting or no.  It was a refreshing change of pace from the allegedly"I don't even see race" whitefolks who make an effort to say only the "right" things and are given a pass for their condescension because hey... at least they're trying right?   I never encountered such a forum that openly confronted white people and DIDN'T degenerate into hysterics and derail.   Not that it wasn't inclined to happen at SWPD, but because the forum culture was committed to not letting that happen.  I was intrigued.

What intrigues me most about SWPD was that it speaks to the importance of analyzing, rather than simply calling out,  the covert and "unintentional" types of racism we take for granted from others everyday.  It also forced me to call out the ways in which I had internalized and normalized racism in my own life.   I figured if this could be done with racism..., this could be done with all other oppressions.... and boy do I have a long list to sort thru....

Anyway. I am honored to have Macon as my first official interview.   Thank you, sir, for all the complicated healing issues you have raised for me. 

Jane: When you first started Stuff White People Do, what was your original vision for the blog? Did you intend for it to become the high traffic site it eventually became?

Macon:  My original vision was just a list of what I’ve come to call “common white tendencies,” and a place to write them down whenever they occurred to me. A blog seemed like a place to do that in a more public way, which seemed good because some white people might read it and think more about their own whiteness-induced tendencies. I was also inspired by the format, and in a dissatisfied way by the content, of Stuff White People Like. Like Peggy McIntosh has said about her famous article on white privilege, I wanted to write down, but also expand upon in whatever illustrative, convincing detail I could, such white tendencies (which differ from “privileges”).

I wanted these tendencies clarified so I myself could stop doing them. I also thought, and still do, that simply getting more white people to realize that their racial membership within an ongoing and abusive hierarchy is a way of challenging the effects on POC of that hierarchy.

So my initial target audience was white people—I thought I was writing about things that most POC already know. I didn’t feel that as a white person, I should try to teach POC anything about the topic, and especially about racism. Over the past two years or so, I’ve seen that the blog’s information, written by me and by others, sometimes helps POC deal better with white people. POC have also written that because this or that post pinned down and explained an example of racism, it confirmed for them that they’re “not crazy,” or that “it’s not just me that sees that, and sees it as racist,” or that what they suspected was racism really was that, and not what the some-other-thing that society at large claimed it was instead.

In terms of traffic, I didn’t have any particular goal in mind, and still don’t. Seeing the audience grow into a fairly large, engaged, and varied one has of course been gratifying, and I think that all of that input, including a lot of guest posts, has made it a more useful blog. Gradually, though, it occurred to me at times that without me realizing it, my efforts probably caused harm as well, especially if some white readers were doing little more with the blog’s information than patting themselves on the back, because they’d ingested a daily antiracism vitamin (which I guess would mean that in those cases, the posts are actually placebos instead).

What do you value most about SWPD? What are its biggest rewards and/or challenges for you?

I hope I’ve encouraged some other white people to look at their whitened selves, and ways. I’ve especially valued the blog’s audience, and I appreciate the various values that they, or most of them, have seemed to find in it. I hope the blog’s overall effect has worked against racism.

I’ve learned a lot about my own white/whitened self, and about white supremacy more generally. Personally, I’ve also valued the pressure that maintaining the blog put on me to think through various racism-related issues and problems. Writing is a concentrated form of thinking for me, and the blog helped me clarify apparently antiracist concepts and strategies and then articulate them better in other contexts.

The biggest early challenge early on was responding to commenters who challenged the posts. Not the overtly racist ones, but the antiracist ones, who basically pointing out that although I was writing in an attempted antiracist mode, I myself was sometimes being racist, in ways that I couldn’t see yet. I’ve since learned of the common white tendency that I was enacting there, and no doubt still enact, that of defending what I’ve said, digging in my heels almost as a matter of principle, and failing to see just how much I was still stuck in my own perspective, and just not listening well enough.

As the audience grew, my biggest challenge in the comment sections became moderating the comments effectively—screening them, that is, for racism and for derailment, moderating disputes among commenters, and dealing with commenters who dismissed the entire blog and tried to get other to readers/commenters to leave it.

Which blogs do you follow/have you followed closely? Why these?

In no particular order (and I’m sure I’m missing some—I keep up with about 75 blogs in my reader):

Womanist Musings, because Renee is so insightful, inspiringly dedicated, and often entertaining as well.

Sociological Images, for its concrete examples of racist phenomena and ephemera.

Racism Review, for the access it provides to hard data related to racism.

Racialicious, for its consistently useful posting choices and its insightful and generous commenting community.

Abagond, because his work is so varied and insightful, yet succinct.

Unapologetic Mexican, especially for “News with Nezua,” because he does that so well on all levels, and because he teaches me something every time.

We Are Respectable Negroes, because I learn a lot there, and I often get to laugh as I learn.

I also regularly read (although it’s technically not a blog) Counterpunch, and for political comic-relief, Dependable Renegade.

Obligatory POC skeptic question: As a White guy who doesn't have to deal with racism if he doesn't want to... what's in it for you? Why do YOU care, specifically? Why should we trust you?

Since I’m white, I don’t think that POC necessarily should trust me. I hope they are skeptical. I know—though I suspect not as well as many POC do—that I still have, and enact, various racist tendencies and habits. Consequently, though I don’t directly say so on the blog, I would encourage POC to remain skeptical of whatever I have to say. So far, I don’t say so because (1) the blog is about stuff white people do, not stuff POC do, and (2) it seems condescending or something for me to say so—it goes against my belief that POC already tend to be skeptical about me as a white person, because experience has taught them to know as well or better than I do why such skepticism is warranted.

What’s in it for me? Some resolution for an internal conflict that I continuously feel. Not to get too abstract about it, but that internal conflict is a battle between something like my sense of justice and morality (to which I attribute my unease and outrage over racial injustice, including the unearned benefits it’s bestowed upon me), and something like another side of me that’s been told it’s okay to relax and enjoy life, including the unearned benefits handed to me by the random details of my birth, my upbringing, and my current circumstances. The world around me encourages that latter side. For me, it used to be a struggle to keep the other side awake, and active, which is of course a side-effect, and a pathological one, of privilege. Because I try to listen to and nourish my moral conscience (rather than do what I’m “supposed to do,” which is to repress it), I feel compelled to not only become and remain more vigilant and aware of racial injustice, but also to do something against it. I think that to the extent I don’t do that, I’m psychologically and emotionally deformed, and underdeveloped.

Anyway, I don’t know what else to say about why POC should trust an anonymous white blogger. I would hope that consistently convincing work over an extended period of time would alleviate some mistrust. But then, I can’t convince everyone that what I do on the blog is effective work.

How important to you is an intersectional approach to anti-racism?

It is very important, but too often, it’s important to me in a merely abstract way. As a white, cisgendered, middle-class, able-bodied, U.S.-citizened male, intersectionality, I continue to function with less awareness of intersectionality than I know I should. Thanks to my occupancy in a lot of privileged categories, and to my intense focus on white supremacy, intersectionality is something that I continually need to remind myself to attend to. I know it’s important, but I don’t yet feel enough that it’s important, and so I don’t enact it enough. I know that my blog posts, like my daily actions in general, don’t register well enough the significance of other categorical influences, and phenomena, and injustices brought about by other significant categories.

