Babies, and “finding out their gender”

So, pretty much everyone knows I’m pregnant by now. I’m not great at telling everyone at work, but the word is definitely spreading on its own – people I work with occasionally from other locations often know before I tell them, and the library CEO recently thanked me for the surprisingly convenient timing of my pregnancy in terms of the library system’s bigger projects XD .

Inevitably, people want to know whether I’m going to “find out the gender” ahead of time. Whenever people ask me this, I am tempted to give them one of these:

Because, like, come on! You are literally talking to a trans person *right now*. Do you even hear yourself? Usually I will just correct them to remind them that only thing I can find out at the point is the (probable) sex – really, all you can learn from an ultrasound is whether or not the fetus appears to have a penis, which isn’t really as conclusive of anything as we like to pretend it is.

Personally, I don’t really care whether I find out the baby’s apparent sex from an ultrasound or when they’re born. It’s kind of all the same to me. My partner made a very good point, however, which has made us decide to wait to find out.

The thing is, if we learn the sex early, other people will want us to tell them what it is. And they’ll use the info to start gendering the baby immediately. And we’d like to put that off as long as reasonably possible. So, we won’t be learning the fetus’ apparent sex from my ultrasound on the 22nd (tomorrow!)

My general approach/attitude to my upcoming baby’s gender is the same as what I had planned before I got pregnant. In short: I know that I won’t know the baby’s gender until they are able to tell me what it is; however, for practical purposes I plan to use the pronouns the are traditionally applied to the baby’s apparent sex at birth (if they’re intersex, then I’ll go with they/them), while generally avoiding other forms of gendered language for them.

Worn out

I’ve been feeling really worn down for… at least a couple of months now, if i’m honest with myself. I keep telling myself I’m just on the edge of being worn down, but that’s just silly. I’ve been here before, and I should know better.

The job I have right now (mercifully, it’s only temporary anyway) is definitely too much for me in some ways. It’s been a good experience, and great for my career, but some of the things that make up a large part of my day-to-day work right now are draining everything I have. I haven’t had the wherewithal to really maintain a good social life since the fall, and it’s definitely gotten worse lately.

A big part of what I’m doing right now at work is outreach to local schools. This is a great awesome thing that we do at the library; it lets us promote our services and programs directly to kids and teachers, and we also bring in resources that the kids don’t get access to at their schools. I also… dislike pretty much everything about it?

Classic school outreach, I like, actually. Going out to spend an hour or so with one or two classes on a specific topic is fun, and not that different from the regular programs I run (which I still love!) It breaks up my week and often means I get a bit of a walk in on the clock, which is nice.

What I’m doing right now is a larger initiative we call the “Maker Experience”. It’s a full-day affair, and it involves two library employees. We set up a bunch of different gadgets and gear in the school library and spend the day giving different iterations of the same talk to different groups of kids, before giving them some time to play with and explore some of our stuff. Sometimes the school doesn’t even bother to build in time for us to regroup in between sessions.

The kids always have fun, and the teachers are generally very pleased with the whole thing, but I’m honestly not actually that excited about the content or convinced it adds much value to their day. But that’s not even the hardest part for me.

Although this project has picked up a lot of its own momentum, and I’m not cold-calling teacher librarians to try to get them interested (they pretty much all come to me, at a rate that’s hard for me to manage as is), I do spend a lot of time liaising with strangers, (and spending my days in unfamiliar spaces). Trying to organize a date that works for the school and that the library can handle being down two employees for the full day is tough. Even tougher is that I’m spearheading this outreach for my area, to three different branches, and have to reach out to the appropriate managers as and when.

I’m usually training new support people each time, in part because we want to get as many people as possible trained in this outreach as we can – at some point, it won’t be necessary for me to be along on all of these visits, or that’s the goal anyway.

All of this is on top of the regular programs and in-branch duties I’m used to handling, by the way.

It’s… a lot, is what I’m saying.

