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My changing relationship with Facebook

September 1, 2018
The Facebook logo, covered by a red circle with a diagonal bar through it

I’ve had a mixed relationship with Facebook over the last few years. On the one hand, I do have people I know in practically every time zone on Earth, and would like to stay in touch–but on the other, well, all of us who are Facebook users know all too well what a raucous cesspit it’s turning into. It’s not as bad as 4chan or Twitter yet, as I see it, but it’s just a matter of time. Plus, it’s a time sink, big-time.

On my personal Facebook profile, I’ve been weeding–a lot of my professional acquaintances and one-off meetings have moved to the public Page. The Page is heavily moderated, and I’m pretty determined to keep it civil. I don’t really have much fear of “oversharing.” I’m living an open source life, after all. I just decided to tone down the noise level, so I spent a few days working down my list. Here’s what happens when you aggressively weed your Facebook “friends” list:

  • Peace: The people I’ve maintained connections with who have angered me the most are now gone. They can’t anger me like that any more.
  • More peace: There are some people whom I basically like, who are heavy pot-stirrers–most of them are gone, so I don’t see the flame wars they start.
  • Even more peace: A few people who spent literally every post bashing some politician or another with the same tired things are now gone. I can get that news once via my RSS feed, and be happy.
  • Still more peace: A few reactionaries who will post every shocking urban legend or sad sob story they see and ask for reposts–are now gone. I don’t have to spend time on Snopes doing their fact-checking for them any more.

I chopped my friends list basically in half, and poor Facebook is so confused. It’s showing me neat things my grandson is doing, cool pictures people have taken, actual friends talking about the good times they’re having with friends and family, happy and uplifting memes, and an occasional bad pun; I couldn’t ditch my husband and girlfriend, after all. I woke up this morning with fewer notifications, and didn’t dread any of them.

You’ve gotta try this, for reals.

#8: Sasha Wall

August 10, 2018
Sasha Wall, via Facebook
Sasha Wall, via Facebook

On Easter Sunday morning, Sasha Wall’s body was found in her car, slumped over the steering wheel on a country road in Chesterfield County, SC (about 40 miles from Charlotte, NC). A bullet was recovered from the driver’s side door, and indications are she was shot by a passenger, or by someone outside the car with the passenger door open. Sasha, an African-American transwoman, was 29 years old.

As usual, initial reports misgendered her and used her deadname.

This one bears a little talking about. Christians, pay attention!

It was Easter Sunday. Sasha sat in her still-idling car, slumped over the wheel, in the middle of a country road for over two hours before anyone stopped to see what was amiss. Several people reported seeing the car on their way to church, when police asked for information that might help understand what happened. According to police, they drove around the car that was oddly parked in the middle of the road, and just passed on by.

On their way to church. A stranger, injured and dying, in the middle of the road…

Naah, it’s too easy. Just…go read Luke 10:30–37, and tell me what happened here, willya?

As of this writing, no suspect has been located in this case.

You wouldn’t want me as a submissive, because…

August 1, 2018
A closeup of some indistinct handwriting on a piece of paper.
Pixabay.com

Note: I make no bones about being a part of the leather & kink communities. This post originated over on FetLife, but seemed so useful and valuable, that I’m giving it here, too.

No, I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about relationships in general, and this particular wording has come up a few times lately. You could substitute many things for “submissive” in this context, and it’d for-sure be something someone has said, probably in your own life, at some point or another.

I understand why we say that–and I include myself here, as I have said this more than once in my own meandering five decades of life. The thing or things after “because” are always things we label as “bad”:

  • physical health issues
  • mental health issues
  • life situations–job, living situation, etc
  • non-conformant gender identity or sexuality that differs from person we’re saying this to

And maybe, particularly to you, saying it, it is bad. Struggles with neurodiversity, managing pain, living with people you don’t like very much, working a job you do not love–those are hard things, it’s true. This isn’t meant to diminish that in the least.

But they are what they are, and by denying yourself that relationship because of your situation, you’re denying yourself a lot of possible happiness. Here’s another angle:

Every time I’ve heard this sort of thing, the “because” isn’t ever a surprise to me. Ever. “Because I’m autistic.” I know. “Because I have this health issue that limits my play.” I know. “Because I still live with my parents, in my mid-20s.” I know. “Because I’m asexual.” I know. “Because I’m overweight.” I know. “Because I’m transgender.” I know.

By the time a relationship gets to the point that “because” comes up, I already know these things. And they’re not a problem, or I wouldn’t still be here, m’kay?

I get it, I really do. I wonder all the time why the people who love me do so–I’m an old fat one-legged transgender geek with some moderately-scary health issues, and a job that drives me hard and occasionally has me traveling away from home. I’ve got at least as many reasons why you wouldn’t want me in your life as you have for me not wanting you in mine. And those problems have driven off other people in your life, sure–some people just can’t handle certain things. I have my own (very short) list of un-handleable things, and once I find out someone is in that space, I let them down as gently as I can, as kindly as I can.