At the same time, because the blog’s focus has been de facto white supremacy, especially as manifested in common white tendencies, I think that attending too much to other categorical factors could water down that focus, and/or distract from it. Not that there’s any real danger of “too much,” though, since as I said, I know that my approach is not well-attuned to intersectionality. I suppose I hope that readers can fine tune this or that observation about white supremacy in accordance to other categories they find significant as they read, but even there, I think that’s more of an excuse than a solid justification.

How effective do you think blogging is, as anti-racist activism?

In quantitative terms, I simply don’t know, and I don’t know how that could be measured. I obviously think it can do some good, since my goals in doing it are not purely selfish. It’s another way of getting useful information out, information that can cause people to act—or, I hope, in the case of the white people who read my blog, to learn that they may well do some egregious, racist stuff, and stop doing it.

In terms of effectiveness, I’m inclined to be a patient person—another result, another symptom, of privilege. I’m certainly not saying that I think anyone else should be more patient! And I do feel an impatient, frustrated rage about injustices caused by white supremacy and its enactors. But I also know that white supremacy can’t be brought down overnight, nor by one person, and that if any progress has been made, that didn’t happen quickly either. It’s a long term struggle, of course, and I feel hopeful that many swpd readers use information from the posts and comment sections to prevent various forms of racism from happening in their own lives. Actually, I’ve seen that happen, and I’ve heard about it happening too—people write emails to me about it, and sometimes guest posts on the blog.

I do think blogging is effective antiracist activism in my own life; because I’ve clarified various racist tendencies and actions of my own by writing them out for the blog, I don’t do them anymore. That doesn’t mean I and various elements of my life are no longer racist, but it does mean that what I do in the world is less racist. And I hope that’s true for some white readers as well.

Why did you put  SWPD on hiatus?

Mostly because the energy and time it took was detracting too much from other areas of my life—from other forms of activism, as well as my personal life and my day job. Moderating comments had also become a problem that I wanted to step back from, so I can reassess how I was doing it.

After moderating comments for about two years, I still wasn’t doing it effectively. Basically, I was still failing to see some forms of derailment, and of hurtful negligence and insult toward some of the commenters, and I hope that stopping will give me a chance to develop better radar. Some of the commenters I considered most valuable were apparently driven away, or sometimes driven into exasperated frustration, by my moderation practices, and some valuable commenters were also driven away by other valuable commenters. I hope I can figure out how to better prevent such things from happening.

I also want to get rejuvenated. I did consider posting less often and reading through the moderated comments even more slowly than I was, instead of taking a break, but I also felt some burnout coming on. White supremacy doesn’t take a break, of course, and I’m continuing to fight it in other ways, but I’m hoping that stepping back will renew, and also reshape, the particular passion that I’ve had for blogging, so I can do it all better than I was doing it before.

Ever coming back?

I hope so! And I’m planning to, but I don’t know when yet, mostly because I don’t know when my other work is going to settle down, and I don’t know yet if the energy and time that blogging took from my other antiracism efforts is worth devoting to it.

Which other social causes are you passionate about besides anti-racism?

The usual suspects for someone (maybe someone white, and mlddle class, and so on?) who identifies as left of “liberal,” but especially raising awareness of, and trying to inspire action against, gendered abuse and injustice. I’m also incensed by the general oblivion in the U.S. about the fact that it’s a militant empire, a resource-stealing, murderous one. Also, the sad, disgusting, and dangerous realities the corporatized, industrial food that most of us in the U.S. eat, as well as the part that our food choices play in the lack of food and health for others in the world.

Who are your personal anti-racist role models?

I have disagreements with some of them, and I’m sure I’m neglecting some others, but those who come to mind first include Robert Jensen, James Baldwin, David Roediger, Elaine Kim, damali ayo, Adrian Piper, Toni Morrison, Ronald Takaki, Tim Wise, Lillian Smith, Renee Martin, Paul Mooney, Karen Brodkin and Thandeka. As I look at that list, I think “heroes” is a better term than “role models.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good Intentions and the road to...

One generally shouldn't initiate a slammingdoor fight with one's fiance the night before one's official anniversary/ birthday.  Especially after he has baked a cake from scratch, made you a delicious salmon dinner, rubbed your shoulders, sat with you thru a sappy chick flick (Corrina Corrina),  and in general tried his best to please you all week in preparation for the big day.   But where would I be in life without my emotional rollercoasters???  Where would I go??

My inability to be straightforward about my emotional needs in the moment is starting to take its toll on the both of us.  It seems no matter how I try to explain that when I get home from work, my priority is to 1) decompress from the physical pain i've been in 2) decompress from the anxiety/triggering 3) sloooooooow waaaay the fuck doooooown and not be stimulated,  not to move or be moved... we just clash.  Time and again.

This is alot to ask everyday of a man who has ADD, is extremely gregarious and social, and genuinely adores my company and gets excited to see me.  I mean constitutionally I know I'm asking more than he can give me. When he needs affection, I need isolation.  When he needs conversation I need silence.  When he needs stimulation and a change of pace I need boring routine and zero surprises and no new decisions to make.  This is not a recipe for success.

And I feel profoundly guilty. I think back to the spontaneous, active person I used to be before PTSD and crotch pain began to rule my every waking moment.

allow me to join everybody in commemorating the 9th anniversary for 9/11 for a sec.  Everybody in the US of A remembers what they were doing THAT DAY, when they first heard, how they felt.  What they had planned to do until.  So here's me:

For three weeks I had been looking forward to going out with Danny, a guy I was dating at the time but only rarely got to see due to our competing escort schedules.  Dating is a strong word for it tho.  He was one of several guys I had chosen serially to hook up with for no other reason than he was mindblowingly hot.  He was a part-time porn actor, escort and male stripper in Montrose, which if you didn't already know, is the famously gay nightclub district of Houston.  Most of the guys I singled out for "dating" were strippers, male escorts, or porn actors or bartenders and bouncers at the local gay bars trying to break into any one of the gigs above..   People think that these guys are all gay.  In fact most guys in the sex industry, like most guys on the planet, are pretty much straight.  But heteroflexibility is a prerequisite.  Being an escort, I was privy to my male peers in a way most people aren't.  It's a pretty incestuous crowd  If you're not "in the scene" it's hard to relate to people who aren't.  So, like any work place, you're most likely to date the people you spend the most time around.

My selection of "mates" was entirely utilitarian.  I made a point never to get with anybody I had ever worked with...cuz that would just be weird and sad.  My thinking was that since I had slept with and performed various erotic acts with men I in no way found attractive for a LIVING...I had to make damn sure that I was sleeping with the hottest guys I could get my hands on... in my LEISURE time.   You can imagine the dysfunction and cumulative damage to one's psyche and sexuality one incurs from such a mindset.    But  at the time I resented that the vast majority of my sexual history occurred in the context of sex work, with men who did nothing for me, other than pay me. Quitting that gig wasn't an option, but  I had to do SOMETHING to get those  "dirty old man" cooties out of the old bat cave, yanno???  I mean.. THAT makes sense right... fight fire with fire yeah??

Um. Yeah.

Most of the time sex with these hot guys  was less than stellar...  many if not most were doing the exact same thing as I was... sleeping with somebody they actually found attractive to make up for all the creepy guys who paid them to dance, hump, pose or whatever.   I didn't particularly care one way or another if the sex was any  GOOD or not.. I just wanted it to be with somebody who I would have done it with for FREE.

