Category School

41 posts

School and C-PTSD

When I started this semester I knew that C/PTSD was something that counted as a disability that I could get help for on campus. I didn’t (still don’t) know exactly what the Disability Services Dept. could do to help, but I was going into specifically a non-emotional-labor intensive program in hopes to avoid the obvious minefields. So I figured I’d be fiiiiine.
 
 
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So the last post I wrote was read by a bunch of Laney staff because they saw my proposal flyers to get students thinking about the future of Laney instead of its destruction. A lot of the people on the list were really nervous about it so I chimed in to de-escalate and clarify my intentions. Out of nowhere this one person who works in the library (the coalition on campus is run largely by library staff, apparently) reignited it by being needlessly aggressive, hostile, and dehumanizing towards me because of my trans-ness.
The library technician interrogated my intentions, barely veiling the ask “who put you up to this?” because apparently having a different opinion than some of the opaque players at school is some kind of crime, and once he realized I was trans (by everyone calling me he), decided to actively misgender and dehumanize me by calling me a “he/she”. After I corrected my pronouns, he sent out another email identifying me as her. This is gender violence that I’m pretty sure violates Laney’s non-discrimination policy, however, there is no Title IX person to report this man to. He said this on an email where all of his bosses saw it as well, so I assume that the head librarians are fine with this, as no one has indicated otherwise to me.
So I’m in a position right now, where because of a minor disagreement with some of the Laney faculty and the needlessly violent reaction from one of their staff, the one place with a “safe space” symbol on campus is a place I do not feel safe.
I skipped school last week because after hours of being patronized to like a child who was incapable of having their own thoughts outside of group-think, culminating in being dehumanized and banned from the email group for politely clarifying my stance which was apparently too far opposite The Coalition, I was so disassociated I barely knew where my body was in space.
My crime, AGAIN, was that I had a different way of organizing and posted a flyer that in no way mentioned the coalition at Laney. The only thing I did was take responsibility so people working at Laney didn’t waste energy being worried about something they didn’t need to worry about.
If you’ve been reading here long you probably have an idea of the mines that exploded when that went down because this last week has emotionally mirrored my childhood church experience in more ways than I want to acknowledge and I have had debilitating back pain since Monday because that is how CPTSD works.
My therapist is out of town this week so all of this is living in my body right now and I’m trying to process everything and get the anxiety out of my back so I can exist without being in total agony again. It’s hard to physically write shit on paper when my right shoulder is too tense to move. So everything is about to be dumped here, proceed with caution.


School is like church, and churches are basically loose cults. I’ve spent so much time in cults and cult like environments. I didn’t anticipate school being so churchlike and authoritarian. After being admonished and patronized to for hours over email, I was given a chance to redeem myself (while being cautioned to take heed[of???]) which was probably meant with good intentions but because of my past experience with loaded language, really just made the following trauma spiral that much worse.
Take Heed and Redeem Yourself are two VERY SPECIFIC phrases that go to very specific places in my brain and definitely contributed to the two-day spiral where I was so out of my body I could barely function.
There’s no way for people to know these things. I don’t fault them. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a world of fallout to deal with internally because people decide injecting cultish christianity into their day to day with other people is fine and dandy.
Religious Trauma is A Thing and I have it mixed in with CPTSD and depression.
I’ve been going between depression/despair and anger at all of it.
It’s been hard to acknowledge and accept the various tolls that CPTSD takes on me in relation to being in school. Like, being too disassociated to function and therefore not in a good place to be machining or welding, or being in too much physical pain to move (because stress decided to manifest itself into a knot in my shoulder) and unable to focus enough to even attend class.
These are the things that kept me home half of the last two weeks. I sometimes feel ridiculous or petty for seemingly innocuous things taking so much out of me. But I can’t help that. I can’t help that when someone tells me I should do something to redeem myself I get sent back straight into my childhood where everything was life or death, where I had been kicked out of communities for minor disagreements. I can’t stop my brain from making those connections. I can’t will my past to not exist and to not excruciatingly impact my present and future. I can only roll with it and hope I come out better on the other side.
I didn’t expect school to hit so much of it though.


