The mascot of Prism*Song

Monday, April 29, 2013

Generation Fade

Generation Fade
I suppose as I sit and write this there is a moment where I wonder if this is going to be heard at all. Or largely ignored, maybe it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things, but to me I think it’s important that we read this and understand something. Critiquing something doesn’t mean you hate it. In fact it sometimes can be an act of love. This is not a protest or an ultimatum. This is my observations and what I think might be best for the Central Ohio/OSU chapter of ASAN.

It occurs to me now, why I feel so ignored by a bunch of privileged academics in offices making choices for the National branch. It is the same feeling I get when I am ignored by a population or excluded. It’s the feeling of alienation and for an organization that has been alienated and ignored by the greater typical population, it feels ironic.  This alienation comes from not following the party line. Not actively protesting against AutSpks, or having a taupe or grey ribbon. Makes you somehow invisible, if you don’t dump your resources into traumatic emotionally exhausting protests in which we feel like we have been eviscerated in front thousands of parents. This is what has being going on with ASAN Columbus and myself. We’re being divorced by National.

Our Lead said it last night “We’re already considered a rogue chapter” during the meeting we had last night. It’s pretty much true, we’re not following the party line and we have bigger and more pressing fish to catch. Like employment, and education and health resources. We have to worry about the next generation and what they are going to inherit when we become ash and bone. Do they want a protest group against AutSpks or an organization that will help them keep their heads above water? Most of us are drowning. Autistics are going hungry, they are getting abused by caregivers, locked in institutions, imprisoned, sexually assaulted, abandoned and they only thing we are doing to help our brothers and sisters, is protesting against a bigger organization with deeper pockets and more resources. We’re fighting against a kraken with a rowboat and no one seems to question it. 

I will say though before anyone judges me, that I am against AutSpks, I think it’s horrible, but I know better. You need to reach people one at a time; you need to educate, friends, family and coworkers. You can’t assume that your pamphlets and flyers are enough; you need to sit down with them and one at a time make them see the damage. We’re already seen by the majority as that ‘militant autism group’, we shouldn’t have that reputation. But we do. It’s that reputation is why I never came out as an activist to my coworkers until recently. I don’t want to make enemies. I still don’t, but I guess this will make few now. Might as well put on my pirate hat and charge forward. 

Now I have been personally slighted. I have worked with National to make tools for the majority of autistics out there. I enjoyed it and I was looking forward to the next project. So imagine my surprise when the next tool came out (which I saw on tumblr) and it was about a topic I had a lot of interested in. So I was hurt and in pain and angry about being excluded more so because the one in charge was Mel Yergue. So Brutus shoves the dagger a bit deeper. When I asked for an explanation on why on Facebook, I get no response, I call Em Titon and we have a heart to heart. Then she drops a bomb, ASAN did see my call-out. But they though it was a suicide message, she told me that they were going to have folks call or message me to make sure I was alright. She was the only that reached out to me. No one else did. I guess they were too busy protesting to care. It’s really sad and really angering at the same time. Because even if I did overdose on tequila and Percocet they probably wouldn’t have noticed my bloated rotting ass in the bathtub until some someone mentions it on Tumblr or Facebook. If I am lucky, you guys suck at ‘suicide watch’ bytheway. 

I don’t regret anything that I am writing; I don’t regret getting a target on my ass. I don’t care, because I don’t think anyone will notice or respond to me.  They haven’t so far so why would they start now. But I will say this to all the baby activists out there, just know what you want from your work; know what you hope to achieve. Don’t join a group thinking that they will always support you. Because when you don’t follow their modus operands they will throw you away. I am nothing to this group, I have been for five years, I don’t know what they want from me or what I can do, but at this point I am getting on my Viking longshot and braving new lands without the Jarl’s support.
One more thing, I am not ‘quitting’ ASAN, but at this rate it will be soon when I am done affiliating with them.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Looking at Monsters

The narrative I hear from trans* people the most is that they are often aware of their dysphoria at an early age. That they always knew that they were in the wrong body from the very start, sometimes I hear different narratives how they recognize their dysphoria later and then started transitioning. Or they always were aware but didn’t transition until much later. There are different reasons and different stories. Each unique as the person.

Mine doesn’t seem to follow the script though. I never been aware of my dysphoria, or saw it until a few years ago. It was muddled, mixed in with the feelings of alienation, isolation and othering I got as an autist. The feeling of being in the wrong body never was present, because my body was always a foreign thing to me. It was hard to understand the nature of it and recognize much of it. I guess this doesn’t make sense to some readers so let me try to clarify. 

