What my gender dysphoria feels like

Mar. 25th, 2017 06:12 pm
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
[personal profile] sashajwolf
Copying this from a comment I made on Facebook in order to have it easily accessible for future noodling. This is of course only how I experience dysphoria, not how anyone else does. The original discussion was, in part, about the extent to which dysphoria would still exist in the absence of gender stereotyping. I have made some minor edits for clarity.

I'm not "in the wrong body"; this body is very much part of me, and there are things I really like about it. But there are parts that feel stunted, like they never fully developed like they were "meant" to, and at times they ache as if they were still desperately trying to. Descriptions of phantom limbs from amputees often resonate with me. I assume this would not go away in a perfect society. It has got worse with perimenopause and seems to show some cyclical variation, so I imagine there's a hormonal factor involved.

Also, some of the parts I really like are the very ones that cause people to guess my gender wrong, and that causes a real psychological tension. I have to choose every day whether I want the cognitive dissonance of hiding those parts as if I were ashamed of them, or the cognitive dissonance of leaving them visible and being misgendered. This part would clearly improve if societal etiquette changed so that it was understood to be rude to guess someone's gender without being told, or at least rude to voice the guess.

Then there's a gender role/performative component, which expresses itself as a feeling that I'm constantly failing at "being a girl" by looking wrong, acting wrong, thinking wrong and just generally Being Wrong. This part has improved considerably since I gave myself permission to stop trying to be one, but there's a residue that would probably require societal permission to get rid of. For me, full societal recognition of nonbinary gender(s) would probably do it, but total abolition of the gender binary would also work for me (and for agender people? but maybe not for strongly binary-identified people?) Even then, there may be a biochemical component that would not disappear, because I feel the looking wrong part is linked to my bulimia, and that gets worse with certain nutritional deficiencies and could presumably still happen without sexism. Society not being so damn fat-shaming would surely help, though.

Summary: In a perfect society I'd probably still have body dysphoria and maybe a small amount of psychological discomfort. I might still define as trans because although we wouldn't be assigning gender at birth any more, I might still have self-assigned as a girl before the hormones kicked in enough for the body dysphoria to become noticeable. But I'd have much less cognitive dissonance and everyday life would be much more comfortable, so none of these issues would be the grave threats to mental health that they are now.

Day 24 – Craft Time With Brhenti 

Mar. 25th, 2017 06:19 am
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[personal profile] finch
The to-do list project is to-doing along. It’s not perfect yet but I’m trying to be more aware of how I’m spending my time. 

Friday is for Brhenti, so after dinner and playing with Bug it was project time. I decided to try this easy plan for making a tote bag from a t-shirt (verdict: super easy!) and then started on some hand stitching. 

Jewelry is really a thing I need to work on at my desk because of all the small pieces and pliers and things, so I’m liking the experiments with things like sock darning and hand sewing that I can do on the couch with the family, and pick up or put down easily depending on what’s going on. 

We’re far enough into this project now that I have pretty solid prayers for everyone. I’m making daily offerings but they vary depending on who they’re to, and that seems sensible. 

There’s been a lot of medical foo and illness this month, though, enough that I’m wondering if that means I’m still fucking up something in the warding process. Of course, it’s also been widely acknowledged in town that there’s been more and worse winter bugs than usual this year, so maybe I’m being paranoid. 

I haven’t actually celebrated the equinox yet, and that actually is a holiday – we should be celebrating Mara’s return from her winter hunt now. Oops. Frankly I think I lost track of it because I knew Easter was so far out. I found a bread recipe that I want to try but I need to find the yeast. 

Not an exciting Friday, but I’m looking forward to the weekend. 

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What I’m Reading

Mar. 25th, 2017 04:32 am
ofmonstrouswords: (thg: haymitch coffee)
[personal profile] ofmonstrouswords
End of March, 2017 edition.

Whoa, this post has proper capitalization! Wonders are not ceasing!

Anyway, it’s Friday, so I’m going to talk about books I’m reading/have read/plan to read. Actually it being Friday has nothing to do with; I just wanted to post this and today seemed good. If I post this sort of thing again it’s doubtful it will fall on a schedule. Still putting it in the Friday Reads category though!

