So I received an email recently that asked me a few good questions — about me, personally. About my motivations and my goals and the usual stuff.
I like it when I get email questions. Seriously — especially when those questions come from people who just want to know something. Despite my reputation, I generally take it as a given that people want to know things when they ask questions, and I’m pretty good at taking apart questions so that I can answer not only what they ask, but what they want to know (which, all too often, are different things).
So, these were the questions I was asked.
1. Why haven’t you been writing a lot this year?
The answer here is pretty complicated, but only because there have been different reasons at different times. So here are the various reasons:
For one, I’m busy. Writing blog posts like I do takes time and energy. Time is the big problem, as I try (and rarely succeed) to have a fairly balanced sense of my life where I get time to do fun things and supposedly to do things like keep up with my self-care, relationships, and so forth.
How bad am I about it? I haven’t had a conversation with my sisters pretty much this year. WHich is really fucked up on my part. I haven’t had any time with my friends, whom I love dearly, in at least as long. My personal relationships are filled with massive absences and a distinct lack of communication, especially this past summer.
The reason for all of that is that I am busy educating people on how to improve their systems in a manner that allows them not only to be more open and helpful to trans people, but also to improve their overall performance with many groups. The way to do that isn’t hard, but it does involve learning things that don’t always make immediate sense, so there are a lot of related things that are touched on — the “bigger questions” and larger issues that I often talk about as I explore them and give them consideration. I usually apply them in posts here, but I haven’t directly spoken about many of them, other than to bring up things once in a while that are important to pay attention to.
In short — human resources management stuff. How to make your team better and take advantage of blind spots that develop in your team when they all tend to be very similar (which business is often aware of but doesn’t know how to get around).
I am also often creating materials — brochures, handouts, short segments of training manuals, policies, etc — that aid them in this, and when I’m doing that kind of work I tend to just sit my ass down in front of a computer and do it until I like it enough to stop, look at it again, and make it better.
Basically, it comes down to this I put a lot of effort into making possible other people’s work. I create the tools and the elements that enable people to make better, more informed decisions. Much of it I do for free, in terms of money, as the purpose of doing so is to make life better for trans people.
IT is quiet work, unassuming work, work that doesn’t get seen or acknowledged or pay for the bills and shit but has an impact on the way that people see and learn and come to understand this stuff. And I don’t use the typical methods when I do so — there’s no “trapped”, there’s no “wrong body”, and so forth. I purposely avoid the commonplace explanations because they are already known, so I build on those, and correct the stuff people think about.
Too often, we start from the assumption that people don’t know anything about transness or trans people –and that’s not right. THey know something. It is often wrong, and it is often not well understood, but they do know something. ANd that’s where I start — even if the something they know is wrong and bad, that’s the point at which we can meet them if we want to do so.
So I spend a lot of time working in that space, and a lot of time thinking about this stuff.
Around the end of June, I had a burn out point, as well. A series of situations and a lot of bad decisions made in haste and without proper thought piled a lot of stuff on me all at once and I sorta buckled under it all.
So I had no choice in the matter and ended up taking as much of a break from it all as I possibly could. Which wasn’t near enough, and I still had to do things (like talk to potential donors and so forth) but I also had to build up my personal reserves of energy, because working for free is hard to do — the bills pile up, the rewards are slim and always intangible, and the wear and tear on you and things around you — material, emotional, and so forth — is pretty serious.
And one of the things I had to do was get the fuck away from the computer. Which is hard for me — I really like using the internet and it is always a place I turn to. But the blog, social networks, and related things are not all that exciting when those are the same things that make you tense and stress you out and you need to not be tense and stressed out.
I rarely doubt what my goal is. If I do doubt it, I’m not going to get there. I occasionally doubt how I am getting there. I think about everything, and sometimes I don’t like what I did and that leads me down the usual over thinking path that I tend to be readily committed to.
