Storify: Queer Coding Characters and Re-Pronouning Historical People

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads. 

This is an opinion piece on how certain trends make me feel. I know not everyone will agree with it and that's okay. I thought about deleting the piece but eventually decided to keep it with this caveat.

One of the things we do need to talk about with this Trans Snape thing (a fan-theory that Snape was secretly a trans woman in the books), and the Gay LeFou in Beauty and the Beast thing is context.

Villains are often feminized and/or queer-coded.

Why? Because queerness and femininity are villainized by the patriarchy.

We have people who don't recognize this pattern picking up on feminine or queer coding in villains and not realizing the harm. A lot of us are starving for rep, but "oh, this villainous person must be queer because of their coding!" probably isn't something to celebrate? More often than not, feminine/queer coding isn't boiled into villains to represent us; it's placed there to villainize us.

I'm...................just a bit tired of this thing where we celebrate villains and forget that they are villains. Ursula from The Little Mermaid is not a Queer Heroine or Fat Goals or whatever. She forcibly transforms innocent people and imprisons them! In a very trans narrative story about a trans girl under the sea, Ursula takes Ariel's voice and changes her body to something she hates and loathes. Snape hurls a racist term at the woman he "loves" when she refuses to be with him, then terrorizes her son and his classmates. He's also an on-again / off-again member of the local magical white supremacist Nazis.

Anyone can like villains (I like villains!), but please recognize that they are villains and that queer-coding them isn't complimentary to us. People like villains because they are interesting and bring conflict into a story, but forgetting they are bad people and tagging them as "life goals!" is just? No, not all trans/queer/feminine characters need to be paragons of virtue. What I am saying is that trans/queer/feminine coding of villains is not representation. It's vilification. Don't expect me to cheer.

WHILE I HAVE YOU HERE: Please do not use pronouns for a canon character (i.e., not a fanfic version of the character) or a real person (dead or alive) that they haven't expressed are correct? Pronouns are not 1-to-1 tied to gender and they're complicated and personal and not something other people get to decide. I've seen people "trans headcanon" dead authors and historical figures and living celebrities, then give them new pronouns. To me, that is very hostile to autonomy.

Names and pronouns are a person's choice. We have to fight so hard for people to use our names and pronouns in our life and again in our death. Having own-side people come along and use different names and pronouns for others without being told to do so? To me, that hurts. I feel it contributes to a culture which imposes names and pronouns onto us instead of letting us decide, as well as suggesting that name- and pronoun-changes are mandatory for transness. Many of us don't change those things!

I know we're desperate for representation and recognition, and I understand and sympathize strongly with the desire to give historical queers the recognition they perhaps felt unsafe seeking in life--plus, there's a very real need to push back against erasure in the cases where we do know names and pronouns but cis people have erased them and refused. But there's a big difference (to me!) between "Hans Christian Andersen might have been transgender if he'd had that framework of words and concepts available to him and felt safe to use them", versus "Hans Christian Andersen described his nature as 'feminine', therefore I'm using she/her pronouns for her going forward." Like. First:

[Quoting @vesaldi] Men can be feminine. Repeat after me. MEN CAN BE FEMININE.

Second, not all trans people walk the same journey. We don't all change names, we don't all change pronouns. That's okay! That's valid! We're still trans even if we use the same names and pronouns all our lives. Transness doesn't require changing those things.

Storify: Disability Access and Pre-Peeled Oranges

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

Peeled Oranges in Plastic Containers: A Disability Product

[Trigger Warnings: Disability, Mention of Partner Abuse and Queer Closeting]

I'd like to talk about disability accessible items. One of the things that we need to establish up-front is that accessibility items pretty much always leave a footprint. Wheelchairs aren't biodegradable. Ramps, canes, grabbers. All of these have an environmental cost.

They also have a production cost. It costs money to produce these. Companies try to expand the sales base to recoup costs. It's at the expansion point-- which often means the difference between profit or not-- that able liberals tend to get involved. In my experience this discussion goes like this:

Step 1: "My god, such waste for lazy people!" the abled people cry. "Why can't they just [walk, peel, wrap up, shower themselves, etc.]

Step 2: A person points out that the item is accessibility product. This is met with sneers. "That's clearly not their intended audience!" the person says, oblivious to the fact that this was a disability product and is at most being expanded to a broader audience in order to recoup costs or draw in a larger demographic of disabled people (many of whom are also elderly).