Note: I’m linking to the Amazon pages for these books and using my affiliate link. If you buy via one of these links, I make a little money, and you don’t get charged extra. So I really appreciate it if you choose to do that. <3

What I just finished

Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff. I read this at the suggestion of my husband and I finished in 2 days, which is the fastest I’ve finished a book in a long, long time.

It’s military sci-fi, it’s hilarious (I was constantly laughing and reading out little bits to my husband), it’s heart-wrenching, and it’s just darn good. I’m probably late to the game on it seeing as it’s been out for 17 years but hey, better late than never. If you enjoy military sci-fi I highly recommend this book.

I was actually going to read the rest of the series that we have right away after, buuuut I had to actually get work done and couldn’t spend the next week reading non-stop. Soon I’ll be able to take a reading vacation (hopefully) and when I do I am devouring the next few books.

What I’m currently reading

The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Symbols by Genevieve von Petzinger. SO GOOD.

This is non-fiction; it’s about a series of symbols found in cave art in many different places and times. It’s fascinating; I’m only a little bit into the book, but I was lucky enough to see von Petzinger speak in October at the Writers’ Fest. It was then that I was like OK I NEED THIS BOOK, so I managed to convince my mom to pick it up for me.

One of the really cool points von Petzinger makes in the book is that throughout human history, we’re always building on what our ancestors did, standing on the shoulders of giants — but these people that she talks about, these early humans, they were “the original giants.” They’re the basis for all we have now. All the art and meaning and culture they had, that was the beginning. And by learning about it, we can better know ourselves.

Also, the thing that made me fall in love with von Petzinger a little bit when I heard her speak was her talking about making all her research, when she’s done with it, open-source — so that anyone wanting to continue it, build on it, do their own thing inspired by her work, doesn’t have to re-trace all her steps. All her work will be open to scientific community. Which is a great and necessary attitude to take, in my view.

Seriously, highly recommended book, especially if you find anthropology and archaeology as fascinating as I do.

What I plan to read next

Showdown by Diane Morrison.

Diane Morrison is an indie author friend of mine, and she hosted the Pagan Fiction Authors Takeover event I did a couple of weeks ago. I ended up winning a copy of her new book, Showdown, in a giveaway she hosted recently, so it’s next on my list of books to read.

I’m pretty excited to dive into it because it’s pagan fiction and a western and I find that blend pretty intriguing.

Ok, that’s it for this edition of Friday Reads. It will be a while before I do another one because I am a very slow reader. Also no idea if it will even be on a Friday.

Loonily yours,

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Celebrate Love. All kinds of love.

Mar. 24th, 2017 06:03 pm
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[personal profile] ofmonstrouswords
This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 14, 2017.

cut for length )

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Summer Breeze;>.......

Mar. 24th, 2017 10:55 am
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[personal profile] mdehners
So...last week was Freezing(almost;>)and this one we've broken records. 89F is just WRONG in march!
Needless to say, pretty much everything is breaking Dormancy. Since the Crabapple and Plum are pushing their blossoms open, it was time to hang up my Sakura Furin...a Japanese windchime with Cherryblossoms on it. If you've ever watched Anime, you've seen this with their long calligraphy breezecatchers in windows to symbolize Summer. The glass ones make the sound of wineglasses clinking. Quite nice and not very loud, unlike a lot of Western Windchimes;>!
It's nice to be able to have the windows open. We generally have a week or two in Spring and in Fall when you can before it gets too Hot or too Cold.

