Views from the Bridge

Archive for the ‘Stereotypes’ Category

Terri (mom) and Colin

Pronouns have taken on greater importance since your coming out, right?  And I know that we have discussed it ad nauseum.  It isn’t as easy as most people would think, though, is it?  There are the traditional gender pronouns, he/she, him/her.  Now there are new gender pronouns, ze, zim, zer.  These are all concepts that I understand.  It took me a while to accept that they/them could be a chosen pronoun for a single person.  Really seems like multiple personality disorder when a person refers to zimself (Themself!) as a they or them.  But, you have persuaded me.  I still won’t use it in an academic setting.  🙂

However, what we discuss back and forth and round and round is other chosen pronouns.  You have told me that whatever someone identifies with, they can use as a pronoun.  If they identify as a tree, they can use tree as their pronoun.  Now, darn it!  This is just confusing.  Will you please tell me why that is okay?  Why isn’t it confusing?  Isn’t it confusing to you?  Do you know someone with such a gender expression?  If anything can be a pronoun, how can we navigate language?

I don’t actually see it as that difficult. Maybe that’s just the way my mind is wired. Maybe not. I’d probably say yes to the way my mind is wired. At my school, when PGP’s are explained to new students you see  a few reactions typically. There are the few that know what you’re talking about, and either help explain or roll there eyes and wait for you to be done because they already get it and can we move on now? There are those who just light up and sometimes ask, “Wait, so I can use anything as my gender pronoun? Wow – that’s so cool!” It just makes sense, no questions asked. There are also those who after ten minutes of explanation still give you the what-the-hell-are-you-talking-about look and say, “Wait, so why is my PGP he and him? I don’t get it.” Of course, there are other reactions, but those are some of the typical. It’s always just made sense to me. I don’t know why, it just does.

By the way. PGP stands for Prefered Gender Pronouns, and is the words you use to call yourself or have others call you that describes your Gender Identity. My Gender Identity is male. Typically male identified people have the PGP he, him, and his. I personally describe my Gender Identity (male) with the PGP he, him, and zy.

I have a friend whom’s Gender Identity is Tree. This individual uses different types of trees to describe their gender based on how they feel about treeness today.

An individual I have not met, but have heard about – they used to attend my school – has the Gender Identity Rainbow. This persons PGP is the colours of the Rainbow, and changes day to day.

What are your recommendations when using pronouns?  What should people never, ever say?

Recommendations are just try to remember. If you are in a fight with somebody never purposely misgender them. That is asking to not ever have that friendship again. Mistakes are forgivable. Just try. I will say. Unless a person specifically tells you they identify as it, never, EVER, call somebody an it.

What is the hardest thing for you, regarding pronouns?  I suspect it is the mistakes a few people constantly make, repeatedly.  What is your greatest joy?

It’s really frustrating when the same person messes up constantly. If one  specific person can never get you pronouns right, even if they apologize  when they do, it’s so frustrating. It makes me personally feel a bit underappreciated and disprespected. It’s well appreciated and enjoyed when people  just, get, pronouns.

How can we help you?  And what can you do to help us?

Um… listen? And I guess if you’re listening, I’ll talk. 😀 I like talking. 😛

I know that this “tree” discussion causes some heated arguments because I have a hard time accepting a person using tree as a pronoun.  It makes me think they are a bit loopy.  I’m sorry.  I can’t help my reaction, but I’ll try and listen and hold your point of view. 

All’s well that end’s well.

The weather on the bridge today was stormy and blah.  And our conversation was too.

That’s because broska was in the car. 😀 Good day sir!

Terri & Colin

So, there was this brain study about men and women.  It is reported on CNN.  It says men’s brains and women’s brains are different.  And that men obsess over women’s breasts, etc., etc.  Every stereotypical thing we’ve heard over the years was repeated.  A few points:

  • Male and female brains mostly alike, but some profound differences exist
  • Men’s sexual pursuit area 2.5 times larger than the one in the female brain, she writes
  • She says testosterone drives the “Man Trance”– or a glazed-eye stare at breasts
  • A wife’s pheromones cause “Daddy Brain.” Later, “Lovable Grandpa” or “Grumpy Old Man”?

