Friday, August 12, 2016


I'm on Jury Duty right now - I can't talk much about individual cases, but I am allowed to talk about the job itself.  I'm on the Grand Jury, and we don't declare guilt or innocence, we just decide which cases go to trial. In an effort to make us understand the laws and police procedure better, we've been taking a few field trips.  So far I've watched them training the K9 dogs, I got to ride a helicopter, and I visited a maximum security prison.

Being in Nashville, my fellow jurors are mostly conservative.  They have a dim view of prisoners, and some of them complained about the few perks the prisoners got.  At the prison they mentioned how terrible the food is, and I heard at least one juror mutter that it was better than they deserve.  And so on.

In general, the public seems to agree with them.  For years I've seen Facebook posts praising Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff who got famous for making sure his prison was the roughest one ever.  Look, I don't think prisons should be pleasure cruises either.  However, there is a huge difference between punishment and torture.

When someone says "prisoner", most people visualize the worst kind of serial murderers, rapists, and child molesters. But people are in there for all sorts of reasons. Some are serving 1-year terms for minor crimes. Some have been convicted of things that many Americans don't believe should be crimes. With such a large percentage of Americans lobbying for the legalization of Marijuana, is it fair that some guy who's only crime was possession, be given the same punishment as a murderer? Should he really be doing heavy labor in 138 degree weather, and eating spoiled bologna?

The punishment should fit the crime. And yet all of Arpaio's prisoners, who have committed different crimes, are getting the worst punishments available. One problem is that words like "prisoner" and "criminal" make most people think of rapists and murderers. But is there anyone in this country who hasn't broken a law at some point in their lives?  That's what bugs me most - I have friends who I have witnessed doing illegal things, complaining that prisoners have access to TV.  It's like they don't mind if someone's a criminal, as long as they don't get caught.

The general public needs to realize the difference between punishment and revenge. The ultimate goal is rehabilitation. But harsh prison sentences often serve only to make these people harsher criminals. If a prisoner seems beyond rehabilitation, fine, keep him in there longer, if only to keep him away from the rest of society. But don't piss him off for 10 years and then let him back on the street.

There's two kinds of people in the world. The first kind says, "It's better if a few guilty people go free than to risk wrongly punishing someone innocent." The second kind says, "It's better if a few innocent people get punished than to risk any guilty people going free." I'm the first kind, most people seem to be the second kind.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Double Standards

I'm just tired of being held to male standards.  If I say something that hurts my wife's feelings, it's my fault.  But if she says something that hurts my feelings, it's also my fault, because I'm being too sensitive.  Would she say that to a woman?  I don't know.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

And The Bathroom Debate Continues

And now the same friend (see earlier blog) posted this:

Your 12 year old daughter goes to the bathroom at the restaurant by herself. Your daughter doesn't return for a bit and you go to check on her and hear her crying in a bathroom stall. She runs to you and says a man just touched her privates. You call the police and they come to investigate.
Just outside the bathroom is security cameras that records everyone coming and going from the Restrooms.
(Cameras aren't allowed inside the bathrooms) duh!!
Your daughter enters the bathroom and just behind her enters what according to the camera appears to be a man. The man is identified later in the investigation and is interviewed by police but says he is transgender and he was just using the bathroom and the little girl is lying.
If people of both sexes are able to enter the bathroom of their choice the little girls statement holds no credibility.
"Her word against his"
Now with the "Bathroom Law" in place, preventing a person of the opposite biological sex from entering the bathroom of their choice the little girls statement is credible and the offender has to explain why he entered a women's restroom when knowing it was against the law. This is maybe the evidence that helps convict the defendant or maybe the only evidence.
Now does this help the liberals understand!!!!!!
It's not about discrimination folks.

Actually, in the scenario above, I seriously doubt the creep saying he was transgender would help his case at all. Nobody's just going to take his word for it.  At the very least I'm sure they would ask for further evidence that he was transgender.  People don't just wake up one day, say "I'm transgender!" and start using women's restroom.  Myself, I have public blogs going back 10 years that discuss my gender issues.  I have friends who can corroborate that I'm transgender.  I've seen four therapists,  who presumably kept records.  I have photos of me en femme, a box full of women's clothing in my size, and so on.  

As I said in the last blog, women molest children too.  And men usually molest girls in other places besides public restrooms  So I'm not sure how many people this law would actually protect.  Meanwhile these laws will harm many, many trans people in all stages of transition.