Step 3: From there, the abled person might concede that accessibility is a nice "side-effect" but that the larger footprint problem is more important. The thing is, these same people aren't going after #WheresRey tags to lecture about the footprint of kids toys. They don't go after people buying plastic Funko Pop dolls. They go after accessibility products.

By continuing to pound on environmental impact for accessibility products, abled folks convey that accessibility is a step too far and costs us too much. Please don't do that? There is plenty of over-consumption for you to focus on! Believe me, you're not about to "run out". Any time you see a "so lazy!" product you want to dig at, 99.9% of the time it's an accessible item for someone. Feel free to go after adults buying novelty R2D2 robots or literally anyone else?

Disabled people get treated as a "burden" enough. It is draining, tiring, painful to continually be treated like a wrongful drain on Mother Earth because we're disabled. In addition to the drain we often feel we are on families, employers, etc. We exist. We take up space. We buy pre-peeled oranges and wear snuggies and those "ugly" plastic shoes and have grabbers to pull up our socks.

TL;DR: Every time you point a finger at a product, you're choosing NOT to point at something else that isn't a disability item. 90% of products by and for able-bodied people are out there for you to point at instead. Go with mother goddess on that

Something else I want to add: accessibility is a feminist issue in more ways than one. Many disabled people feel they have to marry because a live-in caretaker is not-negotiable for us. Many disabled people feel they must stay with an abusive partner/parent because they can't live without a caretaker. Many disabled people feel they must stay closeted about their queerness because they can't lose their caretaker.

Being able to eat an orange or open a jar might not seem much to you, but it can mean the difference between staying with abuse or not, between feeling like you can leave and still take care of yourself. Knowing you can live alone and still eat food is so important. I'm not exaggerating: my abusive [ex-]husband was angry at me when I bought a rubber jar opener. My abuser explicitly accused me of planning to leave him when I bought a jar opener for myself. He knew I was looking for ways to exist without him. So it's not enough to just say that disabled people should "get someone else to peel their oranges" for the good of Mother Earth. We are people and deserve autonomy.

I see people saying "well, they should get an employee to peel it for them!"  That is literally what this is: oranges peeled by employees. Pre-register, because of sanitary reasons. Without being asked, for reasons of convenience (both to the shopper and to the employees). Wanting to force disabled people to seek out someone to peel for them "on demand" costs us time and spoons and is nothing more than puritanical punishment for being disabled.

I'm not asking you to give up environmental justice. I am asking you to aim your efforts at non-accessibility items. Especially not when we're talking about pre-chopped/peeled food.

Cherry on the end of this viral thread: my mom has mild arthritis in her hands. I told her this morning about going viral. Her first words: "Oh, gosh, are those oranges available around here?! I have to ask your father to peel them for me! That would be so much nicer." Yeah, I didn't know that. Wow. So today we learned that even people who feel comfortable with YOUR disability may not talk about their OWN. Respect.

The reason certain liberals scoff at the idea that a store would accommodate us is because they, the liberals never would. "No store would ever sell special goods to the elderly/disabled" tells me that YOU certainly never would. *shrug*

One more piece of context I think people are missing: oranges-in-boxes aren't the only food sold in plastic. Those little plastic food boxes are all over my market. They hold meat, potatoes, salsa, mac'n'cheese, etc. from the service bar.  If you object to the plastic boxes themselves, I question why you started with oranges: the one product only disabled people need, rather than with the products able-bodied people also consume.

Meanwhile, I see no one going after the shelves of the exact same plastic boxes sold with mac'n'cheese. Not that I want people to go after the mac'n'cheese! Do not police food access! But my point is about the focus here. Think, please. Alright. *deep breath* Since I'm now "That Orange Girl", we might as well do this.

Oranges are sold in plastic tubs. Let's talk about the plastic we're not talking about.

Macaroni Salad. Rows and rows at your local WalMart deli.

Guacamole. Sold in tubs, often made on site.

Tofu. Plastic tubs for the plastic god.

Mashed potatoes, in dozens of flavors, all in plastic tubs.

Hummus, credit @DreddByDawn.

Salsa in a plastic tub, often made on site.

Macaroni and cheese, sold in plastic.

French onion dip in plastic, credit @lainasparetime.

Cream cheese spread, credit @lainasparetime.

Nut butters, credit @lainasparetime.

Butter and margarine spreads, credit @lainasparetime.

Fruit in plastic tubs, credit @lainasparetime.

Pulled pork in plastic tubs, credit @lainasparetime.

