Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oh noes I haz a meme infection!

So to take my mind off my bad hair day and the stinging scratch from playing with my cat I'm going to take 'the Slavoj Test' a meme which I got infected with from here:

1. When were you happiest?
I really can't say, each high point of happiness seems to be of a different flavour.

2. What is your greatest fear?
Not much scares me. But the deaths and sufferings of those close to me are growing ones. My CFS has striped me of so much in life that losing what little I managed to hold on to or never getting better enough to really make my life count might well top my few fears.

3. What is your earliest memory?
Lying in my cot wondering what would be for my next meal. It was before I had picked up language as I reviewed the possibilities by deliberatly remembering the flavours. I started speaking quite early and when I did I used complete sentences so I must have been very young indeed.

4. Which living person do you most admire, and why?
I guess my friend Rob. For his intellect, his insight and his stubborn refusal to conform.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I have a tendency to be harsh on myself for what is really the symptoms of my illness. I haunt myself with regrets of unethical things I did in my childhood which I learned from long ago and really should forgive myself over by now. I guess I deplore of myself the wrong aspects lol.

6. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Willfull Ignorance. The refusal to allow new information or ideas to shift opinions.

7. What was your most embarrassing moment?
Hmm.. there's been a few. Stupid/insensitive statements, obvious mistakes etc. Realising how overblown my fears at coming out to most of my family and friends were was probably the most embarassing though.

8. Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
Just a computer at about a thousand bucks.

9. What is your most treasured possession?
Lying on my back a number of years ago, feeling upset and alone I started to cry. I wiped my eye and dislodged and removed a hard piece of something from my eye thinking it a normal bit of the kind of encrustation one gets in ones eyes till I realised just how large and hard it was. Examining it i found it was a weird shaped sharp shard of glass that heatly would have sat in the corner of my eye. How it got there I have no idea. I put it safely away in a small box with other keepsakes. The oddness of the moment makes it more treasured than my metal ruler that bent inexplicably while I was making disparaging remarks about spoon bending and only just sits above an antique box given to me by my grandmother. It's tough to draw the lines on these things though.

10. What makes you depressed?
Lots. Injustice, hatred, inequaility. Also just struggling with day to day existence and the realities of CFS. Especially whenever I'm reminded of all the things I wanted to study and do, what I used to be capable of.

11. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Most? The amount my hairline has receded in the last 7 years! I've had my hair varying between shoulder length and the base of my tailbone since I was in my teens with only a couple of very brief exceptions. I loved the grey streaks that started through it when i was eight and didn't mind too much when the last of the coppery red streaks went grey. But slowly over the last 7 or so years the witches peak has been growing more and more severe and I can't afford to do anything about it which I hate.

12. What is your most unappealing habit?
I talk to much.

13. What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
Morticia Addams from the Addams Family

14. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Hmmm... I'm unapologetic about 50's scifi and B movies so that doesn't count. Same with most old cartoons. ok. I expect it's watching old episodes of Jem (a pretty bad 'girls' cartoon I watched as a kid pretending to just 'leave on' while waiting for the 'boy' cartoons of an afternoon) with a big mug of instant latte coffee with a star pattern of chocolate I template onto the broth and half a packet of mud-chocolate Tim Tams That I shouldn't eat in one sitting but invariably do.

15. What do you owe your parents?
Despite their flaws and the early break up and such how could I possible calculate it? Mum gave me a safe place, support, advice, helped me in incalculable ways. Dad has done so much to try and make up for the past. Both accepted me when I came out instantaneously. My qualities are theirs, my flaws are theirs too. I've just got a mix of each.

16. To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Again there's a few. People I hurt without knowing it at the time mostly.