Danny happened to be one such guy I was seeing at the time. And sex with him was better than good.  It was... like being rescued from a burning building.  It was straight up action adventure. It was breathtaking. I relied on him much more than I knew I should. 

He was in fact the first one to call me that day.  I remember it was 7amish when the phone rang.  I saw the caller ID.  Thought...  FUCK.  He's calling me to back out on our date tonight. He had a terrible habit of standing me up at the last minute.  Then showing up out of nowhere on some other day when I wasn't planning on seeing anyone.  But this was on my fucking birthday no less. . And he's waking me up to do it??  I snatched up the receiver prepared to give him hell ....  but when he said my name it was clear he was crying or something.  I ask him what's wrong he just says "Go turn on the news.  Get up and do it right now!"

Annoyed and alarmed all at once, I stumble blindly  to the living room, turn on the TV... just in time to see the first tower crumbling.  I had no idea what I was even looking at, I didn't have my contacts on and it seemed like a movie or video footage of a demolition or something.   It took me quite a bit to process what was actually happening and where.  By the time I realized that two planes had been flown into the World Trade Center all I could think was.. "Oh.  Well. Huh. Look at that."

I hear so many stories about 9/11 and people's first reaction and I figure they've got to be laying it on a little thick.  People claiming to have fallen to their knees in shock or horror.  People who I know have no relationship to New York whatsoever, mind you.  But for me,  it wasn't shock or surprise. It was... "Wow it's finally happened." 

I wasn't angry. I wasn't scared. I felt only this surreal sense of the whole country shifting immediately into a new paradigm.  Bombings, terrorist attacks.  That was something that happened in another place.  We only bomb our own. We only kill our own...  No country had ever "laid hands" on us like this.  But somehow without ever having thought about it before, I KNEW that one day they would.  And from that point on we would have to deal with the rest of the world as peers in a way we never had to before.

But I digress. Yeah yeah the World Trade Center, big tragedy.  Thousands of people dying horribly, planes hijacked, people leaping to their deaths blah blah.  The real tragedy?  Danny was going to stand me up!!!  He was far too upset by all this to keep a lousy date!  He had family in NYC and needed to know if they were alright. This was terrible!!  Who would get the cooties off of me after I had just spent a whole day and night with the Adult Baby Banana Pooping Guy???  I had been looking forward to Danny for weeks!

And Danny proceeded to do just that..."I don't know if I can make it tonight... I'm sorry..." 

"Danny! Don't be ridiculous of course we can't go out...  Forget about us... You can't be alone like this.  I'm coming over right away..."

And that was how I pulled it off.  I went and spent the rest of the day playing the supporting actress role of my life.  I consoled and comforted Danny.  I held his hand while he called NYC.   I took him for a long walk to clear his head.  We stopped and talked to complete strangers about the attacks, we walked hand in hand in the park.  I listened intently to him talk about having served in the Gulf War (the first one, at that time). I swooned with girlish pride in his patriotism.  People on the street treated us as a young couple in love, sharing in the solemnity of the national tragedy of that day.  Everybody in Houston was eerily subdued.  Houston is NOT a quiet city. It is not a polite city.  It is not easily fazed.  But that day, everywhere we went, everyone we talked to seemed to be on the same page...  "I can't believe it. I just can't believe it." 

I felt like a fraud.  "Oh me either.. it's so shocking!"  But I was lying. I wasn't shocked.  I didn't really feel anything one way or another.. and my BEST FRIEND lived in new york.  She called and said she could see the smoke from Brooklyn.  She was alright tho.  That was really the extent of my emotional engagement in what happened and I felt like a terrorist myself... shouldn't I be more upset?  Why is everyone taking it so hard?  I mean, we hear about people getting bombed in the Middle East all the time. Palestine. Israel. Wars in Africa.  It all felt the same to me.  Brutal but distant and unsurprising to me.  "This must be the beginning of the end."  Danny said.  I had no idea what he meant but I agreed.

All of this to get laid.  I remember thinking I must be getting carried away when one elderly couple stopped us outside of a cafe in Montrose, their eyes glowing with the same stunned sadness.   "How long have you two been together?"   Danny looked at me like huh?? What are they saying.   "I can tell youre very much in love" the lady said.  "Just beautiful," the gentleman said.  They told us to take care of ourselves.  

I felt awkward, embarrassed.  Like I had been caught stealing something and was being praised for my finesse. I knew I was taking advantage of Danny, but I was living for this moment.  Acceptance. Walking the streets in daytime, with a  MAN... an attractive MAN.. a manly, ex-army masculine archetype of a man...... being seen as straight, and NOT a transsexual, and NOT a hooker.  . Being seen as beautiful.  And not in the hey look at that gnarly old dude with that hot black chick *nudge nudge wink * sense I was used to...   NO we were an attractive, normal male and female couple. Not two creatures of the night conspiring debauchery or selling sin.   Nobody was staring at me as the girl who looks like she's a model or in porn or something,  not as the high class call girl,  not my USUAL public persona.  I was just another woman out with her boyfriend.  Her HOT boyfriend. In love. Being loved.   It was all an illusion.. but I needed it.  I needed to know these things were possible for me to have, even if only in the most superficial sense... and I was willing to be a total fake to get it.

So I got superlaid that night, just like I wanted.  But Danny never returned my calls after that.  He had caught on to the way I had been hamming it up and I guess it squicked him.  Rightly so.  I can't say that I mourned losing him.  There was always another pretty face.  But I hated the way I had been "caught" wanting something so badly.  I lived life in such a way as to appear that I was above such things...Fitting in.  The approval of society as a straight, non-transsexual woman.  Who needs social acceptance, when you have beauty?   I even acted like I could care less that people found me beautiful or not.. when in fact I spent every waking moment on some aspect of my appearance, and to go thru a day not hearing how lovely I looked from at least one random stranger was to spend a sleepless night wondering what I did wrong.

You would never know any of that by looking at me today.  And neither would Mr. Laplain. 180 degrees.  I can't be bothered to care how I look.  I can't be bothered to show affection, or go for long walks in the park, or shave my fucking legs, or be seen out and about with my man,  a beautiful young couple in love.  I am no longer young. I am no longer beautfiul, except in  his eyes.  And he is still so beautiful in mine.  But I can't seem to show it. I can't say it except behind his back.  I can't accept his love..I can't even feign the illusion of being kind and loving anymore, altho it was my JOB for 3 years.   I can't be spontaneous, can't just up and spend the whole day milling about the town, exploring, experiencing.  I can't participate in LIFE  at anything near the level that I used to anynmore.

And that fills me with sadness, shame, rage.. and so many other heavy hearted things. I feel like I found the man of my dreams, the REAL love  I've been waiting for my whole life.. but  I found him too late. And there is nobody to take out my anger on but HIM.  And he doesn't deserve this. He asks for so little and I can't even give that.

Today is officially our one year anniversary.  Our first date was at the hospital.  And our second.  And our fourth. (Mr. Laplain lives with a congenital illness which unfortunately requires hospitalization from time to time). We have never been to a movie together.  We have never been to a restaurant that wasn't a hole in the wall take out joint.  I am determined to do those two things for him today.  I have planned this for a month.  I am in alot of pain physically.  I do NOT want to move out of this chair, let alone this apartment. But I need to show him that I want more for him than somebody who can only come home, collapse in a chair and weep.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Request For Feedback

Hey all... seems like I'm getting several copies of comments mysteriously. Especially ones that are anonymous.    I just tried logging off and commenting anonymously myself.  Was harder than I anticipated!

