Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…

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on the significance of thirteen.

such a wonderful number!
especially for a triskaidekaphiliac like me

Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

 Willow wreath at Bealtaine CottageIn ancient cultures, the number 13 represented femininity.

Full moon over Bealtaine Cottage IrelandThe number 13 corresponds to the number of lunar cycles in a year.

lughnasa at 036Thirteen is also the number of menstrual cycles a woman has in one year.

The imposition of the Gregorian calendar by a patriarchal church, diminished the power of the feminine in more ways than one. 039

It altered the way in which we regard the number thirteen.

Sustainable growing at 014

Thirteen is a highly significant female number, for the 13 lunar cycles are aligned with the 13 menstrual cycles of the woman.

 permaculturecottage woodland at Bealtaine CottageAs the Gregorian calendar was imposed, so the number 13 became associated with superstition and bad luck.

Mirror reflecting Gaia at Bealtaine CottagePermaculture Blog 024However, in reclaiming our knowledge of the Divine Feminine, we begin to see that 13 is a number that is very relevant and powerful as we awaken our consciousness.

April Bealtaine Cottage 2011 013The 13th Baktun signalled the end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar.

April 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 00413 is…

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cis-privilege, in case someone didn’t know it exists

this glaring example is only one of many that prove the reach of cis-privilege, even among otherwise oppressed people. it has to be recognised for the evil it is before it can be eliminated!

so say we all!

Women Born Transsexual

From Sketchy Thoughts Canada:

The following press release from ASTT(e)Q (Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec):

Transsexual and transgender women denied access to shelters as temperatures drop in Montréal
ASTT(e)Q urges Québec shelters to change discriminatory practices

25 January, 2013 – As temperatures drop to extreme lows, transsexual and transgender women in Montréal continue to be turned away from many homeless women’s shelters. Over the past week of bitter cold, ASTT(e)Q, a local trans health project of CACTUS Montréal, has witnessed several of our members be denied shelter on the grounds of being trans. While such refusals are frequently justified by administrative regulations, members of ASTT(e)Q believe that these exclusive practices are rooted in discriminatory attitudes towards trans people.

A majority of women’s shelters throughout Québec require trans people to have undergone sex reassignment surgery, and/or to have changed their legal sex. “Such requirements are unattainable for most…

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it is just these sorts of things to which the letter from sadie in the previous post alluded.

let’s change the world by opening our eyes and standing up for the rights of persons other than ourselves!

National Center for Transgender Equality's Blog

Cervical cancer screenings prevent cancer and save lives. But for many transgender people, getting these basic screenings is fraught with anxiety and fear. Both the very real fear of disrespect and discrimination, and the dysphoria many people feel about this part of their body, make going for these tests feel anything but routine. In the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, we found that forty-eight percent of transgender men delay or avoid getting preventive care due to the fear of encountering discrimination.

It doesn’t help that, even during this Cervical Health Awareness Month, virtually everything we hear about the subject is framed in alienating gendered terms. For example, a quick survey of online articles on cervical cancer testing  refer only to women and do not address the need for cervical cancer screenings among people of other genders. Any mention of trans people’s needs for cervical screenings is limited to blogs and other…

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a heartfelt wish

i was cruising around my twitter time-line this morning and came across this article from huffington post.

i’ll give you a moment to go read it….

…… now, isn’t this one of the most heartfelt and sincere things you’ve ever read?…

my beautiful transgender daughter doesn’t know many of these pains and frustrations. for reasons quite other than her gender issues, we homeschool. ziona doesn’t have to worry that a kid will tease her, that a teacher wont stand up for her, that she wont be allowed to use the girl’s restroom. but such things are common obstacles that most transgender children must face.

this eloquently stated ‘bill of rights’ from the heart of an 11 year old girl didn’t stop at the problems persons of her own age group face, but aptly identified discriminations faced by trans-folk of all ages. who can argue the simple logic that transgender people are entitled to the same respect and freedoms as anyone else.

altho president obama did at least speak of the lgbt community, it will take more than a mere mention of the fact that equality must include progress in the area of non-discrimination of people over sexual preference or gender identity. it will necessarily take the same sort of plain spoken truth as found in this girl’s letter. it will require of those in positions of power to extend more than lip service to the ideal. bold actions must meet the spectre of resistance on the path to true equality.

this girl, and others like her, have the future as their reality. those of us from whom they will inherit tomorrow, must be brave and insightful so that we might leave to them a world that includes them, no matter what!

