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(This came up in my mind because Mark is reading Sunshine on video!)

One of the things about Sunshine that's amazing is the community there.  Like Mrs. Bialosky sticking up for Sunshine, and helping keep the neighborhood flowerbeds planted, and sharing the right kind of gossip.  And Mel comforting her when needed and giving people rides on his motorbike.  And Sunshine making food for everyone (obviously :P ).

And Paulie taking an early morning shift every once in a while so others can sleep in.

And Charlie... And Jesse.... And Miss Yolande...

And none of these people are the same.   Sunshine is a baker, and a monster of sorts, and a tree.  Mrs. Bialosky is a Were (and an old lady).  Mel repairs motorcycles and paints them.   And Paulie is as young and enthusiastic as Mrs. Bialosky is old and measured.

And I think the same thing applies in the real world.  Communities can form with all kinds of people, provided they can (and actually want to - which is important)  work together.  And the "traditional" kind of community actually has grandmothers and young boys.  People who are deeply devoted to carrying on mysteries and ceremonies (religious or otherwise) and people who have doubts about everything and call themselves "godless".  And some people who just like the festivals because they're fun and pleasant and connect with them on that level. (And some of those three things can be the same person.)  They have farmers, and medicine makers, and stonemasons, and teachers, and people who don't necessarily do anything we'd see as "work" but are still part of the whole thing.

Community doesn't have to be about what kind of person you are.  Community is about holding eachother up.  Keeping eachother going.  About whether we enjoy eachother's company sometimes, and find ways to deal with it when we frustrate or hurt eachother.   And making sure people don't get their boundaries walked over.

(And when that isn't working - that can be a valid reason to walk away from a community.  There has to be that ability.)

I think sometimes the ideas of "what kind of person you are" and "Community" get mixed up and melded together.  An I think that  it's been causing some frictions recently.  LIke for instance, kids who are (mis)diagnosed with something else and/or questioning whether they're autistic or not asking if they are "allowed" to be in "the autistic community".   Which, I would say - can you communicate with a group of autistic people?  Does doing so help make your life a better place?  (Perhaps through increasing your understanding of what's going on with you.)  Can you give something back?  It doesn't have to be anything much.  Then congratulations, you are part of AN autistic community.  Diagnosis shouldn't have to figure in (IMHO). Not all autistic people are part of "autistic communities" either.

And things can get especially tangled in LGBT+/Queer communities.  Because there's all sorts of history tangled up there.  And also, sometimes the same word can do *triple* duty, describing not only "what kind of person you are" (in matters of attraction or gender) but also culture and community.  So a Lesbian who discovers she's into guys sometimes but still wears the same gender-fuck-y clothing, and cares about the same people, and likes to go to Lesbian Bars has a dilemma on her hands.

And this also, I think feeds into the "culture wars" that go on.  I mean, if in your worldview, everyone in the same community has to be the "same kind of person" and trans people start coming into your community, or some lesbians have had male partners, and you don't want to transition or do it with guys then you have 3 options.  Either give in and do the stuff you don't like,  Loose your community and be out in the cold because the definition has changed.  Or tell those "awful people" to stop doing all the "awful, gross stuff" that you hate, so there won't be any pressure on you to do it either.

Of course, all those options are awful.  There's got to be other choices because all those ones are bogus.

The history can come in in many ways, some of which make this more complicated.  Like the fact that a lot of LGBT+ people got kicked out of their original communities for doing whatever they were doing gender or relationships-wise.  And so they need the resources the new community can provide badly.   And getting it to them is important.  But even then, that might not fall nicely into the existing categories.

And it brings up the whole question of who came up with the idea that only people with the same sexual orientation could be in the same community in the first place...


This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.

Desert Books

(this post inspired by this series of posts on my Kemetic blog)

So when we're talking about "representation" in books (and movies and...)

I think that one of the most important types of representation in books for me, personally are desert books.  Even more than trans or disabled characters, for example.

No matter where you are in the United States, the "default paradigm" for stories is very northern temperate forest-based.  Like the whole tolkein and D&D and Arthurian mythos.  And a lot of stuff is built off that mythos.

And you can't just substitute some trees for cactus and have things work either, there's a whole different set of understandings underneath.  For example, the whole idea of Light being purely benevolent and Dark being purely malevolent doesn't work here.  It doesn't map onto reality well at all.  And even the idea of any force being purely malevolent or benevolent starts to become iffy.  Also "purity" is less of a central concept because "pure" things are often not condusive to the flourishing of life and life can use all the help it can get.  Mud isn't always something to wash away, it's something to shelter.

And I think that this stuff is why I latched on to Dune so hard, despite the fact that it is "problematic" as hell and sometimes I want to yell at Frank Herbert through the page..  Because it was also the first book that gave the highest honors to the Kangaroo Rat.