I could go on for ages! I need you to ask yourself: "why am I agitating for the removal/improvement of oranges and not the rest of these?" If your answer is, as I've seen some say, that disability accommodations are too much for the planet to bear, well, that's ableism. I ask that anyone giving that answer please re-examine whether there's not another way they could reduce waste w/o harming disabled folks.

To sum up: Yes, the oranges are an accessibility item. Most stores with a "deli bar" will package commonly asked-for items to save time. Once the items are already being packaged for, say, elderly customers who asked for peeled oranges, the store doesn't care whether the buyers are "legitimately disabled" or merely "lazy" (or, more likely, short of time for preparation).

A note on the actual oranges used: It's likely that the oranges being selected for peeling were ugly/bruised specimens that wouldn't have been bought anyway. Packaging them meant that they didn't get tossed in the garbage. It's actually good for the environment that these are being sold instead of trashed.

Storify: Why I Don't Call Myself a Trans Woman

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads. 

The context of this thread stems from trans people who were assigned female at birth using the term "trans woman" for themselves. I do not, and here is why.

A thread on why I don't call myself a trans woman, as a trans person who is sometimes a woman. This is an I-statement thread for a reason, because someone asked me about this in DMs. I'm not telling anyone else what to do.

First: Let's talk about how *I* define transness. To me, being trans means being a gender other than the one assigned to me at birth. I was assigned female at birth (AFAB) but it wouldn't be incorrect to say I was assigned "woman" at birth.

My gender is complicated, but I use the terms "genderqueer", "genderfluid", and "demigirl" most often. The "woman" designation I was assigned at birth is wrong. To me, that makes me trans. ("Trans" = other side; "cis" = same side.)

However, my gender is fluid. I'm sometimes a woman (maybe 1 or 2 times a year). Doesn't that make me "trans" + "woman", in a strict sense? Early on in my coming out process, I asked myself that. Then I decided I wasn't the right person for me to ask. I was trans, undeniably, and an expert on my own experiences. I was NOT an expert in community terms and what they mean.

I went to trans women and asked "will I cause you harm if I call myself a trans woman"? Not everyone had the same answer! But enough people said "yes, um, please don't do that?" Terms have connotations and meanings as well as definitions, and the connotation for "trans woman" is "assigned male at birth" even if that's not part of the "trans" + "woman" construction.

Language is hard. The ultimate goal of language is to communicate. So even though I'm trans and sometimes a woman, I don't use that community term out of respect to people more marginalized to me, because "trans woman" means--to most people--someone who was assigned male at birth. I am trans and I am very rarely a woman, but I was never assigned male at birth.

Related: Even though I'm nonbinary and I could abbreviate as "NB", I don't use it out of respect to Black women who coined that term for "non-Black". I use "enby" (a word we coined to not steal Black women's labor) and "genderfluid" or "demigirl". Does "enby demigirl" make some people dismiss me as twee? Probably. Does it mean I'm not hurting Black women and trans women? Yes. Are terms and labels easy and clean and everyone agrees on them? NO.

Community terms will never be 100% harmless. Community terms will NEVER be 100% agreed-upon. I've mentioned this before, but "crip" is a triggery slur for me. The disabled community uses it to organize, so I deal. Would I prefer we pick a different term? Yes. Do I do the work to normalize other terms? Yes. Is everyone who uses the word wrong? NO.

But. Back to the topic of AFAB people using "trans women" as a self-label, I will say: it was not hard for me to ask. Why is it too hard for other AFAB people to ask trans women, to make room for their voices? That is all I have to say on that topic.

Storify: Why I use Enby and not NB

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

"Enby" is a vocalized word for "NB", which is short for "nonbinary" gender.

I use "enby" because "NB" already means several things, including "non-black" as in NBPOC ("non-black people of color). This is a term created by Black activists online and one which I was specifically asked not to co-opt as a white nonbinary person. People ask me a lot about the term, so here's a rundown.

Language evolves fast online and I'm not an authority on any of this, but this is how I experienced this particular evolution. "NB" as in non-Black, as in NBPOC ("non-black people of color) is a term that was coined by Black women activists. Here is a good article that uses the term and explains why it's important: Non-Black People Of Color Perpetuate Anti-Blackness Too. Here's the opening paragraph in case you can't/don't want to click over:

"In social justice spaces, online and college campuses alike - Non-Black People of Color (NBPOC) use the words, us, we and the acronym “POC” when discussing issues that pertain to or disproportionately impact Black people. This may be their well-intentioned way of proclaiming solidarity, but when one begins to equate their experience with the Black struggle it ignores the peculiar plight of Black people in America."