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in the open

nothing can be more dangerous than a secret. …sometimes.

when i think about what sorts of things are kept secret, it seems most often there’s an element of shame to them. often one is compelled to keep someone else’s secret…their burden. sometimes a secret hides a monster’s deeds. people having extra-marital affairs keep secrets. .pedophiles control their victims by hiding behind secrets. .one might hope to keep parts of an untoward past from being known. the threat of a secret being revealed gives power to the would-be tattler.

not all secrets are horrible. there’s the secret one keeps so as not to let the cat out of the bag about an upcoming surprise party…or an intended marriage proposal. . yes, there are good secrets, ones that are fun, and ones that tickle. and there are petty secrets too, the ones gossipers whisper in corners to ‘inquiring minds’ that want to know.

privacy is not the same as a secret. privacy is about natural boundaries, ones that everyone has a right to…things that are no one else’s business are private…for the purpose of this post such things are in another class from secrets.

the child molester has secrets, not privacy. the person molested has shame and fear, not privacy.

when i was a child i was beaten. it was no secret in our family, but was not known elsewhere. when i realised i liked girls, and not boys so much, i knew enough to keep it secret from my family…and everyone else. this was in the early 1960’s, long before stonewall, and pride parades with people chanting “we’re here! we’re queer! get used to it!” i learned that i couldn’t even share this bit about me with my girlfriends who were gushing about boys. i learned to pretend that i too like the silly creatures. i found out the hard way that disclosing my sexual preference to my girl friends made them put unnecessary distance between us…that disclosing it to boys got me teased and later on in years such a disclosure would be viewed as a challenge to their male egos. i found out the hard way, it could even get you raped.

times have changed alot from those days when donna reed and father knows best blared faux values into everyone’s living room. and tho many rights have been won, often the hard way, for people of the rainbow persuasion…there are still those kids who are afraid of being open about their sexuality, in fear of being rejected, or worse. loving families still disown their ‘different’ sons and daughters. hate and bigotry still exist in our society, even if such attitudes are kept hidden, or secret.

secrets can be dangerous.
if life has taught me anything, and i like to believe it has, it is this.

that is why people who are out in the open about being transgender are powerful. not open in a way that violates their privacy or feeds into the prurient sensationalism of society’s warped curiosity. but in the same way that we queers of an earlier decade reclaimed our power by owning our selves and refusing to let the dominant culture dictate to us our level of visibility or equality. yes, i know we are still fighting.

in the open…a sigh….a weight lifted! no more sword of damocles swinging overhead.

at the age of 3, my beautiful blue-eyed adopted child informed me that ‘he’ was a girl. to say it caught me by surprise would be an extreme understatement. it wasn’t that i had no knowledge of such a thing. one of my long time friends, whom i always considered my sister, had recently undergone sexual reassignment surgery. i had dated transgender women. but i had never, ever heard of a child as young as 3 or even 5 or 10 for that matter, being transgender.

then on my birthday in 2007, 20/20 aired a special wherein barbara walters interviewed a child named jazz. the skies opened up for ziona and i that day. because that family chose to be ‘in the open’ about the subject, i was set upon the way to go forward with my own special little girl. i began to do research and educate myself. .i began to be ‘unafraid’ to allow my sweet innocent child to live life on her terms, and as the person she is! now she doesn’t have to guard that secret, that she is really a girl who got the wrong parts.

the way forward wont be easy for her. she will have puberty blockers to stop her getting a low voice, adam’s apple and facial hair. she will have to use cross-hormones the rest of her life to assist her body to align with the soul that dwells within it. she will eventually undergo gender affirming surgery. but she will NOT have to keep it secret. she is not ashamed, and tho privacy figures in to our every decision, this is different from secrecy.