The last major part of this is that I don’t always have something to say. SOmetimes — and, really, since I started the blog back up — I will come across something that is so egregiously horrible that I just have to say something. And one of the things that did happen this summer was that I got a call from someone in the middle of the night and had to talk them through not killing themselves over something someone said on the internet. Turns out it was over stuff on tumblr, which I wasn’t very familiar with and still barely understand, but I went in there and found something disconcerting and did something about it.
What that was is pretty simple, but in the process, and as I pointed out yesterday, I got into a major fight with people who I had already been half heartedly fighting with. And I brought a few friends with me. I watched as I became the end all and be all of people who are hated.
Other than lawsuit winning people with names like Ida Hammer, who is the target of the moment.
So that took up the time and gave me stuff to write about as well as worked to provide me with more of the energy that I had been lacking — it sparked the fire in the belly again, so to speak, which was useful. I am admittedly a contrary woman, and I enjoy competitive efforts, so it got me going again.
None of those are good reasons when you have people literally counting on you — because all of this happens while I fight to keep open a homeless shelter for trans people and try really hard to provide additional services. I built a decent team of good people, many of whom have since had to leave because this work is exhausting, and we managed to get things like a nurse, a therapist, and even a doctor to help us out with the stuff that trans people think about all the time, but there are deeper things to pay attention to and my goal is to help people be who they are, not merely to get through the process of transitioning there.
And of late, everything I do is at risk, because I need to get my ass back in gear and ask for donations.
2. Why are you picking on the radfems of late?
Because they are picking on trans people. Well, more accurately, more than is normal for them. Egged on by a particular person, and thanks in part to the poor choices of metaphor for a very real problem that has been carefully and, I am sad to note, successfully reframed to piss them off.
And in part, it was the reframing of that issue that I felt a need to counteract and reveal for the deception it is because many trans people were falling for the deception, instead of standing up to it.
Plus, trans people are often overly defensive about themselves, because, well, usually the ones they go after are those who are in transition, caught in the middle of it, and that is a period where much of one’s sense of self is in flux, is subject to the vagaries of internalized stigma that is easily brought up, and readily hurt by even simple attacks.
My job is, generally speaking, to make it easier for trans people, so I have to put effort into changing that.
I also received several emails asking me to step in — some folks recall my efforts a long time ago standing toe to toe with some of the nastiest of people, where I tended to be immovable and intractable, and generally took apart their arguments quickly and simply.
That is, I am a gunslinger of sorts. People bring me into flame wars and I do what I have to do to quiet things down from a conflagration to a dull roar. Because I can take the hits that are dished out at me.
And generally speaking, I have a broader grasp of things than most of these people do. So it gives me the ability to use their own ignorance and their own words against them.
The important thing, however, is that the arguments they use are the same sort that trans people commonly encounter, and so when people see that I am not phased by any of those things, they start to see that they don’t need to be phased by any of them, and so they start to become less intimidated by them.
It doesn’t always work, but it works often enough.
3. You disappeared — what happened?
I am a trans person. I work about 100 hours a week on various stuff relating to trans people, so all the crap and stuff is always with me. Plus, I do it for free. This is not very conducive to certain very real needs of mine, that impact on my personal life, being met or taken care of. On occasion, this gets to me. It causes me to enter a depression, and depressions are funny things. They sneak up on you, and they grab you by the collar and they haul your unhappy ass off to whatever fresh state of misery is waiting for you.
And it takes a lot to get out of it.
As of Saturday the 6th, I am “officially” out of my depression, but the aftereffects are still there. This particular time it was burnout.
Fiery burnout, for me, and there was a point where I had basically decided that I wasn’t going to do what I have been doing anymore. The only reason I am still doing it — and why I spent the day at a festival here in Phoenix called Rainbows Festival manning a Booth for This Is HOW — is because I made an oath to a woman who saved my life, and I had almost forgotten that oath.