I am going to tweak the comment functions a bit.. or try to... I'm an infant at this.   But if you've been having specific trouble leaving comments here at this blog please let me know.... 

I ought to be whipped!

Mr. Laplain let me open one of my birthday presents early, since I've been so whiny and difficult of late.  Tantrums!  They're not just for toddlers anymore!  Anyway, it was a book.  One I haven't been able to put down since.

Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano has been on my must read/must have list for a couple of years now.  She's one of several important Trans authors where I've read alot ABOUT her work but not nearly enough of what she has written herself.  She was the very first person I learned of to begin using the terms Cissexual, Cissexism.  Unfortunately, I did not immerse myself in the opportunity to learn exactly what she meant at that time... I simply accepted the common shorthand definition for those words to mean "Not Transsexual"  and "The type of oppression perpetrated by non-trans people against trans people).  

I'd read a few snippets of essays she had written here and there and found them empowering in context, but still I never actually sat and tried to take everything in she had to say nor apply it to my own experience of being trans.  After all, I've never tried to go anywhere near Michigan, let alone the Michigan Womyn's Music Fesitival and still to this day can't fully understand why so many transwomen have assigned so much political import to this Cissexist event. Not to mention Racist and Classist. (I have Cis lesbian friends of color.. I've heard things...). 

Of course,  I've never experienced being excluded from lesbian only spaces either, and I've tended to view the J Michael Bailey/Alice Dreger flap as a strictly academic upheaval.  These were all community struggles I fervently supported in spirit, but didn't really feel the effects of in my daily life one way or another.

So... MAN do I ever feel late to the party!!  WHIPPING GIRL should be required reading for everyone.  EVERYONE.  It is not without it's flaws, but it is to date the most straightforward and accessible explanation of the dynamics of discrimination and prejudice trans people face in society I've seen.

I can only  wonder... what if  we'd had this book back when I was just getting started some 20 years ago?  So many things I know I would never have done or said, stupid things because I was so busy trying to cater to the expectations of a cissexist society. So many  LGBT panels I sat on, not knowing wtf I was saying, just so glad somebody was willing to take me seriously as a transsexual, if not as a woman.    But then immediately feeling duped and exploited everytime someone in the audience or even on the PANEL would ask me incredibly personal details about my breasts, my figure, my makeup, my hair  right in front of everyone as if it were perfectly natural to do so.  Or ask me to go into detail about exactly when I "knew" what made me so sure, and at what age I started wearing my mother's clothes :

(ME: Umm... well actually, I never wore my mother's clothes.   My mother worked in a hospital. She wore scrubs and labcoats. She only wore makeup for special occasions. She only wore dresses and skirts once in a blue moon. Honestly, I think women who wear dresses all the time are kinda weird...  Like.. why...

[keep in mind, i was a teenager, so saying things like "No I'm not weird YOU'RE weird" was my idea of being 'progressive']

GUY AT CONFERENCE:  OOOooh.... did you have an older sister or other female relative you'd wear their clothes then?  You look so comfortable and natural at it.

ME:  A natural at what..? Wearing this t-shirt and jeans? 

GUY:  No no no you know what I mean.. you look very feminine.  I mean it as a compliment!!  You are very good at makeup. 

ME:  But ...I'm not wearing any makeup. 

THEM:  You're not?? Well now I really AM impressed!!....

 and so on...)

So many boneheaded words and phrases I used to use because I didn't have the tools to describe myself with anything other than cissexist terms.  Like how I used to say GG, or genetic girl to explain the difference between cissexual and transsexual females.    Even as I realized the vast majority of people never have their genes tested,  nor do chromosomes factor into our decision to use certain pronouns or whether to address someone as Mr. Miss or Ms.....

But I digress.  That was then.  This is now.  Right now I'm reading WHIPPING GIRL and I know I'm laughably tardy to the party, considering the crowd most likely to be reading this post, but if for some foolish reason you haven't read it yet either, RUN and do it as soon as you can.   Especially if you are CIS and wish to be able to speak somewhat intelligently about trans people's lives and the challenges we transfolk face just finding respectful language to articulate our very existence to you.

This post does not count as the long awaited post I've been promising in early entries.... That one's happening either later tonight or tomorrow, no worries.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Okay for real this time! I swear! Soon!

I have just endured three of the most grueling weeks of all my purple life, as the artist formerly known as O(+> might say.  But hopefully I have reached a plateau.

I recently quit one of my grueling jobs and have added hours to my other grueling job, with the grueling manager whose grueling, anxiety ridden demeanor is largely responsible for the grueling nature of the last three weeks I just mentioned.

I'm having trouble getting to the point here.   Starting next month, as in tomorrow, as in September, the month of my birth, I devote more energy to making regular posts here. By regular I mean at least two a month.  Hopefully more.  But considering I've had nothing to write except excuses the last two posts, I think two is a reasonable goal.

Speaking of September... I am one of the millions of people who happen to have been born on THAT day.  You know the one.  9/11. I don't mean in the metaphorical sense of being reborn, I mean literally that is the date of my birth.  So when I post on or after that day either rejoicing or sobbing, depending on how it went, I don't want to hear, oh NO what a monster how can she not respect what happened on THAT DAY.

That said, I can't believe it's coming up on 9 years now.  I can't believe how much has changed about my life since then, and how little the world has changed since then.  This will require deeper, less hectic reflection than I'm giving the topic right now.  I will come back to this.  Perhaps tomorrow.  Definitely soon.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

OMG Maybe Not!

Okay so I underestimated the time lag involved in doing interviews with very very VERY busy people who barely had time to talk to me in the first place, and then adding the corollary that I wouldn't post said interview without them signing off on the final product first.  I've been waiting for daaaaaaaaaays for that final sign off.  I don't think they are ducking me I just know that they are insanely busy.

So maybe I'll rethink that one rule.  Maybe I'll make a good faith effort to work as closely as possible with the subject whenever I can.  The times I can't, I will post it and if they later come to object to what was posted I'll handle that then.

At any rate, it's not as if I haven't been busy myself.  This was the work week from 7th Hell.  2 Jobs + 2 overlapping work schedules ( - ) 1 emergency sick day = CHAOS.

Stay tuned.  Things will sort out here eventually.  Jane said to the lone cricket napping in the corner.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saving Jane Laplain's.... Marriage

Mr. Laplain* is going to leave me.

He hasn't said this. He hasn't hinted at this.  He hasn't behaved like he doesn't love me anymore. But no man, no human being, can take as much rejection as I've been dishing out.

I am not a monster. I don't wish to reject him.  I am still in love with him like I've never loved anyone.  I hate it whenever he is out of my sight. But I have no way of explaining with my own voice that when I'm in one of my "seasons"... there is simply nothing  that can be done to "please me" nor to "comfort" me. 

