The End of an Era

After much thought, angst, and deliberation I decided to discontinue making vlogs for my YouTube channel.  The long and short of it is that I want to focus on improving myself, and I’m in a space now where I need to take a few steps backwards to reconnect with how I used to be.  This has nothing to do with gender or my transition, nor my asexuality, nothing like that; rather it is related to my general demeanor and interpersonal skills.  I want to listen more and speak less, and YouTube definitely does not allow for that.

But never fear!  Since I prefer writing anyways and am looking to focus on all of my writing endeavors (read: my novels), this blog will continue on.  YouTube was always kind of a pipe dream for me in that I never expected to have a huge amount of viewers, comments, etc.  The fact that one of my videos is currently at 13,000+ views astounds me.  I’m incredibly grateful for anyone who’s been a part of this vlogging experiment of mine.

So here’s my last video, more or less.  I mention in the video that I have plans to audition for a non-binary collab channel, since I’ve been looking for such a channel for ages.  Should I get a spot on the channel I will definitely post my videos here.

Is It Wrong To Reject Someone’s Preferred Gender Pronouns?

Originally posted on Today I Am A Man:

With Caitlyn Jenner’s recent transition all over the news, a lot of people are thinking and talking about trans issues for the first time. The overall response seems positive to me–many people are acknowledging Caitlyn Jenner’s courage and honesty. At the same time, others are outraged and wish to express their hostility to trans people by refusing to use Caitlyn’s name and gender pronouns.

I had all this on my mind when I saw the following query pop up in the search terms (edited to correct spelling):

is it oppressive not to use someone’s preferred gender pronoun?

Well, it depends on what you mean by “not to use.” I would say it is rude, mean and very disrespectful to refuse to use someone’s gender pronouns. But it is totally understandable to accidentally screw up someone’s pronouns.

So, genuine mistakes are one matter. Friends and family members deserve patience when someone

View original 583 more words

Genderweird Search Terms (and Hermit Crabs)

Look, it even has a cute moustache! You’re welcome, BTW.

And now for a grand viewing of the top search terms used to access this blog…since forever!  Plus I will be addressing a few important ones I came across in my browsing.

Genderweird came in at 38 times used.  This was eclipsed only by search terms involving dysthymia, which in their myriad forms totaled at 62.  This does not take into account the 1000+ terms that were encrypted by Google or whoever else.  Six people (or perhaps one person on six different occasions) seemed to think that I had experienced top surgery regret, and I very likely disappointed them in that regard.  For some horrid reason my blog was accessed four times by stringing together the term demisexual and forms of sexual activity involving the buttocks…which, honestly, makes no sense when this blog in question is home to a minorly sex-repulsed asexual.  And oddly enough, 13 people seemed to think I’d give excellent relationship advice about their girlfriends.  My personal favorite: How to draw a hermit crab step by step had a grand total of three times used.  I shall provide instructions in case they’re still looking.

There were two search terms — sentences, really — that I thought would be important to address here.

“I’m bio female gender neutral – can I get testosteronr”

Now, since the “r” is directly next to the “e” on a standard keyboard, I will assume you’re asking about testosterone and go from there.  I too was born female and identify as gender neutral, and yes you can absolutely get testosterone.  Just be sure to find a therapist and/or general practitioner who will write the appropriate letter, should you try and get hormones covered under insurance.  Accessing hormone therapy still falls under the WPATH Standards of Care, and as such you should probably follow the procedures enumerated there.

“My girlfriend has dysthymia depression is she testing me”

Does she have a scantron sheet or red pen in her hand?  If not, then no.  Dysthymia is just as real a diagnosis as your ignorance seems to be.

Disbelief of Asexuality

This is a Carnival of Aces inspired post (check out other submissions over here with elainexe) regarding Identity, Labels, and Models.  I’m quite excited to write a post for this topic; my involvement in the asexual community (especially blogging-wise) is notoriously non-existent.  It’s something I actually have a very hard time discussing, and when I sit and think about it I really believe, for me at least, this has something to do with the difficulty I have with being asexual.  Not so much that I myself have the difficulty, but rather I have difficulties with feeling consolidated within my identity.

This is for a few reasons.  The first one that springs to mind is that not everyone in my life believes in asexuality.  Namely my mother.  I’m not entirely sure why this is.  Granted, the last time I brought up the subject I was in junior or senior year of high school, had just discovered the term, and randomly brought it up in a car ride.

There are a few things she’s pretty black and white about, but generally she’s really good about accepting me for who I am.  Asexuality, if I pushed the subject, probably is not one of them.  I don’t mention it to her for the same reason I don’t talk religion with her; I love thinking about and conceptualizing these abstract notions, especially if they’re one of my Things, whereas she has strong, set in stone beliefs surrounding religion.  What she believes is what she believes, and she doesn’t like exploring other ideas further because she has a sort of mental block where that’s concerned.

I’ve encountered other people who don’t believe in asexuality, or rather specific identities under the asexual umbrella.  I prefer specific labels for my own mental clarity — and sometimes sanity — so I identify as demisexual.  And here’s where I struggle as well, but more than I do with mental blocks.  I’ve run into more than one person who doesn’t believe in demisexuality, and recently this occurred on Facebook with another trans person.

At first I couldn’t believe it; someone in an already marginalized community marginalizing another minority group?  Isn’t asexuality part of the LGBTQIA acronym, after all?  But I reread the comment, which went a little something like this:

Demisexuals identify as not being sexually involved with people unless they have an emotional attachment to someone…soooo basically they’re like everyone else in the world?  Why do you need to make up a special word for yourselves?  You’re not really a legitimate identity.

Needless to say, I promptly unfriended this person.

