Discrimination: Subtle vs. Overt

Discrimination is a bad word these days, diversity and inclusion is in, discrimination is out. So did we abolish discrimination? Obviously not, but we changed its characters. Back in the day it was socially acceptable to openly hate someone because of some element or another. Now you have to be careful and hate them quietly. You could obviously treat everyone with dignity and respect, but that’s hard and doesn’t make you feel good, so just hate quieter and you won’t feel awkward at family get togethers.

When people think of discrimination they think of the overt kind. Segregation as an example. Where there is a very obvious difference placed between two peoples for the detriment of one and the improvement of the other. What has happened is that these behaviors have largely become unseemly, so that its become preferable to create institutions and practices that move people and resources away from each other so that, no there’s not a segregated water fountain, but oddly there seem to only be white people at this park.

So subtle discrimination comes from the same troublesome belief that not all people are equal, that not all people deserve the same dignities and that not all people deserve equal opportunities. It’s shameful but it still exists. It comes from hate, it comes from fear, it comes from envy. It does not come from a positive emotion.

So how does this subtle discrimination become enforced. In very quiet ways, in a lack of opportunity, in a need to prove yourself above all others. I remember a joke by Jerry Seinfeld “I’m not afraid when I hear I have a female pilot when I’m flying, because I know she had to be three times as good to get there then a man.” That’s subtle discrimination. When you expect more from someone with no basis, it’s discrimination. When you try and teach someone a lesson because they don’t conform to your ideals that’s discrimination. Basically when you lord your power over others that don’t comply with your world view you are discriminating.

I made a comment to my employer that their behaviour recently had a discriminatory slant to it. I told them that I hoped their actions weren’t based out of discrimination, but that I had concerns that they were. Since coming out their tones and understandings have shifted. I have changed as a person, or more accurately stopped trying to be something I’m not. I’ve been dropping my walls and letting myself be a person. It’s tough, but its healthy. Change always creates some sort of fear. Fear leads people to try and stop the source.

I want to impress upon anyone reading this. That its not your fault if you want to be who you are. If you’re trying to be a good natured, honest, caring, and concerned person. You can’t really go wrong. Don’t let others push you to fear what you are because its inconvenient. Don’t let yourself fear what you are, and hold yourself away from who you are because someone is pushing you away from it. It’s hard to maintain your confidence, especially when you’re already scared. Don’t invite in other hate to your heart. Know when you’re being manipulated, know when you are being pushed back into a corner, and know that you are worth being a person like everyone else.

Being yourself is part of the path to a contented and happy life. Some of us have to start further behind on that path, but don’t forget that a satisfying life is ultimately your own responsibility and you can’t afford to let others doubt corrupt you, if you’re anything like me then you have more then enough of your own doubt to get you through the day.

The subtlety of trans unacceptance

My Wife and I are in the process of becoming foster parents. This process hit a rather unfortunate roadblock the other day. My wife started her own business a month ago, it’s a busy time, she is working more then ever. She’s enjoying her work and its been a really positive experience.

The social worker doing our assessment tried to explain it wasn’t entirely because of my transition that she wasn’t ready to accept our application. She was great about it, I can tell she cares, and I’m curious how much of her misgivings are from her supervisor. I can not help but think that if my wife was my husband, they would forgive a busy father. That I am seen as too unstable because of my transition, I need the support of a ‘real’ mother for those kids.

I’m pretty devastated, my wife and I aren’t in a position to have kids of our own obviously, and we’re not sure about adoption yet, but fostering was a way for us to do some good, we have a huge empty house, we both have had rough childhoods and want to try and give some warmth and safety to a kid that really needs it. I know we’ll be good at it.

I’ve talked about how I don’t hate being trans, how its a defining part of me and has shaped me into the person I am. I wouldn’t change it if I could. I do so wish that it didn’t make my life so difficult. I find myself feeling tired, not physically tired, but emotionally. Having to justify transness, and explain it, and put it into a box it doesn’t fit in is exhausting.