These bathroom bills are evil, period.  They put trans lives in danger, they treat trans people like criminals, and they don't actually protect the ciswomen they're trying to protect.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Only Time Will Tell

Time is too nebulous a concept for me to grasp sometimes.  I have no idea what happened 10 or 20 years ago, and so I anchor everything to where I lived or worked when such-and-such happened.  I have to check IMDB to remember how old my cat is, because we bought her the same day we saw the fourth “Die Hard” movie.  I've been in my current job for 16 years, and it amazes me how far we've come in that time.  When I started working here, everyone had dial-up internet, and cell phones were just starting to become common.  I remember the first year I worked here, the CEO declaring "no cell phones in the building" because he felt they were a distraction.  He'd never get away with that today, now that they're so ubiquitous.

New technology tends to make the old ways look barbaric within a few decades.  Look at all the memes making fun of cassette tapes and floppy disks, and that’s fairly recent technology in the grand scheme of things.  Once we've all had self-driving cars for 20 years, we'll look back and say, "People used to operate cars by hand?  How unsafe!"  Once we invent a healthy lab-grown meat that tastes good, and use it for a couple of decades, we'll wonder how we ever were so backwards as to slaughter living creatures.  The “I, Robot” movie jokes about how dangerous gasoline is going to seem someday.  Heck, if we all switched to Velcro shoes for a few years, laces would look absolutely antiquated.

Meanwhile, social progress just keeps going back and forth, ebbing and flowing like the tides.  If you keep looking to the past, you'll find eras where people were open-minded, then strict, then back again.  In some ways, homosexual activity was more acceptable in ancient Rome than it was 30 years ago.  As much as I like to see things change for the better in my lifetime, it's bittersweet because I know it's not permanent.  Maybe it'll be 100 years, maybe 1000, but gay marriage will eventually be illegal again.  Technological advancements are permanent, but social advancements have an expiration date.

So whenever I hear someone say they’re voting a certain way “for future generations,” I get a little skeptical.  It’s up to those future generations whether something stays a law, and all it takes is a resurgence of certain attitudes for society to take large steps backward.  At best, we can only vote to make things better for the next generation, and try to raise them in such a way that they continue to pay it forward to future generations.  But other people are having children too, and their backwards attitudes are also getting passed on.  Social justice is a war that can never be won by either side.

This feels like a lengthy introduction to a blog on a more specific subject, but really I'm just babbling.  Have a nice day!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More on Bathrooms

A friend reposted this on Facebook:

"I DESERVE A CHOICE TOO! If people want a choice create Three! Everyone deserves a choice. There are way to many sexual Predators in this world to allow someone to Say they "identify" so they can use The female or The Male Restroom. There are creepy men and women in this world and if all a Predator has to do is look or Identify as the opposite sex to be in a private area then we have problems. I'm just saying create a safe area for all. Don't take away my rights by giving someone else a right."

Where to begin, where to begin...  I guess I'll ignore the "to/too" spelling error and all the random capitalization, but don't think it escaped my notice.

Okay, first off, I'd be overjoyed if there were always a third restroom open to all genders.  There are many reasons those can be useful, not just for trans people.  It's not a particularly new idea, I've already heard of some trans people using the "Family" restrooms available at some businesses.  Just relabel the Family restrooms as "Unisex", you have a nice alternative for those who can't decide which restroom to use.  That said, actually requiring trans people to use them is a bit reminiscent of the old "Separate but Equal" laws, and it sends the demeaning message that trans women/men aren't "real" women/men.  But it's nice to have it as an option.

But realistically, you're just not going to get every business out there to build a third restroom. Some buildings don't have the room, and some small businesses don't have the money for the construction.  Going forward I hope new buildings are designed with this in mind, but until then we will often have to work with just the two choices.

I know the author means well, but her statement contains so many unintentional insults that I'm having trouble keeping myself from really going off.  Putting "identify" in quotation marks is a red flag, it shows she doesn't take trans issues seriously.

I think this sentence is the root of it: "all a predator has to do is look or identify as the opposite sex to be in a private area..." That's actually two very different statements - "look" and "identify" are vastly different things - so I'm going to break it up into two versions.

First we have, "all a predator has to do is look... as the opposite sex to be in a private area".  So maybe it's not trans people that worry the author, it's the possibility of cis men pretending to be trans so they can sneak into restrooms.  Of course, they can disguise themselves already, with or without a law.  If cisgender people are going to disguise themselves as the opposite sex to sneak into restrooms for sexual assaults (and I'd like to see a cite that this actually happens with any regularity), then they'll still do so.  People planning a sexual assault probably won't be deterred by a law.

But I guess not every man is feminine enough to pull off such a disguise, so those men will just say, "I'm transgender!" so they can still go into the bathroom and assault women.  Who are they going to say this to?  Is it wise to have such a visible disguise when you're planning something as secretive as a sexual assault?  And what about manly-looking cis women?  Not every woman looks like a supermodel; is someone going to be checking the doors to make sure the more burly women are truly female?