The most powerful force on earth, the thing that consistently can and does change lives for the better, is love. Platonic love, consensually beating the snot out of someone love, cuddling in the dark and watching movies love, love between two or three or ten or more people of any gender, riding motorcycles at breakneck speed together love, sweaty-bedsheets love, kneeling at your dominant’s feet love, cooking together love…it’s all love, and it’s all good.

Those issues that so overwhelm you may in-part determine what kind of love you need and want and can accept. And that’s okay, too. Let that person know you need help being loved. All those problems can be solved or worked around, by someone who truly cares about you.

…if you’ll give love a chance. You don’t need to understand why they love you, to be lovable…you just are, just as you are, okay?

Happy Re-birthday To Me!

July 19, 2018
A slice of rainbow-colored layer cake, iced in white, sits on a smooth black surface. A single, unlit pink candle is on top.
April Pethybridge, via Unsplash.com

My husband reminded me this morning that today is my Re-birthday. Seven years ago this morning, I got on a table for life-changing surgery that affirmed who I am–a woman. It’s been an interesting few years now, full of changes and strife and terrors–and great love, and affirmation, and growth. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way, in even the smallest degree.

I suppose it’s relevant to note that Steven had to remind me…I hadn’t forgotten, exactly, and my morning-brain tends to run a little slow, but I’d been up an hour or more, and simply hadn’t thought of it yet at that point. Maybe, years and years on, it’s not such a big deal any more. We’ll see.

#7: Amia Tyrae

July 18, 2018
Amia Tyrae, via Facebook
Amia Tyrae, via Facebook

28-year-old Amia Tyrae was killed March 26, shot to death in a motel room in Baton Rouge, LA. On March 30, it was announced that Dedrick Butler, 22, of Denham Springs, La., had been arrested in the killing. Charges with second-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

A friend of Tyrae, NeVaa White, told Mic.com that Amia had been out since at least 2009, and constructed a community of close friendships. “She made family with her peers in the L.G.B.T. community of Baton Rouge,” Ms. White said, adding that Ms. Tyrae didn’t have an easy life, and that she “was taken away in the very manner she feared.”

Thoughts on “Perspective,” From a Disabled Person

July 17, 2018
An empty wheelchair, a folded umbrella leaning against it, sits looking out over water; the ruins of a dock are near the shore.
Photo by Sabeel Ahammed from Pexels

Here’s some background–I’ve been a lower-limb amputee all my life, and until the 1980s, the technology for that was, frankly, dismal; I did not run until I was a teenager–I couldn’t run–and pretty much had to decide, every day, whether I was going to be in pain all day wearing the prosthetic, or use my crutches.

As a now-older adult, I’ve developed osteoarthritis here and there (wrists, left ankle and knee) to the point that one of my wrists is fused, and I use a wheelchair at least part of the time, because I just don’t have the energy or pain tolerance to walk. I no longer get to decide if I’ll be in pain all day–it’s pretty much a given, these days. Having been like this for five decades now, my tolerance for pain is pretty high, and I tend to be pretty stoic about it. Long story short, if I complain about it, I’m hurting pretty badly.

When I was a kid, my parents wanted me to have “perspective” about my disability. The basic message was that I didn’t have it that bad, so I should shut up about it. The truth is, I don’t have it bad, either then or now. We had pretty good insurance as a kid, and I have decent insurance now–many people do not. I have a fantastic doctor who listens to me and wants to help–many people do not. I have a great power wheelchair, a nifty walker, and a pair of canes, so I have choices of ambulation method any time I need ’em–many people do not.

My parents’ message of “perspective” came with the best of intentions–I should know and count my blessings all the time, and I do. It’s the second half of their basic message that is problematic. It is an attempt to erase very real pain, and prevent me from complaining about it, or getting any external help to cope with the problems that come with it. Nowadays, as a result of their meddling, I find that I tend to put up with more than perhaps I should, and I push myself way, way harder at times than is truly sane.

To compound the problem, they raised the spectre of “being a burden,” and what a horrible thing it would be to be a “burden” to my family and friends, by voicing my concerns and current state. So I don’t often tell people when I’m hurting, because I don’t want to be a burden. It’s only in recent years that I’ll tell someone who asks…and only tell the true scope of it to people I trust.

Several times recently, I’ve had people try to give me variations on “perspective” when they’ve asked, and I’ve told them that I’m hurting. In every case, I truly believe that their heart was coming from the right place–but some folks may not realize that what they’re doing is erasing and minimizing. Yes, I realize I’ve got it lucky–good finances, grown kids that I don’t have to chase around, a decent doctor, a husband and partner who both support me fully, even taking over some of the heavy lifting when necessary.

…but I’m still hurting, okay? My body is distracting me with pain signals that I cannot ignore, and that keeps me from accomplishing the things I want to do. It raises my frustration with not getting things done, and aggravates my terror of becoming a “burden.” Your “perspective” does not change that at all, it just comes off as a put-down, designed to shut me up. And it’s an indicator that I cannot, in fact, trust you with that information.

And believe me–I won’t.

#5: Phylicia Mitchell

July 15, 2018
Phylicia Mitchell
Phylicia Mitchell

46-year-old Phylicia Mitchell was shot to death in front of her home on February 23. Her longtime partner Shane Mitchell called her a “loving and kind” person. The two had battled through hardships together for a number of years, but had recently split up over her drug-use issues.

