16 November, 2007

Mo Co Fo Sho

In this blog, I have made it a policy not to discuss my views on homosexuality, gay rights, queer theory, etc... I don't exactly hide the fact that I am a lesbian (if you've ever met me in person you'll know that I'm actually exceedingly open about the fact), but I do know that it's an extremely touchy subject for some people.

Especially considering many girls with eating disorders come from hyper-christian or otherwise strongly fundamentalist homes, I've chosen not to broadcast my gayness in this blog for their and their families' sake. Sadly, I have no doubt that if I were to discuss these subjects with prevalence, many readers would be completely turned off to everything I have to say - even though I truly believe I have some important, helpful things to say about eating disorders and recovery therefrom.

Today, however, I'm going to break with tradition.

If you're strongly homophobic, get hives and nausea from the sight of a gay person, notice your eyes start to bleed around us, etc, you may want to stop reading now.

...Well, I was going to start this with a rousing speech about how today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, but just found out it's actually next Tuesday. Nevertheless, this is transgender awareness week, so it still applies. Sorta.

If gay men and women suffer an abnormally high rate of murder and hate crimes, transgendered individuals have to face so much more. I simply cannot fathom the amount of hatred and fear these people have to deal with on just walking out their doors each morning. It is both disgusting and heartbreaking to witness suffering on such an extreme level for such a petty reason.

Hate groups like Focus on the Family's Love Won Out or PFOX (a response group to the better known PFLAG), when addressing the issue of transgenderism, love to cite the American Psychiatric Association which still classifies something called Gender Identity Disorder. According to these groups, it is evidence that even the psychiatric community agrees that transgenderism is a disorder.

GID is a disorder. However, it isn't aptly named. The poor choice of wording leads ignorant, badly informed people to believe that GID refers to transgender. In my opinion, just as Multiple Personality Disorder was renamed Dissociative Identity Disorder to stifle the prevailing confusion of DID with schizophrenia and BiPolar disorder, GID needs a new name. My personal suggestion would be Gender Confusion Disorder. Particularly after having lived in Washington, DC, worked in restaurants (which for some reason get a really high rate of gay employees), and having attended one of the most gay-friendly universities in the country, I've known a lot of gay and transgendered individuals. To say that gender identity is never disordered would be just as stupid as saying it's a disorder to begin with.

Let's start by defining some terms. Sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity come to mind as good places to begin. Scientifically speaking, your sexuality is the sex you are based on genital identification. Typically, this is a simple one. Unfortunately, it isn't always... Many people are born intersexed, meaning they have either ambiguous genitals or, in rare cases, both sets. Someone who is intersexed is not transsexual. A lot of parents will arbitrarily choose a sex for children born this way hoping it will simplify things later in life. Your sexual orientation refers to the gender to which you are predominantly attracted (i.e. homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, asexual).

Gender identity refers to the gender with which you most strongly identify. Someone who is sexually female may identify as male but not choose to actually undergo a gender transition. Same applies to male-to-female individuals. Some scholars have suggested that St Joan of Arc falls into the former category, and there are examples of Egyptian Pharaoh who were sexually female but adopted male attire and behaviors to fill their roles. Other people, like myself, prefer to label themselves as androgynes or gender queers. Basically, that means that we don't identify with one sex or the other and instead feel somewhere in between the two cultural standards of gender polarity.

For whatever reason, males who identify as female receive by far the majority of persecution for their gender identity in religious, political, and cultural settings.

Increasingly, many states are taking action to enact laws which will specifically protect transgendered individuals' rights to safety and normal life. One really touchy subject would be restrooms and public showers: should a trans female be allowed to use the womens' facilities even if she is still genitally male?

In Montgomery County, Maryland, where I grew up, a law was proposed and voted on Tuesday to allow transgendered individuals to use the facilities appropriate to their gender identity. Given that Montgomery County also houses several of the largest, most strictly fundamentalist churches in the state, this caused a HUGE stir.

National groups (like PFOX - Parents and Friends Of eX-gays) spread the word trying to get as many people as possible to protest this measure. They argue that it is a bill to allow men into women's restrooms, thereby opening the gates for a flood of pedophilia and crime.

What protesters to do not seem either to realize or just accept is that this measure is not to allow men into women's restrooms. The point of this bill is to stop forcing women to use the men's room.

A crossdresser is not necessarily someone who is gender identified with the other sex. A crossdresser may refer to a transexual, or it may just as easily refer to a heterosexual man who sometimes wears women's clothing for sexual gratification. This is not the same thing as identifying as female. A transgender female, possibly aside from her genital sexuality, is female. If someone identifies as female in the way this bill is aiming to protect, it does not mean they are pretending to be a woman to gain a better vantage point for preying on other women. They're dressing and behaving in a feminine way because they feel that they are female.

Connecting back to my earlier mention of Gender Identity Disorder, I want to explain why I feel that there is often a disordered connection when referencing questions of gender identity. The term most commonly used now is gender dysphoria. Dysphoria basically means distress, or a mental disconnect between what one wants and what is, or what one wants and one believes to be right/true/etc. Why I'm having a hard time explaining this today is beyond me, considering I'm dysphoric about other issues nine times out of ten... Dysphoria is an inner conflict which causes mental and emotional distress, is I guess the best way I can think to succinctly word it.

