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Continuing the previous demifiction with the second part, set at another memorial site.

Warning: This piece is intense and contains some things that might be upsetting to some. The setting was a site of combat in a recent war, and suffered mass casualties (mostly non-combatants) and extensive damage and destruction over a wide area from an event described in preceding demifiction. This event is referred to, although not graphically, and most of the story takes place at sites dedicated in memory of the event. Please consider your reaction to events and locations of these natures before reading.
"On Matters of Life and Death" continues )
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[ profile] ysabetwordsmith is a very productive writer who puts out lots of neat stuff. (For an example, see a recently posted sample, "Dangerous Refuges".) What's even more fun, they are inclined to allow posts using their settings by people who show interest and appreciation.

I've gotten involved with a variant space-opera setting, "An Army of One", and have previously posted some demifiction, "News Bulletin: The Massacre of Cascabel" and "The Conscience of the War", about an event described in one of its threads. Recent developments in the series inspired me to write another piece that follows those two, describing the changes that took place in the area around the event during the first couple of years thereafter.

Warning: This piece is intense and contains some things that might be upsetting to some. The setting was a site of combat in a recent war, and suffered mass casualties (mostly non-combatants) and extensive damage and destruction over a wide area from an event described in the previous demifiction. This event is referred to, although not graphically, and most of the story takes place at sites dedicated in memory of the event. Please consider your reaction to events and locations of these natures before reading.

The second part of the piece is here.

On Matters of Life and Death )
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[ profile] rhodielady_47 gave me the letter "G" when I asked to participate in a round of the letter meme. Here's what I came up with:

Something I hate: Greed. Especially the toxic sort that finds it easier to take what they want from those who already are wanting, rather than finding a way to create more of it.

Something I love: Games. The ones I like best test one's cooperative and competitive problem-solving abilities. What makes them fun for me is how they can serve as a laboratory and training ground for things one can use in "real life" -- but one where you can frequently put the consequences of your actions back in the box after the game is over, or throw them in the trash with the scoresheets if you'd rather.

Somewhere I've been: Germany. That's where the father's side of my family came from almost two hundred years ago.

Somewhere I'd like to go: Greece. I have a recurring fantasy of chartering a sailing vessel for an extended tour of the Aegean Sea, inviting close friends to join us for however long they can, and visiting places the big cruise ships can't dock at and sharing the local culture with folks who don't have to cater to tourists. That would probably take a couple years' income that we felt we could spare to make it a reality, and I'm not sure whether that will ever happen. But it's still fun to dream about.

Someone I know: Gary and I are enthusiastic participants in a musical culture that welcomes creators and performers of all abilities, and intentionally minimizes the difference between "performer" and "audience". He is also a significant presence in organizing and helping to operate spaces where members of this community gather and share their contributions. Some of these are part of larger events, others are stand-alone community-specific events ranging in size from a small gathering at someone's house to weekends at a hotel. And all of them are run by volunteers, because there's no money in it -- attempts to make any meaningful money off anything the community produces have all failed, some spectacularly so.

Favorite movie(s): The "Godfather" trilogy, although not III (a much later add-on, and the weakest of the set) so much. In addition to being a superb presentation of its source material, it pretty much redefined the gangster movie genre, catapulted many of its principals into much greater stature than they'd previously had, and left a significant impact on popular culture and the vernacular.

Favorite band: My musical tastes don't align well with popular culture, so I'll answer as though it referred to "musical performers". The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, more commonly referred to in English as the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, has been one of the premier orchestral forces since its inception in 1751. At that time, it was one of the first orchestras to be underwritten by public subscription rather than royal patronage. Many recordings made during longtime music director Kurt Masur's leadership remain in catalogs today, and are considered reference interpretations of their material. If they ever tour through my area, I'd definitely want to attend a concert. For anyone who'd insist that a large body of musicians with continual turnover doesn't qualify (despite how some "bands" have turned over all or almost all their members), I'll offer Dizzy Gillespie.

Would you like a letter? Please leave a comment, and I'll be happy to give you one.
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Another piece of demifiction inspired by ysabetwordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl poem, "Too Much Energy". This is an editorial piece that was distributed on Carina InfoGrid about four weeks after the event described in the preceding "News Bulletin".

Warning: This piece is intense and contains some things that might not be to everyone's taste. These include graphic descriptions of war, battle, an event described in "Too Much Energy" (spoiler warning for the event -- highlight to read: the mass casualty event), and its aftermath. Also indoctrination, propaganda, and insincere political posturing. Consider your preferences before reading onward.

Read "The Conscience of the War"... )
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A prompt I sent [ profile] ysabetwordsmith for their latest Poetry Fishbowl helped inspire their poem, "Too Much Energy". This inspired me to write a couple of pieces of demifiction describing reactions to one of the events mentioned in the poem.This piece is followed by an editorial, "The Conscience of the War", written in reaction to a poem written by a survivor of the event.

Warning: This piece is intense and contains some things that might not be to everyone's taste. These include graphic descriptions of war, battle, an event described in "Too Much Energy" (spoiler warning for the event -- highlight to read: the mass casualty event), and its aftermath. Also unreliable narrators and witnesses, indoctrination, propaganda, and insincere political posturing. Consider your preferences before reading onward.