I'm not just talking about physical intimacy. I'm talking about the fact that when I come home from work I am so overstimulated, so sensitized to having been around people I don't trust, talking to people I don't know, and pretending to be completely accessible and warm, all the while in extreme physical discomfort or pain, that I am drained of all capacity to speak when I get home.  That when I come home from work I come home in full body flashback to a time when I was forced to smile, and laugh, and be sociable with persons who had just finished paying me to reenact humiliating sex fantasies while in physical pain, or a person who I in no way wanted to have sex with but I needed the money and they wouldn't give me that money if they knew how much I hated being near them. And also I'm in physical pain.

This is why it is impossible to discuss this with Mr. Laplain.  What guy wants to hear that his wife* flashes back to prostitution and street harassment whenever she comes home to him?  How do you explain its not HIM it's just the fact that I've been subconsciously stimulated to that  memory for ten to twelve hours straight and home is the one place I can come to and feel like I don't have to talk to anybody or let anybody touch me or even look at me if I don't want them to.  And aftter ten to twelve hours of my body being forced to interact with strangers against my will, I just don't have anymore left for the one person who needs my time and attention most?

That sounds like bullshit if you don't know what living with PTSD is like. Or living with chronic pain. I had to go back and add pain, because I keep forgetting just how much my chronic pain issues take from me.  I've lived with them so long I don't notice how it affects me anymore.  But there is the psychic trauma too.

How do I explain that something so simple as asking me, in all tenderness, "can I have a kiss?"  that my reptilian brain cannot distinguish that from "stop what you are doing right now and show me physical intimacy!" 

How do I explain that the real reason I prefer sleeping on the futon isn't just because of back pain, but because out there I get to fantasize somebody is sleeping right next to me, keeping me safe from attackers in the night. And that this someone is a person who has no capability of reaching over and touching me in a sexual way while I'm sleeping?

I know this is not "rational." That is the point.  I know my husband* is not a john, not an assailant, not a stranger. 

The thing is I think I know the solution, or at least part of, but I have no idea how to explain any of this without explaining all of the above first, which I have no idea how to do without hurting him.  And how do I explain that sometimes the very act of speaking or being looked at feels like a violation?  How do you explain this to someone who adores you and loves talking to you and looking at you? How how how???

You bet I feel like a monster.  You're damn right I feel ridiculous, selfish, melodramatic, stupid.  I don't know what to do.

I think I might I have a solution but I can't even adequately explain myself TO myself yet.  I just don't know.  I don't know I don't know. I just wish he would stop ASKING me to show him affection. I mean literally asking me. the question.. Can I have a hug?  Can I have a kiss? Will you come lay down and cuddle with me?

I think the solution may be as simple as changing the way he asks the question.  The way he "asks" me is invariably asking me to do something for him, to him, with him, and right then and there.  It puts me in the position of having to grant consent for what should be innocuous, but in my perpetually heightened state of low-grade panic,  feels like yet another person asking me to act or speak or perform against my will. 

If he were to say "Can I kiss you?" That would be an entirely different question. That would be him asking me for access to my physical person, not access to my AFFECTION.

OMFG I think I just figured it out!! I really do!!  That IS a huge part of the problem!! 

I grew up experiencing my entire life, espcially my body as not my own to control, or even inahbit as I saw fit.  I became accustomed to people being able to demand I say or do things that were the exact opposite of what I wanted to do not only just to please them, but to avoid a BEATING.  I think every single trans-child feels this way.  Your whole identity, down to your very body, is  experienced as something ALIEN to you, something that feels wrong, but not just wrong, scarringly deeply wrong wrong wrong.  But you have no choice. You MUST comply with the expectations of others. You MUST conform to their perception of you right down to performing the precise physical movements they demand you perform and avoiding the precise physical movements they have forbidden you to perform.  If you don't, you WILL be subject to reprimand, humiliation, beatings, etc.  Universally! No matter where you go what you do the consequences for failure are the same!    You learn to live in a constant state of fear of fucking up and bringiing the wrath of family and strangers alike down on your head.  And if you do choose to drop the act, to move your own damn body as you fucking PLEASE, you brace yourself for the shouting and abuse, and physical attacks that NEVER CEASE.

 It's a different sort of violation than when somebody initiates violence against you out of the blue.   Its not only the person MAKING you do this thing that you don't want to do,  but that person asking YOU to do it for them,   because they know you aren't in any position to deny their request and they'd rather not have to exert their own energy while violating you.  This is why some trans children do choose the path of open defiance rather than conformity. You figure if they are going to punish me for doing what I know I must, at least they have to disrupt their own lives to do it.  At least they dont get to walk thru life pretending that they arent really hurting me.

And this is also how prostitution can be a completely traumatizing experience even if said prostitute is working of her own free will.  When you NEED the money, when saying "NO I don't want to" means you don't get rent paid or you don't eat, it's not really free will its the will to survive.   When all that's standing between you and homelessness is your disgust at showing affection to somebody who under normal circumstances you'd never dream of letting touch you, well you learn to put personal disgust aside in favor of not starving or losing that roof over your head. 

Do this long enough and it leaves a deep scar where your ability to connect physically with another human being of your own free will should be. 

I will need to tease these issues out more.  I'm not quite there but I'm on to something.    Going back to my possible solution.  I really think shifting language might help.  Maybe.  I hate being asked "Can I get a kiss??"  When I'm in a "mood" it sounds no different than "Can I get a blowjob?" UGH UGH UGH.  I know that's not fair to Mr. Laplain or to anyone who wants something so simple... but I cannot help this and I'm ashamed of it... everything that comes to me lately gets processed from this damaged space.

The thing is I would gladly do all of these things of my own free will if he would just let me settle down. If he could let me feel safe, let me begin to distinguish "out there" from "right here"  and "back then" from "right now."  Every time I leave the house it's the same old dilemma.  I need fucking time. I need space. I need to come back to the world.  And I don't need to be rushed.

Can I kiss you, makes all the difference.   Can I do this thing I want to do to you? What a concept!  Nobody ever takes responsibility for what they are asking of me.  "Will you stop doing whatever youre doing right now and pay me attention instead?  But do it with a smile, and act like it was your idea, okay?"  That's what I hear.    "Can I have your permission to touch you in this way? " THAT Takes responsibility for having the thought in the first place and presents it to me as an option. Asking permission, rather than asking for affection or a service!  It is not asking me to perform emotion I may or may not feel at the moment on top of asking me to perform the physical act itself.  It is a simple yes or no question.

Think about it.   "Can I have a kiss?"  No.   "Why don't you want to give me a kiss?  Don't you love me?"

"Can I kiss you?"  No.  "Oh, you don't want to be kissed right now?" No. "Okay, maybe later."

Okay maybe I'm only fantasizing that this would be any simpler for us.  I won't know until we try.  Now, how to explain any of this without actually having to have a conversation about it and feel even more exposed and violated by having to explain it to another person face to face??   Hopefully he'll happen upon this entry I put up on the internet like a huge fucking coward.  Which I doubt because he already doesn't read this blog.

Back to the futon for me.


*Mr. Laplain, NOT his real name either, and I are not yet married. We are engaged.  Due to the many intimacy issues I've been displaying in recent months, the setting of a final wedding date has been postponed indefinitely.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Setting Up Boundaries

Now that I'm sure what I intend to use this blog space for, I should make the rules and gameplan clear.  Mostly for my own peace of mind, its not like anybody even knows this blog exists yet.  But  for any new readers who might wander in (it could happen!), here ya go.


I will not tolerate trolls. Not even a little bit. Trolling to me means making threats, hurling epithets, derail and spamming directed at me or anyone else who may comment here.