So "NB" (non-Black) refers to non-Black people, it is a term originated by Black Americans to talk about racism.

When I became involved in the nonbinary community, we began using "NB" for ourselves. Some Black people and NBPOC asked us to reconsider. There is a tendency in social justice spaces for white-defined terms to dominate the discourse. If we continued to use "nb" for ourselves, people would start reading "NBPOC" as nonbinary people of color (who also exist!).

"Enby" was created to avoid using NB. It is, in my mind, a successful example of white people agreeing not to appropriate Black language. It wasn't "cutesy". I understand it reads as "cutesy" to some people now, but I am frankly proud of the fact that white people listened. Low allyship bar met!

So while I think there's still room to discuss this in the community, I think it's more important to not steal Black activists' terms. That is why I use "enby" as an umbrella term and try to avoid using "NB" for nonbinary unless it's absolutely necessary.

If I say "enby" and someone doesn't feel that applies to them, that's fine. I'm talking about enbys, not everyone on earth. :)

Storify: Daughters of Witches

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

Alright, we're going to have a thread about historical witch-hunts and TERFs co-opting the term.

First: I'm am a witch.

Second: Witch-hunts were my area of expertise in college when I was a history major.

Third: I'm trans.

Let's start by laying down some basics: witch-hunts were many and varied. We can talk about general trends only, which is what I'm doing.

As a general trend, witch-hunts led by authorities targeted subversive elements of society which threatened the ruling patriarchy. Here you have your religious suppression (Catholics against Protestants, and vice versa; Christians against anything not Christian; etc.), and your government sponsored ethnic cleanings (here largely European against anyone Jewish, Romani, and/or brown).

Therefore your government-led witch-hunts were largely about entrenching what we'd recognize now as white supremacy. Since TERF ideology is inherently one of preserving white supremacy by denying intersections of marginalization, theyd be onboard with this.

Community-led witch-hunts are what we tend to find more interesting; they were smaller and easier to get our heads around. (There was almost always overlap between community-led and government-led hunts, but I'm broadly laying out some buckets. Government-led here referring to larger scale stuff like Inquisitions; community-led being smaller and more Salemesque.)

Community-led witch-hunts tended to be about weeding "undesirables" from the local populace. They targeted poor people (particularly ones who weren't gracious about being poor), elderly women disconnected from community, widows who had money and refused to remarry (thereby "keeping" money from local men), women with too many noisy children, etc. The point of these "hunts" were to weed out members of local society who were unliked, odd, poor, or otherwise made people uncomfortable.

The Hollywood image of the Beautiful Witch--pretty, virginal, young, sexy, clean, and all her teeth attached--is a nice fiction. A woman like that led to the stake must've made someone in power VERY uncomfortable, like a rape accusation. Happened! Not the rule, though. You'd more likely see an elderly confused woman with eyes narrowed from bad eyesight and toothless. A "drain" on the community.

In short: community witch-hunts were about targeting the powerless. The more powerless the better

Trans women and trans people absolutely would be burned in this analogy. TERFs would absolutely be on the side lighting torches. TERFs want to play this persecution fantasy where they're the Lone Sensible Voice In The Wilderness while they write Guardian articles. But it's pure cosplay. They're NOT lone marginalized voices. They're paid very well to harm trans people for a living. Trans women are killed for being trans women in huge numbers. TERFs aren't killed for being TERFs, even as they whip up violent sentiment.

As a trans witch, I take issue with the thoughtless use of witch history by exclusionary feminists. To wit: If you're rocking "we are the daughters of witches you failed to burn" shirt, your feminism had better be inclusive.

(The "failed to burn" bit nags me as a historian, because most witches had children & grandchildren and weren't the Hollywood Virgin, but.)

Witches were the poor, the brown, the downtrodden, the disabled, the trans. If you exclude them from your feminism? You're not a witch. If your "feminism" isn't intersectional, you're not a spiritual descendent of witches; you're a witch-hunter. History will not remember you kindly, nor should it.
Final historical note: This was a thread about historical trends, not an attempt to define every witch-hunt victim ever.