many parents, it turns out, are dealing with these same issues. when we attended the genderspectrum family symposium 2 years ago in berkeley i was amazed at just how many of us there are! and while each family and each person must approach the matter of whether or not to be ‘stealth’, ziona has already decided that she will live ‘in the open’.

secrets can be dangerous…but like any other bomb they can also be disarmed.

ziona used to refer to the fact that she was a girl in a boy’s body as ‘a secret’. but ever since she has lived as a girl, she doesn’t consider being transgender something that needs to be kept hidden. if people know from the start who she is, there will be no awkward moment of ‘full disclosure’ later on down the line. that is a wise point of view in some ways, and in other ways naive. it doesn’t take into account the bigotry and hate that feels all the more threatened when faced with things a narrow mind can’t comprehend.

i made up my mind decades ago not to keep who i am secret. because society has changed that is working out just fine for me. i’m proud of ziona, and her choice about being openly herself. i only hope that eventually transgender people enjoy the merits of a society that has broadened its scope to include them.

(bonus: update on 20/20 with barbara walters, interviewing jazz.)

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privilege speaks to privilege

the previous post, reblogged by me should probably be read before this post in order that the reference be made clear. also, read here

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imagine it is the past, during the horrid institution of slavery. would it seem right by any measure for the ‘house’ slaves to demand their liberation and equality while simultaneously denying same to the slaves toiling in the fields?

imagine a child rightly identifying schoolyard bullying as wrong, who turns around and bullies a younger sibling.

these instances and many others seem appropriate analogies to the problem of cis-gender women who wail against injustice and demand an end to the pervasive inequities of the patriarchal paradigm while excluding transgender women.

privilege speaks to privilege.

can it be argued that cis-gender women are not a part of privilege?

while inequities exist certainly that mark us as 2nd class citizens within the male-dominated society and culture, there can be no doubt that we enjoy rights to which our transgender siblings are denied. so when cis-women stand at the door like bouncers to reject those whom they consider “not-real-women” they are playing the role of gate-keeper in determining who is to be granted membership to their club; they are taking on the attributes of the same oppressive system against which they rail; they are become the oppressor and are enemy to their own cause.

when in their ignorance they marginalise the experience and existence of these ‘others’ whom they would exclude from consideration in their struggles by demeaning them, holding them to stricter standards for inclusion, they repeat the same sort of crime of which they are victims. for doesn’t male-dominated society also seek to define for these cis-women what they must be? is it not this same sin they commit against transgender women? seeking to define them? to confine them? and in so doing exclude them from access? why then can they not see themselves as bigots and oppressors as they seek also to define what is woman?

more and more research has come to light which supports the fact that transgender women aren’t just confused males. the functional mri of the brain of a transgender woman far more closely mirrors that of ‘natal’ women. the structures within the brain of a transgender woman differ from those of cis-men and again more closely approximate the size and shape of the same structures in the brains of women. so who’s to say that the external body can define a woman? clearly we are more than the sum of our parts. but even did no such evidence exist that tends to validate the ‘claims’ of transgender women that they are not men, does not everyone have the right to self-definition? isn’t this what the article by susan moore was trying to proclaim? the fact that male-dominated society’s measures and ideals for women are wrong and rob us of personhood? why then do some of these same oppressed people use similar means against others?

privilege speaks to privilege.

that is the only explanation for those who simultaneously make demands that support personhood as defined by the person for themselves, then deny the same to others. it is because one is small minded, ignorant and bigoted, or even just not well informed that one feels entitled to perpetrate the same inequity and employ the same techniques against which they stuggle.

my daughter is transgender. she was born with a body that has never been in sync with whom she knows herself to be. whether or not there is ever any evidence to support her experience, i do! she has the right to define herself for herself. and i will vehemently confront anyone who would deny her, or any other transgender person the right to say who they are!

as to the ‘just because they mutilate themselves (gender reassignment surgery) doesn’t mean they’re women’ crowd, besides revealing themselves the ignorant asshats that they are, i would argue that if one is closed-minded enough they can find an infinite number of ways to split hairs…the racists did, and still do; the nazis did, and still do…just don’t pretend that you have the high ground. because it is still just a matter of

privilege speaking to privilege.