I never noticed I had gait problems until someone actually pointed out, I never felt the dysphoria of my period because barely noticed it. I never notice that I was hungry or that I was suffering exhaustion until I was older and even now I still have trouble feeling hungry. Or thirsty, the only thing that I am pretty aware of was the need to pee and only that because it was drilled into me through toilet training. So I was made to recognize that feeling. The others come and go and sometimes I am aware of it, sometimes I am not. It’s hit and miss.

Because that, my dysphoria was incredibly hard to pin point. It was like an angry ghost that haunts me only when my back is turn. I never saw its face. As a child, I grew up being presented as female and I identified it as such growing up. It was a combination of lack of body awareness and being socially blindsided. I did stereotypical female things not because I wanted too, but because I was conditioned too. It was expected of me to wear dresses, to wear make-up and to be interested in boys. Most of those were genuine interests but they were also mixed into the idea that I had to follow through with them because of social obligations. One of the reasons I had a hard time understanding my feelings towards girls I had a crush on, is because I was conditioned to reject these feelings. My therapists didn’t help with that either and it took me years to see that I was in love with one of my best friends. It took me years to unlearn idea that I was obligated to act ‘female’ and present as one. It took me longer to re-understand gender and what gender meant. I think as a small child, I saw myself not as boy or a girl, but rather agender. I was adaptive to whatever social function was there. I played with trucks and dolls and blocks and tea cups. Everything was the same and I was not interested in people as so much the things. I didn’t care about looking ‘pretty’ or looking ‘tomboyish’ I wasn’t aware of looks at all until I was actually in my late teens. So even though I bonded with girls and identified with them, I did the same with the Sander boys and my friends in Kindergarten. I was a girl, I was a boy, I was both and I was neither. Gender, was a nothing word. Still though, despite being agender (sort of) I found myself more drawn to being a boy and that desire. I wanted to be a boy, I should have been a boy and so the first heartbeat of dysphoria emerged. It was squashed however through my parents and through the idea, that because of my sex I have to be of that gender. 

So as puberty emerged I found myself looking at gender. I went with what I was told to go with. I was a girl I was female. But for some reason at fifteen, that wasn’t fitting right. I ignored it as that feeling of ‘other’ was probably something else and at that age I found the Otherkin community and I latched on to it. It was there I probably reattached my frustration of something is wrong onto the idea that I was a therian or and animal trapped in a person’s body. It sounded delusional, but for some reason it made sense. I think it was first attempt to ignore my dysphoria or rationalize it. It got worse and worse as I got older and fell in love with women and men, to start loathing my breasts and hating my period every month. I was told this was typical, but in my heart this wasn’t normal. At that time, I was dealing with not just my body, but the fact I was neuroatypical and battled with that more than my body. My neurodivergence was a more present thing for me, I barely registered my body most of the time and I never saw the problems I had with it. The monster of gender dysphoria lurked behind my back, and glowered in the closet of my mind. I never opened the door.

 Not until I was 19.When I reached adulthood and gained enough research I actually started to realize that feelings of alienation weren’t just because I was autistic, but gender dysphoria. When I found the term ‘bigender’ I went with it. I started identifying as queer too, because I started to realize I liked girls and boys. But I was using bigender as mask, it wasn’t right label. But I hated the idea that I was trans*. It was a combo of internalize transphobia and the feeling of being alienated again. I was autistic and I suffered enough bullshit because of it. I didn’t want round too. So I ignored the monster in the closet, I paid no attention to the heavy breathing or the growling. At that time I tried to force myself to be more ‘female’. Because I didn’t want to admit that the bigender label wasn’t working. My marriage was failing I wanted to be loved and more and more, the monster roared and screamed. It wasn’t until I wasn’t until recently that the monster threw itself out and dragged me into the dark. In tears and anger at my ex-boyfriend I admitted I was transgender. It hurt like a son of a bitch. 

Now in transition, I recognize the dysphoria and I am starting to fix it. Looking back I noticed the symptoms much like my autism. I saw it in the shadows of my childhood. But years of not knowing my body, or recognizing it, had made my dysphoria a ghost and intangibility. It was hard to deal with it and hard to see it and now that I have, I now feel the anger and pain with my body that I’ve had but ignored. My periods are dysphoric, my breasts are dysphoric and lately vaginal sex is slowly being dysphoric.  Body awareness is a hard thing for an autist, but for me it was vital for me to see my gender problems and I feel it was the root of why it took me a long time to start transitioning and recognize I was trans* 

Maybe other transgender autists might have the same story.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

On Being 'Human'

This is an essay on the character Aya from Green Lantern the Animated Series An essay on Aya and autistic narratives In discussing with Isaia last night I showed her and essay in which I discuss the race of aliens in Mass Effect, the Geth and allegorize them to autistics and autistic narratives. I am sort of going to repeat myself a little bit but I will try to discuss why I connected with Aya as an autist and why writing autistic narratives can be so bizarrely tricky. Aya is by far one of my favorite characters. I haven’t connected to her so strongly since Avatar: TLA with Sokka and Aang. She developed at a pace that wasn’t forced or contrite, nothing about her character seemed like a cliché and everything about her seem to sit with me in way I had trouble describing. I really liked her, a lot.