Gender dysphoria is listed as the main sign/symptom for GID. Basically, this means that to be classified as having GID you have to show significant distress and discomfort over your sexuality vs what you feel to be your appropriate gender. This part is often undoubtedly disordered. I've had the privilege of being good friends with several transsexuals over the last few years, and the most heartbreaking thing has been watching as they struggle with feeling like freaks and mistakes, or that they're stuck in an incorrectly sexed body, that there is no hope or remedy, that life will forever be marked by painful, awkward feelings of somehow being made wrong. This is gender dysphoria.

The reason I argue Gender Identity Disorder is the wrong term is because once the person has figured out how to fix the question of gender (be it sexual reassignment surgery, transvestism, acceptance), the dysphoria greatly diminishes. It's a matter of recognizing and accepting one's gender identity - the identity itself isn't the problem.

Here I'm going to shout out to K.T., Brandon, Rae, Ben, Jeremy, Melissa, Tammi, and all the other wonderful, awesome, ridiculously brave queer and trans people I've had the chance to know. I don't think any of them read this... But if they do, they need to know how awesome they are.

This week, I am incredibly proud to say I come from Montgomery County. When they bill was put to the vote Tuesday, it passed unanimously. Maryland may still have a long way to go when it comes to recognizing equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transexual individuals, but this bill passing is a huge step. I'm still not proud to be an American, because this country is waaay behind on so many issues, but at least I'm proud to come from Mo Co.

14 November, 2007

Yay pictures!

I have an extended aritcle/rant coming, but because I don't have enough time to finish it before work, I want to post some pictures from today. Because they RULE.

Danny, chicken nuggets, and Tinkerbell.

Crystal and Danny at Starbuuucks. (She's on her third book, hence the bored expression.)

One of my two favorite pictures from today. Squee!


At left, me with the dorkiest facial expression I have EVER MADE.

For once in a long while, a picture I kinda like. Crystal is an awesome photographer.

Last but not least, a picture of my beautiful baby. Because that's how every entry should end!

To see the rest of the pictures, visit my newly created Flickr account. Yay! (Already loving that thing.)

13 November, 2007


The reason for the persistent lack of blogging boils down to my freaking depression. To put it simply. Lately especially I've felt like a completely boring person whose words are all mundane, trite, repetitive, and generally not worth reading. This sort of sentiment plays very badly into the inspiring-Tina-to-write-ness.

I've thought, perhaps I should write about the medication situation. Perhaps I should blog about my frustration with the search for a therapist. Maybe about my worries for my little brother's mental health needs. Maybe about the flash in the pan interests I get every so often (see currently: transgender rights and queer theory). Certainly all of these could be turned into interesting topics. I could write about my 'plans' to tour Europe, or my literary ambitions, or even the obsessive knitting I've been doing lately. I could talk about new people at work and the latest restaurant drama/gossip. My life isn't boring.

The problem is that depression warps the most exciting events until they feel totally lifeless and dull. I'm in one of those episodes where on many occasions I feel nearly catatonic.

It doesn't help that when depressed I obsess over all the minor details in everything. Pertinent to this blog would be the way in which I analyze each entry and come to the conclusion that this blog has lost any sense of direction and is possibly beyond repair. I further pursue this train of thought to examine whether I should redirect it toward eating disorder related topics and current events which relate to the subject, or narrow it into a recovery journal encompassing any of the many things from which I'm trying to recover. Then I worry this would result in a journal blog, and I decide that I've had far, far too many of those since I first discovered the internet.

For now, I'm thinking the best decision might be to allow the blog to continue without a precise goal and hope that something congeals in time.

Shifting topics back to more recently visited waters, I'd like now to discuss the Abilify situation. To put it bluntly, I've stopped taking it. While on it I noticed absolutely no benefit; in fact, it seemed to be giving me more of an opposite effect. While I've not been suicidal in quite some time, while on Abilify my feelings of hopelessness increased significantly. I'm not sure if Abilify has any sort of extended release, but around six to nine hours after taking it I invariably experienced a major mood crash which left me surly and miserably depressed without any apparent triggers. The final kicker was that around the start of week three I started getting major nightmares which pretty much zapped my sleep of any value. I got some pretty ridiculous nightmares on Zoloft, and these reminded me a lot of them. (The fact that I almost never get nightmares normally but was experiencing them even during brief naps on Abilify was an indicator to me that the medication was causing them.)

So that's that.

I see the psychiatrist again on the 25th and am staking quite a few of my hopes on the appointment. Granted, I'm under no delusions thinking a trip to the doctor will cure everything ba-boom! but I'd still like to hope maybe some sort of progress will be made. The last time I saw her (and also the first time I met with this one, actually) we discussed the various medications I've been on and she basically said we may want to try trycyclics or even MAOIs if we can't find an effective alternative. MAOIs scare the crap out of me and, as such, I'm only going to try them if all other options have been exhausted... But honestly, to be reminded that there are still so many options yet untried is really encouraging to me. Watching so many SSRIs get scratched off the 'possibles' list is more of a depressant than whatever is causing the depression to begin with. Lol.

...I'm tired. I shouldn't blog tired. It makes me say inane things like 'lol'.

I'll end here, I suppose. Sleeeep. It sounds so nice.