17. What does love feel like?
What kind of love? There are so many types. The warm comforting one that feels like being hugged. The wild dangerous one that feels like stepping up to a martial arts contest or fencing match. The altruistic one where your ready to sacrifice much for the others smile or the lighting up of their eyes. The passionate one where the mind stops functioning and you crash together like opposing waves. The insightful one where the whole world sparkles with clarity and sense. The craving selfish one where your every breath seems to rely on your catching their eye. The love of a friend which whells up in your chest like a rising tide. The love of a family member, unjudging and caring and protecting. The unconcious love where you feel good for days and then it suddenly occurs to you that you've fallen for someone. I could go on for ages.

18. What or who is the love of your life?
I'm still trying to recover from my last relationships inevitable collapse last year. So the answer is one I just don't know.

19. What is your favourite smell?
Right now it's lavender and Sandalwood

20. Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
No but i've said it when my feelings towards that someone at the time mixed love with anger and hurt and lots more besides.

21. Which living person do you most despise, and why?
I don't despise anyone on principle but I sure despise the choices and actions of a lot. War criminals, advocates of cruel and abusive social/legal/medical practices and those who cause harm to others by their unethical acts or abuse of personal morality improperly extended over others rights.

22. What is the worst job you’ve done?
Being a jobseeker on long-term unemployment benefits!

23. What has been your biggest disappointment?
32 and still suffering CFS! That's more than half my life disabled.

24. If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Edit? Can I only change my choices or can I change anything? If anything I'd get over my CFS after having it just long enough to have gained the increased compassion and understandings it's given me. If it's my choices I'd probably face the reality of being transgender properly back in my teens or even earlier, come out to my family and stopped trying to hide it from myself, though I still don't know exactly why i did in the first place.

25. If you could go back in time, where would you go?
If I could do so without changing time I'd want to vist everywhen! If I could change things I have a favourite fantasy: In the future when the world celebrates difference people travel back in time to all those martyred in hate crimes and swap them with undetectible artifical versions just before the horrible events happen to them and take them to the future where they can live peacefully without changing the past events that may have contributed to making that better world.

Just imagine that! Every victim of hate-murder plucked out of time before it happens and brought to a time of fairness and justice and acceptance!

26. How do you relax?
Violent video games when I have the energy for them, or I put on some Dead Can Dance music and snuggle up in bed with a copy of Fortean Times or a century-old scifi or horror novel.

27. How often do you have sex?
Currently I'm single and still recovering emotionally from my last relationship so not at all.

28. What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Once when severely suffering from brain fog and heat stroke I picked up a deadly shellfish on the beach specifically to point out to someone I was talking to that the critter inside was potentially deadly only to realise what was in my hand just as the critter inside started to move and I hastilly dropped it!

29. What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A cure for chronic fatigue syndrome. At school one classmate once said after I'd left a long trail of blood (CFS body temperature regulation problems in summer + old bullying injury left me prone to nosebleeds back then) from one end of the school to the sickbay 'god made (Battybattybats) sick cause he didn't want the competition' which really made me smile. If I could be cured I'd launch myself at life like a starving animal and really sink my teeth into it's throat till I'd sucked all that I could from it. I'd get myself a degree, I'd pour massive efforts into the causes that seem to need it most and I'd do everything within my power to make the world better more fair and more just than it is now.

30. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I really don't know. It's probably going to be some off-the-cuff comment I make or have already made that causes some sort of snowball effect through the world around me unrecognised by anyone last of all myself. If anything I'd say surving through what I have as well as I have. Certainly others have done better but i think I can be proud of doing as well as I have done.

31. What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Reality is often counter-intuitive, often it's like a 'finger trap' the more you struggle the worse it gets, instead you have to use a Yin way rather than a Yang way and use the problem against itself. Oh yeah, and while most disregard it Philosophy is in fact the most important of all subjects because Ethics is covered by it. Every human needs to learn about Ethics because their is no choice or decision that doesn't involve ethics.

32. Tell us a secret.
Nerds, geeks, goths, punks and all those most often cast out or kept at the fringes are much more likely to be good people than those who fit in. Because bad people with even an ounce of intelligence or cunning fit in so they can do bad things whereas being different requires courage and idalism. Sure there are good and bad in both groups but believe me on average the 'weirdos' are more likely to be better people than the 'normals'.