I'm not saying I have to like or agree with your comment before I'll allow it. I am not looking for praise or for flattery or a fanbase. My comment posting criteria are completely subjective, arbitrary and UP TO ME. Deal with it.

There is a reason this blog is public and not private. The idea that somebody just may find value in what I'm writing. If I were to keep all this for my eyes only, I'd never do it; I already know this shit. But keeping myself honest by addressing the public, I just might gain a little more insight into myself. And I might do somebody else some good too. Maybe. Maybe not. We shall see.

To sum up. Comment all you like. I make no promises any of it will be posted or that I will even acknowledge you exist, even if you say the nicest thing ever. But if you find yourself inclined to comment, please do it from an HONEST, rather than a cynical place. I'll do my best to honor those kinds of comments in a timely fashion.


This blog is going to be TRIGGER CITY for a lot of people who struggle with Survivor issues. You need to know this. At times I will go into graphic detail about what I've been thru, or what I'm feeling. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. I have lived thru some traumatic shit. Expect to find some of that described here. Especially be warned if, like me, you suffer from PTSD and are sensitive to discussions of Rape, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Stalking, Police Harassment, and Public Harassment. I cannot express this enough... proceed with caution here.

I am not saying every single post is going to be about these topics. But they will come up whenever they come up and I can't afford to sugarcoat things. Just sayin.


This won't make much sense to readers just yet as I haven't posted any interviews. I'm still working on several simultaneously and once they are done you'll see what I mean. More often than not, these will be of people I specifically asked to let me interview them, because I admire their anti-oppression work in general or because something they've done in their lives has affected me in a deeply personal way.

My interview limits are the following:

  • I respect the privacy and boundaries of all subjects. Some people do not wish to use their offline, real life identities. I will not post any identifying information without permission.

  • I will not post the content of any pre or post interview discussion with a subject without permission.

  • I will not post quotes from any discussion I've had with any interviewee that isn't already public record. If we IM'd or emailed you will not find that content on this blog unless you told me I could put it there. (This does not include trolls, I will put your shit on blast).

  • I will not post an interview until the interviewee has seen the final script and okayed it.

  • I will not change the content of any interview once posted, save for grammatical errors or typos.

  • If a subject who was once interviewed wishes that interview to be removed, I will take it down. (However, I cannot take responsibility for any other places besides this blog the text ends up once I've posted it).

Back to Trolling.
I don't think you heard me so let me make this clear.


IF you troll here, I WILL report, and possibly post your full contact info you used to comment. This includes your IP address, username, email and location sweetie.

And if you're worried that something you want to say here might be on the trollish side, just save yourself the trouble and don't bother.

Okay I think that's enough law laying for now. SOUNDS LIKE SO MUCH FUN RIGHT??

*cue crickets*

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Following up....

The debacle got even worse after I had posted about my exchange with the WOC commenter whose comments I had misinterpreted. But then it finally stopped.

She has responded with another sincere apology. It meant alot to me so I'll post it here:


I can't see how else to clarify what I have said, in my own style without hurting you.

For me,that is unacceptable.
Please come back and provide the depth you have been providing of your viewpoint and your angle. IT IS IMPORTANT

I will give you the space you need and say no more.

My need to clarify an issue shouldn't come at your expense, nor at the expense of anyone reading.

It pains me to see how my comment is being used and viewed and the extrapolations which are made from it, but them there are the breaks, once its out there, it is out there.

I share your pain and frustration, I would offer my email in order to completely and fully apologise, however I am not sure this is appropriate thing to do and I am unsure of how to go about it.

i noticed you left your email address, but since our discourse here has been quite volatile and it seems this subject has affected both of our sensibilities, I feel any correspondence from me, without your express permission to use your email address would be inappropriate and possibly just plain wrong, (no matter what the content)

If my apology via this medium will suffice, then please, I beg of you..
receive it from the whence it came..
from the depths of my soul and from the inner most portions of my heart.

I cannot apologise enough.
I know this does not erase the harm that has taken place, or the bitter feelings or disappointment.

I have learnt a lot from this, my hurt, my experience, my anger, irritation, my passion and my brevity for expression does not happen in a vacuum.

You, your comments, your emotions, your experience, your hurt, your anger and your passion reside right along side me.

Jane Laplain

I unreservedly apologise to you.


I needed that. THANK YOU. I offered my email but haven't heard from her. I don't really need to as everything has been said already So I guess it was worth the emotional toil of that thread after all.

Being able to tease out my own issues like this with people, resolve conflicts both internal and interpersonal, that's exactly why I'm doing this blog. I wasnt being glib when I titled this blog Saving Jane Laplain.

About that. It IS worth disclosing that Jane isn't my actual name, just the one I use online. I cannot use my real name without running the risk of being outed and fired from both my jobs. Not to mention risk attracting all kinds of offline stalker attention for things I said online (Been there, done that. Not doin it again). I don't necessarily believe getting fired is a foregone conclusion of my being outed, but that's a risk i'm not willing to take in this economy. After a full year of being unemployed after getting laid off in 2008 and nearly losing my apartment, I'm just not going to take unnecessary risks.

This blog is a necessary risk. I am all kinds of shut down. I have no unsafe place to unpack my issues one by one without leaving me exposed to further trauma from one corner or another. Rape surivor groups are Cis oriented. Period. That's crazy considering the astronomical rates at which transpeople experience rape across the globe. But yeah. You cannot feel safe outing yourself as a transwoman in a Survivors support group. I went to a couple of those and mentioning my transness wasnt even remotely an option. I spoke in generalities and mostly listened and affirmed and hugged and cried and that was important to do. But it was superficial help at best, at least for me.

Anti-racist groups are overwhelmingly cis as well, even the intersectional ones and the queer affirming ones. They do try and work on that, but there is only so much they can do from within their cis privilege, especially when the focus is racism and its effects on people of color, who are, like most people on the planet, predominantly cis.

Trans and Queer support groups are geared heavily towards the specific needs of White trans and queer folks. And resources for trans women are dominated by White, later transitioning transwomen who tend to be struggling with their specific challenges. such as how to integreate their lived histories as White Men into their current lives as White Women along with the psychic trauma of "plummeting" into 2nd class citizenship as trans. Its a unique experience and I totally validate and respect that. But I can't relate.

In an earlier entry I asked "Whatever happened to the Classics?" I pointed out that transwomen of color tend to start early like I did and even earlier and we just seem to die or disappear at some point. I know more than a few younger transwomen of color, but I personally know only TWO other POC transwomen MY age who transitioned in their teens AND are still around/alive.

Add to this my growing need to acknowledge my disability issues, which I still struggle to understand really are disabilities. I've had VERY poor eyesight my whole life but have managed more or less. In recent years it's gotten worse and I've been without the insurance to keep up with eye care. Also add to this my struggle with PTSD, my tendency to "go recluse" (wreck loose?) on folks, and trying to work for a living withdebilitating physical pain caused by botched genital surgery I underwent when I was 21, and continued recovery from a stroke I suffered at 29. Long, cripplingly painful stories both of those, and ones I'm not anywhere near ready to expose here in full detail. But at some point I have to DEAL with all of the above.

So yeah I'm right back to where I started. Figuring out what I'm doing here... Why do I want to do this? Is this blog even necessary? What am I getting myself into?

