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What my gender dysphoria feels like

Copying this from a comment I made on Facebook in order to have it easily accessible for future noodling. This is of course only how I experience dysphoria, not how anyone else does. The original discussion was, in part, about the extent to which dysphoria would still exist in the absence of gender stereotyping. I have made some minor edits for clarity.

I'm not "in the wrong body"; this body is very much part of me, and there are things I really like about it. But there are parts that feel stunted, like they never fully developed like they were "meant" to, and at times they ache as if they were still desperately trying to. Descriptions of phantom limbs from amputees often resonate with me. I assume this would not go away in a perfect society. It has got worse with perimenopause and seems to show some cyclical variation, so I imagine there's a hormonal factor involved.

Also, some of the parts I really like are the very ones that cause people to guess my gender wrong, and that causes a real psychological tension. I have to choose every day whether I want the cognitive dissonance of hiding those parts as if I were ashamed of them, or the cognitive dissonance of leaving them visible and being misgendered. This part would clearly improve if societal etiquette changed so that it was understood to be rude to guess someone's gender without being told, or at least rude to voice the guess.

Then there's a gender role/performative component, which expresses itself as a feeling that I'm constantly failing at "being a girl" by looking wrong, acting wrong, thinking wrong and just generally Being Wrong. This part has improved considerably since I gave myself permission to stop trying to be one, but there's a residue that would probably require societal permission to get rid of. For me, full societal recognition of nonbinary gender(s) would probably do it, but total abolition of the gender binary would also work for me (and for agender people? but maybe not for strongly binary-identified people?) Even then, there may be a biochemical component that would not disappear, because I feel the looking wrong part is linked to my bulimia, and that gets worse with certain nutritional deficiencies and could presumably still happen without sexism. Society not being so damn fat-shaming would surely help, though.

Summary: In a perfect society I'd probably still have body dysphoria and maybe a small amount of psychological discomfort. I might still define as trans because although we wouldn't be assigning gender at birth any more, I might still have self-assigned as a girl before the hormones kicked in enough for the body dysphoria to become noticeable. But I'd have much less cognitive dissonance and everyday life would be much more comfortable, so none of these issues would be the grave threats to mental health that they are now. This entry was cross-posted from Dreamwidth, where there are currently comment count unavailable comment(s). View DW comment(s).

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PSA and request

I am not really using LJ or DW any more - I don't have that much time for social media at the moment and find that Twitter is currently the platform that best fits into the rest of my life. If you'd like to stay in touch and have a Twitter account that I am not yet following, please drop me a comment with your Twitter handle or follow me at @sashajwolf. I am planning to start using that account for my (relativey few) Pagan tweets as well as general stuff and will be setting up a Pagan reading list there, so if I'm currently following you from @druidsass, you will probably shortly get a follow request or notification from @sashajwolf as well.

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Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Bannon,
If you think we'll stand for Trump?
We are the people who'll stop your little game,
We are the people who'll make you think again,
'Cos who do you think you are kidding, Mr Bannon,
If you think the left is done?
Refugees, disabled, Muslims, Earth protectors, queers,
All genders and all races march in solidarity,
So who do you think you are kidding, Mr Bannon,
If you think we'll stand for Trump?

Prompted by a Twitter conversation with @vogelbeere.

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Good news

My mother's tumour was not malignant. It was caused by a gallstone getting lodged somewhere it shouldn't and the body trying to protect itself by growing tissue around it. She's healing well from the operation and will be fine just as soon as her digestive system gets used to its new arrangements ;-)

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PSA: Spoon shortage

If I seem a bit distracted at the moment or don't reply to things I normally would, this is why:

We learned last week that my mother has a pancreatic tumour, suspected to be malignant, that is also pressing on her gallbladder and colon and causing a variety of problems as a result. She is having a fairly major operation today to try to remove it, following which the lab will confirm whether it really is malignant or not. Even if it is, the doctors are hopeful that she may have caught it early enough not to need chemo, and she really could not be in better hands than in the German health system, but this is obviously a scary time for her and for the family. She will be in hospital for 2-3 weeks and then in a rehab clinic for an undetermined period. She has asked that, rather than visiting now when all I can do is sit by her bedside, I go to stay with her for a while when she comes out of rehab and will need support with shopping, cleaning etc while she finishes convalescing. So I will be doing that. But meanwhile, this is taking up pretty much all my emotional processing spoons. I still want to be supportive of my friends who are also going through hard stuff at the moment, but getting the words out is much more difficult and takes longer than usual - so if I don't reply to things, please know that it's not because I don't care.

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Hugo Thoughts

I’ve been keeping a running list throughout the year of things that struck me as Hugo-worthy, and since nomination time will be coming round soon, I thought I’d share it for anyone who wants to check out things they might have missed. It is not a suggested slate, which is why it doesn’t contain a neat five items per category, and skips categories I didn’t follow closely enough for anything to have struck me. My standard for “Hugo-worthy” is largely “this delighted me;” quite probably you are delighted by different things, and/or apply a different standard entirely, and that is fine. Feel free to add your suggestions in comments or to point me towards your nomination posts.