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Over the past couple of days, we have seen a bit of an internet temper tantrum coming primarily from some in Britain, centering on some voices in the British commentariat, who are very upset about the fact that trans activists and allies have critiqued an unfortunate line in an article and rather blatantly transphobic comments on twitter by journalist Suzanne Moore (see for example my own previous comment about the issue here). Moore initially made an awkward, de-gendering reference to “Brazilian transsexuals” in her NewStatesman piece, followed by a blatantly transphobic tirade on twitter when gently approached about that odd line in the original article.

Let’s say something off the bat to put all of this in some context. The news media (as well as most every other media, in fact) has a long history of writing about trans people, and trans women in particular, in ways that…

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not yet insane

today while loading some of my older poems onto one of my webpages i came across one entitled “day one”.

it was funny looking back on what i thought would become of my attempt at homeschooling ziona. and to be completely honest, i’m not sure that from time to time i haven’t been *this close* to checking into the local funny-farm. quite probably it isn’t a stretch to profess that i have at least figuratively, found myself banging my head against a wall.

autism has many ways of presenting to the world. just as neuro-typical persons have each their own way of interacting with situations in their everyday life, so too the neuro-diverse, like those with autism, have their own very unique way of approaching things. but many children with autism share the same tendency to tantrum that ziona exhibits.

if it only happened when she is called upon to cooperate with her homeschool lessons such fits of anger would be only an enhanced version of the dislike and frustration most any child feels at being made to learn such previously unnecessary skills as ‘cursive handwriting’ or comparative fractions and decimals. if it only happened when she can’t remember how to spell the words on her weekly list of words to remember how to spell, it would be quite understandable.

but from as far back as my slowly aging memory extends with regard to zee, she has had much difficulty in the area of patience. when younger she used to ‘stim’ by spinning wheels on toy cars lain on their backs to this end, or staring into the ceiling fan, watching water pour from the bathroom sink’s spiggot or even waving her fingers in front of her eyes while staring, as if , right through them. these are some of the ways in which some kids with autism cope with the inability to self-calm from which many suffer,

these days ziona doesn’t use such means to offset her frustrations. instead she rages. and by that i mean RAGES! it is this aspect of teaching her that gives us the majority of our problems. and just so everyone reading this who hasn’t had the dubious pleasure of witnessing a true ‘rage!’, can put this into perspective, let me describe a usual progression.

first she screams. then she pounds her fists, or the pencil held in her fist, into the table. then she becomes verbally abusive to me, even threatening to do me bodily harm. then she lays down and flails her arms and legs about while screaming, then she accuses me of thinking she’s dumb, or some such thing, then when she is made to go to her room,(if she goes without a struggle) to calm down, she rages from in there for a bit longer. then she starts hating on herself, she cries uncontrollably, starts calling herself dumb and other such things…she cries more, is overcome with remorse for how she’s behaved and says she deserves to be hurt, then she attempts self-harm.

at that point i force open the door, which usually she has slammed behind her and attempted to barricade, take her into my arms, hug and kiss her tears away. i tell her that she deserves only love. she cries and asks me how can i forgive her. i tell her that she always has my forgiveness and suggest that she learn to forgive herself. we walk back to the lesson area arm in arm to start again.

this same sort of outburst used to happen far more frequently and for little or no reason at all. she has improved greatly. having learned to use words to communicate has helped her to verbalise her emotions, but it has also given her a new way to lash out, to tantrum. and altho such occurrances as the one described above happen at least once a day, either in response to lessons or some other thing that frustrates her, it seems like heaven around here, compared to how it was when as a younger child i could expect at least 9 or 10 of such blind rages per day.

