The ‘Shit Cis People Say’ Alphabet: X is for “XX or XY”

Welcome to another episode of the Shit Cis People Say Alphabet! Today:

X is for “XX or XY”

One of the ways transphobic cis people try to invalidate trans people is by insisting that our gender is determined by our chromosomes, that everyone is either XX or XY, all people with XX chromosomes have vaginas, and are women, and all people with XY chromosomes have penises and are men, and that’s that. Cis folks like to think they’re being rational and scientific by appealing to biology in this way, but the truth is that these claims are incorrect on literally every level – there are other chromosomal arrangements, even the binary XX/XY system doesn’t have a 1-to-1 correspondence with genital development (and of course, genitals don’t have a 1-to-1 correspondence with gender), most people don’t even know their chromosomes in the first place, and that’s definitely not how we gender babies, among other things.

If you’re making a claim to chromosomes to justify your transphobia, I honestly don’t think you’re even trying to understand what you’re talking about, and so my motivation to write rebuttals for this is minimal, and I find myself bored before I even start. So, in lieu of rewriting all the explanations for why ‘but *chromosomes*!!!!’ isn’t a refutation of trans people’s identities, here’s a couple of recommended reads instead:

Transgender People and ‘Biological Sex’ Myths | Julia Serano

Chromosomes: cis expectations vs. trans reality | Zinnia Jones, Gender Analysis

Happy reading!


Check out the rest of the “Shit Cis People Say” alphabet!

Mislabeled: don’t call me picky! November 2017 Carnival of Aces Submission

This month’s Carnival of Aces topic seems like it was deliberately designed to entice me out of my prolonged break from blogging, so here I am!

This post is in response to the November 2017 Carnival of Aces, hosted by WUT on the topic of “Questioning, Exploration, and Mislabeling”

I have… a lot to say about this topic, but I don’t want to retread too much of what I’ve already said, so if you’re interested in the questioning and exploration I went through in the process of coming to a demisexual identity, you can read through the phases (and cycles) I went through as follows:

I came out strong with “Recognizing Demisexuality”

But I clearly wasn’t as sure as I seemed, as the following year I returned with “Demisexuality, confusion, and self-doubt”, and “Demisexuality: debunking a common misconception”

Since then, though, I’ve become much more comfortable in my identity, and have written about how “Embracing my demisexuality has made me more resilient!”

It’s been a journey, to say the least! But today, I also wanted to talk about something else. Because demisexuality does very often get misunderstood or mislabeled (and not just as being ‘normal’, as I debunked in the above link.) Sometimes demisexuality is also mislabeled as simply being ‘picky’.

This… is an unfair assessment. I don’t think that demisexual people are inherently ‘pickier’ than anyone else (although I’m sure some of us are picky, too!) A picky person usually has a list of criteria that causes them to reject things they might otherwise be into. Everyone who experiences attraction to others has *some* criteria by which people’s attractiveness is measured (unless you’re attracted to literally everyone, I guess?), and the ponit at which these criteria tip you over into being ‘picky’ is kind of nebulous, but ultimately if you think about it, demisexual people are likely *less* picky than allosexual people when it comes to sexual attraction.

Think about it: demisexual people experience sexual attraction only after forming a bond with a person. Although this may not be universally true, what this generally means is that demisexual people experience sexual attraction as a result of personality, interpersonal and relational traits in a person. So it’s fair to say that in general, our ‘criteria’ for experiencing attraction run along those lines.

It’s important to always remember that in the general case, allosexual people’s experiences of attraction are also very much affected by these sorts of criteria, and personality traits can very much make-or-break someone’s attractiveness to allosexual and demisexual people alike. The thing that differentiates allosexual and demisexual experience of sexual attraction are physical criteria.

Allosexual can and do sometimes experience sexual attraction (or lack thereof) based solely on physical characteristics. An allosexual person may be able to reject someone as potentially attractive before knowing anything at all about their personality, based solely on the physical criteria governing their attractions. On the other hand, demisexual people are far less likely to have these kinds of criteria for their experiences of attraction (I’ve written before about how I don’t).

In other words, I’d argue that it’s likely, in general, that allosexual people are technically ‘pickier’ than demisexual people. I even used this idea to pep talk myself when my dating prospects were leaving me sad!

