Carey Recommends.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Pushing Forward

We have 3 full days until election day. I haven't done anything for anyone this election. Which is not ideal. Well, I voted for people, so that's a little something.

I've had a fair amount of young men explain how the two parties are in fact the same party, controlled by corporations, to me. Which is true and not true. It seems to me the most organized people get to run things in this country, and corporations are exceptionally organized groups of people with high levels of internal discipline running after situations where they can make the most money. So...yes, no matter who are the individuals we elect, if there's no groups pursuing any goals besides making money in a highly organized fashion, corporations are gonna run the show. And the president will work for them. I can't even get angry about it, it seems as intuitive as gravity to me. What are the incentives, besides some kind of moral satisfaction, for a president to work for unorganized people?

So when I worked for Obama the last time it wasn't because I thought he was some kind of off-kilter saint who could resist the structural control of politics by corporations. It was because I thought if we got organized he would be the person more likely to sign the legislation we demanded.

But you know, it doesn't seem to me like we got very organized. And it doesn't seem to me like we demanded much in the way of legislation. We dropped the card check law almost immediately after Obama was elected. All those jobs bills that the republicans dropped- did you canvas or rally for them? I didn't.

So I voted for Obama again. In spite of the drones and the police state. Because if Romney wins, good luck trying to get anything good done. I mean, there's the argument that if Romney wins perhaps people will straight up revolt and we'll form anarchist local councils based on consensus. I don't think we're organized enough to make that future a likely one. The government has many guns and employees, let's remember what we would have to overpower. I mean, we could do it. It would just be a war of attrition. I know I'm not in the mood to get attrited.

In the meantime, there is lots of special stuff coming up in my life. I'm moving this weekend. I have my first major paper of the semester due this tuesday. I have the "OutLoud Laughs" show on the 19th to raise money for the LGBT center. The ASS podcast rolls onward. And I'm in a new-ish relationship that doesn't necessarily demand a lot of attention, but is extremely satisfying to commit attention to.

Oh, I am also finally on testosterone. I'm very, very happy to have begun it, and it's nice that I began it now with all these commitments bearing down, because I have more energy and less anxiety. That's my favorite combo! I can always use more energy, less anxiety! I wish it was the sort of deal where the more I took, the more energy/ less anxiety I would have, but no, it absolutely does not work that way.

This hurricane was rough, right? I only lost power for a day and a half, so I'm one of the lucky ones.

On sunday you should come to "Swinger State" at Zephyr Pub in Kent. Jessica Halem, who is gay famous as hell, organized it despite living in New York, as a way to raise money to support the people doing GOTV work for Obama in Ohio. It's me, Dana Austin, Anthony Savatt, and Jessica, and it should be really funny. I'm doing a lot of Josh Mandel material, because he's the WORST. Sunday night at 7 pm.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I got called sensitive by a person I demanded an apology from. They did give me an apology, and then also said they forget how sensitive I am.

I spend some time thinking about whether I was going to be pissed off about the sensitive comment, and decided I wouldn't be. One, because if you can choose whether to be pissed off you might as well choose not to be. Two, because I can't help but look at the evidence and conclude I am a sensitive, sensitive person.

I can't wear any kind of jewelry because it gives me a rash.

I get migraines after every big performance. I also frequently throw up before performances.

I can only drink one drink per evening or I run the risk of being of throwing up the whole next day.

When I was 7 I threw a fit at a girl at my summer camp for keeping a butterfly in her hands instead of letting it go. The counselor told me he didn't know where I stored all my tears in my 7 year old body.

When I was 10 my dad's work put on a haunted house, and my dad dressed up as some kind of weird bloody walrus-masked character behind bars, asking all the guests to let him out. After the haunted house I told him he shouldn't have done that because there are real people like that. (I've always had compassion for the walrus-faced among the prison population.)

When I scheduled my first worker meeting while I was organizing, and everyone bailed, I wandered around Target completely disassociated for about 45 minutes. It was like being in a very artsy, very very boring movie.