Final religious note: Modern religious witchery (including Wicca and neo-paganism) has NOT had a stellar track-record re: trans inclusion. When I first came to Wicca, it was openly known to have huge pockets of community hostility towards trans people. There was a lot of bioessentialist grossness about uteruses & period blood & moon magic & the goddess being an asshat about trans folk. A lot of folks, myself included, worked really hard to root that shit out and shut it down. I think our community is much better now. But we need to be vigilant to make sure that bigotry doesn't creep back in. There are *reasons* why my portrayals of Artemis are always explicitly trans-inclusive. My Artemis recognizes trans women as women and nonbinary folk as valid.

Witch-hunts can be a powerful metaphor when used properly and when we remember that they're about the powerful hurting the powerless. But it is important to remember that "powerless" includes trans people, disabled people, fat people, brown people, poor people, etc. TERF ideology rejects intersectional study by making "has uterus, y/n" the *only* determinating factor of marginalization. Which is particularly hilarious/frustrating in the context of MANY witches being elderly women past menopause. You cannot argue the ability to bear children is the ONLY source of marginalization when communities weeded out infertile women as useless.

TERFs argue that infertile and menopausal women are part of the patriarchy because otherwise a working womb isn't the only marginalization. But once you allow for differing sources of marginalization (and conversely of privilege), they'd have to confront their white privilege. If women can be complicit in the oppression of others, if women can beneficiaries of privilege, then they have to face criticism head-on. And that's why most TERFs tend to be white upper-class British / New England women: the ideology absolves them of complicity in oppression.

Note, too, that for all that TERFs want to ignore trans men, trans men break all this TERF shit with their existence. Because if trans men experience violence directed at "women", then now privilege is even MORE conditional and not divinely granted by god. So TERFs exclude trans women and deny the existence of trans men all to shield themselves from any accusation of privilege, then adopt the language of the marginalized ("witches") to hide the fact that they're privileged and scrambling to KEEP their privileges.

Storify: "Girl in Boy Clothes" Tropes

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

Okay, so I went and had a thought about it and I want to do a thread about "girl dresses up as a boy" tropes in books. This is a very controversial subject with a lot of potential for hurting trans people, AND I AM ONLY ONE TRANS ENBY. Clear? Please please please do not take anything I say here as The Trans Community's Take on this trope. These are my feelings, that's it. Ok?

Let's lay down some basics first.

1. Clothing shouldn't have gender, imo. The fact that societies link clothing with gender hurts a lot of folks. But many do so. What's more, many of us absorb that linkage in ways that aren't necessarily hurtful. Fluid people may dress differently w/their gender, etc.

2. Clothing doesn't make the person wearing it a certain gender. To strongly link "X clothing gives Y gender" hurts many trans people. At the same time, clothing can be gender-affirming for many trans people and can often play a role in our social transition.

3. Combining "disguise" tropes with "gender" tropes can harm trans people because we're viewed as "fooling" people with our dress. At the same time, we are familiar with the "disguising" effects of clothes, when we talk about going stealthy girl mode around family, etc.

*peers back up at tweets* So wow, already we see that clothes and gender and disguises are all pretty fraught and you want to step w/care. So into this mix, let's take a trope older than Shakespeare: a girl dresses up as a boy to get shit done.

This is an actual historical thing that happened: girls did this thing. (Some of them might not have been cis, but some were.) This can also be an empowering thing in societies where there's a strong power imbalance between girls and boys. This can also be a form of gender exploration: there's a reason Disney's Mulan movie is so powerful for so many enbys and trans boys, etc.

So I am not going to say "don't do 'girl dresses up as boy' tropes" because history and feminism and gender exploration. But. Let's talk about a couple things.

First big one: Does anyone "discover" the girl is a girl under those boy clothes? Those "discovery" scenes can be VERY harmful to trans people. Both from a triggering perspective and an invalidation of our genders. If the girl in boys' clothes is a girl, she's a girl BECAUSE SHE'S A GIRL. Not because of her body configuration. Glimpses of body parts that "prove" her girlness hurt us and (wrongly) affirm that being a girl is meeting a body type quota.

So if you're writing people being suspicious of her for her soft voice or smooth neck or wide eyes or "discovering" her breasts, etc. = NO. I mean, you can do it, I can't stop you, but I'm going to stay far away from that book and so will a lot of other trans folk. For safety. If someone needs to "find out" the girl is a girl, consider having her tell them. And then consider them NOT "not surprised because XYZ".