But the second version of that sentence is the one I find insulting.  "all a predator has to do is... identify as the opposite sex to be in a private area."  I guess the author is worried about trans people after all.  Trans advocates argue that there are no reported cases of trans people harassing people in bathrooms.  If they actually identify as the opposite sex (which is the point of all this), then they probably aren't a predator.  A transwoman using a women's restroom is there for the same reason as the cis women. 

But the phrasing of that sentence is infuriating.  "All they have to do is identify", oh is that all?  What an idiot I've been!  Of course all my trans issues have been about wanting to use women's restrooms, and all I had to do was identify as a woman in order to get in there!  It was a cunning plan, involving four decades of psychological trickery to morph my inner psyche so that I'd identify as the opposite gender, all so I could be rewarded with using the toilets in the women's room.  Imagine my disappointment when I finally got in there and discovered the women's commodes were identical to the men's.  There was no magic unicorn spigot dispensing gold coins as I'd always believed.  I'm starting to think it wasn't worth it.

Has the author considered the fact that sexual predators come in both sexes, and target victims of both sexes?  There are already adult men who molest young boys, how do we protect the male children?  Should men not be allowed in the men's room?  There are also female pedophiles, how do you know that the woman in the stall next to your daughter isn't planning to kidnap her?  And what about lesbians?  They're attracted to women, and can legally use women's restrooms.  Aren't you afraid they'll sexually assault other women?  Looks like there's all kinds of checks we're going to have to do before we let people use the restroom.

As I've said before, I'm not comfortable in public restrooms.  I can definitely relate to those who get nervous by the presence of others.  If a woman has trouble peeing in a stall next to someone she perceives as a man in a dress, I sympathize.  But that "man in a dress" most likely agonized over which restroom to use.  She (and I do mean "she") might have held it in as long as she could, knowing that picking the wrong door could get her beaten up or arrested.  She probably even considered going home early, sacrificing the rest of her night out in order to relieve her bladder in the safety of her own home.  For someone like that, a third restroom would be a godsend.

But a lot of trans people are farther along than that.  Those who are late in their transition are no longer questioning.  They are who they feel they are, period.  You may have a transwoman who has spent years transitioning, and looks female, dresses female, and is never questioned.  Maybe she still has male genitalia, but you'd never know unless you saw her naked, and that's none of your business anyway.  It's ridiculous to say this woman should use the men's room based on her birth certificate.  You think you're uncomfortable peeing next to a "man in a dress"?  Don't you think the men feel a little uncomfortable when this obvious woman walks into their restroom?  Won't the women be a little uncomfortable when a fully transitioned female-to-male uses the women's room?

Yes, there's two sides to this, I get that.  On the one hand, we have trans people wanting to feel safe.  On the other hand, we have cis women wanting to feel safe.  Since cis women outnumber trans women, I can see the logic in giving them the priority.  But how likely is each scenario?  A trans woman, fully decked out en femme, could get killed going into the men's room.  "Trans panic" assaults are so depressingly common that a lot of trans folk are afraid to leave the house.  Meanwhile, the "guy pretends to be transgender to assault women in the restroom" scenario is much less common, if it happens at all.

Okay, but the author isn't necessarily saying it happens a lot right now, she's saying that it might start happening, now that the public knows that claiming to be transgender is an option.  In other words, "We have to make this activity illegal, because some people might take advantage of it to commit a crime."  Let's apply that logic to any other legal activity.   "We have to make driving illegal because some people might use their cars to run over people."  Well guess what, people do use their cars to run over people, a lot more often than people put on dresses to assault women in restrooms.  Yet driving is still legal.

Here's a little secret:  I hate guns.  I wish people didn't have them.  I think the world would be better without them.  Yet, out of 500+ blog posts, you haven't seen me talk about making guns illegal.  Why is that, I wonder?  Maybe because I don't believe we should punish the majority of law abiding citizens over the actions of a few criminals.  Other people's rights don't always benefit you - sometimes their rights even scare you - but they still deserve those rights.

And transgender people deserve to use whichever restroom makes them feel safe and comfortable.  Period.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Clocked - The Honesty of a Child

Being a part of any new group often requires learning a lot of new terminology.  You get on a trans-related board for more than a few minutes, and you'll see people toss around words like MTF, clocked, TERF, deadname, cisgender, dysphoria, stealth, passing, genderqueer, misgender, etc.  Most of them you'll figure out through context.  Some are inflammatory and can incite anger if you misuse them.

I'm not very active in the trans community, so I tend to learn these terms slowly.  I just recently came across the term "clocked", and at first I mistook it to mean the person got punched.  As it turns out, it means they didn't "pass".  In other words, they were recognized as their birth sex instead of the gender they were attempting to present.  Which, to be fair, can feel a lot like being punched.