The other thing I’m coming to grips with is the feelings of being on campus now, after that one person from the library just started attacking my character and dehumanizing me out of nowhere. I don’t feel safe going to the library, even though probably I wouldn’t be hurt – something about knowing that there are library staff who don’t see me as human because we had a minor disagreement and they know I’m trans, just terrifies me and makes me not want to be anywhere near where they could be.
I never really understood what it was like, to have this social problem in this setting. Like, it seems impractical to not go to the campus library for two years. But my lizard brain just screams danger loudly when I’m on campus now and it’s a lot. I feel powerless, even though I know I’m not. There’s just so much that feels familiar that I know isn’t, but convincing myself that school is different from church after being beaten over the head with authoritarian organizers makes it a lot harder.
I have a lot more nuanced thoughts on a lot of things and keep going back and forth between writing about the stadium more and having literally no spoons and wanting nothing to do with it because fuck everything.
I guess I could have been less harsh about the coalition’s points needing work – maybe couched it more – but I stand by my points. There are legitimate reasons to oppose the stadium, a lot of the things listed are not any of them. I think whatever happens needs a lot of care and nuance in the implementation.
I think what I really want to do is write about how loaded the word gentrification is and why it’s really bad at describing what problems are, and makes solving it that much harder.
Simultaneously, I just want to crawl into a hole forever.


I got my schedule for the next semester and I’m coming to grips with having less free time than I do now. A lot of that is accepting that this means I won’t be able to do any activism work for a semester and that I can’t use it as a tether to outside reality anymore and it’s terrifying.
I think there’s a part of me that’s worried that the little place I carved for myself in organizing where I make magic happen won’t be there when I get back? Writing this out though, I’m fairly certain that’s not how it works nor is likely to go down.
My life has a lot of overlap – my social/hobby/organizing lives are almost a circle which is super convenient. Everyone is generally in one or two (mental) places so I can keep track of things easily. This is the first time I’ve had like a real set of meatspace friends that I do things with on a regular basis. It didn’t…occur to me that I could have more than like, one set.
Because why would it? I’ve never been here before. This is the part where the inherent isolatory nature of my homeschooling experience comes to bite me. It didn’t really occur to me that I didn’t have to choose. Like, all my not-school friends and family won’t suddenly disappear if I get sucked into school for a while…it’s not like getting kicked out of church and people stop talking to you.
So I don’t really have to be worried that I will lose access everyone I care about if I allow myself to be entirely consumed by school…which has sort of been an anxiety I’ve had and haven’t wanted to admit to.
 

A's, Laney, and Gentrification


There’s a lot of interesting politics at Laney right now. The Oakland A’s want to build a new stadium on land owned by the Peralta school district. Much of the faculty and staff at Laney are actively against the project. On it’s face, I don’t really care about the A’s stadium or understand why they need to build a new one when they could easily expand it by getting rid of some of their infinite parking. Most of the opposition to it is about the gentrification it will bring.
I’ve observed that in practice, many people who claim to be anti-gentrification advocates display that not by advocating nuance and care in the implementation of resources, but by outright trying to disallow opportunities, programs, services, and improvements to underserved communities. These same people will come down to city hall to block developments with affordable housing because it will change their view, garden shadow, or because they want to get something out of the deal that winds up killing the project. The way I have seen white people try to avoid gentrification is by segregating – actively avoiding integrating with underserved communities and only living near other people in the same or similar racial/socioeconomic status.
Gentrification as the destruction of underserved communities by the wealthy steamrolling over them is terrible and wrong.
Gentrification as road improvements, better transportation access and options, food, and new housing developments? These are things that improve people’s lives, not decimate them.
Access to these things because I live in an area with them improves my quality of life and chances of success as a poor QTPOC student. Gentrification in this sense is not bad, and is in fact helpful to the community as a whole.
When I hear people talk about gentrification they equate these two. They talk about the addition of new housing, improved transit, and access to opportunity as if these things are the same as literally destroying entire neighborhoods. The flyer that has been circulating campus demonstrates this.

“Construction Noise and Air Pollution”
First thing, is that Laney is known for its trade school. There is a literal construction pit right outside the cafeteria. I spend 4 hours a day in the machine shop or welding lab on campus adjacent to the construction area. A trade school complaining about construction noises seems ridiculous. Additionally, the proposed site isn’t on Laney’s actual campus, it’s on a Peralta District site that consists of warehouses and office space several blocks away. I think our construction site outside the cafeteria may be more disruptive than the proposed ballpark construction several blocks removed.