I am a person, I am a human being, I am a woman who happens to be trans. I want nothing more then the dignity afforded others. I wish only to be treated like a person with a name that explains who I am, not who my parents thought I was before I was born. I wish that my sum total experiences were cherished and celebrated for what they are not as a contradiction of what is ‘normal’ (which just means straight and cisgender.) I long for a world in which transness is an experience that can be shared with others to enrich them, not to justify why others are ‘coerced’ into being uncomfortable.

Every culture is enriched by the variety of experiences and stories that are allowed to enliven it. Let us culturally accept that transness does not fit into any other context then itself and give it the room and space to breathe life into the lives of those who don’t experience it. Let trans people be people, let them give you strength as their experiences have given them, let their stories give your life greater meaning, let their struggles help you understand your own. We are not monsters, we are not to be feared, we are not looking to upset any natural order, we are but people whose place in history has long been blotted out, and whose stories have not been allowed to pass to others. That no more makes us new, or frightening then any other group who have existed outside of ‘proper society.’

Trans stories and lives matter, we have a role in society, we have a place in the hearts of those around us. We have a right to do good around us. Just let us.

Under pressure

I’ve been listening to a lot of Queen lately. I’m more and more feeling in a pressure cooker, as I transition from coming out to living out the tension just keeps building. I by no means can assume to know the inner workings of anyone’s mind. I do find some solace in Freddie Mercury’s voice. The twinge of pain stitched into the music is resonating with me.

I’ve talked before about how this process has been very dehumanizing. Well I’ve never felt more human, more vulnerable, more emotional, and most importantly more alive.

I just wish being alive didn’t scare the b’jesus out of me right now. I always knew this would be a difficult process. But I’ve never felt how difficult it would be. My days are wall to wall excitement, anticipation, tension, and stress.

At times I want to yell it from the mountain tops, others I want to curl into a ball and roll back into the closet. For the pain and derision its causing me I must say there’s part of me reveling in the primal vitality of it all.

Each step moves me forward, each thought entertains more possibilities. I want to talk about more about this later. But the quality and depth of relationships I’ve built because of this is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

As much as I may not appreciate the current of pain threaded throughout this journey. I’m ready to bear it for the sake of the primal vitality, living on the very bleeding edge of human experience. My heart is open, my mind is ready, my body is primed. I am living as much life as I possibly can, while I can.

Writing our own stories

I had a discussion about introspection today with one of my coworkers. I think its fair to say that most of us know we don’t always admit the truth about ourselves, to ourselves. We run into trouble when we start detaching ourselves from our own truth entirely.

So that begs the questions, who writes our own stories?

When I wake up in the morning, there’s a very simple task ahead of me, I need to pee. That’s the first thing I do every morning, I wake up, and I go to the bathroom. and it is just that simple, there’s no other step, and somewhere after that, I become a full fledged thinking person, before I pee though, I’m a toilet hunting missile.

So I think its safe to say, at some point I decide, to start deciding things. probably shortly after washing my hands.

So I decide to start deciding things, but what if I never look back at these things, or hold my own life uncritically. Who writes my story then.

I’ve talked on the nature or truth before, and how I hold it more tightly then I do the other lofty human rights, like freedom. Yet, truth is one of the easiest things to give up, and one of the hardest things to fight for.

So who writes my story if I don’t pay attention. Obviously as humans we’re very adept at creating our own narrative, even if we don’t understand the protagonist, because lets be honest, we’re the protagonist of our own story, and we generally don’t understand ourselves that well.

So, if we don’t understand ourselves, yet still lead lives of varying levels of fulfillment. Who writes the story, is it that as people we follow those who do make decisions, and as such those who don’t choose their own path are the amalgamation of a web of leaders and trailblazers their lives are touched by.

Or is there some sort of generic social template that you can put yourself onto autopilot with?

That’s not to say that there are people that never make decisions, but to truly understand yourself you need to know; what you decided to do, and why you decided to do it. For almost every decision you make. That is exhausting. Many of our decisions we redo day in and day out. I make toast for breakfast most mornings because I know I usually make toast for myself most mornings. So I don’t need to think too hard about that, toast is tasty and easy. That spins off into other decisions, when I buy groceries I need to buy bread, because I will choose to eat toast for breakfast etc.