The latest news from Cascabel... )
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Find out how! Go visit [ profile] ysabetwordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl, and leave a prompt! Or just read the poetry as it comes out and gets sponsored, or feed the bard. If things are too tight for you to sponsor anything right now, compliments are free and always appreciated.

I'm consistently impressed with what my prompts wind up inspiring.
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My discomfort with my presumed gender-normative identity reached the point where I knew I had to move beyond it about four years ago. The trigger was the failure of a business effort in which I wound up needing to go to the limit of what I could stand with a number of gender-normative behaviors.

I finally could give myself some time to reflect on what I had done and how I had changed as a consequence of my effort. Many behaviors I had been propelled to express to a much greater extreme than I ever had before included many that were especially valued by my normative gender. I got some idea of the stress I must have taken upon myself when I observed how many of those characteristics and expressions did not align well, or at all, with my own sense of self. Looking back through my life prior to that time, it became clear that they never did.

Measuring myself against my normative gender and its standards, and coming to understand the stress I was routinely facing in the name of an effective expression of that identity, clarified for me that trying to express myself as gender-normative by the standards that did not suit me was, in the long run, unhealthy for me. Normative gender expression was now feeling more and more, and more of the time, like role playing rather than spontaneous behavior. I could do it – mainly because of years of practice in presenting as normative despite feeling otherwise – but I saw that the stress of staying in-role was continuing to escalate. I would need to repudiate the standards that did not suit me, and find other standards for defining my gender identity.

None of the options facing me were at all comfortable. Many of the standards causing me the most stress were valued by, and believed by many to be intrinsic parts of, my normative gender. Continuing to claim my normative gender as my identity would confront me with the derision and exclusion that comes from being viewed as a poor adherent to those standards. If I wanted to do anything about that, I would need to join or start a movement to get a whole bunch of people, many heavily invested in the standards at issue, to change their minds about the standards' relevance to their gender identification. Not at all my idea of a good time.

I would also need to consider whether I would fare better by claiming a different gender identity with which I was more aligned. And although I was managing by taking advantage of opportunities for forms of expression at odds with my normative gender identity when at home, that relief was clearly not going to suffice in the future. I needed a new gender identity, and claiming it was not enough – I would need to express it, and have others perceive it.

Recognizing that I wanted guidance and support in this step, combined with the effects of gender stress on my relationship with my spouse, led me to begin gender counseling. This confirmed to me that the gender identity I should claim needed to be something other than my normative gender identity, and also helped me understand how to refine my search for my new identity.

I quickly understood that merely asserting that my gender was not normative would not suffice for me. I needed to find an identity and understand it well enough to explain it to others.

Between then and now, I have been working out which aspects of my normative gender expression I wanted to keep, which aspects I would choose to discard, and which forms of expression that lie outside normative boundaries I wished to include. This has included occasions, which became more and more frequent, where I included non-normative elements in my public presentation while retaining enough normative elements to make it reasonably deniable that my gender identity was anything other than normative. (I will have more to say about this when I discuss presentation.)

I have now gotten enough information from the counseling and the experimentation that I can assert my intended gender identity: My gender identity is “me”. I will not adopt any forms of expression because they are normative for any gender identity, but instead according to what I believe would encourage others to interact with me as I wish to be interacted with.

This declaration of identity is something that I can maintain. I can allow my presentation or behavior to align with normative expression for some gender without refuting it or identifying as a member of the gender my behavior may currently be normative for. I will undoubtedly need to assert my gender identity when people incorrectly infer it from my presentation, but, for me, doing so is much more in tune with how I feel than conforming to any generic set of standards ever would.

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Once I concluded that I should no longer choose to warp myself to fit within the constraints of my presumed normative gender, I did a lot more reading. The more I read about “gender”, and what people referred to by it, the more complicated it all got.

From what I can tell, that's just the nature of the thing. There's even an all too common exchange: “What's your gender?” “It's complicated.” And even the reading I was doing that recognized the complicated nature of the topic wasn't doing much to give me an idea of how to deal with the complications.

To me, this lack of consensus and cohesion suggests to me that how to do this is necessarily personal: each person is responsible for defining their own framework, checking to see how their framework aligns with available knowledge, and using the framework as they organize what they learn. Because much of what I've been reading indicates that gender itself is a personal matter, this makes a good deal of sense to me.

The framework I have decided to place my gender observations and knowledge on is a layered structure, where each layer is defined by who is interpreting things. So far, I have three layers:

  • Identity, which is personal and private: my gender identity is what I say it is.

  • Expression, which is also personal, but public: my gender expression is how I present myself, and what I say and do to communicate my gender identity to others.

  • Perception, which is cultural: other people perceive my gender identity by evaluating my expression in their own cultural and personal frameworks.

The organization and terminology this structure generates for me is consistent with what I have been reading, so I'm content to use it for now. I'll be setting down what I know now about each layer, how it affects me, and what I'm doing, in subsequent posts.