So, Colin, since you just started ‘T’*, do you find yourself falling into glazed-eye stares?  *’T’ is Testosterone.  This is what Colin calls it.

I think this study is ridiculous.  What kind of controls did they have around gender?  Did they only have heteronormative, gorilla men and heteronormative women?  Seriously.  Is a gay man’s eyes going to go into a glazed-eye stare over breasts?  Ha ha ha!!  And you, dear Colin, don’t glaze over at anything!  There are three things at play, right?  You can explain better than I.  Sexuality, Gender Identity, and Romantic Attraction.  Will you explain what these three things are and where you fall on the spectrum?  And do you think it will change while you transition with Testosterone treatments?

I’d actually say there are four subjects at play. The three aforementioned, and a fourth, being Expression. Sexuality is how you identify whom you’re sexually attracted to. A man might want to have sex with a woman, a woman might want to have sex with another woman, a genderqueer person might only want to have sex with other genderqueer people. It can be anything. Hell, sapiosexual even means you’re only sexually attracted to people who are really smart. Gender Identity is how you identify your gender. Commonly looked at on a spectrum as “this end is girly girl” and “this end is manly man.” You can fall anywhere on that small itsy bitsy spectrum. Uh… no. I like to look at the spectrum as more of a circle floating in space. So you can be female or male, androgynous, both genders, neither genders, all genders, a seperate gender. You can be floating-out-in-the-middle-of-space gendered. Anything you can use to describe your own gender is your Gender Identity. Romantic Attraction is whom you are romantically attracted to. Somebody you’d want to date, but don’t necessarily want to have sex with. And Expression. Often confused with Gender Identity. Your Expression could be femme, butch, masculine, I personally have a friend who says they express as happy. Somebody could be female gendered, and identify as butch, that doesn’t make them male if they don’t identify that way just as a male can be femme and would not be female unless they identified as such.

I, putting all the terms I identify under together, am asexual (very very VERY asexual), male with androgynous roots (I’ll explain that in a minute), panromantic, and butch.

I am asexual. Very asexual. Asexual to the point that sex to me is like, O.o-what-is-that-weird-thing-um-you-go-do-that-in-a-corner-while-I-eat-my-pizza. I am so asexual, that I… ah, just no. I’m pretty sure I get more “turned on” by the idea of eating pizza.

So basically, male, with the pronouns that come with it being he, him, and his. When I say androgynous roots, it’s because in my childhood, I honestly didn’t know what gender was. I grew up just being a kid. I didn’t have a gender, and I didn’t gender other people. That’s totally affected my gender today, and as such I include it with my gender identity. I use the gender pronouns, he, him, and zy.

My romantic attraction is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I say I’m panromantic because I see beauty in everyone and get along with everyone. And sure, I’ve dated people, but my relationships seem to be more just a heightened friendship. Like a bestfriend. The close of my last relationship ended with her pretty much saying I’m one of her best friends. And she is one of mine. One of my best friends was talking to me today and said that me and my now exgirlfriend even in our relationship just seemed like really close friends. And I agree. I don’t know. This is honestly the hardest of these for me to answer.

Expression is fairly simple, but seems to be mis-seen a lot. I identify as butch because I feel more masculine than not in a not related to gender way. I like being the knight in shining armor. I like wearing basketball shorts and T-shirts and blue jeans. I’m not really fond of makeup, I’ll wear occasionally, and when I do, it’s theatrical craziness. Something I can goof off and have fun with. I like to hike and climb trees and be dirty. I love flannel. So much. And this is why I identify as butch. These, I suppose could be the same reason somebody identifies as femme. It all depends on the specific individual.

That is a lot of information!  Thank you for sharing so much and being so honest.

The weather on the bridge today was nice and sunny.  And our conversation was too!