Back in 2007, I dressed en femme to Nashville Pride in Centennial Park.  I hadn't dressed out very much, and I was very nervous about going out in public that way.  But Pride seemed like one of the safest places to do so.  Now when I say "safe", I don't just mean I was worried about getting physically attacked (though it is a genuine fear), I also mean psychologically safe.  Pride is a such an accepting, celebratory atmosphere that I thought I could handle it.

I wore a red-ish wig, which isn't a good color for me, but I liked it and this was a special occasion.  I shaved my legs, wore a skirt, a girdle, blouse, and a lightly stuffed bra.  I still wish I looked more feminine, but I loved how the outfit felt.  It felt like me.  It felt like coming home.

We parked as close as we could to the festival, but it was still a good walk across the park.  On the way there, I passed several park-goers who weren't there for the festival.  I could feel them staring at me.  Whether they really were, who knows.  But one thing I didn't imagine - I heard a child ask her mother, "Why's he dressed like that?"  The parent replied, "Don't stare at him, honey."  There weren't any other people around they could have been talking about.  I'd been clocked by a child.

So my true self looks like a disguise, a disguise so bad a child could see through it.  I didn't see how old the girl was, but she sounded young enough to believe in Santa Claus.  A kid that young will believe that's the real Goofy at Disneyland, but a man in a dress breaks her suspension of disbelief.  I think that says something about our society, and how early we push gender roles on our kids.

That incident was like a slow acting poison.  The moment it happened I was hurt, but I let it go because it was a fun day and there was a lot to see and do.  But ever since then, it's one of those things I keep remembering over and over.  It is easily the strongest memory I have of that day.  I can't fault the kid - it's their job to ask questions, and learn about the world.  I bear no ill will toward the mother, who was likely caught off guard and didn't know what to say.  There's no villains here.  There's just me and my issues, my lack of self esteem, my disconnect between mind and body, and my inability to let little things go.

It makes me feel better to wear dresses.  But it makes me feel worse to get stared at.  My fears of being clocked outweigh the benefits I feel from dressing out.  And that's why I don't.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Find Some Other Way To Feel

So... a few nights ago I cried myself to sleep.  It wasn't just crying, either; it was outright sobbing with a bit of thrashing for good measure.  For a minute there, it was a right proper temper tantrum... albeit a quiet one, so as not to wake my wife sleeping downstairs.  I've been feeling very transgender lately, and I have no outlet.  I keep thinking about what I don't have, what I've never had, what I'll never have.  I might be able to handle it if it weren't for all the other stresses we have right now, but when everything goes bad at once I just can't hold on.

As a coping mechanism, I'm reminded of a scene from Daria.  In the episode "The Misery Chick" (S01E13), a student dies, and the other students find their own ways of dealing with the loss.  At the end of the episode, Sandi (one of the Fashion Club) walks up to Daria and asks her how to stop feeling so sad.  Daria charges her ten dollars up front, then we have this exchange:
Sandi: So like, what's your advice?
Daria: Find some other way to feel. Then you won't feel sad. Good luck.
Sandi: That's what I get for ten dollars? Are you kidding?
Daria: See, it's working already.
Sandi: [pause] Thanks.
It sounds like Daria swindled her, but it was actually genuine advice.  For the few seconds Sandi was mad at Daria, she wasn't thinking about the dead student, or any other problems.  All she could think about was how Daria took her for ten dollars. 

I have to keep my mind busy.  Right now I've got a vacation coming up, and I'm going to keep my mind focused on it as much as possible.  When I get back, I'm going to focus on fixing the house.  If I'm busy with that, I don't have time to sob about the things I can't fix.

I hate to say "count your blessings" because it sounds trite and has Christian overtones.  But it's still a good idea to dwell on what you have, not what you don't.  So here's a list of positive things in my life.

1. I'm married to an incredible woman.  She's smart, strong, and she impresses me on a daily basis.  I'm still amazed that she stayed with me when I came out as transgender.  It upset her, and there were some rocky moments, but she took the time to understand me and actually gave me support.  It's hard to find people like that.  She stayed with me for all those years we were living paycheck-to-paycheck, constantly worrying about paying the bills.  She could easily have gone off with some rich guy, but she picked me.

2. I'm nowhere near being homeless or hungry.  Recently we were discussing "what is wealthy" on a message board I frequent, and the consensus was that it's a relative thing.  Most wealthy people don't consider themselves wealthy, but they're often jealous of the "wealthy" people across the street (who only make slightly more money than they do).  I doubt many people would consider me wealthy, but there are a ton of people who would envy what I have.