And that is precious.

A (incomplete) list of "Desert Books" -

Bless Me Ultima - Rudolfo Anaya
Territory - Emma Bull
Joshua Tree - Emma Bull (actually a short story)
The Blue Sword - Robin McKinley
Dune - Frank Herbert
Song of the Magdalene - Donna Jo Napoli

And I'm coming to think that the Myst series of video games have some of this too.  It's complicated because your adventures take you across many worlds, few of them desert.  But Atrus and Ti'ana both grew up in the desert, more or less.  And a lot of the attitudes and understandings are there.

This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.

Lesbian Nuns: Breaking the Silence

After using the cover art in a recent thread,...  XD

I'm reading Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, it's really good!

Some reviews describe it as uninteresting or dull, but it really isn't!  It may not be about stunt flying or anything, but it's very well written.

This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.


River's new thing...

So yesterday I was hanging with River and she curled up in my elbow to get petted.  And then relaxed more and more there - and finally fell asleep.  Which ended up making me sleepy enough to take a nap!  And neither of us woke up until almost 2 hrs later!

This also happened the night before - just for a shorter period of time. :P

This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.


Watched Princess Tutu

So I finally watched Princess Tutu!  Partly because I had seen and heard good things about it at Sakura Con, but the final straw was that Mark Oshiro watched it and the reviews sounded really interesting.

So I got it out from Netflix.

The main plot of the show revolves around this young man named Mytho who doesn't seem to have feelings or a lot of self-will.  And "Ahiru" (which literally means duck in Japanese :P) this young woman (who is actually a duck that can transform herself into a human) who decides she's going to do what she can to help.

And it turns out that Mytho is actually the "prince" from the old story "the Prince and the Raven" who eternally battled the Raven and shattered his heart to seal the Raven away...

"This is great!" said the author, who was supposed to have died...

And it struck me how familiar Mytho's situation was.   From times in the past.  Reminds me of stumbling around like a kitten after getting out of all the therapy and off meds.   I mean, how often do we shatter our own hearts to keep "The Raven" (mental illness, disability, whatever) from affecting others?  Even though "The Raven" is also us.  How often are our whole lives cast as that struggle?  And yet the whole story was made up by someone, and  we can say if we want "wow, this story is kind of bogus".  But we don't learn that  except by ourselves, usually.

Spoilers ahead:

And the revelation that Fakir, who controls and behaves really cruelly towards Mytho to keep him from regaining his heart, was asked by Mytho to shatter his heart in the first place and thinks of himself as pretty much an extension of Mytho's will, as his servant - brings up questions of Inside versus Outside Safety.

And in terms of plural stuff - some of us ended up pretty much being the groups personal Fakir.  Including one of us who was one of the best at passing insisting on "Fronting" almost constantly even though the stress made him so snappy that he/I was cruel and abusive to pretty much everyone in system.  Not that that excuses anything I did, but at the time it was part of a great work of protection.
This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.

Oct. 4th, 2015

I think River has a new nickname: the raterpillar.  Because of how much she enjoys eating lettuce, and also because of her technique of nibbling from the edges. ^.^

This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.

Neurodivergence and Transness Part 2

part 1

Personal experiences - within and fitting in

I have been slowly writing a series of posts on how being both Trans and Disabled/Neurodivergent interact with eachother.  For me they are tangled together.

I am trans but a lot of trans-ness seems to get explained in terms of gender identity.

I don't really have this thing called "Gender Identity".

I have experiences.  My body is shaped in certain ways, I have a large-ish bosom and curves.  But I've also felt other things - sensations that make more sense coming from another form.  I mis-judge distances between hips and objects, topping in bed (in the sense many gay men use it) feels as natural as breathing.  I have dysphoria - although sometimes "dissonance" would be more accurate.  Sometimes it burns like fire, but sometimes it is merely this doubled sensation.  Which can be be neutral.  Sometimes it even leads beautiful places.  There is sweetness and thorns.  But because of that I act in ways that some people consider "unacceptable" for my assigned gender.  I also accept and love my body in many ways. I *am* my body in many ways.

I also go against how people of my assigned gender are supposed to act, people have told me that.

I don't really have this thing called "Gender Identity".

But I am not a person who can live in a vacuum without other people.    Be surrounded by them, but unconnected and isolated.  I want to talk about things with others.  I am part of that sea.  So I need words.  With my experiences, in some circles I would be considered a Trans Man (with very low dysphoria).  And so I am.  In some circles someone with these experiences would be considered an Androgyne.  Or Genderfluid.  But these are not really my words.  I am borrowing them so we can be on the same page.  And the changes are not changes in me, just what I am called.

Though others may have had some say
in building up their book of rules,
I had mine given without want,
I couldn’t build one, had no tools.My book has not, my name upon it.
It feels unlike mine in hand.
If not that I relied upon it,
I’d let it fall like grains of sand.

