haggis: (Default)
2017-06-02 11:32 am

(no subject)

 BiCon peeps - if I ran another Bi Carers meet, would people be interested? You can DM if you would prefer

Got some squeaks of interest - have emailed BiCon 😀
haggis: (Celtic)
2017-03-24 01:14 pm

Yet another post about Teh Trans.

(It feels really presumptuous to be writing about this as a cis person and I am really interested to hear if trans people think I am way off base here but people seemed to like the previous posts)

Hester Tidcombe asked a question in response to the last post which I thought deserved a longer answer than I could fit in a comment.

"could you recommend sources to explain what gender is to people who have got as far as the GCSE Sociology type definition that gender is the social construct that most societies inflict on different sexes? I've been seeking explanations to counter the "gender is a social construct, therefore there's no such thing as transgender, just people with body dysmorphia promoting gender stereotypes " brigade, but explanations of trans on some favourable places actually make it sound like gender really is nothing more than stereotyping! Best I've found yet is Fred's diagram suggesting gender is something that people have in different amounts and if you have little of it, or have a lot but it matches your presentation, then that's great for you."

There's a link to Fred's diagram here because I think it is a really useful thing too!  https://assumebenevolence.wordpress.com/…/05/20/paint-chart/
Cut for waffle )
haggis: (Celtic)
2017-03-23 06:09 pm

A couple of FB rants part 2 - Transphobes arguments are utter crap

Following up on my earlier post, I wanted to talk about why most anti-transgender arguments are either outright lies, unfair comparisons or else subtly require trans people to stop existing (or stop existing in public) for other people's comfort/convenience.
Cut for transphobic BS )
haggis: (Celtic)
2017-03-23 06:05 pm

A couple of ranty posts from FB - part 1

Buzzfeed reports on a bus which is touring the US, emblazoned with a message asserting that "Boys are always boys and girls are always girls" and the hashtag FreeSpeechBus.

I had a bit of a rant in response.
CN Transphobic BS )
haggis: (Celtic)
2017-03-12 04:00 pm

Charities and donations.

After the election in 2015, I knew that life was going to get much harder for vulnerable people in the UK. I do not have much time or energy for campaigning or protesting so I have been gradually increasing the amount of money I give to charities to fight on my behalf or to support vulnerable people.

I am pretty well paid and we have a reasonably high disposable income. It is not my intent to boast about this or to shame people who are struggling financially but just to encourage people who can spare a little to consider setting up regular donations.

I used the same method that is recommended to start saving money - I set up a standing order to transfer a certain amount of money to a dedicated savings account. Once that money is transferred, I don't think of it as 'my' money any more. I transfer slightly more than I need for the regular donations so I can make one-off donations if I want to as well.

I donate money from my main account or via a credit card and at the end of the month, I transfer back the actual amount I've donated.

Over time, I have expanded the list of charities I support. I am aiming for a spread of charities that reflect my concerns and I have a preference for small charities with a specific focus where a small regular income has a big effect.

Bi Community News /Biphoria (http://bicommunitynews.co.uk/, http://www.biphoria.org.uk/)
Bisexual Index (http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/)
Bis of Colour History Project (https://www.gofundme.com/bochistory?ssid=941574628&pos=1)
National Ugly Mugs who provide safety advice and advocacy for sex workers (https://uknswp.org/um/)
Abortion Support Network who provide advice, information and financial support for people from Ireland, N Ireland, Isle of Man etc who need to come to the UK to access abortion services (https://www.asn.org.uk/)
Galop who provide many services including domestic violence support services for LGBT people (http://www.galop.org.uk/)
Refuge who provide domestic violence support services for women and children (http://www.refuge.org.uk/)
Coram Voice who provide support and advocacy for young people in care and care leavers (http://www.coramvoice.org.uk/)
Mermaids who provide support and advocacy for trans kids (http://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk/)
Trussell Trust who run food banks (https://www.trusselltrust.org/)
DPAC who organise and protest against the funding and welfare cuts which are disproportionately affecting disabled people. (http://dpac.uk.net/)

I also have a Patreon account which is mostly LGBT people, People of Colour and activists.