3. I have enough toys to keep me entertained for years.  Too often we're mad because we can't afford the newest video game or that we can’t buy every DVD we see.  But my house is crammed with movies that I love to watch over and over.  My Steam account has hundreds of games I still enjoy playing.  And my hobbies are relatively cheap - you can play D&D with just paper, pencils and dice.  If I were never to buy another new toy again, I’d still have plenty to keep me busy.

4. My cats are awesome.  Well, all pets are awesome, but mine are better than yours, nyah nyah nyah.

5. I have very supportive friends and family.  I'm not as close to them as I should be - blame my introverted nature - but they're always willing to help when I need it.

6. I have a decent job.  Yeah, I should be a lot farther in life, but I enjoy my job and it has some decent perks.   If it wasn’t such a good job, I wouldn’t be able to take this upcoming vacation.

7. They're making Star Wars movies again.  And so far they're actually good.  Star Wars may have saved my life once, years ago, when I was extremely depressed.  No matter how bad things got, I always knew I couldn't die before the prequels were completed.  It didn’t matter how good or bad the movies were, I just had to see the whole story on film.  And now?  With Disney owning the rights, there might be new Star Wars movies until the end of time.  I’m going to have to look into immortality; I don’t want a little thing like death to keep me from seeing all of them.

8. Transgender rights are gaining acceptance.  Yes, there's still a lot of bigots out there, but things are a lot better than they used to be.

9. The Cheesy Gordita Crunch.  Greatest invention since the telephone.  Scratch that, I hate phones.  Greatest invention since the automobile.  Wait, I also hate cars.  Greatest invention since the Super Nintendo.  There we go.

As long as I concentrate on the above list, I have no excuse to be mopey.  I’ve got problems plenty, but blessings more.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." - Philippians 4:8 you never thought I'd end a blog with a bible verse.  Don't worry, I'm still an atheist; it just seemed an appropriate quote.  Happy thoughts!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


When I go clothes shopping with my wife, she thinks I get bored.  I'm not bored, I'm depressed.  I keep seeing all these thin, beautiful, female mannequins wearing things I'd like to wear.  I'm sad because I wish it was me trying on these clothes, and I wish I could look as good as the mannequin when I wear them.  Sometimes I have to distract myself just to keep from crying.  Sometimes I end up acting like a jerk just to speed things up.  Which just makes me hate myself more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gamergate, SJWs, Sexist Comics, Blah Blah Blah...

Of course by the time I report on something in this blog, it's long past being old news.

Gamergate was a controversy that started in 2014.  You can read the Wikipedia article here, but here's my completely biased summary:  A bunch of male gamers got offended when women pointed out that a lot of video games were sexist.  In order to prove that the gaming community wasn't sexist, these guys threatened to rape and kill several famous female gamers.

This movement spawned (or at least popularized) a few new internet terms, such as Social Justice Warrior and White Knight.  For the uninitiated:

Social Justice Warrior (SJW):  Anyone who isn't a misogynistic, racist asshole.  Or from the Gamergater point of view, an SJW is someone who won't stop whining about sexism, racisim, and other social issues.  It's basically a more modern variation of "politically correct."  For some reason SJW is considered a pejorative, even though both sides believe SJWs want to wipe out sexism and racism.  I guess if you're proud to be sexist and racist, SJWs represent a challenge to your worldview.

White Knight:  A male who believes in equality.  Or from the Gamergater point of view, a male who rushes in to defend a female in an internet discussion, who doesn't really believe what he's saying, but pretends to be a feminist because he hopes to get laid.  A Gamergater doesn't believe that any male could ever actually be a feminist, so any time someone with a male avatar speaks against Gamergate he must be doing it to impress the ladies.

All I want to know is:
What happened to geeks?

Seriously, guys, what is wrong with you?  When I was in high school, we wanted there to be more female geeks.  We loved our geek media, and didn't want to give it up, but we wanted girls to share it with. Girlfriends or platonic female friends, it didn't matter, we just wanted more acceptance of our hobbies.  Geek didn't become mainstream until years after I graduated.

Young geeks today just don't appreciate how well they have it.  In my high school, liking Star Trek immediately put you in a special category of students, the lowest end of the social totem pole.  When I think about how things have changed, I want to believe that things have gotten better.   I want to picture kids walking around openly wearing their sci-fi shirts.  I know there's still bullies, but when that bully is also wearing a Game of Thrones shirt, he's probably not picking on them for enjoying fantasy.

Girls are finally openly into video games. Now to be fair, when I was in high school back in the early 90s, I did know several girls that liked video games.  But they weren't into them.  The played them as a pastime, but they didn't talk about them or read the magazines or wear the hobby on their sleeve the way boys did.  But now girls are proud to wave their geek flag high.