A better way of thinking about demisexuality, rather than in terms of pickiness, is in terms of decisiveness – demisexual people often take longer than allosexual people to figure out whether they are or even can be attracted to other people.

So basically, stop calling me ‘picky’ – I’m just indecisive*! :P

*Not actually accurate either, for the record!

Messages to Ace Exclusionists: September 2017 Carnival of Aces Round-up

This is the round-up of posts for the September 2017 Carnival of Aces, hosted by yours truly, with the prompt “What’s one thing you want to tell ace exclusionists?“. Posts are listed in order of submission. Thank you so much to all the contributors; I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your posts!

“Don’t hate anyone” | The Song of the Lonely Whale

Anonymous submission: “I wish you could acknowledge, without its being a source of pain, that all groups whose identities represent benign violations of the dominant narrative about sex and gender and love have common cause, and that more light will come from resisting that narrative than resisting each other. That consent is the best measure of benignity. That we can have our own spaces within a much larger one.”

“If you include, you may be included. If you exclude, you will be excluded.” | Mundo Heterogeneo

“if I can only say one thing to an ace exclusionist, it’s that straight people don’t let us in their club, not even the heteroromantic ones among us.” | From Fandom to Family


In addition to the above submissions, ettinacat commented on the call for submissions highlighting a couple of older posts on Abnormaldiversity. Because there weren’t a whole lot of submissions this month, I’m going to include them in the round-up. The messages from these posts are:
“Being invisible isn’t a privilege.” and
Aroaces are definitely not straight

 

Guest Post: Messages to Ace Exclusionists – Anonymous Submission to the September 2017 Carnival of Aces

[I received the following submission via email]

Exclusionists, I promise you I’m not under the impression that I can tell you anything. (At least not so long as it isn’t that I, as an ace, support your exclusionism, which I am not saying, because I’m not one of the “good ones”, as it were.) But there are some things I wish you would consider, on your own, if you have the time, and with no accountability implied.

(And by “you” below, I don’t necessarily mean “you” individually? I know no one person does all of it.)

•Exclusionists seem to get angry at every manifestation of ace identity or community. You get angry at the flag and its colors. You get angry at rings. You get angry at the goofy puns, get angry when we talk seriously about trauma. You get angry at our online spaces, get angry when we show up in public. You get angry at asexuality in fandom and angry at it in canon media and angry when it’s acknowledged by non-fictional people where anyone can see or hear it. 

I’m not saying your anger isn’t a real feeling or that you’re somehow feeling it on purpose, but emotions are inflamed to the point where you take any and all evidence of our existence, unless it’s an explicit statement that we understand why you don’t want us around, and no matter if it’s in no way directed at you, as a punishable offense or disrespect or a threat. (Because why don’t we FUCKING STAY DOWN?) “I am” has become an offensive statement. And I wish that worried you.

•Despite all of this anger despising us has a recreational element. Social circles are built around it. It’s something you opt to discuss and make graphics and jokes about in your free time. It’s fun. And I wish that worried you.

•It’s true that the community needs a lot of help in a world that’s hostile in a thousand ways from a thousand directions. There are a multitude of ways to offer that help, too. Faced with all the wide array of community needs (and of course I’m not scolding anybody for not building a second Lambda Legal on tumblr after they finish their AP Chem homework – that’s ridiculous – and of course I’m not blaming anyone for limiting their activity to online spheres when their irl environment isn’t safe – that’s evil) you looked at the roles you could fill and decided to be the patrolmen in mirror shades asking everyone for their identification.. And I wish that worried you.

•You and yours lift and repurpose hateful arguments from all over the place that have been used against every other community group, including gays and lesbians, despite the fact that those arguments bring underlying assumptions with them:

  • “You’re endangering children!”
  • “Accepting you means we’d have to accept pedophiles!” 
  • “You ARE just pedophiles!” 
  • “You have a disease.” 
  • “That’s not human.” 
  • “You’ll grow out of it.” 
  • “That’s not real.” 
  • “You want to be oppressed.” 
  • “If you knew better than to attract attention you’d be fine. Whatever happened to you, you brought it on yourself.” 
  • “You’re innately abusive and selfish and can’t be trusted as partners.” 
  • “You’re innately homophobic.”
  • “Your presence is a danger to us by definition.” 
  • “If you’re not gay, you’re straight.”
  • “You’re not not-straight enough to be here.”
  • “Use of your own terminology is wrong. Use of existing terminology is also wrong.”
  • “The community is already defined; more groups can’t just join.”
  • “Not indulging someone’s sexual interest in you is hurting them.”

