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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.

A little catching up to do…

March 31, 2018
A group of daisy flowers is arranged in a heart shape atop a large tree stump.
Pixabay user congadesign, CC0.

Have you missed me? Things got a little crazy for me there for a few weeks, and I had to spend some time making hard choices about what I actually had time and energy for in my life.

I think, probably, most of us have these sorts of decision points in our lives, but I had put it off, and continued taking new things aboard, to the point that my life had just turned into a chaotic mess, where almost nothing was actually getting done.

Depression? Oh, probably, at least a little bit of it. But I’ve tossed a few things overboard, parked a few things on the back burner, and knuckled down to get a few higher-priority things off my list. I’m not caught up yet, but I’m able to get my head above water, at least. Thanks bunches to the people I’m close to who have helped me, been patient with me, and made that possible.

FreeBSD finally gets an effective Code of Conduct

February 17, 2018

I spotted on Slashdot this morning that the FreeBSD Project has finally implemented a detailed Code of Conduct.  I’ve spoken rather a lot in the last year or two about Codes of Conduct, so it’s of interest to me. Their prior code from 2015 had a number of weaknesses, largely in that it used vague terms like “be civil,” a question-begging instruction that leaves room for a lot of problematic behavior.

This comes a bit more than two years after Randi Harper (formerly FreeBSDGirl) publicly left (archived link) the project over a bunch of drama that included her being SWATted, of all things. The reactions she got for posting about her departure were kind of predictable. Let’s unpack some of the new Code, which Slashdotters and Redditors are, of course, reacting badly to.

For one thing, it’s got a lot of detail in it–lots of examples of bad behavior, which the prior version simply did not have. I’m pleased to note that deadnaming and outing are *specifically* included in this list. What’s not here, that should be: doxxing and SWATing, which could nominally be covered under “Threats of violence” or “Deliberate intimidation,” and ad hominem attacks and name-calling, which is potentially covered by “Sustained disruption of discussion.”

I’m impressed with the reporting instructions–there’s a contact address, there are detailed instructions as to what must be in your report, and there is advice that you should hear back within a set amount of time (48 hours). I’m also impressed with the detailed list of possible outcomes. The Code of Conduct team has a broad selection of options they can take to deal with any problems, and that’s good. Some Codes only allow for expulsion or nothing, and some teams may be loath to do that except in the most extreme circumstances.

This is a decent Code, in my mind. Time will tell how the project does under this new policy. I’d like to see something very similar in the communities I participate in, myself (are you listening, Perl?).

#4: Celine Walker

February 11, 2018
Celine Walker, via Facebook
Celine Walker, via Facebook

Celine Walker, 36, was found shot to death in an Extended Stay America Hotel in Jacksonville, FL, last Sunday, February 4. Police and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department are seeking information and witnesses, but no suspects have yet been identified.

As usual, she was deadnamed and misgendered in the original reports of her death. Her friend Naomi Michaels said on Facebook that she had talked to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department, and they do not, as a matter of policy, identify victims as transgender, ever.

More right-wing nut-jobbery, of course; we’re real, we’re here, and we’re being murdered…and such a policy does not help. Not only is it disrespectful, it also can hamper the investigation to go around asking possible witnesses about a man that was murdered, when the victim was a woman.

I’ll update with more details, as I hear about ’em.  But between the nature of the crime, and the bungling Keystone Kops-esqe treatment of the victim by the JSD, justice is less likely.

But we’ll remember, Celine.  We will.