notes on gabapentin, day 6

Mar. 24th, 2017 01:17 pm
ofmonstrouswords: (thg: haymitch coffee)
[personal profile] ofmonstrouswords
ok, so 6 days of taking my new meds. here are some notes on it.
  • it works. i mean, it definitely stops my twitching when i’m awake. however i’ve noticed, now my twitching has stopped, that i also have nerve pain in my extremities. i just never noticed it before because i was always either jiggling my limbs or twitching.
  • i’m not worried about the nerve pain, as it can take 2 weeks for gabapentin to get rid of it. so if i still have it after 3 weeks, i’ll worry.
  • i sleep really well on it. first 2 nights i used it were on the recliner, because my neck was so stiff and sore. i never sleep well on the recliner, but those 2 nights were the best recliner sleeps i have ever had. and the third night, in bed, it put me into a mini-coma.
  • i’m still tired during the day, but i also haven’t been taking my iron daily and i have a massive sleep debt of like, 20 years. so i’m expecting to still be tired throughout the day for a while.
  • even though i’m still tired throughout the day i’m way more awake than usual.
  • side effects i’m experiencing: drowsiness (useful), slight dizziness and nausea, when i wake up in the morning it takes me longer to shake the sleep fog, and longer for my vision to come back to normal, and some extra bleeding and bruising (which i’m not actually 100% sure is from the gabapentin, as it could have other causes right now). all in all, nothing too severe and nothing i’m not willing to deal with in order to get a better night’s sleep. (regardless i’ll bring up the side effects with the doc when i see him next, which should be a week tomorrow.)

conclusion: it’s working, and so far i’m happy with it. will continue to monitor it for any severe or scary side effects, and am waiting to see how close to “normal” i’ll get with regards to feeling awake in the day, but for right now allowing myself to feel cautiously hopeful that this might be the answer to my sleep woes.

and now, i am a sleepykat so i am off to bed. yes, at 6am. don’t judge me.


ps: i think it also made my breasts bigger, which i consider a win. at least i do today; on a day when i don’t id as femme as i do today, it’ll probably cause some severe dysphoria. c’est la vie du genderqueer.

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Day 23 – Crossroads and Confluences

Mar. 24th, 2017 06:59 am
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[personal profile] finch
Sometimes happenstance makes things obvious. Last Thursday it seemed like pure luck I ended up at the confluence of two rivers to call on Pechak and Velos – I hadn’t given any thought to the fact that I knew those two rivers met near there, and it didn’t even seem relevant enough to mention in my post last week. Today at lunch it was beautiful, and I felt tugged to walk a little ways from my office, down toward the place on the edge of the Willamette where I first made offerings when I interviewed for this job.

Also it is the spot where a large creek enters the Willamette.

A confluence isn’t the same as a crossroad, energetically. It’s a mingling. These two things are separate, and then they are joined. It’s a little like a marriage, or a merger.

I noticed the repetition as I came down to that overlooking spot and as I offered the day’s prayers. There’s some ideas to chew on there about why a confluence of rivers is sacred to them. Two separate, distinct powers that operate in concert or in opposition but always together… hmm.

For the most part, Pechak and Velos are very straightforward. I ask them for protection from those who would harm our household. There’s some mysteries to them, but those aren’t necessary to get anywhere. They can be blessedly straightforward, and that’s a nice way to start winding down the week. I darned another sock today, and I put dinner together. I’m trying to stay on top of the to-do list thing, in a combination of not being too hard on myself and not being too easy.

Let’s see what Brhenti has to say about that on Friday.

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making prosthetic eyes

Mar. 23rd, 2017 06:05 pm
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[personal profile] jesse_the_k
I had the good fortune to meet [personal profile] kestrell at Wiscon, and she introduced me to the old-world artistry of ocular prosthetics.

It turns out one of the three ocular prosthetic makers in Wisconsin is a local hero. The process is fascinating:

Q&A: Dori Hosek found an 'amazing fit' making artificial eyes

I can speak directly to the exquisite details: Kes gave me one of her out-of-date ones and I wear it as a pendant (but only in geeky environs).
ofmonstrouswords: (thg: haymitch coffee)
[personal profile] ofmonstrouswords
This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 7th, 2017.

cut for length )

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Day 22 – Getting Specific

Mar. 23rd, 2017 08:31 am
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[personal profile] finch
I was walking on my lunch hour, running through the daily prayers and thinking about some of the different ways I’ve been asked to do offerings last week by various powers. When I stopped by the creek to do today’s prayers to Pillai and Bluebird, I got a response from Pillai that was essentially ooh, we can ask for other things? I wanna ask for something different too.

 I’ve been enjoying the practical offerings, so I didn’t even whine about it.

I want you to write for me!