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So far, I haven't been doing any significant posting here; just a few shout-outs to some creative people I have been engaging with. Metaphorically, I was standing at the boundary of familiar territory, feeling I was ready to start on a tentative journey to an unknown destination. I learned a lot about myself as I began to explore, but didn't feel as though I understood what I had learned well enough to write about it sensibly – so I remained silent.

There's nothing like deciding one's gender variance cannot be suppressed any longer to make someone realize they need to take a good, hard look at gender studies. Much of what I found pointed out that gender-normative people have a lot less need to examine about gender, being content with theirs. Although I had examined my normative gender, I had been focusing on its poor fit for me and my discomfort in remaining within its constraints. For me to move beyond being thought of as gender-normative, I would need to understand where I was going and what I was doing well enough to explain it.

Personally, I much prefer to have some grasp of theory to provide a context for me to gain understanding and knowledge. Starting there, adding in many of the increasing number of experiences of gender-variant people that can be found online, measuring myself and my feelings, and placing all that in context, I now feel I can talk sensibly about what I have found out about myself.

Part of what I feel I must do to claim my gender variance is interacting with others. This blog is intended to be an early step in that direction. Now that I've discovered my voice, it's time for me to start speaking up. What you think about what I'm writing as I send out what the past several months have taught me will be very valuable to me as I improve my sense of who I am, and how I can talk with others about it. I'd love to hear what you think.

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[ profile] ysabetwordsmith is presenting another Poetry Fishbowl today, with a theme of "Earn your happy ending".  I cast a few prompts into the fishbowl, and am looking forward to see what I will catch. Which brings to mind another prompt: In the longstanding duel of fisherperson vs. fish, can both earn their happy ending?

You can play, too!  Go visit and leave a prompt, and see what you think about what you get.
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[ profile] ysabetwordsmith is committing poetry in public again.  I've put in another prompt; I've gotten really interesting results from past prompts, and will be looking forward to seeing what happens this month.  You can play, too!  Just visit the link to find out how.
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[ profile] ysabetwordsmith is hosting her monthly Poetry Fishbowl She's once again writing something from one of my prompts on gender issues.

If you'd like to see a sample, check out this month's linkback freebie.  Come on over, and join the fun!
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[ profile] ysabetwordsmith is once again soliciting prompts for her Poetry Fishbowl.  Go on over and visit, and see the interesting things she writes from the prompts.  This month's theme is "Concerning Cats".
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Mel G. Cabral ([ profile] itsamellama) is running their Free Icon Day 05 today.  I'm looking forward to see what they come up with for my online image.  If you want one too, stop by and visit them on LJ or Dreamwidth.
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[ profile] ysabetwordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl this month has a theme of "First Contact".  She's working on a poem to a prompt I posted.
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A prompt I left in [ profile] ysabetwordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl this month generated her poem, "An Equation for Conscience". Her work gives life to the assault contemporary forces have mounted against scientific inquiry. Please read it, think about it, and let others know about it as you see fit.

Please check out her blog, and visit her unsold poetry page to see if there's anything there that you might enjoy enough to help fund.
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If you are interested, please see my previous post for the definition I am using for "gender".

The things I wish to do, and the ways I wish to interact with others, are very poorly aligned with my culture's gender assumptions. Nevertheless, I recognize that I share many of these traits with people who identify with a specific gender, and if those people choose to recognize me as of their gender, I will acknowledge this. One common umbrella term covering this identification is “genderqueer”, and I have found that this term fits me well. “Polygender” and “pangender” are terms that are often used to describe my attitude toward gender-identified people; I prefer the former, because I would not feel comfortable identifying with a gender where those who identify with that gender would not recognize me as “one of them”.

Up until now, I have chosen to maintain enough conformity with the gender assumptions under which I was raised to be granted membership in a cultural role with sufficient influence and agency to acquire and maintain economic self-sufficiency.

I am ready to move beyond that conformity now. I am deliberately allowing my lack of gender alignment, which I have until now kept out of sight, to start leaking out around the edges of the facade I have built. As I have done so, I find myself feeling better about myself, and have gotten positive reactions to the non-normative aspects of my presentation.

Now that I am here, I am interested in connecting with friends and allies. If you feel like either of these categories describe you, please feel free to friend me and expect to be friended back.
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This widely ridiculed line was how James Stockdale introduced himself at the first vice-presidential debate he participated in as the candidate of Ross Perot's Reform Party in 1992.  Nevertheless, it seems like a good place to start.

The quick answer: because [ profile] ysabetwordsmith asked for prompts which she uses to write poetry, and her April prompt request was too important to me to remain hidden any longer.

What I feel ready to say now (briefly putting on my Evil Genius hat): “Masculinity! You have failed me for the final time! Leave now before I tire of you and feed you to my piranhas, and take your idiotic Man Card with you! I have no further use for it!

A longer answer, if you're interested )
I have more to say on this, but I would like to introduce some concepts that refer to terms some people are uncomfortable encountering, even though I would not consider any of them problematic for any reasonably tolerant person.  I'm playing safe and putting that part under an explicit cut, then continuing.
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