Yeah, that would be me!

So I was scrounging through links to TG news articles and found this one:

The person being interviewed seemed somewhat vexed that the human rights and equal opportunity commisions blog mixed Intersex and Transgender issues together. Why when she went onto the HREOC discussion forum there was even a crossdresser on there!

Yeah, that would be me!

I also am one of those quoted in the pdf report of initial consultation too.

I think all this seperate issues stuff is really misguided.

Why? Because I think it's rather certain that all the groups she and others want seperate have at the heart of things the same issues, just different aspects of them. Like two sides to the same coin, or different faces on a cube.

Example: Intersex people want surgical 'normalisation' of children stopped while Transgender people want medical treatment for transgender children. So that would make them opposites right?

Nope. For starters the reparative therapy of Dr Zucker et al is a psychological version of the medical treatment of the Intersex children, a painful stressful and often unsuccessful attempt to 'normalise' the child. Psychological trauma too can be permanant making the two similar enough even if distinctly different.

See A child can't give 'informed consent' to medical procedures or psychological ones. So any decisions made on their behalf should be minimal with the main aims being to maximise the freedom of choice of the child once they reach maturity sufficient to be considered able to make those choices! We need to keep the child alive and healthy of course but we don't want to make permanant choices for the child that there is a reasonable possibility that the child will regret having been made if we have the option of waiting.

So then if we follow this to it's logical conclusion the Intersex child should have minimal treatment for their condition to enable them to make their own minds up on what kind of surgery is right for them. For the Transgender child hormone blockers to delay puberty give them the same choice! They neither go through male puberty nor female puberty till they are able to decide for themselves from a fully informed perspective.

The same principle, the same result. It's exactly the same issue, just two different expressions of the same right!

And that right extends to all children. I know guys who were upset that they were circumcised as children. Plenty of people are horrified at the practice of female 'circumcision'. Sure these are cultural/religious practices and people have a right to their culture and religion. But they have a right to reject some or all of the culture and religion they are raised as too! People convert, they give up religion too. So then making a decision for a child based on permanant body modification because of cultural and reliious reasons is wrong because the child once mature enough may regret the choice made on their behalf!

So then this same right applies not just to the Intersex community or the Transgender community but to the entirity of humanity!

Let the Intersex kids decide for themselves, let the Transgender kids decide for themselves, let the Jewish and African and Aboriginal and all the other kids who may go through initiations or permanant body modification rituals decide for themselves!

The rights of these children to make their own decisions about their own bodies is very important. If the child is not mature enough to decide for themselves any decisions made on their behalf should not be guesses as to what the kids will probably want nor ever what the parents want for their kids but whenever options exist permanant changes should be put off till the child is old enough to be considered competant enough to decide for themselves!

Now the medical treatment issue doesn't concern me directly so long as I consider myself a crossdresser and so long as being a crossdresser doesn't prevent me getting medical treatment (a possibility but a lesser one than for many others) but there are still plenty of issues I personally share with the Transexual and the Intersex communities.

Anti-discrimination and Anti-villification legislation is patchy at best from state to state. That effects all of us!

If someone assaults me will they know if I'm a Metrosexual? Genderqueer? A Crossdresser? A Drag Queen? A Transexual? Intersex? Nope. They will just perceive that I don't fit into their views on gender and apply violence accordingly.

That makes it everyone's issue! In fact when stated as: 'Gender identity and expression' it covers not just all those catagories but literally everyone! Someone could be discriminated against for being too masculine a man or too feminine a woman too. Those words mean everyone is protected.

You see lots of people want everyone dealt with seperately, but thats not how human rights work. They are always as broad as possible. They can't be equal or universal if they don't work that way!

Does freedom of religion only cover the Abrahamic religions? Just Christain denominations? No, of course not! It covers Shinto and Daoism and Parsee and the Yezidee and even Agnostics and Athiests!