Guys, this is what we wanted.  This was our goal.  We all hoped to one day marry a woman who would play video games with us.  So why are you trying to scare them off?

Look, guys, if you ever want to have a relationship with an actual woman, here's a tip:  Be a feminist.  And by feminist, I don't mean your uninformed misogynistic definition of the word.  I mean the real definition of feminist:  Someone who believes in the equality of the sexes, and recognizes that society makes life easier on males.  And when I say be a feminist, I don't mean just saying the words.  Research it.  Believe it.  Recognize your own privilege.  Don't get offended when people point it out to you.

But don't expect your feminism to make you special.  That's like wanting special treatment for not murdering someone.  Feminist is what you're supposed to be.  Don't tell women you're "not like those other guys".  Those "other guys" are assholes, and not being like them isn't some grand accomplishment that should immediately get rewarded with sex.  Not being a jerk is just the start of the journey, not the end.

What are you so worried about?  What do you think you're going to lose if video games become a little bit more feminist?  Are games going to be that much less fun just because the women wear more realistic armor?  Do larger breasts and g-strings really enhance gameplay?  Does adding the option to play as a female character lessen the experience, even when you're still allowed to play as a male character?

Look, I've never been a fan of censorship.  But we're not talking about censoring games, so much as enlightening programmers.  They have to realize that half of their target audience is female.  Making games that appeal to a broader audience can only increase their sales.  There's no downside here.  It's just a simple matter of adding more options.

More games should allow you to select your character's sex and skin tone.  If they want to include skimpy outfits, fine, but make them optional.  Give players more choices in customizing their virtual avatars, even in single player games.  A good game will draw players regardless of character design, so there's no reason to alienate half your audience with hypersexualized avatars.

I'll let you in on a secret - while my gender may be questionable, my sexual attraction is not.  I like women.  I appreciate nudity.  I'm not offended by skimpy outfits or sexual themes or even full-blown pornography.  But I don't need to see it everywhere I look.  In fact, nudity is actually sexier if I haven't been looking at it all day. 

Disclaimer:  I don't claim to be an expert on feminism, and the following paragraph is based solely on my own experience, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt.  But most feminist women I've talked to still like feeling sexy.  They enjoy playing attractive characters in video games.  They still like reading comics with sexy superheroines.  Most of them aren't even offended by nudity.

For many, it's just the amount that's the problem.  Let's look at comic books for a minute.  I'd say about 90% of female superheroes wear ridiculous outfits that would never be comfortable in real life.  They stand in positions that aren't humanly possible, and have body shapes designed more for porn than athletics.  Does it have to be 90%?  What if we invert that?  We can still keep the sexy women in skimpy outfits, but let's make them 10%.  Let the other 90% be a variety of body types, in a range of clothing styles.  There, you still get to see a little skin, and female readers have more characters to whom they can relate.

It seems like most of these artists really only understand how to draw one female body type.  They can draw all kinds of men, but every female is just Superhero Barbie in a different tight outfit. If I were in charge, every comic book artist would be required to read "Escher Girls" regularly.  They would also have to print out these two Shortpacked strips, poster size, and hang them on the walls of their office.

Good: Batgirl's 2014 Redesign
But the main thing is I want to see more female programmers and comic book artists. I want women involved in all aspects of design.  I want new female heroes designed with more practicality in mind - not at the cost of pizzazz, mind you, they are still super heroes.  But their suits would be more befitting of the athletes they are, instead of everyone looking like supermodels.

A lot of existing female costumes would get redesigned, but the ones for whom "sexy" is part of their main theme would stay sexy.  Catwoman would keep wearing slinky outfits, as sex is her theme almost as much as cats.  Poison Ivy might still wear skimpy foliage, since she's more into nature than modesty.  Power Girl would still have the biggest breasts in the DC universe, as that's part of her character and all body types should be represented.

Bad: Harley's Cheerleader Lingerie
But Harley Quinn can bloody well go back to her much superior original costume, so she actually looks like a harlequin again. Batgirl can keep the practical outfit she started wearing in 2014, the one that got caused such an uproar among misogynists.  I'm a little torn on Black Canary's stockings - they're kind of a signature for that character, but they're also very silly.  And Wonder Woman... well, she's had a ton of different outfits over the years, both good and bad.  Just pick one of the ones that doesn't look like a swimsuit.

But that's just if I was in charge.  Someone more feminist than me might come up with even more conservative designs.  We'd all object at first, but only because we're hardwired to hate change.  In a couple of decades, we'd be so used to the new outfits that the old ones would look ridiculous.  Heck, I was raised on Superman comics in which he wore his underwear on the outside.  It's only been a few years since they updated it, and I'm already so used to it that I wince when I see the older costume.

