Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Unexpected Changes

I knew I should expect social changes during the transition process. Some of these changes were expected, others came as a complete surprise. The ones that shock me the most are not the ones that I expected or even the ones that cause me to fear for my safety. The most surprising changes are the ones I did not expect. Because I did not expect them, I did not prepare for them in anyway. Some of these changes involve learning the unwritten social rules that govern behavior between women, and others involve me learning new vulnerabilities.

The first type of incident occurred several weeks ago. Even though the current summer has barely reached the 90s, I’ve still gone to the local lake on days where it’s particularly hot and humid.  I departed for the lake at the local park early in the day, hoping I would avoid the crowds that came later. The early departure provided the opportunity to get some swimming in without bumping into other people. Sure, I could go to the local pool or use the facilities at the YMCA, but locker rooms still scare me.

Although I managed to perform some cardiovascular exercise, people eventually started trickling into the area.  One woman struck up a conversation. She asked me about my children. This conversation did not involve any discomfort, because it is a normal conversation topic. When I replied that I don’t have any, she offered her sympathies. (If she actually met some of my younger relatives and my parents, she might understand my reluctance to produce younger versions of myself.)   The awkward part of the trip came as I prepared to leave. While I was walking out of the water to return to my vehicle, another woman asked me to rub sunscreen lotion on her back.

My brain went into a form of shock.  If a man had asked me that question several months ago, it would have led to violence. My body activated its own fight or flight mechanisms. I remained there.  The woman repeated the request.  Although the discomfort I felt remained, I did as she asked.  Not a single thing I feared happened. My hand got greasy and she gained sunburn protection.  I asked others if this was normal behavior later. Women have much more relaxed attitudes about this type of contact than men do.
Another incident that caused me to realize that my societal rules were changing occurred this winter.  I ran out of gas as I was driving to work. When my Chevy Astro started sputtering due to a fuel-starved state, I pulled alongside of the road.  I took the gas can out of the back and headed toward the nearest gas station. A number of drivers asked me if I needed help, and a few drivers offered to give a ride.  One person even told me that I could trust him.

Every word in the sentence was familiar, but the context was foreign.  Why would he need to tell anyone that was trustworthy? Wouldn't his actions let others know if he was worthy of their trust?  I experienced an epiphany. The complicated relationship between men and women made him feel that this statement was necessary.  Thousands of sexual assault stories began a woman accepting a ride from an unknown man.  The man wanted me to know that he was not one of those creeps.

I did not accept his offer despite the cold temperatures. It was my first encounter with a new-found social vulnerability.  I realized I needed to worry about sexual assaults far more than I did before.   This incident occurred a few months after I started transition.  I knew the increased risk on an intellectual level, but it never occurred to me on an emotional level.  As someone who knows the statistics, I usually carry pepper spray with me in case I have to incapacitate an attacker.  However, I started carrying this out of fear of physical assaults. (I did this before I moved to small city.  Carrying this item became a habit when I lived in a town of 7,000 people.   Anyone who has traveled to Shamokin, PA and met its inhabitants will probably have the same reaction I did.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Hey, Girl!" And Other Random Annoyances

While I was out walking tonight, I heard someone shout, “Hey, Girl!” from a car. It is not the first time I have heard a similar phrase. I've also received wolf whistles, car honks and other forms of cat calls.  As a trans woman, I have mixed feelings about them. I am happy that others see me as the woman I am, but I also find the unwanted attention disconcerting.

If someone has seen my more recent pictures, they can easily figure out why I've started to have this experience. It’s something all women go through.  The first few times someone directed a catcall in my direction, I assume they were directing it at someone else. When I realized that they were trying to get my attention, I had assumed they were being sarcastic or blind. Eventually, I realized that many of the people who sent this attention my way were not being sarcastic.  They were being immature jerks.

As a latecomer to this particular form of interaction, I know cisgender women learned to expect this from men long before I did.  I also know of transgender women, including one Vice columnist, enjoy the attention for the reasons I mentioned above. I imagine there are even people who have met romantic and sexual partners through catcalls, wolf whistles, and car horn honking.  Just because I have never heard of such a story, it does not mean that it does not exist. On the other hand, loud catcalls are often scary and disconcerting. 

I have referred to the people who do this as immature jerks.  I should admit I have not developed a sophisticated response to this particular problem.  Sometimes I just walk on and ignore the responses. If the offense has been more egregious, I extend my middle finger as a form of greeting. Neither of these responses are sophisticated, but they give the offender an indication of how I feel about their unwanted attention.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Letters for My Sisters: The Sinister Porpoise Appears in Print

Several months ago, the artist who draws Closetspace, asked me to read the letter she was writing for this book. I'm not sure why she asked me. She knows my editing levels are inconsistent, but I went read it anyway. What I read was a painful letter of a transgender woman who was giving information to her younger self.