And thats why while the different needs of Intersex and Transgender people need to be represented they are still just different variations of the same basic human rights that everyone should have!

Thats why everyone has a right to be there. Thats why we need to understand the basic philosophical principles behind these issues.

Fighting for seperation is unjustifiable. Either we all should have the same rights or we shouldn't. The right of a child to not have others make permanant choices on their behalf that can be put off till the child is old enough belongs to all children. The right of someone not to be discriminated against or villified because of their gender identity or expression also belongs to everyone!

So then lets not leave anyones needs out, lets not leave anyone with less rights than others. Lets all try and learn about and understand each others needs and work towards satisfying them all.

So there is indeed a crossdresser at the HREOC forums on Sex and Gender Diversity Issues. And it's good that one is there.

Yeah, that would be me!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Once you comment your involved!

Simple enough idea.

If you feel you understand an issue well enough to comment on it then your good enough in finding a full solution. Once you involve yourself in a discussion on a subject you absorb some of the responsibility for the subject.

You see any action involves choice and consequences. Any action involves moral/ethical choice and moral/ethical consequences.

On making a statement publicly on the internet you may sway others, then the consequences of doing so are on your head. On voting or campaining on an issue you may get your way, so the consequences are on your head.

Real issues, real consequences, real peoples lives.

So you can't just wade into a discussion saying 'I don't care how you solve the problem but don't do that' and be a moral person. Doing so is like a hit-and-run. It's not enough to condemn others solutions to problems, if you've got the guts to comment and the brains to see something wrong with their proposal you have the same to help find a better alternative!

I could mention all sorts of examples of this, nuclear power/medicine/waste for example. But just for a momer the whole trans and bathrooms thing that gets so many people flinging comments round about.

If those who oppose MtF transexuals using the womens bathroom get their way these people must use the mens or have nowhere to pee. No christian worthy of the title can just say 'too bad'. No human worthy of the title can say 'too bad'. Any person who considers themselves moral decent and good must then be responsible! Either for finding an alternative or for the consequences.

The opponent might say 'I imagine this could be a threat to women and children'. But do they think 'what about the threat to the transgender people if they are't let use them?', do they check the results of other places allowing this (no-one's been hurt!) or the results of transgender people using the bathroom opposite to their presentation (some have been hurt!). If they get what they want, a protection from an as yet unrealised threat they still expose real people to real danger unless they come up with a better idea!

Real danger of violence visited upon those FtM transexuals. They will be as responsible for what those people suffer as if it were their fists and feet and worse that do the assaulting.

Why? Because they are making a choice! A very real choice! That makes them responsible for the consequences visited on other people!

Those who fling about notions that transgender people are responsible for what happens to them because they chose to be transgender are cowards trying to shift blame off themselves! Why? Because they don't know what they are talking about, plenty of studies refute that nonsense. They speak not from knowledge but ignorance! They have no real science to back their position up. But they lie or disregard truths as impossible without even measuring the evidence or imagine answers that aren't really there because its uncomfortable having to be responsible.

So if you don't want transexual women in womens bathrooms you should become part of the solution. If you think your smart enough, if you think you know enough to pass judgement and make a comment then don't just whinge about what others want to do to solve the problem.

You have to have a better alternative option. One that will actually work! And be ready to bear all the associate burdons!

Cowards and immoral people can say 'shoot them' or 'lock them up'. They just like to pretend to themselves that they are good people but they lie to themselves.

Good people would sit down, learn about the problem, think about the problem and see if they can find an alternative that fits into their value system, dealing with facts as they go rather than trying to ignore uncomfortable realities!

So commentators on issues, stop cowardly and immorally dodging responsibility. Once you involve yourself in an issue your morally trapped there till the issue is resolved justly for all!
So once you disagree with the way something is done or wanted to be done, put on your thinking cap and find a better answer.