Best Novel. A science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.

Kirsty Logan, The Gracekeepers
N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season Read more...Collapse )

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Rethinking my Hugo voting

I'm beginning to have doubts about the voting strategy I outlined in my previous post on the Hugos (LJ/DW), where I said I would place No Award ahead of any slate nominees that had not distanced themselves from the slate, even if they were not themselves actively involved in the disgusting hate speech that some of the ringleaders have spewed over our fandom. Essentially there are two things giving me pause:

Firstly, Vox Day has said that he will treat No Award as a victory for the Rabid Puppies. Not that he necessarily gets to declare unilaterally what the victory conditions are, but it does suggest that my previous approach of ranking No Award ahead of almost all slate candidates would not send the message I wanted it to. Arguably nothing would, because Vox Day will try to spin just about anything into a victory, but if there's no way of achieving your goal, it makes all the more sense to redefine what you're trying to do. Tl;dr: Maybe GRRM is right and the answer is just to vote on merit.Collapse )

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I've seen a number of people discussing the best way to vote in this year's Hugos, given the fiasco of the year's nominations. I will be voting this year for the first time, and the methodology I intend to use is slightly different from anything I've seen discussed elsewhere - possibly because I haven't known where to look, but still, it seemed like it might be worth writing up. Read more...Collapse )

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This book has been causing a certain amount of excitement on some of the pagan blogs I read, so I thought I would review it separately from my normal booklist for easier linkage.

The full title is Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons. A large part of Shaw's intention in writing it is to begin to challenge a perception that pre-Christian Germanic paganism was homogeneous by examining the claim that Eostre was a pan-Germanic goddess known in Germany as Ostara. Eostre is known to us from a single historical source, Bede's De Tempore Ratione, written to explain the names and timing of various Christian feasts. Hreda is mentioned in the same source.

Shaw begins with an introduction to the linguistic models and methods he intends to use. He then gives an overview of some relevant features of Romano-Germanic religion, focusing in particular on votive inscriptions to the Matronae (matrons, who may be goddesses, ancestors or deified ancestors; inscriptions to similar figures also occur in Romano-Celtic religion.) Shaw points out that these often have names related to particular localities or kin groups, but that some inscriptions refer to the Matronae of a wider group such as a tribe or group of tribes. He notes that the latter type of inscriptions seem to be set up by worshippers who are at some distance from their home area, implying that a worshipper who was outside their home locality, but e.g. still within or near the territory of their tribe, might offer to the Matronae of the tribe as a whole rather than those of their home area.

This leads into Shaw's chapter on Eostre. He begins by setting out Bede's claim that two of the Anglo-Saxon months were named after Eostre and Hreda respectively. He then outlines how the existence of a goddess Ostara was extrapolated from Bede's remarks and the form of the word for Easter in certain Germanic languages, and notes that some scholars have reacted against this extrapolation by doubting that Eostre existed at all. Some other scholars, however, have suggested that Eostre could be etymologically related to the Austriahenae, a group of Matronae to whom a large number of inscriptions have been found near Morken-Harff in Germany. Based on a linguistic and etymological analysis of the words Austriahenae, Eostre and other relevant terms, Shaw rejects the suggestion that Eostre's name relates to a word related to "dawn" or "spring". Rather, he concludes that while Austriahenae and Eostre are not the same entity(ies), they are probably the result of the same naming convention; both effectively refer to the matron(s) of a group that identified themselves as "eastern", probably geographically and/or in relation to neighbouring groups. Thus, Eostre may well have been the matron of a local Kentish group, and this would be consistent with the fact that dialects outside Kent appear to have had a different name for this month. He also notes that copies of Bede's writings seem to have been sent at a very early stage to the diocese of Mainz, which is in the part of Germany where we find the earliest occurrences of a word related to our "Easter" . Thus, it is possible that Bede himself, or other Anglo-Saxon missionary activities around Mainz, are responsible for the use of related words for Easter there.

A chapter on Hreda follows, adopting a similar approach, but here Shaw finds the evidence much less clear. He does not rule out the possibility that her name is related to a word meaning "quick", but he also notes that this word is itself a fairly common element in human names of the period. This means we cannot conclude that Hreda was some sort of "goddess of speed"; she may simply have been the matron of a kin group whose name used this element. Alternatively, there is some evidence that the name may be related to an ethnic designation referring to Goths or a Gothic sub-group. Against the background of the known naming conventions, therefore, both etymologies appear to point to a group matron rather than to a functional goddess.

Shaw's scholarship appears to me to be very careful and thorough, and the book is both short (less than 100 pages if you disregard the indices and endnotes) and extremely readable for an academic work. I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in historical British, Germanic and/or Celtic paganisms.

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The staff of life

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been getting really into breadmaking. Read more...Collapse )

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