“…Upscale Restaurants, Shops, and Apartments Expand”
The cafeteria closes before I get out of my classes and I don’t often have time to walk multiple blocks to order lunch between them. As a result my food intake is shit which is terrible for my health in a program that demands a lot of physical activity. I don’t usually have the spoons to figure out dinner, let alone pack a lunch the night before. It seems like people are patting themselves on the back for starving Laney students by disallowing and vilifying restaurants and food trucks in the area adjacent to campus, because avoiding gentrification is more important than student health.
“Displacement of Local Community Residents”
There is currently no housing on the land the A’s would like to acquire – however, part of their proposed plan is to build housing including below market rate homes, and possibly even some dedicated housing for Laney students and faculty. Increased housing supply is something that is desperately needed in Oakland, regardless of who funds it. As far as I’m aware, no people will be removed from their existing homes for the A’s stadium to be built. Displacement is a terrible problem and misrepresenting the causes to further an agenda helps no one.
“Skyrocketing Rents in Surrounding Communities”
It’s a bit disingenuous to say that a stadium with a development plan that includes affordable housing built on land currently containing no homes is going to make us face skyrocketing rents. As if skyrocketing rents are something we don’t already have, and as if the solution to skyrocketing rents is to not increase the supply so we have the ability for those to go down in this capitalist hellscape. This is the one that gets my housing activist goat up in arms, because that’s not how it works.
Influx of Humans Existing Near Me in My Parking Spot
The other points about parking and crowd/traffic noise are problems that I feel are super solvable. Laney is a commuter school and some of my classmates drive hours in the morning just to get to class on time, half of which start at 8am. As much of a transit advocate as I am, I understand that people still do need cars and Laney needs to be able to handle student parking and the students who drive will be sitting in that traffic. We don’t live in a public transit/cyclist/scooter/pedestrian utopia yet, and most of the East Bay is car-centered, so I get that concern.
However, we have more than 6ft available to drill into before we hit water so we can dig underground and like, store cars there without loosing much room for people to exist. What I’m saying is, we can make parking garages. Additionally, it’s not like roads are unchangeable. I am not a traffic scientist, but the topic people are on about the most is roads and traffic so I feel confident in assuming many people are On That Problem Already.
While I’m really ambivalent about where the baseball stadium goes, I do give many shits about how and what the arguments are from my school; I have to say I’m disappointed. If these are the arguments to stop all movement from happening, they are not good enough, compelling enough, or even accurate. They are largely fear tactics, buzz words, and a misrepresentation of facts. The bullet points for being against the stadium just don’t hold water. We do know that the A’s appear willing to pour boatloads of money into our college system and the area surrounding it, however, and more money to the school directly benefits myself and other students.
The way I see the situation is thus: The Peralta Board has already decided at this point so instead of spending all of our energy fighting something that will happen, we should be using it to our advantage. Which means getting as much as we can out of the deal for the Peralta college district and especially Laney.
My thoughts are that Peralta should:

  1. Lease the land to the A’s – This will give the district a constant stream of income which would help all the schools in the district. Especially since funding for community colleges has been getting harder and harder to come by. It just seems to make the most sense and be in the best interest of the longevity of the school.
  2. Have some stipulations about Laney College Student/Faculty/Staff Only Parking – which will eliminate the “game goers are stealing mah parking!” anxiety.
  3. Negotiate creating dedicated BMR Student/Faculty Housing near campus.
  4. Think about some way that the A’s stadium construction and maintenance could be used to advantage Peralta students. i.e. Providing work/job experience/internships to students in relevant departments (like welding) and require prevailing wage.
  5. Some kind of fee or donation that would go to improving the infrastructure on Peralta campuses (bathrooms and elevator maintenance, longer cafeteria hours, etc)
  6. Look into creating a community land trust that protects existing housing nearby

I am not a policy analyst. I’m just a machine student & housing activist who wants to be able to eat between classes, live near school, and learn things.

Imaginary Numbers

School has stepped on a lot more things than I thought it would. Depression has been really strong this week, things build. There’s a really steep social learning curve I wasn’t prepared for. I don’t know how school settings work – I didn’t know how to pass things forwards and backwards until the first week of class, last week I learned how lockers work, this week I learned how to get up to speed after being out of class due to injury. All these things most people have navigated by now are totally new to me.
Math itself takes up a lot of trauma space in my brain. The math for the trades program I’m in is really helpful because it’s directly adjacent to the math I’m doing in all my other classes, but it’s super similar to my high school math books. Thursday it almost directly mirrored the math book that got thrown at my face, which sent me into a spiral for about 15 minutes in the classroom while I just started at my book in horror. The wind was knocked out of me for a minute, and I just had to sit and wait for the wave of feels to pass before depression and anger got loud again.
I have to keep reminding myself that when teachers try to get you to be an independent learner and collaborate with your classmates they don’t mean that you can’t ask them for help or resources. This is a really difficult nuance for me to understand. I still interpret school as something with no leeway. Like: if you miss something, you’re fucked because you should have come or whatever. With no room to make up for things. Which I know isn’t how it works, but I’ve never seen how it does work.
My education was  “If I miss it, I’m fucked” because I had no support at all. I was the only student and teacher of my class.  I’m trying to navigate college with the bulk of my educational experience being isolated and solitary. I’ve never had classmates to help me, I don’t know how to study in a group, I don’t know how to learn socially.
I learned on my bedroom floor, alone, with no one to see me struggle. I’ve never been in a learning environment where like…..I’ve inevitably had to show people I don’t know stuff (none of us do). Learning things is really vulnerable, and doing it in front of other people on a whiteboard sometimes is a lot. It’s a hard thing for people generally, but most of have at least been in a classroom like that before.
Giving a presentation on a whiteboard to a group of 20 on something I’m prepared for feels completely different than trying to correctly place a dimension line in front of 20 people who are also trying to learn dimension lines.
It’s a different level of vulnerability I guess, and I’m not used to it. I choose to be vulnerable a lot, whenever I write, when I choose to talk to people about trauma. I have a lot of practice being vulnerable in this way, so it becomes a strength. Feeling vulnerable in relation to school is significantly less familiar. But seeing it on paper, it’s not that different. In the same way I choose to be vulnerable when I write (like this), I’m still going to class every day, I’m making that same choice to be vulnerable, the feeling just lives in a different place in my brain in this context.