I'd better go see why Mr. Laplain hasn't woken up yet. He's usually up and in my face as soon as the sun starts streaming in, and that was well over an hour ago.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Racism IS Rape: A Mantra

Okay so I have to take a break from Stuff White People Do. I credit that blog with helping me begin to unpack a whole world of trauma and internalized racism that I had left untouched for most of my life. I still value that forum. But it's time to take a break from it as soon as I see people elevating the metaphorical Rape of Black people by Racism over the feelings of actual POC survivors of Rape and Assault, in this case a person (me) who was in fact targeted for Rape and Assault precisely because I was POC.

I write this on the heels of a very ugly argument/debate/debacle about how it's important not to conflate the clueless things likely to be said by White people on SWPD with Rape (my argument)... against OMG How dare you invalidate another WOC's experience of Racism as Rape?? (practically everybody else's comment to me or about what I said).

I confess I behaved hurtfully when I flipped the fuck out on said WOC, saying to her if she honestly feels that violated by the comments at SWPD why the hell does she even go there? I said this out of anger, but also under the impression that she indeed was comparing WP's participaton on that site with Rape. She later clarified that that was NOT what she meant at all, that she meant Racism itself is Rape, not the comments. I get that now. But she clarified this only after instructing me, rather dismissively, to re-read her post, saying she will never apologize for saying that and that I'm attacking her for feeling what she feels and how dare I presume she's never been raped. (I don't recall presuming that last one, but okay).

I'll post her initial comment, which she made in response to a White commenter's troubling statement about zir intent in participating on the blog. Emphasis and parentheses are mine:

"I'd rather inadvertently hurt and offend while going in the right direction than hurt and offend while not doing anything at all." <-- [White Person at SWPD] I wonder how you would feel if a man said..
I'd rather inadvertently rape and hit a woman whilst learning about sexism and misogyny than rape and hit a woman whilst not learning about them at all.

This is why many black people have faced the fact that many white people do not see us as human beings with feelings & emotions ...

You actually do not care about hurting us, your concern even when trying to be anti racist is still ALL about you

The thing is... I agree with her overall premise. Racism IS Rape in many ways. And too many WP claim to be trying to unlearn their racism, but really are just repeating a dehumanizing pattern of racial abuse.

And now that you bring up Rape, thanks, its also worth emphasizing that Racism often means getting Raped, not just figuratively but LITERALLY when you're POC.

I disagreed with the figurative use of Rape here due to the larger context of the conversation about WP commenting on SWPD. In that context her comment took on a whole other meaning that was frankly triggering for me. I took it to mean that she felt that any comments by WP that were insensitive might be considered the equivalent of rape (the blog comments being the potential source of "hurt" and "offense" mentioned by the WP commenter). And thus, that I, also a POC, might experience White commenters as potential rapists too.

To date nobody has bothered to tell me WHY it was unreasonable for me to assume that her sudden introduction of a Rape Analogy did apply to the larger conversation about what WP were doing to POC's on the blog.

I don't know why I'm surprised tho. In this society, the feelings of actual victims of Rape and Violence are rarely prioritized over the feelings of those who find Rape and Violence useful as "powerful" and "enlightening" metaphors. The Kerry Stewart Rape Analogy comes to mind.

Funny but on Renee's blog comments I actually sympathized with how Kerry Stewart came to make the analogy. But I still found it problematic and I can totally understand WHY so many people flipped out on her and demanded she apologize.

Even in balls-to the-wall discussion of Racism and its brutal realities for People of Color, it is far easier for people to talk about things that are LIKE Rape, than it is to talk about the actual Rape and Racialized/sexualized Violence marginalized bodies face everyday.

Reading the WOC's previous comment in isolation, one wouldn't necessarily take umbrage with the rape comparison. But this comment didn't happen in isolation. I explained to this WOC in painstaking detail what I had taken from her comment in context, why I had taken it that way, and its implications for me as a POC survivor, and, by extension, for other readers who may have taken it the same way and might also be survivors.

A few days and one or two White People dogpiling on to cause drama and derail later, suddenly my point about being unnecessarily triggered by her analogy has been lost altogether.

Is asking people to be careful with suddenly introducing rape analogies into a conversation completely unreasonable?

Since nobody ever bothered to explain WHY my reading the comment as applicable to what was actually happening on that blog was an insane thing to do, I don't know WHAT to take away from this experience. Other than "Thou shalt not harsh the righteous anger of thy fellow POC's with criticism of any kind!

All the same the Racism AS Rape thesis has its merits. I can see clear examples of that in my own experiences with racialized gender violence. To wit here is just ONE example from my own life. TRIGGER WARNING:

At 18 years old, and about a little over a year into hormonal transition, I was pulled over by a White Police officer after having gotten lost in a semi-rural area of my home state. This is a nightmare for EVERY trans person in early transition. Especially for a BLACK transperson who is legally between genders. The officer said he had stopped me for two reasons. 1) He wanted to see "What kind of Nigger that was. Was that a man or a woman??" and 2) He wanted to find out "what a nigger was doing driving a mercedes around HERE." Here being the run down, all-white town he'd stopped me in.

He made me exit the car and show my ID. Either intrigued or dissatisfied with the Sex: M designation on my license, he made me lean over the hood of my car and spread my legs while he proceeded to SLOWLY frisk me, paying special attention to my breasts and crotch. All the while he grinded his pelvis into my ass in an unmistakebly sexual way, while saying "I'm not gonna hurt you, princess." Then he let me go with a "warning"...

Now was that Racism? Did that experience approach being Raped? Um... DUh.

So is it any wonder why I might balk at making unsupported comparisons to THAT kind of violation and worse?

Of course this was an example I might have used in the conversation to illustrate the connection between Rape and Racism and why I don't dig it as a metaphor. I don't mind discussing certain incidents of violence I've experienced (some I definitely do). As long as I feel safe and in control of it in conversation with my audience, I'm good. But in the context of the SWPD forum, and its traditional hostility to intersectionality of any kind, it is unsafe for me to bring shit like this up over there. I'm vulnerable as a POC to begin with, and I'm even more unsafe as a transperson commenting at a cis-centered blog. The effect has been that I can rarely explain the full impact of racism in my life because I'm forced to censor myself to race-only oppressions and traumas. Even when I experience Racism simultaneously with other forms of oppressive violence. Such as getting pulled over for DWB by a white cop and then his fondling and dryhumping me over the hood of my own car.

So it's time to take a break because apparently its HIGH STAKES over at SWPD and my objection to certain discourse will be perceived as nothing but cynical debate and derail.

Perhaps I'm just one of those hypersensitive POC's we all hear about. The kind who take everything in the worst possible way and makes it all about them, woe is me.


EDITORS NOTE: Someone finally did address my reading of the conversational context as incorrect. And she was genuinely respectful about it too! I appreciate her taking the time. Not sure I agree with her yet, as I'd need to re-read the whole thread, and at this point I'm tired and inclined to just let it go. But it was nice to finally be heard and addressed directly.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A New Directon, perhaps...

After some soul searching I've come to realize that this space needs an overhaul. Not just the layout, (Which OMFG please make it stop, Jane!) but an overhaul of purpose and format.

I've had to answer questions that should have been alot easier to answer if one intends to start a blog. Namely: Why do I want to do this? What do I hope to accomplish? Is this blog even necessary?

