If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading fanfiction, it’s that clear communication will save you at least three chapters of angst.
I have no truck with narratives that have plots that can be solved/resolved if the characters sat down and had a 20 minute talk.
Fanfiction? This is why I hate most sitcoms.
A sex worker friend complains of discussions about sex work where every participant prefaces their anti-abolitionist stance with “I’m not a sex worker but”. She is left with the options of saying silent, lying, or outing herself.
That’s how felt last Friday, when I saw another friend recommending that everyone who is cis take advantage of Facebook’s new gender options, to say “cis female” or “cis male”, to remove the assumption that “cis” is the default. This was a fairly clued-up friend, but I don’t think she’d thought the implications of this.
I used to be stealth, kind of. I was never very good at it (both in the passing department and in the not telling anyone section). Now, I have it in my fucking twitter bio, and my god it reduces the anxiety about wondering who knows. I can do that because of other privilege I have - I am white, middle class, with high earning potential, and live in a city where I have a support network.
But just because I’ve been fortunate enough to make a decision doesn’t mean anyone else should be forced to make the same one. There are lots of people who aren’t out, for various reasons. That’s entirely up to them, and we need provide a context where they do not have that silence/lying/outing dilemma.
Imagine you’re trans and stealth and loads of your friends on Facebook have changed their gender to “cis male”/”cis female”. What do you do? You can’t put it to “trans” without outing yourself, something that may well affect your personal safety, employment status, etc, regardless of whether some set of your Facebook friends are going to be cool with it. You could change it to say “cis”, I suppose, but you might well think that is a crossing the line into a lie. (Stealth is not lying. Stealth is keeping quiet and sometimes fudging things.) So, stay silent? The thing is, at some point, if “cis” catches on as an identity, an unadorned “female” or “male” will become suspicious.
And then what if you are trans and pre-transition, either because you haven’t quite figured out what you are yet, or because you are not in a position to be able to. You would have to call yourself “cis” even though you don’t feel it’s quite right, or know it’s not true.
As an abstract concept “cis” is absolutely needed, but as an identity it has problems. When it’s relevant go ahead and acknowledge it, but don’t go flaunting it just as a default. And perhaps - sometimes - in solidarity - it would be better to refuse to confirm or deny.
the fact that the real world could have involved dragons, unicorns, magic, time travel and insane adventures but instead has things like taxes is why i read so much
This lizard shoots blood out of its eyes to deter predators
This bird has tiny dinosaur claws on its wings and its chicks can climb like goddamn monkeys
This thing is literally named the Vampire Squid from Hell, and it’s so lazy that it uses optical illusions to trick its predators into thinking it’s running away really fast instead of actually running away
When these ants squabble over territory, instead of fighting they have a dance-off. The winner of the dance-off gets to enslave the other colony
This diagram is of one of many planets made of solid diamond
And here’s a picture of our galaxy in space which, by the way, would taste of raspberries and smell of rum:
This adorable dear is a water bear, a very tiny animal with a weird internal pulley system for movement. It can survive being dried out and rehydrated (in nature it depends on it), and can survive in open space without air, pressure or radiation shielding for at least ten days and be fine.
Naked mole rats are not only the only eusocial mammals, but are also cold-blooded and immune to cancer.
There are a LOT of animals that navigate via electricity
or can “see” through sound echoes
or have the regenerative properties of mythical trolls
These guys live in water between 2C and 464C (35-867F) at 300atm of pressure, sometimes in water as briny as vinegar… and they’re far from the only species to do it
Caterpillars turn completely to goo in their cocoons and their adult forms grow within it. Hundreds of species of parasite mind-control their hosts, including those that affect humans. Wheat as we know it isn’t rightfully a single species; it’s a 2-way hybrid with twice as many sets of chromosomes as it should rightfully have, created by us. Microorganisms genetically engineer plants to change their shape to provide homes for the tiny engineers. If you mess up the mRNA distribution in a newly fertilised fly egg, you can make a fly with two heads and no butt. Fruit flies get drunk in the same way that humans do; they’re a remarkable model for all kinds of human things, even though they shouldn’t be all that similar to us at all. Beavers change entire landscapes to colonise new areas. Bacteria far up in the sky help clouds to form. Diamonds are born not from the bones of dinosaurs, as many believe, but in the hearts of volcanoes. If you capture lightning on a super high speed camera, you can see many little spots of light branch out and seek the ground, calling up positive branches until one tendril from the sky meets one from the land and the energy of the could is immediately discharged in a bright, hot flash. We don’t yet know what lives in magma. We can deduce the heart of a star, but we can’t explore the hundreds of other planets in the galaxy like ours. The trillions and trillions of microorganisms living in your gut act like digestive organs that it’s very hard to live without, and there are 10x as man of them as there are human cells in you; you could argue that you’re 9% human. If you fold a single (hypothetical, infinite) piece of paper 42 times, it will reach past the moon. The eye has evolved independently on Earth at least 40 times, and possibly as many as 65 times. There are no muscles in your fingers. A rhino’s horn and your hair are the same structure. A horse’s hoof and your fingernail are the same structure. Some of your thinking isn’t done in your brain — it’s done at the top of your spine, throughout your spine, in your intestines, and in your heart. Your brain fills in the gaps of what you don’t see, but mentally interpreting what you do see is largely done inside the eyes. A lot of an octopus’ thinking is done in its arms.
But sure, gripe at the universe for not giving us pointy horses. Without them I guess it’s all pretty boring.
(Fantasy novels can be pretty great though)
Allow me to add that this is a world in which human beings have encountered, in one way or another, all of the living creatures seen here: http://camwyn.tumblr.com/tagged/ladies-and-gentlemen-i-present-to-you:-the-ocean - because fantasy writers would be told to sit down and start editing if they came up with animals that patently bizarre.
I know I’ve told this story before, but my abusive ex refused to let me take birth control. I was on the pill until he found them in my purse.
I went to the Student Health Center—they were completely unhelpful, choosing to lecture me about the importance of safe sex (recommending condoms) instead of actually listening to my problem.
Then I went to Planned Parenthood. The Nurse Practitioner took one look at my fading bruises and stopped the exam. She called in the doctor. The doctor came in and simply asked me: “Are you ready to leave him?” When I denied that I was being abused, she didn’t argue with me. She just asked me what I needed. I said I need a birth control method that my boyfriend couldn’t detect. She recommended a few options and we decided on Depo.
When I told her that my boyfriend read my emails and listened to my phone messages and was known to follow me, she suggested to do the Depo injections at off hours when the clinic was normally closed. She made a note in my chart and instructed the front desk never to leave messages for me—instead, she programmed her personal cell phone number into my phone under the name “Nora”. She told me she would call me to schedule my appointments; she wouldn’t leave a message, but I should call her back when I was able to.
And that was it. No judgment. No lecture. She walked me to the door and told me to call her day or night if I needed anything. That she lived 5 blocks from campus and would come get me. That I wasn’t alone. That she just wanted me to be safe.
I never called her to come to my rescue. But I have no doubt that she would have come if I had called. She kept me on Depo for a year, giving me those monthly injections in secret, helping me prevent a desperately unwanted pregnancy.
I cannot thank Planned Parenthood enough for the work they do.