In this regard the struggle is so, so real.  How often are oppressed or marginalized groups devalued by others, especially other minority groups who we expect to support us, not harangue us?  In the asexual community, even more so than  the transgender community, this is all too frequently the case.

I can appreciate disbelief of an identity, I can definitely wrap my head around the idea of not truly understanding something or accepting something due to personal beliefs.  But my caveats stop there.  I can’t logically reason with something like faith, so I tend to give confusion due to religious identity a free pass.  But if you’re simply denying another’s identity because you don’t understand it, or for some reason don’t feel it’s valid, I have just four words for you:

Just get over yourself.

That’s what I need, not just for other people but for myself to do, too.  This incident shook me, even more than my mom did all those years ago when she matter of factly said she just didn’t believe in asexuality.  To have someone actively point to a label I’ve taken on for my own well-being and say, “You’re fake, you just want to be special and have rights to an acronym and social movement, but you’re not actually a real thing,” is just so wrong.  In a way it causes me more dysphoria than my body used to; after all, I can undertake medical and social transition to fix that.  But to combat people who point and say, “You’re not real”?  I still don’t know how to handle that.

It seems that, in some way, I’m more self-conscious and insecure in my sexual orientation than in my gender identity.  So for now, I just need to get over myself and really start addressing my demisexuality.  Expect more from me on the subject, and if you don’t see it, kindly prod me forward.  I’m asexual, demisexual specifically, and that’s okay.  That’s all that really matters in the long run.

Asperger’s and ASD

A topic I’m sincerely and wholeheartedly passionate about is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  This isn’t merely a hobby for me, this isn’t something where I sat here and said, “Welp, Brannen, you have to find your niche as a Social Worker once you start practicing for realz…go with ASD!”  No, like a lot of things in my life — Harry Potter, cats, trivia, gender studies, Buddhism, the DSM, and other random things — it’s something that I will spend literally hours researching on my own, checking out a library’s worth of books on to learn more, and even recently found a job where I can get paid to assist in a study examining family dynamics in the context of ASD.  Totally applying to that to support my broke grad student butt, by the way.

But I digress.

In the general theme of my blog, I’ve been thinking a lot about my identity.  You know, that thing that I sometimes do.  And in another related general theme of my blog, I’ve also been experiencing symptoms of anxiety.  This is not new for me, and it should not be surprising considering I’m switching my anti-anxiety medication.  But what really gets me, and has been a problem I’ve started pegging as an annoying, anxiety-inducing habit, is that when I get symptomatic in terms of anxiety my thought process looks a little bit like this:

Here’s a thing.  I like this thing.  I’m gonna do it.  Oh wait, hold on, another thing I like to do! [sets aside random thing for another random thing, continues in this vein all day]
Wait, people.  Oh, hi people!  Oh crap, it’s a thing.  A Social Thing.  Did I do it right?  I’m not sure…did I not make enough eye contact?  Too much?  Damn, I messed that up again, I just know it.
[Anxiety symptoms crank up a notch]
Oh look, another Thing.  Think about the Thing think about the Thing think about the–
Shit, this is horrible.  Why can’t I stop thinking about the Thing?  Or that other Thing?  What’s wrong with me?

Ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  And the anxiety gets worse and worse, and my symptoms follow suit.  I can’t decide if the behaviors precipitate the anxiety, or the anxiety the behaviors.  I start struggling with eye contact.  It’s harder for me to verbalize myself, and I find myself concentrating extra hard on forming and stringing words together coherently.  I get twitchy–very twitchy.  Loud noises, in particular high pitched ones, start making me jump.  And don’t get me started on physical contact.  Can you see where I’m going with this?

In short: even though I know I shouldn’t self-diagnose, even though I know it’s something I struggle not to do, especially when I’m anxious, it’s precisely when I’m anxious that I start thinking that yes, Virginia, this one has ASD.  Specifically Asperger’s, before they combined it with Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified), Autism, Rett Syndrome, otherwise known as the Pervasive Developmental Disorders for the ASD diagnosis.  Told you I love the DSM.

Here’s the thing, though, because it’s a Really Important Thing…I’ve never been diagnosed with this, not clinically, which is my definition of truly being considered to have one disorder or illness or whatever it may be.  Because for me, that’s how I have to frame it so that I won’t walk around a hypochondriac.  I’ve been there, it sucks, and I really don’t want to do it.  And no matter how bad I get, no matter how anxious I am, no matter how symptomatic I become, I have never — and will never — appropriate a label that others have for legitimate reasons for the sole reason that I suspect it might be true for me.  This is something I struggle with regarding my dysthymia and potential anxiety diagnosis…I don’t even know how to identify as having a mental illness, because it’s so integrated into my personality that I feel as though it’s less an illness, and more of a character trait (or flaw, depending on the day).

So who’s to say I don’t have ASD?  For now, probably my therapist…unless she agrees with me.  But because I have this tendency to make up rules in my head that somehow equate to law in my book, like the not-being-a-hypochondriac rule mentioned above, I have this rule that tells me “Don’t self-diagnose, and don’t tell your therapist.  It’s not good to self-diagnose, and she won’t like it.”  I’ve brought it up briefly, and we moved onto other topics.  But like I’ve said, ASD is really, really important to me.  My brain latches on and won’t let go.

And here I am, writing this post.  Not just because I can’t let go, but because I’m making a serious and honest attempt to be transparent about this issue.  I can’t be the only one who’s ever thought they had some sort of sickness, mental illness, or neurodevelopmental disorder (as is the case with ASD).  However, that absolutely does not make it okay to appropriate a term that, by rights, isn’t yours to take.  At best it’s just rude; at worst you’re being uninformed and not considering people who truly need this diagnosis for treatment purposes.