A few years ago, I donated money to Kiva for a year, who lend the money via microfinance to people around the world who have difficulty getting loans from banks because of poverty/access problems etc. I am a little more dubious about the benefits of microfinance these days but I continue to relend the money as the borrowers repay it.

haggis: (Celtic)
2017-02-10 01:00 pm
Entry tags:

Biphobia shows up in all sorts of places

I have been listening to an 'advice column' podcast called Dear Sugar (by the two people who previously wrote the Dear Sugar advice column at The Rumpus). It is similar in tone to Captain Awkward (who I adore) and I always find it interesting, even when I don't agree.

The latest ep I started listening to was about a woman who was devastated after her boyfriend broke up with her to explore his interest in dating men. He doesn't yet know whether he is straight, bi or gay or some other sexual orientation.

The letter was a really clear demonstration that Biphobia Hurts Straight, Lesbian And Gay People Too. The woman was wrestling with her pain over the break up, worsened by the belief that if he was attracted to men, he must have been less attracted to her or attracted to her emotionally but not sexually. The authors of Dear Sugar are both straight but they have been very LGBT-inclusive and they bring in guests to discuss issues that are outside their experience. I was really hopeful that this could be a good ep and even wondering if they got a Real Live Bi Person to discuss it.

No. They invited Dan Savage.

Dan Savage who has past form for repeatedly warning gay and lesbian people away from dating bi people. The now 'reformed' Dan Savage who says he will champion bisexuals ... once enough of us come out, while failing to acknowledge his own complicity in making LG(bt) spaces viciously biphobic and then wondering why we don't show up there.

I haven't listened to the episode yet. I will do so and I really hope that Dan can give helpful advice rather than spout his trademark glib, damaging biphobia because this bullshit hurts bi people and it hurts our partners, exes and future partners.

Once I've listened, I will be emailing them to ask them to include bi voices in future. The myth that you can only be *really* attracted to one gender is insidiously damaging - hurting anyone who has ever experienced attraction to more than one gender (which is a much bigger group than people who ID as bi) AND their partners AND trans, nonbinary or genderfluid people whose gender changes over their lifetime. Bisexual people are perfectly placed to challenge this myth and our voices should be heard.



haggis: (Celtic)
2017-01-22 10:34 am
Entry tags:

Things the LJ revival has taught me so far

1. LJ has implemented FI style 'likes' in an unhelpful way.

I can't tell who has liked a post, my journal theme doesn't show them but I get a little email about it :-S

2. It is really nice to get comments so I shall add 'comment more' to my personal LJ revival plan :-D

Given the weirdness of the liking system - if you like one of my posts but don't have anything to say, please comment with a smiley face or something small like that!


3.  Have remembered I bought a small cheap laptop, specifically for the purpose of writing on t'internet from bed.  So lots of you have just got comments :D  Teenytinylaptop's battery doesn't last long which is actually good because it is keeping me focussed instead of browsing idly.

4.  I often enjoy reading posts but feel I have nothing to say so don't comment.  But when I tried, I found something to say for every post I looked at.  That's useful to know.

It is also interesting because in hanging around with quiet, introverted and/or socially anxious people, I have somehow absorbed the idea that I find talking people to people.  But that isn't actually true for me*.  It's a skill I want to keep developing for things like Bi Coffee and post-Biphoria when I want to make people feel welcome and included in the conversation.

*I have spent my life being told/assuming that I am similar to my dad in personality and he is one of those quiet people.  But my mum is really gregarious and chatty and it is interesting to start seeing what I have inherited from her as well.   I can remember talking to her about people we know and she had really interesting insights into how people ticked which would never have occured to teenaged me.  But mid-30s me has learned a lot about people since then.  And learning how to talk and how to listen, both in the relatively shallow social lubrication sense and in the deeper sense of 'holding space'* is an ongoing goal for me.