A real measurable testable workable one.

So far letting transgender people into the bathrooms they feel appropriate works. It's passed the test so far. Got a better idea?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


While one of the smaller portions of my ancestry nevertheless some of my ancestors were Roma people who travelled from the Carpathians over to Bohemian Prague then eventually they ended up in Heidelberg for a while and then went to Australia.

So these are my people too.

Even if they weren't it's disgusting.

The whole point of equality is the equal bit.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

RPG as Educational Tool on Social Issues

Well as I've mentioned before I'm running a roleplaying game, Conspiracy-X.

Roleplaying games back in my teens were considered by many as the ultimate evil, the very work of Satan. People were worried about the game leading vulnerable kids to become thieves murderers and occultists. Let me tell you a little about my experiences with it's actual effects on people.

Oh sure some people have done things in the imaginary world of roleplaying games thst are downright evil.. but of course it's storytelling, these people were playing characters unlike themselves. For many it has been quite therapeutic with good and decent people playing rather violent characters as a way to release anger and tension and frustration from their daily lives.

So I've tried an experiment.

Most of the people I'm gaming with at present are guys, and all in this game are. Gender in roleplaying is an interesting thing. Almost every male gamer I've ever met has played at least one female chartacter at some time but mostly play males. Also most female players start with making a male character for their first game and only build up to playing a female character after a few games. At least one guy who until recently (due to a move) played a female charcater in another game with the same people. In this game though all the characters correspond to the gender (though not in every case race) of the players.

So, noticing a bit of transphobia amongst most of this group of guys on discussions of Anime characters (apparently I seem to be fine though, goth gets you away with a lot of things including my long red nails) I decided to add a transgender NPC. It's been an interesting journey over several weeks. Discomfort was imediatly evident from a couple of characters (and their players) as they discovered the character was Trans despite , others managed to handle it fairly well. Since then some have warmed to the character, some have become curious about learning about her history, some have remained uncomfortable but are mellowing slowly. All are realising she's not a two-dimensional negative stereotype but a comple person. One of those with an initially transphobic comment about effeminate male anime characters has had hsi character become closer to the transgender woman npc than the cis-woman npc they also are often interacting with!

It's not an easy fix mind you. But with every game, with every gunfight, with every lifesaving first-aid diceroll, with every paranormal threat or cryptozoological mystery, with every alien abduction psychic spy and covert operation (remember this particular game is called Conspiracy X) they share or face together these guys are seeing a transgender person as a human being.

It's an interesting platform for exploring social issues. The line between good guy and bad guy can quickly be blurred as they discover the terrorist had loved ones who miss them or a legitimate grievance but an unjust response to it. The gunman on the other side of the firefight in the carpark might be just as much a patriot.

Having to make moral choices in games while being in the safe space of a fictional environment gives people breathing room to think about things. The 'quest' or 'mission' means they can't so easily run away from uncomfortable ideas but must deal with them, yet in a hypothetical and less confronting way.

The experiment is not over by far. Still as one character is deciding whether to fight against or embrace becoming a werewolf and the U.S. Secret Service agent is discovered to be a sadistic maniac once he enters combat and a possible romance is blossoming between a violent criminal with honour and a conscience and a DEA agent who'se struggling to remain hopeful and human in dark world of grey moral choices and grusome pragmatism there is a kind-hearted fictional transwoman who, because of some minor new-age powers and a history of abduction by aliens has been taken from the streets and is slowly educating, slowly forging friendship.

How much effect is this having on the players outside of the game? At least a little so far.

Which could be a good thing with two in the group being school teachers!

The trick with empathy is first seeing the other as human, then finding ways to relate to them. This roleplaying game is giving these people an opportunity that I dare say would not have happened if I came out to them, at least a couple for sure. And maybe this will lead me to that opportunity or maybe it won't. They already know I have a transexual friend at least. So hopefully one way or another I'm educating a little while I'm entertaining.

Let's see where it goes from here....