Being male identified, I had to pick out why I connected to Aya so strongly and why I wanted her to be happy the most. It was when I was running through the blog-gauntlet being ‘Autism Awareness’ month (aka, Month of Hell) and I was busy readying over blogs for my disability activism then it hit. I attached to Aya because she is an autist like me. Now bear with me, this isn’t as crazy as it sounds, nor am I projecting (I might a little), I spent years studying autistic narratives in fiction and analyzing them, I write fictional autistic characters, and I notice things. It was when I had that epiphany I knew I had to talk about it somehow. As I stated previously, Aya was paced well. Meaning her development came organically and unnoticed. You don’t noticed that she was falling in love with Razer because the writers didn’t expose it and learn to show not tell with it. Her evolution of gaining momentum over the course of the season and it was interesting watching her develop. When I realized what she symbolized for me everything seemed to be colored differently. The way she interacted with people, the way she talked, learned reminded me a lot of my own experiences and a few of my peers; to me despite being a robot, she resonated with me how an autistic person should act in fiction or narrative setting. She wasn’t helpless, she wasn’t a permanent child constantly needed the ‘neurotypicals’ to explain things to her, she wasn’t obnoxious, or made to be plot furniture. She was socially clumsy interacting with organics, communicating them had occasional snafus and there were more than one moment in which Hal yells, “Ayaaaaa” in frustration. Yet, she is brilliant, powerful, beautiful, and so wonderful to watch grow up. Watching her interact with Razer was so breathtakingly amazing to see how Aya evolved and became more human. Not by the will of her love interest but by her will and desire. It had nothing to do with Razer but everything about her own agency. And at the same time, I was frustrated. They have made a wonderful autistic narrative, but Aya wasn’t an autistic, but a robot.

Despite autistics being stand-ins for robots in many modern narratives these days. I know Aya wasn’t an inversion and most of my observations could merely be projections of my own want of a clear story of an autist that is not written just for neurotypicals. Not everyone shares my view point on Aya, and I respect that. Aya though is example on how I want autistic narratives to be written. With that same well-paced, organic feel that isn’t full of preconceived notions of what autistic should be or has to be in the eyes of neurotypical society. There was no need for a ‘Velveteen Rabbit’ story for her, meaning in which, a non-human or disabled character is turn normal or human by the loved of another. Usually a male non-human turned human by a female. Aya had her own agency and decision with her own identity. It wasn’t made as I mentioned earlier, for Razer’s benefit. But hers, Razer loved her for her. Not to make her normal or organic but truly accepted her for her. In some way, watching her in pain and anger while she was in Aya-monitor mode, made me both frustrated and in pain with her. I wanted her to be ‘saved’ but because she was hurting so much and I understood the moments of shear cathartic anger and rage at the discrimination that we both endured. I didn’t want her to burn away like I have so many times before. I think the most striking thing about Aya and her narrative, is that emotions and feelings were there and watching her build them to empathize with her human crew and still getting treated like she was soulless machine; was rather heartbreaking. I have experienced that, the idea that as an autist I can’t love, or that love is too complex for me and I lack ‘theory of mind’ to understand love; and its nuances. Watching Aya defy what was expected of her condition was amazing and so beautiful. She did feel and love, and seeing that being told was very rewarding and satisfying.

 It was proof that autistics and robots. Do have souls.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ahh, It's that time of the year again

This is only going to get awkward from here on out. Everyone knows tomorrow is Autism Awareness month. The time of the year I sit on the blogosphere and drink cider and beer until I pass out. I frankly hate autism awareness month because it just a clusterfuck of 'feel-good' matyrism posts, AutSpks propaganda, counter protests from the autistic activists and aspies chiming in with aut-supremicy. Either way you look at it. It's fucking ridic. Dear friends however, please please don't light it up blue this month. I ask of you as your autistic friend. AutSpks does not help autistics they help NT families. Less than 2% of the money they raise goes into community services, most of it goes into 'research' or into the pockets of the board executives. They use propaganda to make us into tragic figures and strip autistics of humanity. They are not a charity. They are a corporation masquerading as a charity. Dear friends if you wish to help autistics and support them. You can donate to these charities. TASH NYLN ASAN These organizations help people with disabilities by supporting inclusion, training and support tools. Please I simply ask my dear friends to research who they are giving their money too. You never know what organization that charity is.