You know, there’s a lot of things I know I’ve been slacking on. Cooking. Laundry. Paperwork to update my birth certificate. And I’m not writing fiction the way I’d like to, sure. But I’ve blogged literally every day this month; writing is a thing I am actively doing every day. Surely there’s something else…

Picture, if you will, the sensation of someone giving you a skeptical eyebrow, and you can’t see or hear them, but you know the eyebrow is there, and it is arched.

The certainly is something I was meaning to work on, after all. And while it doesn’t have a due date, this was the best time to do it.


The result is my opening post on Pagan Bloggers: Now Entering October Country

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Reading Wednesday 22/03

Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:26 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Recently acquired:
  • Can neuroscience change our minds? by Hilary and Steven Rose. Steven Rose was a big influence on getting me into bioscience, so I excited to learn that he's written a new book about debunking neurobollocks, a subject close to my heart. And that he's written it in collaboration with his wife, a sociologist of science.

  • Three non-fiction books to give as belated bar mitzvah presents: I went with A history of God by Karen Armstrong, 1491 by Charles Mann, and The undercover economist by Tim Harford in the end. I reckon that gives a reasonable spread of perspectives, periods and cultures to get a curious teenager started.

  • A whole bunch of mostly novels for a not-very-sekrit plot.

Recently read:
  • This is a letter to my son by KJ Kabza, as recommended, and edited by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. It's a near-future story about a trans girl, which has minimal overt transphobia but quite a lot of cis people being clueless, and also it's about parent death among other themes.

  • Why Lemonade is for Black women by Dominique Matti, via [personal profile] sonia. Very powerful essay about intersectionality between gender and race. I've not actually seen Lemonade yet, because everything I've read about it suggests it's a large, complex work of art which I need to set aside time to concentrate on, I can't just listen to the songs in the background. And I'm a bit intimidated by the medium of a "visual album".
Currently reading: A Journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Not much progress.

Up next: I am thinking to pick up How to be both by Ali Smith, which has been on my to-read pile for a while. We'll see.
ofmonstrouswords: (thg: haymitch coffee)
[personal profile] ofmonstrouswords
This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 17th, 2016.

cut for length )

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finch: (Default)
[personal profile] finch
This morning was pretty unremarkable – I got dressed, started the dishwasher, took out the trash, said morning prayers on my way to work, got on the phone. The usual. I started playing with the new to-do tracking in my bullet journal. Then around 11:30 I noticed something was weird on the edges of my vision. Some of my peripheral vision was missing, and more was weirdly blurry. It didn’t last very long, and was followed by a headache.

Normally I’d just try to forget it as soon as possible but I ran it by my spouse to see what they’d say and their reaction was “uh, nope. call Advice Nurse.”

So I compromised and emailed Advice Nurse, and you know it’s a bad sign when you email Advice Nurse and she calls you back almost immediately. I described it to her and she wanted me to come in today. Just. you know, in case. Because of my medical history.

(Have I mentioned how much I hate that phrase?)

So off I went, in the middle of the day, and it was resoundingly not awesome, but everyone agreed it was for the best that I came in just to make sure.

In other news, I have ruined my streak of not having migraines since the early 2000s.

The streak I have not ruined is doing this practice every day, because I dragged my sorry butt down the creek anyhow, and called out to Tuesday’s power, who’s starting to acquire epithets, at least. He is called the Stolen Crown and the Maligned One and Dread Fairness. He’s extremely formal when I’m in ritual but can turn around and smirk at me the next minute, and he’s not what I thought he was at all, but that’s just par for the course for me, ain’t it?

Anyway. Three weeks down and off we go again…

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Mar. 21st, 2017 09:48 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
So this weekend I went to two synagogue services (in two different cities) and one church service, and I had a quiet going out for lunch and talking date with [personal profile] cjwatson and a bouncy metal gig date with Ghoti. And went to the cinema to see Beauty and the Beast and just about managed to squeeze in a little bit of time talking to [personal profile] jack. Um, it is hypothetically possible that I may have over-scheduled myself a bit.

