Thursday, February 23, 2017

on Ms.

Ms was a hard-won title. I remember the drama of my childhood, and the weight of having to constantly explain being unmarried on my Mom. The disrespect engendered by being addressed as Miss, and the distain when people explained that my Mother's maiden name could not be the same as her married name - the one I used - people treating me as if I didn't understand, and then behaving pityingly, and worse, disgusted when I finally got them to understand. So much bullshit. I am sure it still exists in this world that is centered around the cisgendered heteropatriarchal construction of the family, but I also want to somehow reconcile with the fact that no matter how hard won, or how well intentioned, I still hate being called Ms. I don't identify like that. Never have.  I didn't always mind being a Mrs when I was married, because it was about being part of a unit, and it was a construct - I was being "Spouse 2" and the femme half in a butch/femme partnership. It wasn't exactly right, but it was sometimes right, and I didn't mind being Miss when I was a kid, because it had a kind of princess power to it. I did always like stories of being pretty and rich  - who doesn't love a fairy tale?

But Ms to me is about standing in power as cisgendered and female, and I don't, and have never wanted to do that, not since I was part of christianity.  Once I came out as queer I started wanting to disrupt ideas of how gender works, and I guess that's when the gender queerness started. I had all kinds of radical ideas about how everyone should just adopt Mr, but mostly that's because it's my preference.  I just didn't know it at the time, and it didn't seem possible. I don't really want anyone to call me anything other than my name, but if they have to use a prefix, I prefer Mr, and gender neutral pronouns. 

Off to school in a hailstorm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Three plus years after the last post I am sitting in the Pacific Northwest in the middle of my first year of a PhD after the election of Donald Trump and wondering what the hell is going on. I am also in the midst of some kind of lupus flare and my brain is not functioning properly.

I am occasionally overwhelmed by panic attacks and people keep going on as if the world is not about to end, has not ended, is not burning around us. Yes, the US Customs and Border Patrol has always had the power to search and examine everything you have with you at the border, but they're generally as relaxed as pistol-carrying uniformed automatons can be. Mostly they let me through with only occasional harassment for being visibly queer, or trans, or a bit too brown... I'm a bit old, crippled and fat to be too exciting. Usually, if anything, they just use a pat down as an excuse to publicly try to humiliate me for not fitting gender norms.

Mostly they are decent and do what they are supposed to do, which is scare people who deviate from the norm. The threat being that normative behaviour is always what is implicitly being policed. As am international student I have been warned to take down my social media profiles and my online accounts.  There is nothing seditious here. I am kinky. Nothing new. I am mad and traumatized. nothing new. I am a feminist. Nothing new. I am disabled. Nothing new. I am mixed race. Nothing new. I live with pain all the time. Nothing new.  This then is the manifesto.  I will bend but not break like a reed in the wind. I will reflect light like a pebble in the moonlight, so that together  with others we will make a luminous path. I will listen for birdsong, and for the voices of the trees and the grass. I will add my voice to the multitude crying out for justice. Whether from a classroom, a street, a bed, a car, or a park, our voices will rise and be heard.

In the meantime I will go and work on my PhD, and not give in to the terror that threatens to overwhelm me, that grabs me by the throat and steals my voice. I am here, and I have things to say.