On April 10, 36-year-old Gary Sanders was charged with aggravated murder in the killing, but remains at large, based on the information I can find as I write this.

I needed some time to un-stress, it seemed.

July 14, 2018
Overhead shot of a woman at a desk, with a computer and notebooks in front of her. She has her hands on her head, appearing to indicate stress.
Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

It’s been four months since I posted here. I have missed doing it, really, as I really do enjoy writing. I just…couldn’t. It wasn’t writer’s block, really, as there have been plenty of things that I could say. Part of it, for at least part of the time, has been a lack of energy, partly brought on by stressors in my life. There’ve been some changes since we last spoke:

  • I turned 50 in June. This was a lot harder than I expected for me. I’ve always been kind of passe about birthdays, but this one was tough. We threw a great brunch the next day, though, and it was great having folks show up and help me celebrate this milestone.
  • I’ve had some medication changes. For a long time, I’ve dealt with a lot of joint pain, and it had gotten dramatically worses–my doc put me on some new meds to deal with the inflammation, and it’s helping, quite a bit. I’m not 100%, probably never will be, but I’m better. I’ll take that as a minor win.
  • Steven and I had a partner move in to the Nerd’s Lair with us. Our girlfriend Danielle has moved in, and things are getting settled. Any time the constituency of a household changes, it’s a stressor on everyone, of course, and despite Danielle being one of the sweetest people I know, things have been a little wild, not the least because I didn’t get a bunch of things I wanted finished before she arrived. She’s been a gem, though, and unlike Steven and I, she is a lot more healthy and capable, so she’s jumped in and helped with rearranging furniture and all that.
  • At my day job, I got my mid-year review. It was good, I’m absolutely meeting the expectations of the job I was promoted to in December, but the bosses made it clear they want me to go even higher–they’re pushing me toward tasks belonging to the most-senior people, so I’ve been busy with some of those things.
  • Many of you already know (and I make no secret of it) that I’m involved in my local leather/kink community. I’ve been doing that off and on for 20 years now, but in the last few years, had kept my kinks kind of on the light side–sensual play, nothing serious, just-for-fun. I seem to be taking more of a domme turn lately, and that’s soaking up a lot of my CPU cycles right now.
  • I finally caved in to something I’d been thinking for a while, and stood down as a Community Moderator at Opensource.com. I loved writing about open source tech, but I just didn’t have the cycles to devote to do my best work. My friends on the team there have been very understanding, and I’m hopeful that I might find a way back into that at some point.
  • I’ve back-burnered some ideas that I had, until things settle down in my world a little more. I’d like to get my writing and book reviewing on track, get some financial things settled, and get some projects around my Lair done and off my plate. After that, then I’ll take a look at them again, and see if there’s something in there that’s worth some time and energy.

So, I’m back. I’ve got some catching up to do on the Remembering the Dead list–there have been several more murders of transgender people in the last four months…

After that, back to your regularly-scheduled kibitzing about life as a kinky, polyamorous, pansexual geek/speaker/author.

An open note to my stealth family on the Transgender Day of Visibility

March 31, 2018
The transgender pride flag, superimposed with the words "March 31/ International Transgender Day of Visibility"

…yeah, you. I might not even know you, or know that you’re transgender, but I’m talking to you.

Some cisgender folk say they can spot one of us a mile away, but that’s rubbish. Sometimes we can’t even spot each other in a crowd, and that’s okay. Somehow, you’ve gotten very good at hiding. You have your reasons, and it’s not my place to question that at all, so I won’t.

Maybe it’s just inconvenient to be out; it’s just easier if people don’t know. That’s fine, actually. You might not have the mental energy or ability to be out. Being out means automatically that you’re an unintended activist, like me and many others. I support you not choosing the path that I have chosen.

Maybe you’re scared; I’m here to tell you that your fears are justified. Out transpeople in some places put themselves under threat of violence or death, putting themselves on the line just going to the grocery store, or to work. We put our livelihoods on the line working for bosses who just don’t get it. And you…don’t.  And that’s okay. Really, it is. Protect yourself. I support you, and if things got ugly when someone outs you, I’d have your back, if you just ask.

I made a conscious decision eight years ago, to be out and visible. I had a twenty-year career that I didn’t want to give up and go full stealth, and frankly wasn’t sure how I’d do it in the first place. So here I am, out and proud and visible. And I care about you, almost as much as I care about myself. I’ll put it out there for everyone to see, and answer the nosy questions that the Muggles are forever bringing to us, and yell about it when people tell untruths about us in the halls of government, churches, and the press.

I do that for all of us. I’m visible, not only for myself and the people I love who are transgender, but for all of you brothers and sisters and others who are having to hide who you are in order to get along with your own version of the world we inhabit. I’ll keep pushing, keep working toward a day when you don’t have to be stealth in order to survive, when you can confidently and safely tell everyone around you who you really are. It may not come in my lifetime, but it’ll come. And some of you, I hope, will get to see that day.