Colin & Terri

This is not okay.

This is the same as that movie.

What movie are we talking about? (The Lorax referenced below).

And this. Is. War.

But I’m pretty sure that the United Methodist Church doesn’t look at it like that. And just saying?

Homosexuality is not the equivalent of war. War is an oppressive act of violence stated to gain something for the victor in most – not all – cases. The other primary option of war is to fix an oppressive situation. War revolves around oppression, whether it be solving or creating. As far as I am aware, homosexuality is not oppressive, however many people whom are homosexual are oppressed or become oppressive  to avoid getting hurt. But if that is the case, then shouldn’t war be equivalent – if it must be to something – to those who oppress?

Asking people to own their oppression is difficult to do. We all have some stake in this. We’ve talked about the transition for you to “white male.” And you have said, without my prompting, I might add, that the only thing that bothers you is that you are part of the structure that has traditionally oppressed. We all have two-ness as oppressor and oppressed. The beauty of what you did…by identifying the oppressive element, you can then guard against it and purposely lay it down. It is hard to give up power. Especially hard to give up power when it is wrapped up in ecclessial and/or biblical belief.  And even more difficult for people to believe that their understanding may be wrong.  To be wrong then means to confront all the pain that you have dealt to other people in your righteousness.  Sigh.

My identity is what keeps me going when I am down, and keeps me strong when I feel weak. It is how I view myself when I look in a mirror and how I explain myself to those who care to listen and not judge. My identity is not an oppressor, but somebody who has been oppressed. And yes, I am not a homosexual, in fact I am asexual, but I am a boy who likes boys, a boy who likes girls, a boy who likes it’s, them’s, zie’s, zhers, and zy’s. Lesson on gender language here. I am a boy who has a beautiful body given to me that I cannot love for myself, Do you mean that you cannot love the current femaleness of your body? though I do love, and will never be able to identify with. I am a boy with a girlfriend though I am okay with having more than one partner and probably will have more than one in my future. I am a 16 year old that identifies as five, and who knows when that will change. I am also a boy with a voice that speaks out against things I cannot identify with because they oppress me.

Info on sexual fluidity here. I remember when I was in college the first time around, we did a ‘quiz’ on gender to determine how we identify as male or as female. It was all about typical traits associated with one gender or the other. I came out smack in the middle. A little to obnoxious to be “feminine,” a little to nice to be “masculine.”  Stereotypes.

War is not the same as homosexuality.

Darn tootin’!

In the United Methodist Church there are two things that are not compatible with Christian living. Number one, war. And number two, homosexuality. Basically anything on that list is held at the same standard, and is equally bad. But homosexuality is not, nor as bad as war.

Homosexuality is not even bad. Seriously. What are we telling our people? Nobody. Nobody. Nobody. is getting bent out of shape in our churches over war. War kills. 

Here’s what the book says:

The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.

No Author (2009-01-01). The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008-2012 (p. 103). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy.

No Author (2009-01-01). The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008-2012 (p. 128). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Homosexuality is an identity.

War is what is happening between Israel and Palestine. And by the oppression of Palestine, the church profits.

The UMC pension plan for pastors has investments in companies that work for Israel such as Caterpillar. Caterpillar bulldozers are used to bulldoze Palestinian settlements. When voting to divest, the argument went something like this. “We know it is wrong to do, but some people in our church might have their investment impacted if we vote for divestment.” So they voted to keep putting money into a company that is essentially a weapon of war. Sigh. So much for John Wesley’s, “Do no harm.”  On the other hand, they did vote to divest themselves from privately run prisons.  Hallelujah and Amen. 

Now, have you ever seen the movie the Lorax? It’s this amazing movie – based off a book – that I loved. It tells of healing, and I was glad to go and see it. When talking with one of my friends at school about the movie, he said that he would not go see it because it had bad morals and stood for wrong causes.

I was blown away!