The bottom line is, it's not all about you.  You're not the only one reading these comics or playing these video games.  Making a few small changes to a product can double its audience.  Personally, I'm twice as likely to buy a comic book or video game if the main character is female, and I know I can't be the only one.  If the creators of media would just pay more attention to the world around them, they'd know how to increase sales and make the world more inclusive at the same time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ain't No Party Like A Pity Party

When I first came out as transgender, about 10 years ago, I coped with it several ways.  I went to two psychiatrists, two psychologists, and a support group.  The psychiatrists prescribed me drugs for social anxiety.  This first pills I tried worked great, but had terrible side effects.  The next pills I tried did absolutely nothing, except more side effects.

The psychologists gave me someone to open up to, but never really gave me much advice.  It was helpful to get things off my chest, but for those prices I might have been better off telling my problems to my cats.  I finally stopped seeing the professionals when my insurance changed its pricing, making my copay too expensive to continue.  I guess the insurance companies think mental health is a luxury.

I only went to a few sessions of the support group.  They were good people, but the environment was just too depressing.  You put that many depressed people in the room, and the depression takes form, hanging in the air like a cloud.  I'm usually not very empathic, but just entering the room felt like walking through a mood-lowering fog.

But more importantly, there weren't any geeks there.  The other transwomen I spoke to only seemed to care about hobbies that are traditionally held by women.  That was so odd to me.  Geekdom is gender neutral these days (even if there are a lot of sexist geeks), but the local trans community only seemed to draw people who cared about clothes and knitting and such.  So while I could open up to people about my problems, I never found anyone with whom I could really connect.

Eventually I started playing D&D, and that became my therapy.  Playing a female for a few hours each week took place of dressing en femme, and while it wasn't much, it kept me from suicide.  But lately it just hasn't been enough.  Last night I couldn't sleep because I just kept thinking about... well, trans things.  I can picture myself as a woman walking around inside my skull, banging on the walls wanting to escape.  Wailing to be heard.  Collapsing in a heap, defeated.

My insurance has changed two or three times in the past 10 years; maybe it's time to look into whether psychology is once again viable.  But I don't know, it just didn't do much for me last time.  I could try the support group again, maybe there's geeks there now.   But sometimes dressing up just depresses me more...  I never found a look I found acceptable, and when I look in the mirror I just see a guy in drag.  All that does is makes me realize I'll never be where I want to be.

I think it would help if I had a friend to talk to, but none of my friends understand trans issues.  When I bring up these things in conversation, I can feel them getting uncomfortable.  Maybe I'm imagining that part, but I can tell you for sure that they don't understand what I'm going through.  The concept is alien to them.  But when I talk to other trans people, I just don't connect to them the way I do with my geeky friends.

I need to meet more trans geeks.  I need at least one really geeky transperson as a friend.  Hopefully one who shares my specific geek interests - Star Trek, Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, DC comics, Nintendo, etc.

The part the bugs me most is that even if I found the perfect friend to confide in, I don't have the slightest idea what I want to say.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Samus Aran: Transgender?

I debated on whether to put this here or on my Entertainment blog, but I think it goes here.

Samus Aran has been my favorite video game character since her debut in 1986.  For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Metroid is the story of an intergalactic bounty hunter named Samus Aran.  She is sent to infiltrate the planet Zebes, to stop some space pirates from using cosmic jellyfish (metroids) to take over the universe.  Until the end of the game, the player is led to assume that Samus is male (she's even referred to as "he" in the instruction booklet), but at the end of the game she removes her cybernetic armor revealing her feminine form.

My high school art
I wasn't surprised by her end-of-game gender reveal, as that plot twist had already been spoiled by my friends.  But it was one of the first things that made me want to buy the game.  While the original game is primitive by today's standards, I found myself deeply immersed in the game's mythology.  I drew my own Metroid comics in high school.  I programmed Metroid-related spin-off games on the Commodore 64.  I've even considered the name "Samus" as my female name.  I could talk about Metroid for hours, but that's not what I'm blogging about today.  (But here is a Metroid blog I wrote in 2009.)

While Samus and I had nothing in common, really, I identified with her more than any other video game character.  I loved jumping around Zebes in her robotic suit, getting to live another life for a while.  This was years before I knew I was transgender - well, before I knew the word "transgender", anyway.  But I've always had a thing for stories about male characters who turn out to be female (Mulan, for instance).  I wouldn't have been able to put it into words at the time, but on some level I wanted to rip off my outer disguise and reveal a girl underneath.  