This week we have wrapped up most of our lectures and are getting into the lab. I was supposed to weld on Wednesday but was getting x-rayed from dislocating my elbow on Labor Day instead. We’ve split into three groups in Machine Shop: Drill Press, Tool Grinding, and Precision Measuring.
Getting things to be within .0001″ fucking terrifies me, I don’t know that I am capable of that at all, so I decided to do the Precision Measuring part first because I think that will make working on the machines and making shit a lot easier. At the very least, I’ll be way more confident in my measuring ability. I am not extremely confident in my abilities to be a perfectionist; but then again, I guess that’s literally why tolerances exist so maybe I won’t suck.

First Week

I’ve been coming home from school every day this week kind of struck by how prepared I am for college despite never being in a classroom setting for ~8 hrs/day before. I hadn’t thought about how fighting tooth and nail for my education, and seeing it through myself, and teaching myself through high school would be helpful in a college setting. Really this just shows you how much (zero) I know about schools, because this morning I had an epiphany about homework.
Which was that: I did the exact same thing that everyone else did. My school entirely consisted of what most people experienced as homework. I just didn’t have anyone to actually teach me the things. I never understood what “homework” was when people asked me if I had homework after school….because that was all I did – what I really didn’t understand was what school was. I didn’t have anyone giving a lecture on multiple things every single day, painstakingly explaining the same thing on a whiteboard three different ways so it makes sense. If I was lucky, my mom would read the instructions paragraph out loud, or a chapter of a textbook.
I didn’t have deadlines or tests or quizzes, I barely had grades. My parents stopped actively educating me when I was 10 and started bragging about it the second they found out that I was self-driven enough to do the work if only I were handed the tools. So when I say I taught myself through highschool, I mean it.
College right now feels complicated. Homework is sort of hard because it feels a lot like that right now, and the thing is it’s hard in a good way. I feel ready and prepared for this because I had to fight so hard to get here, because to have an education in the first place I had to do the exact same thing that I am doing now. But also, it’s not remotely the same or familiar.
My instinct is to write down the things I don’t know to look up later, because the concept of a teacher I can ask questions to is still foreign to me (despite trying very hard to have and ask questions in every class). I have to consciously remember that the entire point of being in class is so I have a chance to get information without google, in a way that is probably better explained.
This is going to be kinda circle-y because a couple things are happening: there’s a button that’s being pushed because of the ways this is familiar and there’s also a lot of “oh cool, I got this” stuff going on.
I have been unpacking my brain in therapy lately and coming to some realizations about my relationship to my trauma. A large part of it is that I draw a lot of strength from it. There’s a lot of anger (a lot of anger) but also so much of what makes me me, and capable, and able to get through shit comes from that place. So good things are hard because while I’m pushing through normal things like a normal human, I’m fighting some demons on a sub-level and getting to a place where the strength I pull from my pain doesn’t bring as much pain up with it.
Also I’ve been super proud of myself for knowing how to do homework, and keep my shit together, and pace myself. I can pin point when I learned those things and it pulls up a lot of pain with it, even though it’s good.
For roughly a semester I participated in my homeschool group’s co/op day where we took over a church and operated kinda similarly to a school. Parents or alumni were stationed in rooms and taught a thing, and gave us actual homework. It wasn’t really graded in a way that I remember mattering, but there was still like, a due date for things.
I remember when my mom was pregnant and therefore not up for teaching us and I would just take my books and do my school. Eventually I had to teach my siblings and do my school. When I got into schoolwork that took more than 2 hours total to complete, my parents decided I’d learned all I needed to know and should focus on educating my siblings.
The only person who really valued my education enough to do anything about it was myself. It’s a really rough place to be as a child who has no idea 1) what they even need to learn and 2) very little guidance in any educational direction. My reading comprehension skills are great because that was the only tool I had to teach myself everything else.
It’s foreign to me to be lax about education because it was never just available to me. I have to remember that a lot of people haven’t had to go through educational neglect before getting to college, so I should not assume that everyone else is a Hermoine like me.
I realized that part of the trauma space I’ve been in is because the emphasis on being self driven (which I am), sends me back to being educationally abandoned. So my instincts say I’m about to lose access to support even though that isn’t remotely what’s meant.
They’re setting reasonable expectations because they can’t will students to show up and learn things. But the only experience I have is….that being used to restrict my ability to learn. I have to consciously remember that I am supposed to ask questions and not just take notes to look things up later. Logically, I understand this.
The part of my brain that’s trying to protect me from danger hasn’t adjusted to a different context yet. It’s made doing math homework really difficult because math is sort of my sticking point. Although I’m also feeling really devastated about my bullshit science this week too.
In a few weeks I’ll be actually learning how to weld and I am terrified and I know nothing.
Which I guess is the point, really. I think everyone else in my class also knows nothing which is exactly why we are spending 6 hours a week for 2.5 weeks going over safety before we even go into the welding lab.