*Discussion of bereavement and grief at that link
Posted via m.livejournal.com.

haggis: (Celtic)
2017-01-20 09:22 pm

While I'm on a roll, some old fashioned memesheepery

Borrowed from [livejournal.com profile] sfred

1. How do you like your coffee?
Coffee doesn't like me, it gives me stomachache. But before that, I drank it white with two sugars.

2. How do you like your tea?
White, one sugar, not too strong. In extreme circumstances (i.e. Lack of milk), black with two sugars.

Occasionally mint tea, green teas or fruit teas. I also drink naked varieties of black tea but I don't know if I can really tell the difference.

3. What's your favorite late night beverage?
It's almost always going to be tea. Possibly hot chocolate, with at least 5 heaped tsps of powder in.

4. If you could only drink one thing for the next week, what would it be?
Tea definitely!

I started drinking tea regularly when studying at school and there's a very strong mental association between the taste of hot tea and the feeling of getting down to work. At work, getting up to make tea also serves as a natural break when working. I try to use it to refocus when I have been distracted but that is less effective.

5. If you were on vacation, what would be the first thing you'd drink to celebrate?
Possibly red wine, possibly something sweet and alcoholic but tea is a strong contender here too.
haggis: (Celtic)
2017-01-20 04:50 pm

LJ Revival / Posting more

With all this discussion of the LJ revival, I have been planning to write more here. I still post a lot across various media but Twitter and Facebook are horrendous for finding stuff beyond a few days/hours back and I would really like to have more of a record of who I am and what I am doing.

I realised a big stumbling block to posting here is that I post stuff-on-my-mind/rants to FB and the more personal thoughts posted to Twitter. And the stuff that’s left feels a bit too introspective/self-indulgent to put on here, especially when it is the only post on a page.

To combat this, I am going to try and pick up SFred’s format of posting diary entries about what I am doing each week and also to remember Frightened’s useful tag “Livejournal is self-obsession, honey” when I feel I am being to self-indulgent. After all, no-one is obliged to read this stuff ;)

I also plan to copy long posts I am proud of from Facebook as a personal archive.
haggis: (Celtic)
2016-08-23 09:14 am

'Passing' Privilege - Not actually a privilege

I find 'passing privilege' really difficult to talk about. On one hand, it does give me access to privileges and acceptance that non-passing people do not get but on the other hand, those privileges are conditional on me keeping myself closeted.

There is a gulf between 'passing' and being accepted. Passing is explicitly being accepted on false pretences. I have a male partner, I look pretty heteronormative and people read me as straight. My alleged straightness is not a lie I am telling. it is their stupid assumptions that bisexuals don't exist, a woman partnered with a man must be straight and that there is a queer 'look' that can be easily identified. Either I am constantly outing myself or I am being constantly pushed back into the closet.

Am I to blame when people make false assumptions about me? Where is the line between accepting that people will mis-label me and taking advantage of that mis-labelling? How soon do I need to out myself to avoid being considered 'deceitful' and 'untrustworthy'? (It is no coincidence that these are negative stereotypes of bi people!) How much should I do to make myself look queer in straight people's eyes, even if it doesn't feel comfortable for me? It is really difficult to avoid blaming myself for people's homophobic & biphobic assumptions about me, my appearance, my relationship, my queer identity. It is difficult to avoid internalising the belief that I am not queer enough, not brave enough, not honest enough.

Passing as straight gives some conditional privileges in straight, mainstream society, (even if it is not true acceptance) but it can lead to rejection and harrassment in LG communities unless I choose to 'pass' as lesbian, closeting myself again. The assumption is that because I pass in straight communities, I do not need queer community and I am greedy for expecting the community to include me. But I am NOT fully, genuinely accepted in either community and two half-hearted welcomes do not add up to a community where I can feel safe and respected. 'Passing privilege' can be used to blame bisexual people for their own oppression, unless they meet a set of shifting, unstated requirements - looking queer enough, being out enough in straight spaces but not too out in LGBT ones, having an appropriate sexual CV to demonstrate our queerness.