The artists, whose name is Jenn Dolari, told me why she was writing the letter, and she sent me a link to the project page for this book.  After reading her letter, I decided to undertake the project to myself. What would I say to my younger self?  Would I give practical advice about all the things I've learned during the transition process that surprised me? Would I focus on the more negative aspects of my life.  I certainly would not tell myself that things get better. I would certainly tell her that things would change greatly once she finished high school.

Instead, I chose a mixture of informing her about her future and offering words of encouragement. There is an almost Mormon element to my contribution, as I tell my younger self to hold on and rely on her own inner strength.  My younger self certainly wouldn't have thought she'd have been one of the first reporters covering asexual issues in the United States. (Fortunately,  younger self and older self maintain a healthy and unjustified ego.)

This will be the second time my name appears in print. It would also be the second time I had no intention of doing this. The user can find the book on Amazon.com  You can click on the image above to order, or you can use this link.

However, I'd ask anyone who chooses to order it to wait until July 12.  I'm not getting paid for this, unless you use my affiliate link. If you do order it on July 12, the publisher wants me to tell you you'll get a copy signed by me.   I don't see this happening unless you live in West Central Indiana.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

A semi-yearly update.

I've had a long-standing policy of never posting pictures of myself on the Internet, but I have been forced to reverse that policy. Of course, I never wanted to do this before for obvious reasons. I worked for a few sites that forced me to have an image of myself. Most of these sites have know gone under.

Here is a fairly recent picture. It was taken outside of my current home in Terre Haute, Indiana. For those of you who may wonder why I'm in Terre Haute instead of the Keystone State, that is a long story. It is better not told here. For those who wonder what I've been up to, I've been working on other projects. I've also dabbled in a bit of journalism. Over the past year, I've got to interview a film maker, talk to the head of NASRO, and attend press conferences held by Indiana's attorney general. I'll post some links to the other projects as soon as I have them worked out a bit more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I can't think of a title

After a several-year break from blogging, some people may wonder what I have been doing. Although The Sinister Porpoise remains in the world, she has been attempting different blogging outlets. As someone might expect, I’m not as interested in blogging about Mormons or Mormonism all that much anymore. It will take some time before the church even recognizes that people calling themselves asexuals exist. (I’m thinking of starting a pool to get the exact year on this. There may be a separate pool to determine what the church’s position will be.)

This does not mean that I have not been busy. I have done quite a bit of writing on the Internet, some of which I would be extremely reluctant to share. I have gotten better. I have delved deeply into asexual issues as well. I’ve covered video games. I’ve written some of these games off on my taxes. I’ve even engaged in a little bit of journalism. I'm not as good at it as I'd lik to think I am, but most people are like tat.

Throughout all of this, I have discovered that while my writing has improved, it’s not a really great way to make money. I’ve also discovered that I really do not like the SEO content writing. In some ways, it is good. I do not have to deal with people much. I can set my own hours and I can go to work naked if I so choose. The problem with the setup is that most of the people you deal with do not care about the truth. They also care about getting content quickly. Some people can write well under these conditions. I found out that it is not ideal for me.

I’ve also been more involved in local matters. I’ve gotten a chance to play journalist, even if no one pays much attention to what I do. While every job has its downsides, I find its nice providing information that people need to know. The downside is that this often means attending local meetings. I am, however, of the opinion that several members of the Vigo County School board need to be smacked as a result of this, however.

Now, there are some interesting things that happened. I’ve had a chance to interview a documentary maker, got to chat with some people who managed to leave the FLDS, and much to my chagrin, even had the FLDS website use me as a source.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This is a strange, strange place

Moving from Pennsylvania to Indiana was a bit strange. It has also sparked an ongoing battle with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. There are a few items that have caused me to experience culture shock and a few things that baffle me. One of the things that will seem strange to many people is the fact that the state has open carry. (I am not opposed to gun ownership, but I think people who insist they need military grade weapons are going a bit too far. U.S. law still requires every citizen to own a black powder musket and 24 balls of ammunition, I think. I'm not sure if that act ever got repealed or amended.)

Attitudes towards guns and other weapons are just one example. There are some things that surprise me. I still cannot get over the fact that you can walk into almost any store and buy beer and other types of liquor. Pennsylvania still has a state-run liquor store model that is a hold over from the prohibition days.

I am also surprised by the somewhat higher level of tact, although I am not sure this was something that was unique to my family. I am used to saying what is on my mind. This is often done without thinking about the consequences. As someone can imagine, this leads to some interesting discussions.