The last thing the internet needs is another vanity or confessional type blog. I want to do something that helps people and informs people, including myself. But I'm too lazy to do major research. Too lazy to keep up with the latest news to do a news blog. I'm too undereducated to do any major acadamic theory or heavy political discourse. Too green to fighting oppression to do detailed analysis of the flawed arguments and sundry political machinations of the people who oppose my very existence. And I'm much too busy holding down a 9 to 5 (and a 6 to 10) to do significant offline outreach and/or grassroots organizing and then later blog and photojournal about it.

What in the world is there to blog about then?

I've been thinking about the kinds of forums I DON'T see very often. Sites that focus on the individual persons who DO do all of the above. People who devote either all or even just a portion of their lives to actively opposing racism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism and class supremacy. Everyone one of those oppressions impacts my day to day life in a big way, and yet, save for simply surviving them, I have done precious little to oppose them. I rely on the kindness of unseen strangers to write the books, webmaster the blogs, publish the research, lobby the congress, compose the public policy etc. all which have supplied me the tools to survive, and to occasionally stick up for myself.

Needless to say, I'm curious.

Personally, I wish to know who these people are and what they are made of. What motiviates them? What keeps them going? Those who share my struggles and those who don't but fight anyway. Who ARE my allies and where do I find more like them? What can I do to help?

I don't see very many "behind the scenes" resources like that on the web. Then again I'm a lousy netsearcher too! Maybe I just never ran across them. But at any rate, it will be a healing project for me to speak individually with some of these folks about their struggles, both personal and political, against systems of oppression.

Plus it won't hurt to learn a thing or two about fighting oppression on my own behalf and on others.

In the meantime we'll see, we'll see. I will continue doing personal posts from time to time as well, all relevant to the anti-oppression theme of this blog. And yes I will continue to experiment with the layout. It hurts my eyes too, I know I know. Shut up.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

C.O.P.S. vs C.A.S.H.

This post is in response to all of the apologists for the Seattle Police Dept of late.

I live in Seattle and have some experience with the intersection featured above. There is no argument about whether or not the girls were afoul of the law here. Yes, they jaywalked. Yes they assaulted a police officer. Yes they resisted arrest. None of that was ever up for debate. And while I'd love to chime in about the racial dynamics of the altercation, and how likely it is that these girls were being manhandled the way they were because they were young BLACK females, I won't.

The real story here is that the spot in question, located solidly in a predominantly POC area, functions as a racist ticket trap. A trap designed to lure this particular POC community afoul of the SPD.

This intersection is near the Franklin Highschool campus. The HS issues bus passes to its students either free or very cheap, so it is the most common mode of transport for the student body. The intersection is constructed in such a way that the bus stop (and now the light rail) is directly across the street from the Franklin High side, across four lanes of traffic and a median. There is no crosswalk, but there is a pedestrian overpass. Even so, Franklin kids (and quite honestly, everybody else emerging from that side) darting into traffic to catch the bus has historically been a problem, causing some accidents and injuries.

The nearest crosswalks to this intersection take on average 3 minutes to navigate from one side to the other at a hurry up and wait pace. The pedestrian overpass takes you up and over and around to the bus stop side, which is exactly what its supposed to do, of course. It only takes 30 seconds to cross the street by jaywalking, however. (That's why its called jaywalking, duh!)

If traffic is bad you get as far as the median, wait, then dart the rest of the way to the bus stop. It's not legal, it's not safe, but it is quick and easy, and 99 times out of 100, consequence free. If you're in a hurry to catch the bus, if you're a teenager naturally full of hurry and stupid, or even if you have trouble ascending stairs and walking longer distances, guess which option you're gonna pick?

An extra, closer crosswalk would greatly improve safety and compliance with existing traffic laws. From what I've heard, Franklin High asked the city for the pedestrian overpass because the kids were jaywalking even before then. But the overpass has not solved the problem, and ironically, may prevent the implementation of a new crosswalk at this point. Why? There is a silly municipal code that if a pedestrian overpass is present, then pedestrians lose right of way, even if there is a crosswalk.

Another solution: Have Seattle Metro move the bus stop a bit so as to not present pedestrians, many of them KIDS from Franklin, such a tantalizing target. Again, denied. Why? Because the new light rail stop has to be near connecting bus lines, and its even more expensive to move a light rail stop than a bus stop.

So Franklin High requested that there at least be more police coverage to monitor jaywalkers at this spot, in hopes of PROTECTING these silly kids... NOT, mind you, in hopes that police would lie in wait for them, confront them angrily and end up having to bust their heads open.

What happened above is the exact opposite of the intent of this community. A community that has repeatedly requested something be done about the danger of this intersection at the city level. This community's safety concerns have been repeatedly ignored and mismanaged at the city level.

A predominantly POC community. Hrmmmm.

Let me add that the City of Seattle is in no way averse to moving bus stops or creating crosswalks at the request of a particular community. It just depends on WHICH community is doing the asking.

Take MY neighborhood for instance. Right across the street from my building is a brand spanking new Retirement Complex. They built this over the course of two years and its a beauty. I am mad jealous of the building and the view... which obliterated my once pristine view of capital hill and eastlake but oh well. It's a NICE building. Full of nice old folks with more money than melanin if you know what I mean.

The main bus line along the street I live on had a stop that was directly across the street from this new retirement building. Not far... just on the other side of the intersection. When the building was complete, Seattle Metro promptly moved this stop to directly in front of the new building. Now the seniors living there have front door access to this busline should they need it.

Am I complaining? No. I don't have any problem with the city of Seattle anticipating the needs of these people. Old folks shouldn't have to toddle across a busy intersecton everytime they wish to hop the bus. Why that's very considerate of you, Seattle. Thanks!

BUT. Why is City of Seattle so easily able to accomodate safety needs in the above example, yet they have steadfastly refused to reconfigure the pedestrian "speedtrap" by Franklin High? Even after frequent complaints, documented accidents, a failed (or perhaps incomplete) overpass solution, and now escalating violence with the police? This intersection is MUCH MUCH busier than the one near the senior home. It actively endangers kids, traffic AND police officers (apparently), and the simplest solution of all would be to just move the damn bus stop to where a crosswalk is, or put a new crosswalk in.. but No Can Do.

I suspect the reasoning is, if a bunch of colored kids are getting in trouble with the law cuz they cant resist temptation, TOUGH. If brown ppl in a certain area are at DOCUMENTABLY greater risk of being injured, orarrested or worse becuz of the way the intersection just HAPPENS to be laid out... SO BE IT. That's not worth wasting any of the taxpayer's dollars.

But White Seniors with CASH??? OMG they might SUE or something. We had better make the area as safe as possible right???

It's these sort of institutional "gotchas" that wear me down honestly. Not just that they exist, but that they exist, and nobody who has the power to change anything will do so. I've written this long ass post just to be ignored. Ignored just like the community surrounding Franklin High. Fact is, anybody who's ever been to that intersection can see how easy, how LOGICAL even, it is to choose to jaywalk rather than use that clunky, junky overpass which takes you several blocks out of your way of the bus stop. From what little birdies have told me, Jaywalking in this area has always been common, and until the structure changes, will continue to be feasible. It's the City's responsibility not to put its citizens in this position in the first place. But only certain citizens seem to matter in the first place.