I’ve also been feeling really guilty about putting my personal future/education first as far as time and priorities go. Even though like, this benefits more than just me long term…I feel like an asshole for not being able to organize full-time because I’m doing school full-time right now instead. Doing school while watching the rise of fascism just seems pointless some days, even though it’s probably the best decision to be making right now.
In that vein I’ve been blocked lately because I feel like I have nothing worthwhile to say, and what’s the point? Some of this is tangled up in gender feelings and sorting things out, and depression, and the state of the world. Right now I am a big tangled mess of buttons that keep being pushed and thank fuck therapy is on Monday.


In the meantime, PPE suits me. 

Semester 1

Tomorrow I start school at Laney.
 
I took the compass test and will be taking the Technical Math (which is designed for people in any of the trades programs) course instead of arithmetic. I’m also taking Welding, Shop, Spatial Reasoning, Engineering Drawings, and Electricity. I’ll be at school from before 8am until 5 or 7pm Monday-Thursday.
I am the only visibly queer & not male person in my cohort – thus far I’m the only visibly queer person I’ve seen on Laney campus but I feel like that can’t possibly be true. I’m hoping that will change now that school is actually starting. There are no queer clubs on campus (but two christian fundamentalist ones) which has me worried, a bit, to be honest. There is a socialist club on campus though, so maybe there?
The only all gender bathroom on campus that I know of, I found by happenstance on the 3rd floor of Laney tower (where the counseling offices are). But my classes are all…too far away to make that feasible.
I have my work cut out for me, but my instructors are all happy I’m there. My therapist altered her schedule around mine, so my support system is strong at least. First class in the morning is Spatial Reasoning, and then Welding, electricity, and then therapy.

Post-YIMBYtown brain dump

I have a lot of things swirling around my brain that I need to process, and flesh out, and give words to but I haven’t had the mental energy or focus to do so. YIMBYtown took a lot out of me and I have like three things I need to write up about that because holy shit your boi here accidentally ran an international conference. But I haven’t had the energy to do that either.
The world got a lot dimmer this week. I don’t know, it was like something just flickered and died. I can feel it in my soul and it’s discomforting and weird. Trauma has a weight.
The trauma I carry, and the trauma others around me carry, they have weights and we can sense it. Mine is carried in the small of my back, like two granite stones. If I’m not careful they’ll pull me into a spiral. I’ve noticed that my trauma likes to hang out with other people’s trauma when we’re in groups and sometimes it takes me longer to recharge from that.


I enrolled at Laney, I have classes and everything. Tomorrow I go to schedule the Compass test for math and hand in my “I actually live in CA, please let me pay in-state tuition” papers. I’m taking what is basically Intro to Machine Tech, Arithmetic (unless I place into algebra), Spanish, and Jazz (dance) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In addition to my activism work. So I need a way to afford school which is where the crossroads lies, but……..if I’m really honest, I already know the answer.
I could try to get a part time job on top of full-time school and activism.
Or, I could hustle the shit out of myself and freelance.…which is what I’m actually going to be doing, even if I do toy with the idea of not having to be tracking work down all the time.