I had fun, though )

My Failed Relationship with Toe Socks

Mar. 21st, 2017 02:06 pm
ofmonstrouswords: (thg: haymitch coffee)
[personal profile] ofmonstrouswords
This post was originally published on my Medium profile on January 21st, 2016.

cut for length )

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Day 20 – Keeping Score

Mar. 21st, 2017 08:06 am
finch: (Default)
[personal profile] finch
There are so many neat things I want to do: magical ideas I want to attempt, books I want to read, things I want to plant, movies to catch up on, crafts to try, stories to write… It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by it. Yesterday was a good example of that.

Redbird is absolutely right that my follow-through is lacking.

I didn’t go out to call the Dark Lady until late, obviously, but I chanted for her this morning as I walked to work, and on my lunch hour, and on my way home. The sounds are comfortable grooves worn in my thoughts, and it’s so damn helpful to feel like I can use them again.

I spent most of the day thinking about to-do lists and ways to be accountable and keep myself motivated. I actually got pretty frustrated with myself and my never-ending list of projects and how many things I don’t do.

Then I went out to call the Dark Lady and she’s like, you know what you’re doing, right?

To which I answered, getting distracted?

And perhaps you can imagine the night sky itself rolling her eyes, and the wind in the trees sighing in exasperation, and the ducks aggressively floating away.

You’re in such a hurry to be down on yourself that you also don’t value the things you are doing. How can you figure out how to make yourself work harder when you don’t value the work you’re already doing?

Well, she wasn’t wrong.

So the to-do list we’re trying out is actually three different lists. One is for tracking the chores we do regularly, stuff like laundry and dishes and warding and budgeting. One is for fun stuff: writing fiction and nonfiction, needlefelting, jewelrywork, dolls, and the like. And the third is for frogs, really unpleasant or anxiety-making things. Those are generally one-offs of adulting like making important phone calls or going to the dentist. (man, I wish going to the dentist was a one-off….)

They all still live in the same notebook, but they’re not the same list. The important part is it actually does allow me to see what I’m doing and what I’m not doing. The goal is that I can’t keep either extreme hidden from myself. That’s what the Dark Lady’s all about.


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kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
... presented as a series of e-mails, sent/received over the past week or so.

Read more... )


Day 19 – Slowing Down

Mar. 20th, 2017 06:44 am
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[personal profile] finch
Today was a slow day. Bug’s not feeling well and we didn’t have anything we needed to do, so we just stayed in. I darned another sock until my wrist started hurting (time to get my supports back out) and worked on coupons and laundry and bead organizing. And I did find time to get outside while it was nice out and go down to the creek.

Apparently we’ve reached the point in daily practice where I am getting somewhere. I know this is happening, not when I start getting inspiration, but when I start getting my ass kicked. Part of my invokation of Redbird is asking for creativity and today she basically called me out on it.

I have lots of ideas, and that’s wonderful, but my follow-through is lacking. Some of that is executive function issues, some of it is compulsive tendencies, but a lot of it is just dicking around on the internet. (And there’s a lot of overlap there, because infinite scroll + OCD can be a baaaaad combination, but still.)

I have a lot of projects that I am in the middle of, and even more that never seem to make it past acquiring the raw materials. Sometimes that’s because an idea doesn’t pan out, and that’s fine. Sometimes projects are going to take a while, especially if I’m spending the time on things like playing with Bug or taking care of the house. But this isn’t those things.

What did I tell you not to do?

Get distracted.

And what did you immediately do?

… Get distracted?

And if I was satisfied with the way I was spending my time, that’d be something else too. But, once again, I’m not. I look up at midnight and wonder where the time went. I like my hobbies! I want to do them more often!

I’m not sure what the solution is. Maybe I go back to using a blocker in my browser for specific websites, or I try more specific, time-limited goals, or I try some new ways of actually working on my to-do list, or… I don’t know.

But she’s right. I gotta do the thing if I want to do the thing.

Maybe that’s something I can address the next two days…

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Little Things

Mar. 19th, 2017 02:09 pm
ofmonstrouswords: (thg: haymitch coffee)
[personal profile] ofmonstrouswords
Post Image )

On Wednesday I woke up with intense pain in my neck and a massive, pounding headache. My plans for working on kitchen clean up and thus my year long project went out the window. So I took the drugs I could take, and waited for things to fade.