And yet ... I took my time coming out to my family and it didn't get questioned because I had this convenient male boyfriend to bring home for the holidays. I can talk about my partner at work without playing the pronoun game. My appearance fits a norm and that gives me some protection against harrassment by randoms. Passing has brought me some privileges and I have been able to avoid internalising some of the negative effects because I have access to a bisexual community. This has helped me identify and fend off bi-erasing microaggressions from straight and LG(bt) communities.

Some people have a worse experience and are marginalised in both straight and LG(bt) spaces. I am pretty convinced that this experience of dual marginalisation is the underlying cause of the horrifying statistics about bisexual people's mental health problems, experience of violence and reluctance to be out. Being constantly isolated and undermined is destructive and that experience is emphatically not a privilege.

I approach the issue of passing privilege from a quite defensive posture in two different ways. I think that people mistake 'passing' for acceptance and therefore dismiss the way passing harms us. On the other hand, I have not experienced much direct oppression myself and I am wary of 'playing the victim' by claiming to be more oppressed than I am. I suspect being relatively privileged on other axes plays into that defensiveness - I don't want to ignore those factors.

I do think that there are actual benefits to passing and I think they make life easier for people who can pass. For example, I work with a homophobe and I am not out so it does not affect our working relationship. My friend is a non binary trans woman who does not pass as cis - she could not work with him in the same way because she does not pass as straight even for a minute. Feeling erased is NOT as bad as fearing for my job. Not outing myself to a homophobe is a choiceI can make. It is not a uniquely bisexual thing and it does not make me responsible for his homophobia (he is a twat) but it does benefit me.

However, it strikes me that I have viewed passing privilege as a specifically bisexual issue because I have seen it used to undermine and exclude bi people. However, the same criticism (of 'taking advantage' of passing) would apply to any queer person who is ever mis-identified and does not immediately correct that identification. Holding bisexuals *more* accoubtable for that than monosexuals is another way of saying we are only conditionally welcome.

(This post was previously published in Purple Prose, edited by Kate Harrad (http://thorntreepress.com/purple-prose/), which is a collection of interviews, essays, poems and commentary, written for and by bi people in the UK.
haggis: (Celtic)
2016-05-30 10:57 pm

(no subject)

So, I have got myself wound up about the stupidest thing. We are almost at the point where D&I start trying to get me pregnant. I have wanted this for years. I have gradually done all the things I felt I wanted/needed to do first. Everything is lined up. And now I am so scared it won't work and I will not be able to conceive or conceive then miscarry and OMGOMGOMG. And there is all this advice saying don't tell until the 12 wk scan and that just feels impossible!

I can't do it, I can't keep quiet that long. I have a naturally low TMI threshold and this process is so fucking *weird* - the ova pops out of the follicle like a tiny terrorist, ready to grab the hormonal controls and yank hard on them.

So there will be LJ posts, hidden behind cut-tags and possibly a filter if I decide to hide away. But given the hormonal wossnames haven't even started yet and I am already freaking out, there will be me going argh, wtf.
haggis: (Celtic)
2016-02-22 05:21 pm

My polyamory will be intersectional (and consider emotional labour) or it will be bullshit.

This epic rant was sparked by Gesa Mayer’s paper on XX at the Polyamory event at MMU on 21/02/16. I found the paper interesting but infuriating as you can see.

I am going to try and summarise Gesa’s paper based on my memory of the key points that jumped out at me. I want this summary to be fair so if you think I am off base, please let me know. I am going to use polyamory and non-monogamy interchangeably in this article.

Gesa’s paper proposed that one of the attractions of monogamy is that it makes romantic promises about relationships and she identified priority, exclusivity and complementarity as key romantic promises.

By comparison with these promises, polyamory is often explained as a lack. On one hand, polyamory is assumed to be caused by a lack (lack of good enough partners or a pathological need for more sex or affection etc than one partner can provide). On the other, it is accused of causing a lack, by splitting people’s time and attention or by damaging the primary relationship.

Gesa presented a mix of quotes from relationship counsellors espousing these views and from poly people challenging them. Her argument seemed to be that monogamy based on lack/scarcity and that in contrast polyamory abundance and sharing but she also noted that many of monogamy’s promises turned up in poly people’s description of their own lives.