Add to this that the one real symptom of pregnancy that I’m having is a need for more sleep than usual. But my schedule doesn’t have the wiggle room for me to get more sleep than I already get, so it’s been tough going. I’m on a sleep deficit most of the week, and desperately try to make it up on the weekends (and I alternate between one- and three-day weekends, so this can be really tough on my six-day work weeks).

So, my non-work life is suffering. I messed up and double-booked social things this week, and wound up flaking on something really important. And then I realized it’s the third or fourth social thing I’ve flaked on in this month alone. I literally don’t have the wherewithal right now to stay on top of my work stuff (which I miraculously do seem to be on top of, somehow!) and the rest of my life. Throw in all the extra doctor stuff, and the fact that I’m moving at the end of the month, and I really should have known better than to agree to do things this month, to be honest… Sorry friends, I really do love you all, but I have to interact with far too many people as it is these days.

It’s not going to be forever though. This position is only mine until mid-to-late July (though I suspect they’ll keep me on a little extra time, and not bother to transition me to my new permanent position right away, since by then my pregnancy leave will be imminent), and school outreach won’t be happening past the end of June in any case.

Better yet, we’re moving closer to where I work next month. What’s been a 2-hour transit commute each way for the last few years will become a 40-minute walk (or 15 minutes on transit plus a 15 minute walk, depending on how I feel). I’ll have time for that extra sleep soon!

In the meantime, I’m already counting down the days to my parental leave. It’s just five more months, and when I get back I’ll have already started accumulating honest-to-goodness paid vacation days, so I will hopefully never have to get this run-down again.

Oh yeah, did I mention I’ve been working full-time for 18 months now with no real access to vacation (contract work is just so fun!)? Because that’s probably a big part of this whole thing. Thank goodness the precarity has an expiration date.

I can do this.

Blogging (and life) updates: HALF A DECADE!?!?

Whoa. I actually let this milestone pass me right by last month (January was one hell of a busy month for me at work, with more than double my usual load of children’s programming, plus I presented at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference at the end of the month!), but yeah, I’ve been keeping up with this blog thing for a full five years now!

How’d that even happen? Where did the time go? How do I keep finding things to say? (I’m closing in on my 400th posts now, though it may take me while to actually get there, since I don’t post quite as regularly as I once did…)

Anyway, congratulations to me, and happy birthday to Valprehension! YAY!

I’d already decided how I was going to ‘reward’ myself if I made it this far. I’m planning to start up a new semi-regular feature where I bring attention back to something from the archives that I think sill holds it’s own, and deserves to be seen by my newer readers. Maybe once a month? But I’ll try to make sure it’s not the only thing I’m doing here, so if I fall off of writing new stuff, I’ll take a break from spotlighting old posts, too.

So much thanks to all my readers, new and old :)

Here’s to five more years!

Questions from the search terms: “What to put in a dating bio as someone non-binary?”

It’s time for another question from the search terms! Today I bring you:

What to put in a dating bio as someone non-binary?

Online dating as a non-binary person is definitely a tricky one, and there’s a few different choices you have to make around it. There’s also no wrong answers, so it really depends on your particular preferences and comfort levels, but here are the things you’re going to want to consider:

Most (actually all, as far as I know?) online dating sites and apps require you to sort yourself into one binary gender

Unfortunate, but true. Even options like OKCupid, which has a wide variety of gender identity options beyond man and woman, only lets its users filter for either men or women (or both!), and so they ultimately make non-binary people decide whether we want to be shown to people looking for men or for women (and both is not an option on this end of things…).

So, what’s a non-binary person to do?