For clarity, the above tweet means to avoid things like "I'm not surprised you're a girl because your hands are so tiny" or "I'm not surprised to learn this because you're so gentle" or whatever: these are what I call 'gender detectives'. Finding out someone is not the gender you believed them to be (because you believed them when they said they were that gender) can be surprising! Let your characters be surprised. They can be surprised and still accept the protagonist's gender. Surprise and acceptance aren't either/or states of being. "Gender Detectives" hurt us. Show us folks who didn't spend a chunk of their free time speculating whether the heroine's gender was a lie.

That's the big one, okay. The "reveal". Reveals can hurt us a LOT and it's hard to gather up all the reasons why into one thread. You want to convey:

- Good people believe other's genders and don't play "detective".
- Gender isn't body parts.
- Coming out is a choice.

The doctor in Mulan is the WORST and should've kept his mouth shut. If you're going to have a doctor, make them ethical. PLEASE. There are few things more dangerous for a lot of us than being outed against our will. It is NOT a romantic, reliefy moment.

The second thing to think about when writing a "girl in boys clothes" trope is whether you're subtly suggesting that clothes convey gender. This is a tricky one because men's clothes in many societies ARE more comfortable and better made and more designed for confidence/action. So it's hard to tell if a girl feels better/stronger/more-confident/more-powerful/etc in the clothes because they're better made, or because she's maybe trans and exploring her gender, OR if the author thinks being in boy clothes makes you "boyish" by magic.

The good news here is that you have an entire book's worth of words to explore why the protagonist likes these clothes better, if she does! But put some thought into exploring clearly and not just having a girl become, for all intents and purposes, A Boy when she wears a boy hat.

To wrap up this thread because I think that's all I wanted to say for now: I don't think "girl dresses up as boy" tropes are inherently bad. I even think they can be powerful and affirming for AFAB trans people sometimes! BUT. Please be really careful how you deploy that trope and *especially* be careful around any outing/discovery scenes. Because those can hurt not just your character, but also your reader.

Addition after watching the 2009 live-action, non-Disney-version Mulan: I loved the live-action 2009 Mulan so much, y'all.

1, she starts out already a badass at fighting because she's had an interest in it from childhood and protects her friends. So there's not a dynamic of "weak woman learns to get strong and manly". She just IS STRONG already.

2, there's no "dressing for war" sequence in which she puts away her girly clothes/hairstyle/makeup. She just rides away from home with her hair up and in armor. She looks the EXACT SAME as before, and it's FINE.

3, there's a very brief "learn to be manly" bit from a childhood friend who advises her to laugh less often, but it's not packed with toxic masculinity tropes about MEN BEING MANLY. It's brief & comical, and you can easily read the friend as being silly / worrying too much.

4, Nobody at camp "gender detectives" her. And again, she looks the exact same as before. She changes NOTHING about her appearance before going off to war. Gender is presented as cultural and a function of what people "expect" to see. (Here noting that this is a Chinese movie and I'm a white American so there's probably all kinds of nuance about clothing and appearance that I missed, so take all this with a boatload of salt, but I can only talk about what I saw/see and add caveats like this one.)

5, There's exactly one "discovery" scene where Mulan is undressed in a pool and another person realizes that the person they can't see clearly or identify by sight is apparently a woman fearing being outed. That dude then religiously keeps her secret and is her ally.

6, Every other time in the movie when Mulan "comes out" to someone as a woman, it is on her terms, with her words, and because she wants to. Each time, people react with respect and affirmation.

7, People who liked her when she was a "boy" (in all senses of the word 'like' here) feel the same about her when she comes out as a girl. There's no condemnation, no revulsion. There's also no "oh now she's HOT" or that gross trope of "thank god I'm not gay". Yes, I am subtweeting the Disney movie a LOT here because while I LOVE IT, it's painful for me to watch because there's a LOT of toxicity in it re: manliness and heterosexuality and transphobia.

The 2009 live-action is SO much better on these fronts, imo.

8, there is another woman in the movie who is very feminine. Mulan instantly identifies her as having common interests, comes out to her, and they save the day with subterfuge, violence, and diplomacy. IT'S AWESOME.

9, at the end of the movie, Mulan comes out to the Emperor. I'm still crying over that scene. It's so good. It just is.

10, the movie really touchingly deals with the horrors of war and of losing friends and, ya'll, it is not a HAPPY movie but it is a GOOD one. And I really really think they treated the "girl dresses up as boy" trope as good as it can be done. I was impressed. I felt validated. Do that.

Storify: Transgender Terminology

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

A brief thread on transgender terminology for 2017.

• "Trans" is short for "transgender". Both words are adjectives, not nouns or verbs.