-Donna Williams (from Not Just Anything)
In this culture, there are ceremonial roles for Women/girls and Men/boys.  There are almost never ceremonial roles for in-between people.  I care deeply about Ceremony and Ritual (in some ways)  I can't not. So in ceremonial instances I have to choose - and I prefer to go with the male role it feels more comfortable . (This includes things like whether it is needed to keep your head covered, etc.)

But a lot of how I act does not necessarily have to do with sex/gender.  I have certain things I'm good at and like to do.  I love to cook, garden, knit, work with metal. My "role" has more to do with these things than what's between my legs or what I do with it.  Some of what I am is labeled feminine, some masculine.  What I wear is a lot about colors and what they invoke.  I attempt to invoke many things and gender is only one of them in a long list.  Branches and moss, fire and earth, rose petals and blood.  I do occasionally wear things to look masculine, and some "feminine" things make me feel sick and frightened because of things that happened.

I am Trans.  But the rest...

This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.

On Relationships of Different Kinds

There is no one kind of relationship that has some special magic that makes it superior to all others.  Or all that different from others.

I've seen this said a lot of different ways.  I've heard that straight relationships are more based in love than gay ones.  I've heard that monogamous relationships are more true to love or sensible than poly ones.  I've heard polyamorous relationships held up as more sensible and loving.  That mentally disabled people's relationships are not as full.

All of this is wrong.  All of these have the capacity to be wonderful, glorious.  Or to be hurtful.

All intimate relationships have the same standards - The consent of the participants.  The respect and compassion with which they treat eachother.  Whether the relationship enriches both of them.  Whether it leads to healing, growing, blossoming.   Whether the relationship enriches the community around them.

The outward forms of these things may look vastly different.  They should look different.  Shaped by the people in them.  But they're not some weird exotic thing.  They have the same heart.

This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.
Note:  This post is about things that other people have done *to* me, and the effects that has had.  I might post about the intrinsic stuff later.

TW: for f-ed up coercive therapy
(although I'm not going to be too graphic)

When I went through puberty, though, all these things started to happen that I knew were not quite right.  But I knew what would be right.  I could feel it in my bones.  And all the things that felt right put me with this group of people called "men".  And so I did things to signify that I was in that group.  Things like not wearing makeup or nail polish, not wearing a bra, calling myself "like a boy" and "a tomboy".  Things were hard - but I was figuring out a way of living with the hard things that worked for me.

In many ways "feminine"* things are more suited to me.  I love colors and playing with different clothing combinations.  I love cooking and other domestic ways of enriching the world.  (Although me in bras still makes me WTF.)

*But none of this stuff is inherently female.

My wearing different clothes, not wearing makeup, etc. were my ways of communicating (my only ways of communicating)  which category I should be in.   And it was also part of me *thinking* about those very same things  (when you don't think in words, sometimes objects become your "diary" in terms of working out your thoughts).

So before I had fully sorted out my feelings, I started to be trained out of all the physical signs of them.  Extensive, one-on-one training.

Confusion.  I didn't even know who or what I was.  Even though some of the things I felt and did are textbook *Trans.

for years I've felt that what they did was "not that bad"  (even though the hurt goes deep) or just "trying to help me" or "necessary". (even though those aren't valid excuses for hurting people.)

This is just one of the reasons I have a problem with how people talk about Mentally Disabled people.

The current conception of autism and developmental disorders - of differences being mostly "meaningless behaviors" and "not understanding socialization". makes Reparative Therapy seem "more OK" to do to Autistic people.  It makes it seem helpful at times.

And this is also why I still don't dress as flashily or as colorfully as I'd like.  Or use nail polish for anything.  Because everything still has that taint of force/coercion to it.  And it's a long hard road to embrace it again and clean it.  But I'm glad I'm on that road now.

This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.

Still Alive!

I'm still alive.

For those of you on DW that I converse with - I haven't been ignoring any of you for personal reasons.  And I still will post sometimes.

But I realized something - using words takes a toll on me.  A big toll.  And right now I am studying at University - which means that using words is at the *heart* of many of my duties as a student.  So by the time the semester ended, I had to take a break from all of that - to avoid going down in flames.

But the other side to this (the Good side). Is that as soon as it was all over,  as soon as I stepped back,  Parts of my emotions, joyful, connected parts that I hadn't felt all autumn - they came back.  Slowly and with a *lot* of pain sometimes.  But they came back.

Just wanting to say that these things are not lost forever.

Burt school is pretty close again, so I might not be posting or replying very much.

But I still care about you all and wish the best for you this new year.

And happy new Baktun to you all!

May the Sixth World treat you well and bring you what you need.

This cross-posted from http://cereus.dreamwidth.org/.

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