I think there’s two main things to consider here:

  1. What are you most comfortable with? If you must be lumped into one binary gender, is there one you feel more ok with being lumped into? For instance, if you are distinctly transmasculine or a demiboy, you might be more comfortable being grouped in with men (or not! Again, there’s no wrong answers here. It’s about what makes you feel least weird or icky, really.)But maybe both options feel equally uncomfortable/comfortable (or maybe it depends on the day? In that case, definitely choose a site that will allow you to change your gender as needed! But I digress…) If both options feel essentially the same to you, you’ll want to ask yourself:
  2. Which option will cause you to be seen by the best potential matches? Online dating is a numbers game, and people get matched up algorithmically. In general, being up-front and honest is the best way to find people who are actually interested in people like you, but stuck between two inaccurate choices, it’s reasonable to pick the one that’ll yield the best results for you. So consider whether someone who is looking for men or for women will be more likely to click through to your profile based on the summary/profile picture when browsing. Or, consider whether the people most likely to click through in each case are more likely to be the kinds of people you *want* clicking on your profile – maybe you know that you tend to get more interest from people who are into women, but you’re more interested in connections from people who will dig you for more manly qualities? Then put yourself in with men and let the chips fall where they may!

OK, but how do I let people know that I’m non-binary?

Some sites do actually let you set your gender as non-binary (or as more specific identities under the non-binary umbrella), and that can be helpful, but you should also be aware that most people browsing the site will gloss over that part of your profile, and may (somewhat reasonably) assume that you ar the gender they clicked on as “searching for”, given that that’s what they asked for.

Unfortunately there’s no way to make sure the people messaging you notice that you’re non-binary, or prevent yourself from getting misgendered. A lot of people take a scattershot approach to online dating and will just fire off the same opening message to anyone the algorithm sends their way without even looking at their profile. More and more dating apps are setting up barriers to this method, requiring mutual ‘likes’ before messages can be sent, but still the scattershot-rangers just go around liking everyone and sending out their form messages as soon as they get a notification of a mutual like.

But, if you’re like me, you can choose to see this as a bit of an advantage. As a non-binary person it will be even easier for you to immediately identify the people who didn’t even give your profile a cursory glance, and avoid wasting your time on them!

The last time I had a dating profile (before I broke up with OKC for good this time, after the insultingly condescending way they tried to phase out usernames (yes, I realize they walked back the policy almost immediately, and you literally can just use any username as your ‘name’, but it was a nail in the coffin for on top of my other ongoing complaints), but I digress again…) I was very upfront about both being non-binary, and that I had no patience with being misgendered.

I’m not on dating sites to do gender 101 with random strangers who just want to get into my pants. I do that work here (and I actually used to link to this blog from my profile, so if anyone was actually genuinley interested in my thoughts on gender, they were right at their fingertips!). I don’t have the exact wording anymore, but if I was writing my “I’m non-binary” disclaimer today, it would be:

In case you missed it at the top of my profile (who reads those anyway?), I am a non-binary person. My pronuons are they/them/their. I don’t date straight people (#sorrynotsorry). I also have a zero tolerance policy on being misgendered by potential dates (that kind of intimacy requires a higher standard than just a rando on the street!), so consider yourself warned!

I try to find a balance between being setting a very clear boundary, while maintaining a conversational/pleasant tone. It’s… hard, and there are people who will automatically read anything you have to say about being non-binary as confrontational or as you being difficult, but if you’re like me, you will also see this as an advantage – these folks will either show themselves the door, or show you their asses immediately, avoiding wasting too much of your time!

Just be direct and honest. You don’t need to write an essay on your genderfeels (though you can if you want! Some people are into that!), and you can gauge your own level of aggressiveness in setting any boundaries you have around being misgendered (or whether you want to date straight people! I know some non-binary people do!), but if it’s important to you that people know youre non-binary before you go on a date with them, just put it out there.

And good luck!

Big news! This weird little genderqueer blogger is pregnant! (FINALLY!)

[CN: pregnancy, and pregnancy-related worries]

Folks! At long last I got myself knocked up!

My partner and I weren’t even actually trying yet – we would have started probably in the summer or fall this year, but I found out just a few days before Xmas that I’m pregnant!

As of today, I’m at 12 weeks, and I just today had my second ultrasound. All looks good so far!