Some of the things I keep wanting to write about but haven’t been able to get out of my head:

  • Why cities are important to me after being isolated in suburbs as a child (and related to that: how being in a suburb and not rural nowhere is good for child safety)
  • Why I YIMBY (and how the intersection of homeschooling fits into housing politics)
  • Shit I learned doing YIMBYtown
  • Some of the things I’ve learned about my trauma and how I have to take care of myself
  • All 10 of the mountains I just climbed to enroll in the Machine Tech program and do trades and science and math…

I also want to make some shorts with pockets, and if they turn out to be okay, I might sell them.
I also have a few more pieces for Autostraddle in my pocket that I need to be able to write down.
I’m really tempted to start dabbling in local journalism doing more than writing press releases.
But I only have so much time in a day, and my energy is being eaten by existing this week. I feel like we’ve all aged about a decade.
 
This has been a rambly update, but now it’s out of the way so maybe I’ll be able to write something more cohesive later.

Just Ask

We’re back in the trauma-dump phase of therapy where I dump a bunch of things and then chew on some of it the rest of the week. Lately I’ve been learning about asking.
Asking is fucking terrifying. I don’t know how to ask for things I want, or for help, or things I actually need. It takes a lot of effort – more effort than just doing whatever the thing is – to ask for literally anything.
When I was a child, my parents wanted us all to be super well-behaved: an example for other kids/families. One of the ways they ensured that was by telling us we were never allowed to ask for anything, whatever it was that we wanted or needed had to be offered to us. This meant that we were perfect children while grocery shopping, but also that when we went to my grandparent’s houses, we weren’t allowed to even ask for food or water without being punished. One of my siblings once violated that rule and was yelled at and spanked for asking for a drink. Thankfully, my grandparents caught on to this quickly and worked around it so we didn’t dehydrate or starve.
Conversely, when I was asked questions, they were always thinly veiled demands. My wellbeing depended on being able to decipher what the intent behind the question was and answer that. This meant understanding that if someone asked what my preference was, I wasn’t supposed to give my actual preference, but the one they desired. Anytime I made the mistake of answering with my actual preference, or any way other than desired…I was punished.
Every interaction I have goes through this filter of What is the desired outcome? and what is required of me? So I’m really good at figuring out and answering these questions really quickly (guess who rolled high on perception), but when people stop and ask me, genuinely, what my preference is or if I want X….I actually don’t have an answer, because I often don’t know. The flipside of this, is because my brain interprets questions as demands and I was never allowed to have needs/wants/etc let alone voice them without repercussions, I have a really hard time letting myself ask, anything, ever.
It touches a bunch of things that make it a really difficult wall to climb, every. single. goddamn. time.

  • A lifetime of experience shutting out acknowledging my own desires makes figuring them out enough to articulate them really hard. The work to remember that I have needs and find out what they are is…a different thing entirely.
  • Somehow convincing myself that asking literally anything isn’t going to wind up with being emotionally abused. I have to work through a ton of screaming alarms in my head to get to the point where I actually ask something, because I have to remember people aren’t actually going to freak out about it.
  • The trained instinct to not be inconvenient or need (let alone want) anything from anyone, but always be available to people who want things from me. Which is a long way of saying everyone can take advantage of me, but I’m not allowed to inconvenience anyone by existing. This is a goddamn fucking mountain, let me tell you.
  • Justifying that whatever I want to ask is something worth asking, largely because of these mountains, but also because having to justify any (rare) ask is a habit of self-preservation. I will always have a reason or justification for whatever answer I give, or question I finally work up the courage to ask. No one usually wants this… >.>
  • About 18 years of intensely negative reinforcement surrounding asks

What this looks like in practice now is that my kneejerk response is to say yes to anything and take on more things than I can handle (I’m actually improving a little bit here) because the answer to “what is the desired result?” is “them not doing a thing” which means the solution is “I will do the thing.” The question of whether or not the thing needs doing (by me or no) actually didn’t occur to me until just now.
Sometimes I will be having an anxiety attack and it will take me about an hour to ask to be held, I float caveats and explanations around every question I ask and provide context, I go out of my way to tell people that I won’t take their response to a food question personally, if people ask me what my preference is for anything at any given point, or what I want done, I blank and literally don’t know how to answer, I think about questions all the time and decide not to ask them because I took too much time trying to form them, and everything circles back to simply not feeling like I deserve…. anything.
So. I uh, am trying and mostly failing with this asking thing, but not being yelled at when I finally do ask anything at all seems to be helping.
Next step: not waiting until I feel desperate enough that the energy it takes to ask is justifiable.

It me, a trans boi

I didn’t know I was trans until my mid 20’s. I didn’t have the language or the context to explain what I felt growing up. My writing over the last 8 years has actually thoroughly documented parts of that process. Coming to terms with my gender and what that means to me.


I spent my entire childhood just feeling wrong at my core. Never able to measure up, never able to be the girl they wanted me to be, because I just wasn’t, no matter how hard I tried. I did “ballet” (and legitimately enjoyed it), I wore dresses and pink, I played with dolls, I did my nails…I did everything society told me good girls did, and I tried very hard to play the part of demure and graceful damsel waiting for her prince.