The baggage on these is substantial.

  • “It’s healthier for kids if knowledge of certain identities is kept from them.”
  • “Victimization and consent aren’t the deciding factors in whether your sexual conduct/identity/preferences are morally acceptable or not; we as a community are incapable of making decisions on this basis.”
  • “Pedophilia is a label that can be casually applied to anyone whose orientation I dislike..”
  • “Sexual orientation ought to be subject to medical intervention.”
  • “Sexual orientation is sufficient grounds to deny someone’s humanity.”
  • “What matters isn’t your present reality, it’s that something must have changed you into this and something else might change you back.”
  • “People can’t be trusted to recognize their identities on their own.”
  • “Opressed status is a cynical prize whose function is to get things out of other people.”
  • “Your abuse is your own fault.”
  • “Sexual orientation correlates to moral degeneracy.”
  • “Behavior doesn’t make the bigot.”
  • “The range of sexual orientations is properly understood as one goal with multiple failure states. Such failure is moral in nature.”
  • “Silence and isolation are fair demands to make of marginalized people.”
  • “Community is best understood as having impermeable and immobile borders and community membership must be inherited.”
  • “Sex can be owed.”

I know that you didn’t build these weapons from scratch – preexisting human nastiness left them lying around. Pericisheteronormativity left them lying around. And then radfem rhetoric came along, made some aftermarket modifications, and left them lying around. But you and yours have really gotten into picking them up and swinging. I wish this worried you.

•Splash damage is getting everywhere. Under SGA logic, bi/m-spec issues are understood as identical to gay and lesbian issues, when that’s not true. Enbies get their identities forcibly collapsed into definitions that don’t fit. Ageism and ableism are flat-out necessary, if you’re going to seize on the idea that liking the option of some community social spaces that aren’t clubs and bars is homophobic. 

You say you don’t like TERFs, but they love your stuff. 

Why did you glom so hard onto the claim that intersex people as a group don’t want to be included in the community, when that’s not true either?

I wish this worried you.

I don’t want to cheapen the bonds you have and the love you feel for the people you do consider a part of the community; they can’t have been easily come by. And I don’t want to dismiss the visceral comfort that comes with finally making it to a place of safety and slamming the door behind you. 

But I wish you could acknowledge, without its being a source of pain, that all groups whose identities represent benign violations of the dominant narrative about sex and gender and love have common cause, and that more light will come from resisting that narrative than resisting each other. That consent is the best measure of benignity. That we can have our own spaces within a much larger one.

That, to borrow physics for a needlessly poetic moment, the end of the rainbow is always farther away than it looks.

Brief Thought: Humanity is just weird

Sometimes I am just struck by the absurdity of some of the things we take in stride/for granted in the world. For instance, one way I could describe (part of) my plans for tomorrow:

I’m getting a tattoo!

That’s a pretty clear and, while exciting to me, not entirely out of the ordinary thing to do, right?

But if I put it like this:

Tomorrow I have an appointment to pay a complete stranger a bunch of money to stick needles into my skin thousands of times over the course of a couple of hours, to change the colour of some of my skin.

…Like, wait, what? Literally how is this just a normal(ish) thing? What even is humanity? WHY ARE PEOPLE?

That’s all I’ve got for you today.

Fatherly Estrangement

I’ve been estranged from my father for over three years now, and somehow I’ve barely written about it at all. I actually just went back and checked, because I know I’ve started to write about this on many, many occasions, and I figured one of those times must have produced something worthy of posting, but beyond one brief reference to the estrangement, it seems I just… haven’t said anything about it here.

Here, where I have processed all of the most difficult things I’ve been through in my life, starting with processing the trauma from my abusive relationship, through the ups and downs of coming out as genderqueer in various contexts, figuring out that I’m demisexual, and most recently divorce.