Early stage pregnancy is a really weird thing for me. I actually have very few pregnancy symptoms at all. I need a little more sleep more than usual these days, and my digestion’s been… wonky, but not in any really notable ways. There’s been zero morning sickness for me.

I’ve also been a little achier than usual some days, but it’s the winter and the weather here in Toronto has been changing wildly – we’ll swing from a pleasant-for-January 10C back to -15C and back up again over the course of a week. Plus I’m in my 30s now anyway, so aches just happen to me now sometimes.

I don’t really *feel* pregnant at all, most days, even now. So I actually have trouble sustaining the belief that I still *am* pregnant, week by week. Although I’m out of the woods in terms of highest risk for miscarriage now, I spent a lot of the last 12 weeks (er, I guess 7 weeks, since I was about 5 weeks along before I even found out about it!) silently at least 50% sure all the time that my fetus had already died inside me. There was a brief reprieve after my first ultrasound at 7-and-a-bit weeks, when I saw that there was definitely a little bean in there and it even had a beating heart and all. But that only lasted for a week or so before I was like, “well anything could have happened since then.”

It doesn’t help that when I google up signs that a fetus has died, it mostly boils down to “you stop feeling pregnant.” I don’t feel pregnant in the first place, so…..?

I’m not actually panicking about it or anything, for the record. And I’m mostly just living my life assuming that all is well and I’m still pregnant all the time.  But darn if it wasn’t nice to have confirmation this morning. My fetus is alive and has a normal heartbeat and is generally baby-shaped, and is a little ahead of schedule for size, even! And I’ll be seeing my obstetrician next week, so I’ll get to hear the heartbeat again then, and I don’t know, maybe I’ll start having actual symptoms someday soon?

In the meantime, YAY Y’ALL!

I’m due to have a baby in August :)

I can’t not talk about Aziz Ansari

[CW: this post talks about rape with varying levels of detail and specificity. Most links have the potential to be very triggering as well.]

Of all the celebrity-predator revelations this year, this is the one that’s made me feel the need to write again. I have… So. Much. I want to say here, I’m afraid I’ll make a mess of it all, but here we go.

I know exactly what every moment of that date must have felt like, because I have been in that same position. More times than I can count.

It’s a complicated thing, being assaulted by someone you’re actually kind of into, someone you actually kind of want to get it on with. Because you don’t want them to stop wanting to get it on with you, you just want them to pay attention and slow down, and actually show some sign that they are interested in your enjoyment, and not just following a script for their own pleasure. You just want them to let you catch up.

It’s even more confusing when they keep telling you they care. When their words tell you the things you want and need to be true, when you trust, or at least trusted and want to keep trusting, that this person is good and does care, that they’ll realize how uncomfortable they’re making you and stop, that any moment now they’ll stop doing these weirdly awful, uncomfortable things and maybe you’ll actually be able to both get on the same page.

But their actions? Their actions are relentless. Their actions barely even pause while they promise to give you time to relax, while they promise that they care about your comfort and enjoyment.

It’s a merry-go-round of emotions, and it’s a hard one to get off of. Grace escaped before “”real”” “”sex”” happened, I guess? But if you somehow think that makes any of it any better, I don’t think your worldview is salvageable.

I could have written this story, with another man in Ansari’s place. Except, fuck, I believed my rapist *loved* me. He believed it, too.

I also could have written this story. If you don’t quite get what was wrong with what Ansari did, read this piece, too. It’s important.

Also, read the application of the tea and consent analogy to the story.

I could have written these stories.

And, a few years ago? Reading these stories would have shattered me into a thousand pieces. Left me dissociated for weeks, quietly rolling through or fending off flashbacks while maintaining a calm exterior. Going through the motions of my routines without actually being productive in any aspect of my life.

Reading about Ansari, Sunday morning? I was upset, I can tell you that. I was angry, but productively so.