So, the other day it became news that Ronda Rousey, a former UFC Champion, wants to play Samus Aran.  The problem?  She's made headlines for putting down transgender people.  Generally I try to be good about separating actor from role, but I have to admit it can be difficult.  The Lethal Weapon movies were a bit harder to enjoy after Mel Gibson's antisemitic rants, and Bill Cosby's old routines are just no longer funny.  Samus is my hero.  I don't want her played by someone I find odious.

Now, I'm not worried about it actually happening.  At least twice a year I see an article about an actor wanting to play a certain role, and I've only seen actually happen once (Deadpool).  Just because an actor wants to play a character, doesn't mean a studio will suddenly throw a movie together.  Plus, while various Metroid projects have been announced in the past, they never even get as far as having a script.  By the time a Metroid movie actually gets going (if ever), Rona Rousey will likely be too old to play her.

But as I read all the articles about Rousey's acting aspirations, I stumbled across some even more interesting.  Apparently some people consider Samus Aran transgenderHow did I miss this?  I've followed Metroid news for most of my life, and I've followed trans news for a good decade.  This is the first time I've seen the two intersect.

It started in 1994, when one of Metroid's designers referred to her as a "Newhalf", which is a Japanese word for transgender.  I've done a little digging, and there seems to be some dispute over whether newhalf is a bigoted slur akin to "shemale", or if it's just another word for transgender and/or transvestite.  In any event, he was probably just making an off-color joke regarding Samus Aran's unusual strength.

But apparently a lot of fans latched onto this bit of trivia, and adopted it as canon.  That's cool.  I'm not a big stickler for canon anyway - let's face it, it's all fiction, none of it "really" happened.  So if a transgender Samus makes you happy, believe that.

A prominent transgender video game character is good for the trans community.  Everybody wants to identify with fictional characters, and there aren't enough fictional transfolk.  At least, not ones presented in a good light.  It's empowering to be represented.

On the other hand, the idea may have started with a transphobic joke.  It's like the designer was saying, "No 'real' woman could be so strong, so she must be part male," which is offensive on several levels (seriously, I made myself sick just typing that).  I'm worried that canonizing it somehow legitimizes the slur.  It's like saying we approve of the designer's bigoted attitude.

If it becomes widely accepted, I could see it hurting sales...  or at least Nintendo might think it will hurt sales, and Nintendo doesn't need another excuse to ignore the Metroid franchise.

Eh... I'm probably just being a worry wart.  The bottom line is that I want what's best for the transgender community. 

But will I personally accept it as canon?  ...I... don't know.

I've said this before, but (IMO) the biggest difference between a gay person and a transperson, is that  a gay person is fine with being gay (assuming a non-bigoted environment).  As long as they live somewhere tolerant, a gay person can be happy with who they are.  They can sleep with whomever they find attractive, without having to say "I wish I wasn't gay".  I could be wrong about that, but I generally assume that if a gay person says "I wish I was straight", they really mean, "I wish I had the acceptance and privileges of straight people."

I can't say that.  Frankly, I don't want to be transgender.  Now I don't presume to speak for all transpeople; maybe some are happy to have had a chance to live on both sides of the coin.  But in my case, I want to be a woman.  Period.  Not a transwoman, not a woman who used to be a man, not a crossdresser or a drag queen or any other type of gender bender.  I simply want what 51% of the population takes for granted, to be a natural born female. 

Life would be so much easier if I was just gay.

So when I look at Samus, and I identify with her, and I wish I could be her... I'm picturing her as a ciswoman.  I don't want to identify with her as a transgender person.  I'm already trans, why would I fantasize about it?  Officially, I firmly believe it doesn't make her any less of a woman.  As far as I'm concerned, trans people are whatever the gender they feel they are, and fictional transfolk are no different.  But on a personal level, if I'm going to imprint on a fictional character, then they're going to represent my perfect ideal self.  And my ideal self is genetically female.

If my refusal to believe Samus is trans is insulting to the trans community, then I apologize wholeheartedly.  If this was about literally any other fictional character, I wouldn't even be in crisis.

I fully support those who want Samus to be transgender.  If Nintendo were to make it officially canon (don't hold your breath), it wouldn't bother me.  Heck, I'd proudly defend Nintendo's decision in countless internet flame wars, repeatedly getting called an SJW by bigoted internet trolls (I'm used to it).

But in my own personal headcanon, she's cis.  To be fair, I don't always accept everything that Nintendo has done with her, either.  Her Zero Suit design has shades of "Outer Space Barbie", I never really liked her "raised by Chozo" backstory in the manga, and don't get me started on Other M.  My point is, I don't always accept or approve of what gets written, but it doesn't offend me.  I'm not going to fight the possibility of of a transgender Samus Aran.  I'm not going to spam message boards arguing against it.  It's a good idea whose time has come, it's just not going to be part of my little fantasy world.