So yes, "sensitive" is often meant as a criticism, but I think it's a fair assessment. It is part of a constellation of symptoms of people with ADHD, by the way. When something riles up my emotions, there is a strong chance I won't be able to put the brakes on- my strong emotions will come out in tears, vomit, disassociating, whatever they need to do to get out there.

This is a challenge in relationships. My first relationship I had not yet figured out that the words you say while under the influence of a strong emotions still count. This is a common misunderstanding. Being under the spell of being incredibly scared, angry, sad doesn't mean no one is hearing the exaggerated, mean things that are coming out of your mouth. Or in the case of others, that punching the wall didn't happen, or punching your girlfriend didn't happen. You're under a spell, but reality is still taking place and you are still an actor in reality.

Now, I also have a strong sense of ethical duty. You can imagine that for someone who has problems regulating their emotions this can cause some conundrums. Because I couldn't believe that I would say such AWFUL things, and why would I say them if I wasn't a mean, awful person? This was the first step in a dysfunctional spiral of beating myself up, combined with general passivity, mixed with these emotional explosions- oh my, was it a learning experience. I think learning to regulate your emotions as an adult is really, really hard- because who besides mental health professionals even talks about emotion regulation as a skill set, divorced from conversations of "character"?

Now I believe people being awful or wonderful is just shorthand for whether you like their actions, and indeed, only actions can really be awful or wonderful. And depending on whether someone has enough sleep, is under enormous stress, is on drugs, has drank the kool-aid, is sensitive, learned emotion regulation as a kid, etc., well their actions can be awful or wonderful. I think for any awful or wonderful action we could probably make a pie chart easily of the background causes that added up to that action.

But back to being sensitive- it's a trait that depending on the other factors can be a strength or weakness. My sensitivity is part of why I make friends easily, it's part of why I'm a good writer, it's a huge part of why I've thought hard about how to ethically communicate, how to ask for apologies without throwing lamps, how to give out apologies (much, much harder than asking). Being sensitive and having half a brain can give rise to great ideas. But on the other hand it's no fun throwing up all the time. And I have marched out of many conversations someone who was less overwhelmed by feelings could have hung in there for, and that has been a death knell in many negotiations that probably would've led to really good things.

And sometimes I still make accusations and say mean things, especially if my feelings are strong and I'm not getting some affirmation for them. Words matter. Our relationships are mostly about the words we use with each other. Being responsible with your words is such a challenge.

I think like all traits figuring out what you can do with sensitivity is the trick. I think I can only accept how sensitive I am because I have some evidence it does some good things for me. So if you have a sensitive kid, try to point out when their sensitivity is working for them, and don't tell them they're "too sensitive." They are the amount of sensitive they are, and they can't change that. They can only learn to manage it or not. And that's your job as a parent, to teach them how to make the best of all their personality traits. Too bad almost none of us have a handle on making the best of our own traits.

These challenges are really hard, and that's why we have reincarnation.

Monday, October 15, 2012


I got glasses this morning. Not fashion glasses, but real, necessary because of astigmatism glasses. But as you may be aware, this is far from a tragedy, because I've wanted glasses for a couple of years. I love how I look in glasses. I think I look smart and calm and serious and like a boy. Capable, consistent, reliable, trustworthy, detail oriented, empathic. Everything good in the world- that's the message I think glasses send out from in front of my eye sockets.

And as you might expect from a purchase loaded with so many aspirational identities I spent quite a bit of money on these glasses. I'm justifying it by remembering they will be perched on my face everyday, and I don't wear makeup, so perhaps the part of my budget dedicated to my face is paltry compared to other people. Perhaps. And so perhaps the money on these glasses is really an investment, an investment in being perceived as and internalizing a self image of success and effectiveness.

These are the thoughts Lens Crafters would like to have me thinking. And I am thinking them. Congratulations Lens Crafters, this fool and their money were soon parted.