Eventually I had enough energy to do a little. I cleared off half of the windowsill that sits next to our front door, the door that opens into the kitchen. Whenever it’s warm and rainy — in fall and spring — we get salamanders on our front step. They climb out of the grate that rests under our mat, and by morning they’re gone — up the stairs and into the forest behind our property.

The past week or so has been warm enough for salamanders, despite winter digging its claws in for the long haul. (We’re due more snow on the 19th.) I opened the door and looked at the little guy out there; he was sitting just under the threshold, hiding, only his head poking out. The night before there had been two, one on each side, heads poking out like little guardian amphibians.

I thanked him for blessing our house and guarding our front door. I said he and his siblings were always welcome here, and I deeply appreciated their presence. He didn’t react, just sat there motionless, so I closed the door so the big scary hairless ape would stop staring at him.

I cleared off half the windowsill of both stuff (piled high with a hammer, a flashlight, and a few containers of coffee) and dust, a thick black layer of what looked like soot. No, just dust. I then found the metal sculpture of a gecko that my mom got me from one of her latest trips — it looks much like the salamanders outside. I put him on the windowsill.

It’s a spot for salamander spirit to sit and rest whenever it wants to.

I don’t think this house had a house spirit before, or if it did, it was sick. So I made a home for the salamander, and invited it to be part of our suite at least. I have been calling it Salamander Cavern for a while; it seemed only right.


Earlier this week our landlord came downstairs to tell us there was a new flood in the unfinished part of the basement. It’s our third one since the first one in fall, 2015. Luckily it’s also the mildest.

Unfortunately it still means I need to get on my hands and knees to check for water seeping through in our storage space under the stairs. I’ve already checked the closet in the office, and luckily that is still dry.

The constant problems in this place are wearing on me. Every time I take two steps forward, I’m forced three back. It’s this latest flood that has convinced me there is something spiritually wrong with this house. The sheer amount of crap we’ve had to deal with, and just as renters…there’s something off here.

After the last flood we bought clear plastic bags to throw down on the problem areas of the carpet, so if there’s more moisture our stuff stays dry at least. We cannot bring ourselves to care if the carpet gets mildewy at this point. There have always been moisture problems in the basement suite of this house; it’s likely why my allergies are so bad here. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the carpet is already mildewy (and it’s all new, put in after the first big flood). I just can’t face constantly moving my stuff around in case of water. I haven’t been able to actually *store* anything properly in the storage areas of the house because those are the ones that get affected.

I’m not done putting down the clear plastic bags. I need to put one under my portable wardrobe in the office, which will be a big job, and in the storage area under the stairs so we can actually put away our Christmas stuff.

I’m seeing things again, too. Little black flashes in the corner of my eye; figures skittering from one corner of a room to the next. Either the rat has moved down from the ceiling and is running around our place, or we’ve got more astral bugs. I did a massive cleaning before to get them out and put up new wards when I did. Looks like another one is in order, and fresh wards.

I’ve never been in a place that needed so much maintenance, spiritual or otherwise.

The salamander home is a partial answer to that. Salamander has been hanging out here for a while, so it’s my hope that offering it a home, a place to sit, will mean it’s more able or willing to assist me in keeping this place…well, habitable.


I’ve been doing more magic in general. I wrote out a plan to do magic once a week, but I’m hoping to do it more often than once. (Once a week = at every moon phase.) I’m doing this because I’ve spent a long time just not doing spells until I need to break out the big guns. I want to practice doing magic for smaller things. I want to hone my skills, and the best way to do that is to just practice, practice, practice. Which means not waiting until it’s a big issue to do a spell.

If I’d heard about the #domagick thing before it started I might have attempted that. But on the other hand, magic every day might be a bit beyond my spoon levels right now. I think once a week is a good place to start.

I don’t know how long I’m going to do my moon magick (as I’m calling it). It’s open-ended. I feel I just need to do it until I feel stronger, magically. I don’t exercise those muscles as often as I should. This is my magic workout plan.

I did my first bit this last full moon. My next bit is scheduled for Monday the 20th, last quarter moon.

It’s better than going to the gym.

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Naomi J./Sophia Catherine

July 2014

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