Somehow, I recalled it, and managed a crawl back to a place that’s pretty good. The posts I’ve been making here have been helping with that, as I noted earlier — sometimes to get the fires of passion going, I have to go and catch a spark from somewhere else. So, in a very real way that bring a wry smile to my face as I write this, the reason I am able to be back is in no small part because I’ve been engaging people who are complete and total assholes.
As I had to explain today, I crawled under a rock this past several months. Starting in Early July, and following an intensely busy period, I fell apart and in what is easily the worst such collapse in 20 years for me, I didn’t want to do any of the stuff I’ve been doing.
I have often noted that I am not an activist entirely by choice. My personal goals for myself are relatively simple: I want to open up a little Inn — think bed and breakfast except I don’t do mornings so it’ll be a lunch and dinner and bed place. Or, if you want to really get a better idea, think of those “fantasy” inns with a great hall that everyone goes to and that has a large bar and a nice hearth and all the rest, and that allows travelers to stay there. Mine will include some lush gardens with lots of private get away places.
That’s my goal. That’s where I am headed, even if I take a very winding and odd path to get there. And off to the side of it will be a small cottage where I and a collection of poodles and probably a few cats will reside and enjoy the fun that I see in all of that stuff and occasionally write a few articles or some such.
A quiet life, for certain, full of the mundane and dreary crap of dealing with guests and employees and all the rest, but there isn’t much in the way of activism or such there. Ad that’s been my goal for a long while. Its planned out, will not be cheap, and there is a thing about it that I haven’t talked about openly that often (it is meant to be very much an escape from this world, in a peculiar way).
That’s where I am headed. But, right now, I have a mission to accomplish — it is well defined and easily reached, and I’m actually retty close, even if at times I wonder if I can do it.
I can, but knowing that doesn’t always stop me from wondering. I’m far too strange for that.
But activism, be it political or social service based, is draining. It is tiring. It cannot be done online, either — something I resisted for a long, long time, because I felt that if I could reach just one person, I was doing something.
This site, and these posts, are often where I work out things — and this is why I have so many referential and parenthetical statements — I write stream of consciousness for the most part, and what comes out is often pretty much how I think. What I write is very closely related to how I think — there are fewer intermediaries.
On the other hand, I am most certainly back to form now. And I plan to do something about that. My posts may be infrequent, but I am still writing, and it is a matter of seeing something that piques my desire to say something about. The Kosilek case is an example.
I am watching it with one eye, and to be perfectly honest I’m pleased that the state chose to appeal the decision. Not because I think that surgery is not supposed to be available, but because of the entire thing about how we treat people in prison.
And I would like to see how this goes forward. I note, for example, that many of the arguments around the case center on the use of tax dollars for things. As a legal argument, its hollow and vapid. I’m fairly certain that many people who would use that argument think it fairly reasonable to just toss these horrible criminals behind thick walls armed with mean guards armed with automatic rifles and let them fend for themselves.
Those people are thinking they could never end up there, and those people are not thinking about the higher and some say nobler qualities of what makes us Americans.
Or Usians, if you prefer.
4. Where do you get your ideas for what you write?
I read a great deal, and I pay attention to things going on around me. I get ideas for posts based mostly on the stuff that I see from other people that I think about. Since issues relating to ciscentric stuff are on my mind of late, I tend to see that stuff more readily, and since I finished the book and set it aside, I still have a lot of the full range of things I covered there in my head.
It makes for a fascinating melange of ideas and only occasionally does something help me to sharpen those thoughts into something more concrete.
5. What was your birth name?
Antonia Elle D’orsay. Says so on my birth certificate.
And that’s enough for now. Not a lot of really exciting stuff this post. I’m staring at a laser printer right now that needs 300 dollars worth of ink and supplies (for a crap load of pages, mind you, that are far far cheaper to print than any inkjet) and I need it to not need those things right now as I have to print out brochures and flyers and resource guides and more, for the AM, since I will once again be at the festival manning our booth today.
And then Monday I have phone calls, emails, and work to do.
Expect to see me talk about what is important to me, and why what I’m doing matters far more than online stuff soon…