This movie – this BEAUTIFUL movie was corrupt? Not possible! It stood for healing, and taking care of the earth and –

“But have you seen those commercials for McDonald’s and other multibillion dollar companies that involves the Lorax? Every time you go and see the Lorax, you’re supporting those companies with the money you use to pay for tickets.”

And that money is used in ways that are destructive and often goes towards countries that use it to destroy others in war.  Or that money is used in more subtle destructive ways. Movies and advertising that demeans women’s bodies, encouraging earth-destructive growing practices, disgusting practices around beef, etc.

Huh.

Basically, the church is doing the same thing with Israel and Palestine.

So the church is even further demeaning homosexuality by offhandedly supporting war. So, what message is that giving to the world?

‘Cause according to that logic, homosexuality is not even the equivalent of war. It’s worse than war.

I am so sorry. I hold your pain.

Weather on the bridge today? Hot and sunny. But really, it felt cloudy in our hearts.

Shalom.

Well, this is our first post.  Let us be introduced.

I’m Terri and I’m the 40-something mom of Colin.  I’m a chaplain in a detention center and an Associate Pastor in Seattle.  I am also a Spiritual Companion for those who need it.

Colin…introduce yourself!
Welp. Here I am, in the flesh. Or more accurately, in the font as it ‘t’wer. My name is Colin d. (if you couldn’t figure that out from my mother two sentences previous), I’m sixteen, in my Junior year of highschool, and basically all types of queer. I want to go into acting in my future.

We drive together often from our home to high school in Seattle.  We drive across the 520 bridge.  And our conversations bridge culture, age, and gender.  The drive gives us a lot of time to chat.  The wheels of the car turning seems to get our brains and mouths going also!  Since Colin declared his TG-ness last year, it has been a year of discovery and conversations.  Each day new things come up, it seems.

TG-ness? Really? TG-ness? I mean, I’m not offended at all, just AMUSED. I have honestly never hear anybody refer to it as that. But okay, if somebody doesn’t get it, I’m transgender, and identify as male.

Recently, I ordered binders for Colin via ebay.  I wasn’t sure what we’d end up with, but was interested in the financial savings!  When we got the binders, they came with two little rubber rainbow bracelets with the phrase “I’m Lesbian” on them.  That is what this conversation was about.

I’m (Terri) going to give you a synopsis of the conversation and Colin will add his comments.

In the morning on the way to school…

Colin said something like, “I can’t believe they just sent ‘I’m Lesbian’ bracelets.” 

Frankly, I was on the same page.  First, it never occurred to me that Lesbians would wear binders.  That is what I had to wrap my head around.  Colin then informed me that yes, lesbians where binders.  That many more “butch” women wore them to diminish their feminine curves. 

Huh.  I never considered that.  I just assumed that women were the way they were.  Although why I would assume that in the age where so many people alter their bodies by adding boob-age is beyond me.  If folks want to add boob-age, then there must be folks who want to diminish boob-age.

Colin then told me what he was going to do with the bracelets.  He was taking them to school to his gender seminar class and would see if anybody wanted them.

In the afternoon on the way home…

Colin told me what happened.  He offered them to the class and told them the story.  He then got 15 hugs of affirmation and apology on behalf of the stupid manufacturer that assumed he was a lesbian.  Of course, Colin really wasn’t that bothered with it, I think.

I guess I was yes, offended and bothered by it, but it’s not something that I’m hurt by. The fact is, it is actually an assumption that people make, and assumptions are a big chunk of what are world revolves on so, oh well. No harm, no foul. I will also say though. By g’d! Stop the freaking stereotypes!

Who took the bracelets?  One teen girl whose boyfriend often passes as a girl.  She would wear the “I’m Lesbian” bracelet when they were on dates.  Ha ha ha!!  And the other one went to a girl who self-defines as queer and nothing beyond that. 

So, the bracelets were distributed.  We learned a couple new things about binders and who wore them and what assumptions manufacturers make.  And we got a great laugh.  And it was sunny crossing the bridge.

All in all, a great day crossing the bridge.

And I would say, I agree. 😀