one day, after lessons…after lessons had taken up the whole of the day, right up to her bedtime, we had an enlightening discussion.

i asked her what does she gain from raging like that. her answer was wise and nearly blew me away! she told me that just like swearing when you stub your toe makes it seem less painful, her tantrums actually are a way for her to achieve calm, to alleviate her psychic pain. it was then i began to understand. this is her new version of ‘stimming’.

whether this is really a better way to self-calm than going into the bathroom and running the tap for minutes at a time while staring at the cascade of water, or gazing into the ceiling fan, or shaking her hand in front of her face to watch her fingers make trails of themselves in her visual field, i can’t say. but her being able to explain the ‘why’ of her tantrums…in such a succinct and simple manner, has done much to alleviate my worries about whether such behaviour will last forever. i’m convinced it will not.

just as she left off some of the ‘stims’ of her babyhood in lieu of the ‘tantrums’ she employs today, i know one day she will find more appropriate ‘stim’ to meet the reality of whatsoever her environment and circumstance.

as for me, i haven’t gone insane just yet. and since our little ‘talk’, and my subsequent understanding of her process, my patience levels have increased.

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only 1% !

this article is an example of sound reporting on a difficult and widely misunderstood subject. i have read and shared many articles that likewise attempt to reveal the intricacies of supporting and treating transgender children. some of the other articles i’ve shared have been loathe to mention the drawbacks and concern, and are great because of the positive tone they set. but there are concerns, and people who want to understand our transgender children need to have a balanced view. they have questions, and questions need to be addressed.

nothing that is true need shun the light of scrutiny. studies and research have been done that effectively exhonerate the supportive parents and medical professionals as are part of the solution to a problem, that isn’t really a problem. this article points out some highlights of research that suggest the differences in actual physical brain structures and workings which align the transgender child more closely to their preferred or affirmed gender than the one allocuted and assigned at birth on the basis of genitalia.

it also addresses the issues of the consequences of a transgender child not being supported or allowed to be who they know themselves to be: self harming, self-mutilation,depression and suicide are among the common results of ignoring this need. in contrast, children once allowed to express their true selves, in a context of loving support and proscribed protocols of appropriate treatment, are far more likely to manifest and far fewer of these symptoms.

for ziona, the difference was like night and day. she is still a moody child, she tantrums and cannot self-calm. but these are mostly associated with the fact of her autism. the moment she was allowed to live outloud as the girl she knows herself to be, even these symptoms diminished by almost 90%! she got happier, quit trying to ‘off’ the ‘spare part’ and smiled alot more often. nor did she feel compelled to ‘out’ herself as a “boy-girl” to folk she just met, something she used to feel was necessary for honesty sake…since referring to her with male pronouns ran contrary to the truth she knew to be.

allaying fears that somehow the parents are ‘to blame’ for their children being transgender seems silly but no parent of such a child that i have come across feels the least bit intimidated by counselors and other psychiatric professionals being part of the treatment. if anything, we are relieved to help the psyche of our little ones heal from any loss of self-esteem they might suffer because of being different. this said, most surely with more research it will be determined that transgender folk are not mentally ill, a fact already known by most. but then, who can’t benefit from a little counseling when going through something as all encompassing as is the transgender person’s reality.

recently in the news, there were a couple of articles that seemed intent on casting aspersions on the practice of listening and seeing to the needs of transgender children. one even went so far as to accuse a doctor of wrongdoing in the case of providing care for a transgender person who eventually decided to ‘go back’ to their assigned gender. the article in question seemed intent on presenting that this is common. it is not. nor can we understand what extenuating circumstances in a person’s life might make the decision to ‘revert’ a comfortable one. are they ostracised by family, friends, and others in their environs? is the pain of subsequent rejection or the hardship of just ‘being different’ in a society that condemns one for it a factor?

that’s why i was especially glad to read in the article i’m sharing today, that only around 1% of transgender people who receive treatment decide later to ‘change back’.

read and pass along this article which tends to be even keeled and logical…especially share it with those whose eyes could use a little opening.