• I am a trans person. (Adjective, good.) I am not "a trans". (Noun, bad.) I did not "trans myself". (Verb, bad.)

• "Transgender" is one word, no hyphen. "Trans-gender" is wrong. Do not use.

• Common mistakes to avoid: "Transgenders" "Transgendered" "Trans-gender" "Trans gender" "Transgendering"

• Place a space between an adjective and its modifying noun. Trans woman, not transwoman. Brunette woman, not brunettewoman.

• The umbrella of trans people includes trans people of "binary" genders (trans women and trans men) and trans people of "nonbinary" genders.

• "Nonbinary" in an umbrella term for a variety of genders (and lack thereof) which are not the usual binary "man" and "woman" choices.

• "Nonbinary" is NOT the same as "genderfluid" or "androgynous" or really almost any other word you might be tempted to substitute in. I have recently seen a cis person use "genderfluid" to mean "nonbinary". Those words are not synonyms.

• "[Noun] is [adjective]" is a valid construction in English. "Ana is trans" is a correct statement.

• Transgender is not a thing that is separate from men and women. "Men, women, and trans people welcome!" is wrong. "Men" is a set that includes cis men and trans men. "Women" is a set that includes cis women and trans women.

• If you want to use that basic construction then "men, women, and nonbinary people welcome!" would be accurate, but be sure to make very clear that you are trans-inclusive of trans men and trans women and aren't lumping them into nonbinary.

Lastly: It is always okay to ask me these things. I give permission. You aren't born knowing these words (no one is!) and while you shouldn't dump questions on the nearest trans person, I do field questions. If you prefer to DM me because of privacy concerns or just fear of looking silly/wrong, I understand and it's fine. I'll answer when I can.

Storify: Intrusive Thoughts

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

Let's do a thread on a thing I don't see talked about on here much: Intrusive Thoughts. A wiki link first and the standard disclaimer that I'm talking about personal experience. I'm not a doctor.

I've had intrusive thoughts for years, without knowing they were a Medical Condition. I thought I was 'crazy' or broken. Intrusive thoughts are associated with OCD, PTSD, and ADHD (and other things!), all of which I have. When I first saw someone use the term on a forum, I actually wept with relief to realize the thing I did had a name. It wasn't just me.

So how do intrusive thoughts manifest for me? Some examples.

When I'm riding in a car, I have repeated visions of rolling the window down and throwing my cellphone out onto the highway. These mental images are incredibly distressing to me, and are accompanied by a fear that the images will escalate to a compulsion. I don't want to throw my phone away! I'm terrified that I'll feel compelled to do so. The images replay over and over.

When I talk to friends, sometimes I'll be seized with images of me saying incredibly damaging things to them and ruining our friendship. They'll be talking and my brain will loop a clip of me saying something unforgivable, right then and there, destroying our relationship. At work, I'll have similar thoughts when someone talks to me, but it'll be of me saying something that would definitely get me fired.

These aren't things I want to do. They're not even reasonable fears of "I might mess up" in a vague way. They're very specific mental images of me saying (or doing) very specific things that I would never say to another human being. Variations on these images can include physical violence towards people I don't feel negative emotion towards. A face slap, a phone break. Picking up a glass of water and pouring it over someone's keyboard while they talk. Over and over and over.

The more the image plays, the more agitated and fearful I become. The more agitated I am, the more the image plays. I spent years thinking I was a danger to myself and others because of these weird thoughts. I didn't realize they were a known condition! Knowing that for the last few years has helped a lot. When I get the images, I know now they're not a compulsion for me. I still don't like them, but I don't fight them. I'm just "hello, intrusive thoughts" and then try to excuse myself to go to the bathroom.

So maybe that will help you too! Intrusive thoughts aren't your "deepest, realest desires". They're just your brain being silly at you. Books and movies kinda messed me up in that regard, making me think that deep desires manifest that way to be extracted by magic or science. But no. Intrusive thoughts aren't some meaningful glimpse at your truest, evilest form. They're just brain farts, and I'm sorry.

[TW] I should also note that intrusive thoughts can dovetail with self-harm ideation and it's sometimes hard for me to separate the two. So none of this means you can't or shouldn't reach out for help if you're seeing something scary. Help is a good thing. But it can help me to know that just because I have a repeated mental image, it doesn't mean I "want" that to happen.

Nobody knows exactly why intrusive thoughts happen, but my pet theory is that your brain is trying to help? My brain is thinking "What's the one thing I absolutely shouldn't say/do right now? This! Avoid say/doing this!" THANKS BRAIN. THANKS.