But OH, you could totally buy me as some kind of expert in these glasses. Some kind of academic. Some kind of researcher/analyst. A person with so much credibility it just flakes off everywhere like very trustworthy dandruff.

This is the psychological game of consumer capitalism. My political ideology means I have to distrust this game, but oh, more and more this game is such a comfort. Wandering around a world where most people don't know you and your appearance leads them to expect all kinds of things from you you're uncomfortable with, it is such a comfort to be able to buy a better-suited-to-me reflection in the mirror.

(You folks are aware I'm going to be writing about gender a LOT from here on out, right? That's pretty much why I even made a big blog announcement, so I could write about gender every damn day until people are puking from being sick of it. )

Trans people complicate a lot of our categories, the obvious ones, duh, but also a lot of the categories we have in terms of spending money and in terms of medical care. The medical care categories are especially hard for the trans person to navigate- we must convince practitioners this is "necessary," as opposed to "elective," and to follow that logic through we must thus be "sick" instead of "healthy." Our bodies pre-hormones and surgeries must be "wrong."

But then, very few people can get their surgeries covered by insurance, so the reality is we pay for them the way cis people pay for their boob jobs and lipo and nose jobs and whatnot- sometimes by saving, sometimes by borrowing. But we still need letters from therapists stating that we are indeed suffering from gender dysphoria to justify getting hormones and surgery. This creates the paradox that if I were seeking two silicone bags inserted inside me to better perform femininity, no therapist has to declare me unwell, but to remove my breasts I do need to build the case that I'm sick.

Breast augmentation is regarded as a consumer choice, breast removal is not.

But there are some upsides to masculinizing chest surgery not being regarded as a consumer choice. It means me spending a lot of money on it will generally not lead to accusations of being shallow. If people buy into the idea that getting surgeries to be able to greet the world with physical signs of your preferred gender is valid, then it's ok to throw money at the problem. Whereas me spending a lot of money on these glasses....I mean, starving kids, you know? SO MANY STARVING KIDS, and I need my boobs off?

Most people wouldn't say that to me, and that's an upside for me, as someone who has some access to money for surgeries. It's a complete and utter downside to people who don't have access to money for surgery. Because it creates a "should" for them- if you want the world to regard you as a man, get those boobs off! If you want the world to regard you as a woman, get those boobs on! Be serious about this and quit confusing us!

And surgery, expensive, risky surgery, is not an ok thing to tell people they "should" get done. There are many, many good reasons, financial and physical and emotional, to not want to be sedated and cut open.

I do wonder, if I was born maybe a generation or two down the road, when everyone has grown up about gender and respecting the gender people tell you they want to be approached as, how that would interact with these feelings I have about my breasts and thighs. If we had a world where it was normal for boys to be curvy, what would I want? Should I make my choices as if we live in that world right now?

No. That was a rhetorical question, I feel pretty damn definite about what my transition path entails, and yeah, expensive surgery, here I come. My feelings about my chest being "wrong" came before considering that this could be a gender thing- they felt wrong as soon as they happened. So going through the world as a woman with a flat chest sounds comparatively awesome to me. Not as awesome as going through the world not as a woman, but significantly more awesome than being a woman with boobs.

Thus, when I think about potential regret, the chest surgery decision is pretty safe. I could see regretting body hair, not the chest surgery. Because the men in my family have beards that run all the way down their backs, so yeah, body hair looks like it could be a pain in the ass. (Or at least an itch in the ass.) (Ok, that was really gross, I'm sorry.)

Now, I really shouldn't tell you that. Because a big aspect of the narrative I'm presenting to the medical community is the absolute black and white-ness of my feelings. Acknowledging shades of gray to any of your doctors is gonna throw the gates up. (I want so badly to make a 50 Shades of Gray joke here, but nothing is WORKING.)

I don't have a neat and tidy conclusion for this, I'm just throwing thoughts out there. I feel like I can do that now that I'm a credible intellectual thinker.