I have found myself reminded of weirdly specific moments in my relationship with my rapist, but I haven’t been overwhelmed by them.

I also didn’t immediately use the word rape when I was talking about it.

It wasn’t until I was a half a dozen comments deep, correcting some dude who was talking about awkwardness and suggesting that Ansari had ‘gotten himself into’ an ‘awful situation’. It did seem like our differences were actually semantic, and he was quick to acknowledge that yes, Ansari had absolutely repeatedly assaulted this woman, and that yes, it was clear that the only thing he cared about was getting laid, that he didn’t care about this woman at all beyond that and did not care to see her as a fully realized person with her own thoughts and feelings.

He was still framing Ansari as the only relatable character in the story, practically erasing the woman as much Ansari had himself, and that rubbed me the wrong way. Eventually, I said:

you’re using a lot of words to say ‘he clearly prioritized getting his end in above all else and doesn’t care whether he rapes people to get it.’ That is literally description of a rapist. He is a rapist. You can just say that and be done with it and not worry so much about the awful situations rapists get themselves into (the poor misguided dears)

It wasn’t until that moment I’d felt ok using the word for this situation. And I know that there are people who still aren’t comfortable with it.

Why? Because his penis never made it into her vagina? Really? After his penis had been forced into her hands over and over again, after she’d put his penis in her mouth without wanting to, after his fingers were shoved down her throat again and again, that’s the thing that’s going to tip this experience over into something violent and traumatic?


It’s particularly telling to me that people who subsequently turned up in that thread to question my use of the word ‘rapist’ never objected to my repeated use of the word ‘assault’ to describe his actions. He assaulted her sexually, repeatedly and in various ways over the course of more than an hour, and yet somehow we all still hesitate to cry ‘rape’.

That’s the power of rape culture, right there. That is how we are silenced.

And I guess that’s why I needed to write about this.

I’ve been… pretty quiet about rape for quite some time. I haven’t written anything here about #metoo, or about the cascade of outed predators in Hollywood in the ensuing months. I also haven’t said much (or anything?) about it on my personal facebook page.

It’s not that I’ve been totally silent. I’ve participated in comment threads and conversations in other places. I just… I don’t even know. With #metoo, I was unreasonably flummoxed by specificity of it being about women, and though I know many non-binary people who rightfully found spaces for themselves there, I wasn’t comfortable with doing so for myself. I also just….

Look, I have done this. There are post on this blog that were incredibly painful for me to write. There are details and stories about my own experiences that I have shared even when doing so made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. When every word coming out of fingertips felt like it cost me dearly, but I knew that not getting them out would cost me more.

I’ve cut myself open and shown you all my insides. I guess I did so a few years too early? But I’ve also healed from it. Because of it. And I don’t want to keep reopening those wounds.

I don’t mean I want to forget or stop talking or caring about these things. I guess I don’t really know what I mean. I’ll keep writing about this stuff when I have the energy to, I guess. And I won’t sweat it when I don’t.

But if you come away from this post with anything, please let it be an understanding that this story about Aziz Ansari is the story of a rape. And that anyone who does those things is a rapist.

Gender Perspectives Vol. 21

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

My gender | Aut of Spoons

I don’t know what gender IS.

How can I know what my gender is, if I don’t know what gender is?

On Coming Out Day this year, I said that I was “less cis than originally advertised.” I don’t know what that means. Perhaps gender is the collection of attributes that are most important to you; your defining characteristics. Your core identity. Why have a word for it, if not your name? Gender Olivia?

Transition, trans becoming | The dancing trans

The process of transition is defined and controlled by cis people in a way that denies transness to many, many trans people. However, we are all still slowly becoming our genders and that, for us trans folks, is our transition, cis-sanctioned or not.

Carve Me Like a Pumpkin | The Junkie Comsonaut

I am preparing my body for surgery, and it is almost there. My brain needs some more time. Anticipating the damage and the aftermath still makes me queasy, but I’ll cope. I want this. I want what it will get me.