Perhaps the biggest change -- other than going from a small town to an actual city -- is the geography. When I first got here several months ago, I kept looking around to see tornadoes off in the distance. (Someone eventually told me that this was Indiana, not Oklahoma.) It's still strange to see prairie instead of mountains. ON the other hand, one of the best things I love about this place is that it is 700 miles from Shamokin. (Note: The area I'm from is not in the anthracite coal regions. Shamokin, about 30 miles away from my home town, marks the western border. Most of the anthracite coal towns are not pretty, but Shamokin is a very special case in many ways.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I do not know how many of you are familiar with Tumblr. The micro-blogging platform is like an extended version of Twitter. I have used it for promotional purposes for over a year now. I also have had my first and rather unfortunate encounter with people who consider themselves to be part of the social justice community. Tumblr’s social justice community has some very strange ideas, and some people have started to mock it. I agree that mocking certain ideas on Tumblr is necessary. Tumblr’s social justice community has somehow acquired the idea that almost any ridiculous idea is permissible. Without Tumblr, I am sure I would ever have encountered the idea of fictive head mates. I have no idea what this phrase means, but there was one rather entertaining post about how someone killed one of their fictive head mates. Over time, my opinions of the site have changed. I used to view Tumblr as harmless and annoyingly liberal, but there’s a difference between being politically liberal and possessing no trace of common sense whatsoever. After a while on Tumblr, I have come up with my own theories. The founders of Tumblr met in secret, concerned about all of the dangerous and insane ideas that circulated on the Internet. They wanted to contain these ideas in one place so no one would know to take them seriously. It took years of development, but I’m convinced that the result was this popular site. People can check a website and know they should not take anything on Tumblr seriously.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Responses to Orientation

I admit I have neglected this blog. That's one problem with being busy, but there was a comment that I felt I needed to respond to in a few months ago. The easiest process would be finding the post and responding to the comment there, but the person just found the blog.

The post in question had more to do with asexuality and how she thought she could understand it. The response by far is one of the most uncommon ones I have ever seen. Most people when they learn of asexuality respond with confusion, you just have not found the right person, or you must be gay responses. Yet, I have my doubts that the person really understood what I meant. Even worse, I'm not sure I knew exactly what I meant.

I would love to share a connection with someone on a deeply spiritual (for lack of a better term) level, but I do not expect to have the desire ever to jump into the sack with anyone. If I were still a Mormon, this would be problematic because marriage is a requirement to get into the celestial kingdom and entering into such a marriage would likely not be a pleasing thing to most partners.

The good thing is because the organization of asexuals is a relatively new phenomenon, there are no idiotic opinions from General Authorities on the topic. I am sure that if Boyd K. Packer had enough time he could issue an ignorant statement about how asexuals are broken or not a person. The Jesuits, who seemed to use the term asexual to mean a person without a gender identity, have already informed the world that a person who is asexual isn't a person.

But at least it's better to be assumed to be broken and mentally deficient because of a lack of attraction than it is to go through what gays and lesbians go through. If I start to make the transition, I imagine things will be much the same as they are for the latter two groups.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hilary Clinton > Obama

Note: I did not support either candidate. I was not a huge fan of the Republican candidate we ended up with either.

As someone who has been described as a bitter small town Pennsylvanian clinging to god and my guns, I see little reason to support the man.However, it's time for Obama supporters to admit the failings of his administration. Namely, he has announced policies during a deep recession that only serve to lengthen it.

Now, I know Obama did not cause the problem. We can't really blame that on Bush either as it was a global strategy that failed according to a recent special on the history channel, but one of the things you absolutely DO NOT DO during a recession is raise taxes. Money needs to get flowing freely again and the best course of action (as Reagan and Kennedy both did) is to lower taxes.

Of more concern, however, is his foreign policy. His failure to come down hard on Iran or to restate US policy about the use of nuclear weapons on any nation has not done much for the situation with Iran or North Korea. Unfortunately, the elder Bush is a master in this area and both he and the former Bush should have sought out his advice. (Neither of them did, although W has much less of an excuse for his failures in this arena when all he had to do was make a phone call to Dad.)

What bothers me the most, however, is big city elitism. Listen, folks, small town people are not all ignorant red necks. Many factories are still running. Heck, a lot of small town Pennsylvanians don't even *own* guns. There's a reason why Obama lost the primary in this state, and it is that statement. If you want to believe such an offensive statement is insightful, don't tell me about it. Go to your coffee shops and find someone who agrees with you. I'll be too busy buying guns and ammunition I don't need to justify your attitudes. Now, what model of handgun, shotgun or rifle should I get to justify your stereotypes?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Not Obsessing

Of course, I have not stopped the habit of obsessing totally, but it seems that Mormon church is simply a major non-factor in my life, except for a few relatives who insist on listening to Glenn Beck. (It is my completely unprofessional problem that many of this talk show host's problems would be solved by ordering his garments two sizes larger.)

I suppose it is a good thing that my life is focussing on other things right now, but because I am who I am, I know I will always be obsessing over something. I would continue this post to take up several paragraphs, but I'm afraid I cannot sustain it in an entertaining fashion, and I simply do not want to bore the reader.