Spoiler alert, I am not demure nor particularly graceful playing a damsel. My failures at this were just compounded during high school when I got bored talking with other girls because all that we were supposed to talk about was future homemaking and homeschool curriculum and other very traditionally girly things that just didn’t interest me. There was a period of about a year and a half when I was 14 where I was able to fly under the radar (thanks to an undesired move and pregnancies) and pretended to be a boy on the internet (that was the deal I made to be allowed to blog when I was 13, because predators don’t…go..after..boys…apparently) and offline I continued that persona and wore camo and got away with being “one of the boys” at speech and debate.


Looking back it seems obvious, but at the time I just thought I was broken. I wasn’t a girl, I wasn’t a boy, but I didn’t have the language to describe or even have a frame of reference about what trans-ness was. I just thought, as I had been told by my parents and pastors and every authority figure in my life, that I was inherently broken. I was just wrong and only God could fix it, but he didn’t seem to want to, so I just tried really hard to play my part as well as I could. I internalized the messages of wrongness and brokenness because I didn’t match up what I was told good godly women were like, not inside. I could cook and clean and sew but those crushed my soul and the future I was promised was not a road I wanted to take.


I wasn’t allowed to explore the woods, or play outside, I wasn’t allowed to play video games. I wasn’t allowed to do anything that was considered a boy thing. I feel like it’s important to note that I didn’t want to only do those boy things, I just didn’t want to be limited; I wanted to have both options. I wanted to be able to express both masculinity and femininity but that was definitely not allowed. I had one option and one option only, unless I was sneaky.


The idea of having children bothered me on a visceral level, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered how very connected to dysphoria it is. The idea of having a human come out of my body goes straight to lizard brain levels of “no. this is death.” I suppose when I interpreted my period as the ultimate betrayal of my body against me that should have also been an indication.
Instead I spent years wrestling with myself, hating myself with every fiber of my being until I was about 20 and finally started discovering the language to describe how I felt. It happened by knowing other people who came out, and finally putting a name to my sexuality, talking with other queer people. I embraced my queerness when I was 22, which was the first stepping stone to discovering my trans-ness.


Autostraddle, Tumblr, Everyday Feminism, and It’s Pronounced Metrosexual were all really great resources where I finally started learning that I wasn’t alone in my feeling, that having a uterus but not being a woman is completely valid.


I started talking to nonbinary people and trans girls and eventually realized that I am trans enough, and no one is stopping me from transitioning but myself. Meanwhile dysphoria was getting worse, now that I knew how to identify it and what it was. I talked to my partners, friends, and therapist. And learned some things

  1. Cis people don’t question if they’re qualified enough to be their gender
  2. Gender is what you make of it, and it’s importance is up to you
  3. You are allowed to and deserve to transition if you want to
  4. Transitioning looks different for everyone, you don’t have to want surgeries to be trans
  5. Nonbinary, Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Agender, etc are all valid trans identities
  6. It is your body, you get to change it (or not) however you see fit

For a while I thought I just wouldn’t transition. I’d just deal with estrogen and periods and do what I could to mitigate PMDD and everything that goes along with that. At some point…actually, at Burning Man, I realized I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to start HRT and see what happened. I could always stop if it wasn’t right for me. Both of these are valid.


So in December of 2016 I started HRT. Testosterone works FAST. Within a week my muscles started moving, I started losing curves, my voice started getting deeper, my clit grew. I’m approaching shot 4, I have angles and a jaw line, I feel right. I had no idea what it felt like to actually inhabit my body until I started HRT.


I’m not a woman, and despite taking testosterone, I’m not a man either. I’m just your local nonbinary fairy boi taking baby steps to being in their own skin.
 