Or maybe we truly are creatures of habit. There’s not much about Mormonism I find interesting but there is one facet. They believe that If you’re not ready for ‘heaven’ or whatever they call it. That you have a chance after death to prove your worth again. However, even knowing what you do, you’re held back by the routines and decisions you made in life. Basically, once you die its hard to break the mold of your habits. Whether its true is irrelevant, but I wonder, does this type of thing happen during our life.

Do we build ourselves into an idea of a person and run ourselves accordingly. Letting ever more major decisions wash over us as we build up a repertoire of premade decisions?

In that case, we do write our own stories, but we’re really boring and bad authors.

I don’t have an answer, but I always wonder.

Who writes our stories?

 

Telling your story is exhausting

I’m incredibly tired today. Yesterday my wife and I had part of our assessment to be foster parents. This section involved almost two hours of reviewing my life story. Every time you have to tell your life story it takes a piece out of you I think.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to do it, but it does feel differently this time, first off, it wasn’t my first rodeo, I’ve got some experience spilling my guts with this stuff. The other thing that makes it feel different is that its for other people. Hopefully any kids we’re able to help will make it all worthwhile.

The hardest part is putting everything back where it belongs. Going through this sort of exercise is not very orderly. Much like a toddler trying to find that one particular toy to play with, grabbing memories and stories from the archive is a messy business, after the fact you’re exhausted and your mind is a bit of a mess. I’m going to take an easy day today, maybe even try and go meditate.

I’m sure I’ll have some more to talk about later, once I’m back in one piece.

Living truth

I’ve talked before about how I’ve been reading old stoic philosophy. Most of it is Roman, and one of the things I find the most interesting is their fascination with truth.

We don’t talk about truth a lot anymore. We don’t strive towards truth, the closest we seem to get to is some degree of authenticity. Truth is a far higher standard. Being truthful to yourself is incredibly difficult. It means admitting everyone of your mistakes, while also not reveling in your victories. It means not just living a balanced life, but thinking in a balanced way. It means feeling in a balanced way. Truth is unyielding, so you must be always ready to accept it.

I’m going to share a rather long quote from Epictetus about the nature of mind and body. Please keep in mind that Roman’s had a very patriarchal view of the world, I’ve chosen not to change the text.

What then should a man have in readiness in such circumstances? What else than “What is mine, and what is not mine; and permitted to me, And what is not permitted to me.” I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment? “Tell me the secret which you possess.” I will not, for this is in my power. “But I will put you in chains.” Man, what are you talking about? Me in chains? You may fetter my leg, but my will not even Zeus himself can overpower. “I will throw you into prison.” My poor body, you mean. “I will cut your head off.” When, then, have I told you that my head alone cannot be cut off? These are the things which philosophers should meditate on, which they should write daily, in which they should exercise themselves.

You can kill me, hurt me, imprison me, cripple me, but you can never control my thoughts. Freedom of thought is always in your control, and always something worth using.

What then does that quote have to do with truth? Everything, living your life truthfully and honestly requires you to accept that the only integrity worth maintaining is your mind and will. As Epictetus states not even Zeus can overpower his will. The only thing you have is your thinking mind. Your body is largely irrelevant to the whims of the universe. You can’t control what others do to your body, only how you interpret it. If you strive for truth at all times there’s nothing but virtue that can flow from that perspective.

Now, what’s that got to do with me? I’m trans, always have been and always will be. The hunt for my own truth in my own mind has been exhaustive and exhausting. I find great comfort in knowing that knowing myself and living truthfully is virtuous. I am not held back by my physical body because it is not always in my control. Others can restrain me, or taunt me or exclude me. If I maintain truthful to myself then I am always acting in accordance with nature.

P.S. A lot of douchenozzles use stoicism to justify their shitty behavior. Being a stoic isn’t about only caring about yourself, and not feeling emotions. It’s about trying to be the best person you can be, and caring for others without caring for reciprocation. THere’s is an element of selfishness but the selfishness is to recognize that your best interests are served as part of a community.