The Unseen Hook

That horrible moment of realisation when…

You ask someone out via invoking the fact you don’t want to be Charles Ryder in ten years time, still obsessed with a thing he lost at university.

You lose it anyway.

You have a horrible moment of clarity ten years later that you were never Charles, you were Sebastian; and you haven’t come out of the relationship with aching nostalgia and Catholicism, but with alcoholism, an inability to function in the real world, familial-estrangement, a teddy bear, and with feelings for a person who views you as an innocent, adolescent homosexual phase, and who now intends to go on to do that exact same thing, only with someone marriageable.

Dear world, I hate you.

Genderwibbles

Some self-absorbed statements about gender:

1. I have discovered that I feel most anchored in my body and birth gender when I am entirely happy and content; when I am in a depressive patch, that’s when I feel like it’s just a flesh-tube which carries me, and the idea of womanhood feels really far away.

1b. I am constantly in a depressive patch.

1c. “You’re not dissassociating from your body because you are depressed, you are depressed because your body is wrong” is an alternative to my interpretation of this, albeit a really scary one.

2. I am trying to not poke my genderwibbles with any kind of stick, because I am worried where they may lead. There’s nout wrong with being trans, but it is manifestly difficult, and if I get any choice in the matter I want to stay on the cissexual side of it – purely for coincidence. A non-dysphoric afab GQ person has a fuckton of privilege over pretty much anyone else under the umbrella – I’m not going to leave that lightly.

3. This post by janitorqueer is the most, most envy-making thing I have ever read. I’ve been in a state of despair for coming up to ten years. My brain chemistry is just screwed up in some way. The idea that there could be a chemical which would fix that nebulous misery is the most tantalising thing. I don’t think it is T I need, but I wish there was something.

4. But last night I was unable to sleep for gender-based unhappiness.

4b. But maybe I am just needing a new thing to worry about. I worry about everything.

5. I don’t buy the born-this-wayness, for me at least. I think my brain got screwed up in the crucible of teenagerhood, and in the absence of words and concepts I needed. But I know lots of queers go through this process, and come out the other side as sane cis lesbians, so maybe I was born-this-way and I am creating a false etymology for my feelings. The only model for folk who liked ladies were men and lo! I “became” one in what I watched; thank you male gaze. Either a straight man or a gay man, it flip-flopped a bit, but the point is – if there had been more “female gaze” films where women are staring at men or at women, would my gender feel more straightforward?

5b. In any case, there’s no way of knowing for sure, so I don’t think it’s worth worrying about. Time cannot be turned back.

6.

I know why biphobia is a thing, because monosexual people confuse me. As someone who has no fixed gender identity, nor is gender a factor in who I fancy. Getting rejected by people who don’t like ladies feels like getting rejected because I keep pet spiders in my bedroom. My brain goes huhhh, because intellectually I can see why “spiders in the bedroom” could be a dealbreaker for some people, but at the same time – I don’t have pet spiders, or any pets at all. I think I understand how people could not like an entire gender – given that there are so many unique gender expressions…and types of gendered bodies…and no, I guess I don’t understand, but let’s pretend I do. I understand that people have preferences – I have preferences about the types of folk I date – and I suppose it makes sense that these could run along gender lines. But when that applies to me, I feel very un-anchored, because I feel like “none of the above”. My internal sense of self morphs into whatever that person wants.

Being sane is a full-time job. 

I am trying to keep conscious track of people who I think hate me, who turn out not to have done so (the total this week so far is 3, though that number represents a far larger number of panics and wibbles in between.) I hope that each time I wibble in future, I can remember my total number, and that will set against the number of people who have done the slow-drop-secretly-hate-you thing. 

Now I am listening to my grandma and grandad try to resolve a slightly awkward, slightly tense situation, and trying to remember that I’ve never heard either of them get angry, that this is a safe house and nothing is wrong, but not entirely succeeding.

If you’re not living on the edge

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I am bored of medical professionals telling me I am wasting their time/telling me I am insufficiently in danger to access any mental health services; and then saying if I am in trouble, it’s very important I attend A&E or phone Samaritans.

I just…when I take time off work to see a doctor, that’s me reaching out for help? If the only result of me rehashing my neuroses with a stranger again is a referral back to my GP, why would I expect them to give a fuck at A&E? If the result of an hour-long consultation is that I need no additional help, and that you think I am managing my own health rather well, then why would I take up valuable space on a crisis line? My problems are so self-evidently small.

I wish docs would trust their patients better, and outline in advance of a consultation what they are looking for. It strikes me that I could have saved today’s doc a lot of time if she had cut straight to the crucial question (“Are you planning to kill yourself this evening? If not, we literally do not have a shit to give about your wellbeing or safety at any future date.”), without my entire backstory first. If the doctor who referred me had specified this was what she needed, I wouldn’t have taken up space on her rosta, taken time off work, or put myself in a position where I feel more isolated from help.