And I’m thinking about it again now (getting engaged inevitably raised questions about how to handle wedding invitations – my estrangement from my father is complicated by the fact that my parents are still together, and my mother and I still want to have a good relationship with each other (and, somehow, we’ve actually been managing it so far)) and the spectre of familial pressure to reconcile with my father has re-entered my consciousness.

So, I’ve been thinking about writing about the whole mess, the reasons for the estrangement, the specific catalyzing events that caused us to stop speaking to each other, all of the things that have happened since then and the ways in which I have finally drawn a line in the sand and held that line against pressure from various sources.

There’s a lot to say about it, honestly, and I’m really proud of myself. But somehow when I sit down to write about it, I’m just not motivated to get it out. And I’m beginning to think that lack of motivation is a good thing.

I think that the reason I don’t feel the need to get this particular story down in words, to give it concrete form as I have so many other things, is simply that I know I’ve got this. It’s not complicated. I’m not running around in circles in my own head trying to untangle the knots left by his manipulativeness, because, even though I didn’t often write about it directly, I was doing that processing at the same time that I was working through my other experiences of abuse.

My memories and understandings of who my father is, and the way he treats the people close to him, are actually very clear. I don’t find myself doubting any of it. I don’t find myself forgetting or needing to remind myself of the reality of what it’s like to try to have a relationship with him.

I just know that he is toxic. I know that he is incapable of hearing or respecting boundaries. And I know that my mental health has been vastly improved by not having to tend to a relationship with him.

It’s not even difficult. I know it was a good move and I am very comfortable with it.

So, I don’t know. Maybe one day I will share some of the stories relating to this state of affairs. I’m sure it would be interesting to many of you, if not instructive in some ways. But that day is not today.

Because I have mental clarity on this entire situation, and that is just so good.

Marriage, Re-marriage, and how I’ve never been afraid of commitment

During that strange period between when my former partner and I had decided that we would be getting divorced and when we actually separated, I (obviously?) had a lot of conversations about marriage and divorce with various friends and relations.

In the midst of one rather long and freewheeling conversation, I had one friend mention that – while they liked the idea of marriage in some ways – they didn’t understand how people could ever make the decision to do it. Because, after all, how do you know it’s going to work out?

I didn’t manage to articulate an answer at the time, but at it’s heart, this question always seems to miss the point for me. Because, um, of course you don’t know for sure it’s going to work out. Whether or not it works out isn’t ever going to be entirely in your own control even, since there’s another person involved, plus just the unpredictability of life in general. And anyway, in my case even if I had thought I knew for sure when I got married, I was proven wrong in the end.

But I never thought that in the first place. I actually went in with a very clear awareness that we might not be married forever, that getting married was just one of many choices we were going to be making throughout our lives about our relationship and what togetherness looked like for us.

I went into that marriage not knowing where it would lead us. But I also went in knowing a whole lot of other, much more important things.

I knew it was what I wanted.

I knew that the idea of us being together for the rest of our lives, as married people, made me happy.

I knew I liked the idea of sharing our lives and growing old together.

In short, I knew that if it did work out, it would be great.

I knew that based on the information I had available at the time, I was making a good decision.

I knew that if I didn’t at least try to have this thing with this person, I would regret it.

And because of all of that, I also knew that if for some reason it didn’t work out, I wouldn’t regret having made the decision to try.

And even now, I know that it was the right decision.

I know because, when we were married, I never doubted that it was what I wanted. Every day, I knew I wanted to be with this person, for the rest of my life.

And, nevertheless, it didn’t work out. I still have feelings about that, because of course I do, it’s an emotional sort of thing. I spent a lot of years planning for and make decisions around building a life that is no longer an option, and that will never come to be.

That really sucks. It just really, really sucks.

But, all of this also means that now, more than ever, I trust myself to make good decisions about who I want to marry.

So, while experiences of divorce – whether it’s our parents’ or our own – most often make people more reluctant to make that leap again (or at all), everything that has gotten me to where I am now, planning my second marriage, just makes me more sure that I’m doing the right thing, for me.

Because I know what I’m getting myself into, and I know that it’s what I want.

I know I want to try to have this thing, with this person.

So that’s what I’m going to do.