This Is Not Normal

I’m beginning to get anxious now that more than a month has passed since the fall of our republic election and things have started to quiet down. We’re normalizing.
We desperately want to return to normal, to stability, not to whatever the fuck this reality is. Collectively we do not do well with unrest, we don’t do well with unease, and we will do anything we can to get us back to the place where we feel secure and normal, where we can live in our bubble and pretend everything is okay.
Every time I’ve stepped foot in any chain store since the election this has hit me. The jarring normality of it all: as if our society isn’t falling apart at the seams, as if foreign countries interfering in our elections or being one tantrum away from nuclear war isn’t something that’s actually happening. As if all of the civil unrest in this country, all of the kids who are terrified to go to school out of fear they’ll lose their parents, as if the president elect inciting violence and spreading hate was something we were all making up. Walking into target feels like being gaslit by corporate society.
We want to desperately to live in a world where things weren’t as tumultuous. But that isn’t our reality. It’s tempting to bury our heads in the sand and wish it all away, to create as much of a bubble as we can to surround ourselves in. To create a new normal that adapts to fascism in this country just being a fact of life. We want to not have to fight.
None of those are bad feelings. I crave normalcy, I yearn to be able to live and not feel like my country has betrayed me, or that danger is at every turn because of the intersections of my identities. I long for stability.
But we elected a literal fascist who’s activating all the other fascist and fascist leaning types that have been preparing for this for 30 years; people I’ve grown up with, training I’ve had. They’ve been here all along and they’re ready now. We can’t have normal, we can’t have stability, we can’t be safe unless we fight back. Until we acknowledge and remind ourselves that this isn’t normal, that we have to fight, that we cannot let complacency overrun us, stability will be elusive.
We have to fight back on every front, wherever we can.
For me, this looks like local housing advocacy so we can actually be a sanctuary (if you want to get involved in building more housing, check out your local YIMBY cell). Working on advocating for homeschoolers locally and providing as many resources to homeschoolers as possible. It’s being involved with my local hackerspace & arts community, and building local coalitions. It’s writing, prolifically, while I still can, and making all of the art.
None of this is normal, as much as we desperately want to make it so. We need to remember that.

Existing Is Resistance

So, we elected a facist.
I, like every other marginalized in-any-remote-way person have spent the last week utterly terrified. It’s an anxiety attack that won’t go away. I’m suddenly very aware of the intersection of my transness, queerness, afabness, and olive skin.
I am public about all of those, I’m public about being queer and poly, I exude queer vibes in person.
Nothing is normal anymore. My life is topsy-turvy. All of my plans jumped out the window right behind my hope for the future. I was a poll worker on election night and I told the voters not to tell me anything because I needed to get through closing the polls when voting was over. I got home and my partner hugged me and told me what happened.
I was in shock. I’m still in shock. Every day existential dread grows a little more. Every day the background level of constant anxiety grows a little more. I’m worried about my olive-toned siblings, I’m worried about my partners, I’m worried about my friends. I’m worried about everyone.
And there’s a part of me that feels super prepared for this. A switch activated.
I was made for this. I am a product of the conservative movement meant to fight in the culture war they’ve spent the last 30 years building for and I am fucking pissed. Don’t think the right didn’t see this, didn’t plan this, didn’t see the opportunity in hiding Mike Pence behind the intolerable senseless oaf that is Donald Trump. We have Hitler 2.0 and puppets. Trump is horrifying and charismatic – he can pull on hate and fuel it. Pence is worse. Pence will have control.
And I grew up in Pence’s world. I grew up in the world that said my purpose in life was to fight in this war and guess what, they were right.
But I am fighting for my life and the lives of those around me. The lives of those already and about to be targeted. I know now why I felt like I needed to be here, why following my instincts have taken me to this place in this community…because I need to be here, now, – the resistance.
Existing as myself is an act of resistance, empowering others to do the same is resistance. This is our reality now.
We elected a facist, and now we have to do everything we can to stop facism from taking hold, or WW2 will pale in comparison.
I am fucking terrified, I am angry, I can’t stop thinking about the future, if that even exists. But I am taking this existential dread and channeling it into everything I’m able. I’m fighting with every fiber of my being and reminding myself that this isn’t normal. 
notnormal4small

What’s Next?

I’ve spent the week updating the security on all of my devices and getting PGP setup on my email. If you haven’t installed Signal already, you should. The EFF has some good advice in their security starter pack that would be a good place to start.
I’m going to be adding a page where you can verify my ID by my PGP key and see what things I’ve also verified. In the meantime, I’m on keybase.io. CRHE is gearing up for our annual fundraiser and putting efforts into preparing to help people who start homeschooling because of the election. I’m getting involved in my local community and politics to make change here with East Bay Forward and on my own. I’m helping build a safe, open, hackerspace in my community as well.
I’m making rage art again, and some of that is in the form of banners for download. I’m not being quiet. I’m enjoying the last 62 days of First Amendment rights before everything really goes to shit.

How you can help me

Finding a 9-5 job at a startup seems ridiculous now. It seems normal. Nothing about now is normal. I am looking to spend my energy helping people, being an activist, doing whatever I can to provide safe haven and squash facism. I am an artist, activist, and organizer with mad web skills, I intend on using every skillset I have to get myself and others through the next 4+ years.
If you have the financial ability to help, I need enough to pay bills and acquire meds and eat – you can setup a recurring donation on patreon and also get cool art. Or just donate. I am an uninsured, unemployed, queer enby trying to get my documents together. I just spent $200 on my passport update and still need to get my license updated.