I’m just…sorry I am insufficiently suicidal? I’m coping now, or at least the nurse tells me I am; but I want a plan in place when things get bad. I want more from my life than going directly home and sitting on Tumblr, because that is the only way to numb out the pain. I wasn’t self harming last year, and now I am – and I feel like if I’d had some decent care any time in the last, y’know, six years, I could have arrested that slip. And these feelings are brought on by despair, but the less and less I believe in a cure or medical intervention, the truer “I will never be well or happy” feels.

Don’t tell me I’m doing really well – I haven’t seen all your other patients, I’ve only seen myself lapse into the worst three months of decline and I’m scared and want some help with that. Give me homeopathy, I don’t care. Just – don’t make me go through my problems, tell me you will not help, but in the same breath expect me to reach out for help from other doctors.

Sure I’ll call the Samaritans.

Therapy that works

…you guys Dialectical Behavior Therapy is the best thing ever. I am two pages in to the book (god forbid that I could have accessed this on the NHS any time in the last five years!), and it is already brilliant.

It is, in many ways, opposite to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT encourages you to doubt your depressive thoughts and interrogate them. DBT, on the other hand, encourages you to trust your feelings, feel validated, and not be constantly asking yourself how you feel and whether you should be feeling it. Two opposite therapies, but I think the strongest therapy would combine elements of both. 

For now, at least though, I think trusting my gut is a really valuable thing to practice. I am an abuse magnet because I defer to whatever the people around me say, even when it has no basis in reality. I don’t know what I want. I am constantly in a maelstrom of emotions, yet bad at identifying where they come from or what they want me to do. The gut has it. 

Queer Books for Kids: Non Fiction! (part 4)

Welcome to a super special post on Queer Books for kids/teens/Young Adults.

I am reviewing LGBT books for kids/YA – the index of other reviews is here. Looking just for nonfic? Here is my non fiction tag.

QUEER: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens

by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke

9780547687322_p0_v1_s260x420This is a teen survival guide written specifically for LGBT people – coming out, dating, gaydars, communicating, surviving abuse, sex and so on. It’s pretty awesome, and filled with a lot of right-on advice. I spotted essentially nothing I disagreed with.

Much queerteen advice overlaps with straight advice – this includes safer sex and the signs of an abusive relationship. However, this book does a nice job of discussing specific queer issues which, I think, most straight folk wouldn’t consider. This includes:

  • the dangers of a totally queer friendship group and hating the straights
  • intraqueer hating
  • the dangers of dating (predatory?) older folk due to isolation

I feel like these are uniquely queer issues, issues that a straight author blithely writing “be yourself! being gay is normal!” would not pick up on.

For gay, lesbian and bi teens, this is a brilliant, wonderful, affirming and sensible book. It deserves a home in every library, school or otherwise.

You knew this but was coming, though:

This isn’t a great trans book. It’s inclusive to an extent – it mentions trans people throughout - but contains very little useful info. It treats coming out as trans and coming out as gay as identical experiences – uncertainty, bullying, and being yourself! It doesn’t touch on the greater prejudice trans teens may face – my gut feeling is that coming out as trans is a whole different ballgame in terms of keeping yourself safe and affirming your identity. It also does not discuss uniquely trans issues – this book does not contain the word “dysphoria”, nor anything about hormones, gender therapists, legal documents. Anything which would not also apply to a cisgay is not in this book.

In addition, it advises that trans teens disclose their gender history to potential partners before things get physical. This sounds like really sensible advice, but in reality – this is a complex and contentious issue in the trans community. I feel like this is the advice given by someone who has never been in this situation would give. I feel like most trans people would discuss it with far more nuance and with sensitivity to what a complex decision this is, even if they also came to the conclusion that disclosure is best. Simply saying “tell your partner first!” ignores the reality of how people might view their own gender or history, and ignores the increased risk of violence/murder directly after telling someone. There is no trans author on this writing team as far as I can tell (I gather they are a gay man and gay lady), and the book sorely needs one.

I only have one other gripe: it fudges its treatment of kink/bdsm. Simply by not using the word “kink” or BDSM. It vaguely intimates that some people are into unusual stuff, like dressing up as animals or wearing high heels; and that it’s important to communicate with your partner if that’s your bent. But I feel like if you’re going to mention the topic, you should be comfortable enough to use those words. You need the words “kink”, “fetish” and “BDSM” for google if you need to learn more. I see no benefit in not using those words – it’s literally to the detriment of the reader, hampering their access to information.

Playing with ropes, knives or other potentially dangerous objects can cause serious injury.

You’ve got 100 words to write about kink, and you choose to throw that in there? No info about how to do those things safely; no words to google, or places to find out more. You literally throw ropes and knives at the novice reader as options, with zero context. I think BDSM has a place in any book about sex/sexuality, including ones for teens, and it requires more than this feeble paragraph. Ditto with the poly para, which does not use the word “polyamorous”. If you think either poly or kink sounds like a good idea based off those paras, you are literally going on a post-it note sized square of information, with no signposts to find out more. Bad call!

SUMMARY

YES for every library; YES for your LGB teens. For trans teens, it’s perhaps better than nothing and much info will still be relevant, but you should be aware this is not trans specific and Tumblr is still your best bet.