Brain: "No problem! I'll just keep replaying on a loop the thing we shouldn't do/say! For safety!"

Th-thank you, brain.

Open Thread: Black Panther

This is a place to discuss the movie Black Panther, including spoilers (without need for ROT 13 Cthulhu summoning.)

Unfortunately the "Current Comments" feature removes whitespace so, to avoid spoilers appearing there, please use some space for non-spoiler comments or just start your comment with some nonsense.

Example nonsense:
[nonsense] Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, id soleat doctus sit, cum te erant omnium. Invidunt periculis at cum, eos diam vivendum no, ea qui vivendum legendos. Verterem similique ut pri, iisque prodesset voluptaria no nam. Eos esse mollis et, mei no putent utamur praesent, nec ex solum saperet. No has soluta molestie.[/nonsense]

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Falling Water

Taken at Spot Pond Brook.  There's stuff to see there.  Water, strange weathering patterns on rocks, an old foundation or two, some shelters made of fallen logs and branches, ambiguous trail labeling, so forth.  All good things.


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Minor Characters

This is the best tweet thread I will ever host, and I wanted to share it here, so I am:

If you were a brief minor character in a novel, what would you want to be?

I'd want to be the mildly eccentric well-off person who gives the heroes bath and bed and board when they most need it and everyone else has turned on them in their time of need.

Click through and read the responses if you have time; they're amazing and so good.

Open Thread: Station Dog

Walter here was significantly more floofy than usual when I was last at his bus station.  Thus I give you a picture of an unusually floofy station dog.


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Narnia: Calormene Poetry

[Narnia Content Note: Racism]

Narnia Recap: King Lune is judging Rabadash. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 15: Rabadash the Ridiculous

As we wind our way down to the end of this chapter and book, I want to thank you all for your amazing comments. This deconstruction would not be the same without you: the fix-fic that brings tears to my eyes, the folks pointing out plot-holes and world-building fails that I miss and which make the entire book seem utterly impossible on the face of everything else, even the "ARGH WHAT IS THIS" keyboard smash comments are precious to me.

Two comments in particular have stuck with me in the last couple of posts. One, from QG notes the sheer weird disconnection between Archenland and Calormen, and indeed between Lune and Rabadash who ought to know each other better than this scene provides. The second, from Anton Mates regarding how Aslan's "judgment" will only serve to entrench religious hostilities between the Aslan and Tash factions in this world.

Open Thread: Hat on a Porcupine

My hat, munchkin weasel's porcupine, taken at Arisia.


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Snow + Gravity

In fact it was more of:
Take glass
Add Snow
Place mixture in excessive wind
Remove wind and let sit in a gravitational field
But it's the gravity caused sag in the snow pattern that makes the picture interesting, thus I didn't see the need to place the full recipe in the open thread title.


It is unclear if it serves any purpose --especially since the most recent comment (which the spamtrap wrongfully ate, though it has been restored now) was someone asking if the thread was still alive almost a fortnight ago-- but we do, in fact, have a special open thread set aside for discussion of The Last Jedi.


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Writings: Accidental Hero

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.

[TW: Tight Spaces. BoTW Spoilers.]

I've been playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the because it helps manage my winter depression. In the game, the player wakes up from fantasy cryo-stasis as Link with no memory of the past. It will later turn out that you are the Chosen Hero who has been asleep one hundred years healing up from a climactic boss battle which went very badly. Zelda ordered you crammed into cryo-stasis and went to go hit "pause" on the boss battle until you could come back and finish the job a century later.

You don't know all this at first. An elderly man asks you to do him a favor and raid a nearby shrine for treasure, which seems easy enough. Yet when you get there, the desiccated monk mummy waiting for you at the heart of the shrine congratulates you for getting this far, shoves a fragment of spiritual power into your body, and then disintegrates.

The first time this happened to me in-game, I freaked out in a massive panic because, well, what if I'm not up to the job? What if I get killed and we need a new hero? My replacement won't be able to get spiritual energy from this monk because the monk blew away as so much dust. That's a lot of pressure to be perfect, let me tell you!

I couldn't put the idea down and ended up writing this fic of a trans man adventurer who breaks into one of these shrines thirty years before the hero is supposed to awaken and accidentally blunders his way into Chosen Hero status--not because he's the right person or because he wanted to be a hero at all, but because he's now the only eligible candidate who can collect all the orbs.