I hope that’s a fair assessment of the paper and I can see it as being useful in challenging negative attitudes to non-monogamy. But I have three big problems with it.

This got long! )
haggis: (Celtic)
2016-01-16 09:48 pm

In which I go off on one about the man-made disaster of the Flint Water supply

From this article

"The city of Flint, Mich., is in the midst of a water crisis several years in the making. The city opted out of Detroit's water supply and began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014, part of a cost-saving move. Eighteen months later, in the fall of 2015, researchers discovered that the proportion of children with above-average lead levels in their blood had doubled."

This is not an accident or a mistake. This is not an unexpected result or unpredictable. This is deliberate negligence and deceit.

We can test the properties of a water source and identify what needs to be removed to make it safe to drink. We can design treatment systems to remove metals, organic chemical and adjust the pH so it is not corrosive. We can even use specific chemicals to prevent lead pipes corroding (sodium orthophosphate dosing for plumbosolvency is used in the UK because it is cheaper than *guaranteeing* that all lead pipes have been removed).

There are procedures for signing off design changes to ensure they do not compromise water safety. There are systems for automatically diverting flow if treatment fails or the incoming water is too contaminated to treat.

In the UK, if a water company is found to have failed to take any of these steps, they are subject to fines and prosecution because clean water is vital for EVERYONE'S health.

As a professional engineer working in the water industry, I am utterly disgusted by the utter failure in technical skill, legislative will and professional ethics that have lead this man-made health catastrophe.

haggis: (Celtic)
2016-01-03 09:06 pm

50 questions meme

Last year's answers here

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
Meme-age )
haggis: (Celtic)
2015-07-01 05:40 pm

Negotiating ethical, non-oppressive caring relationships - links with other intersections?

As you can tell by the last post, I am starting to work out my thoughts about carers and the caring relationship, especially how to care and ask for support as a carer in an ethical, non-oppressive way. I feel like I am on shaky ground – being a carer is hard but it is often easier than being disabled and it is easy and dangerous for carers to speak over the people they are caring for.

It occurs to me that there are parallels between being a carer and being a white person in a relationship with a person of colour or being a cis person in a relationship with a trans person.
• You may experience the oppression directly (disablism, racism, transphobia) but more frequently you experience it by association or witness it happening to the other person.
• Other people like you (white or cis or non-disabled) may include you in their disablism, racism and/or transphobia, assuming you agree.
• Mainstream society (in the West) is white, non-disabled and cis and has very low understanding of disablism, racism and transphobia. You are likely to need to educate yourself and then educate people around you.
• Support is desperately limited. Where support exists, it is generally focussed on the other person. Asking for support can feel like stealing resources from people who need it more.
• The support available can be disablist/racist/transphobic – for example when disabled people are treated as burdens, trans people are framed as deceiving/hurting their partners or inter-racial relationships are fetishised or tokenised.
• You are likely to have structural power in the relationship.
• You are likely to have internalised disablist, racist, transphobic ideas or beliefs and will mess up at some point.
• You have the opportunity to use power abusively. If you do, you can find people who will justify your behaviour.
• You are taken more seriously on the subject (of disablism, racism, transphobia) than the other person because of bullshit assumptions about objectivity.
• You can escape from the oppression more easily than the other person, for short periods or permanently by ending the relationship.
• You may find yourself permanently angry and horrified at how mainstream society equates ability with worth, enforces gender roles (sometimes violently) and works to maintain white privilege.
• Structural power is NOT the only issue and both sides of the relationship can be abusive (physically, emotionally, psychologically).
• Disablism, racism and/or transphobia make being abused by your partner or the person you provide care for even harder to talk about because of how neatly it fits disablist/racist/transphobic narratives.

I have written this as if these are simple binaries but they intersect and combine. Carers often have disabilities or need care themselves. Trans people and people of colour can be carers. Trans PoC exist. Other privileges and oppressions can affect what support you can access and how medical/social care providers treat you and the person you care for. I don’t want to overstate the parallels – these oppressions are different and work in different ways but I think I will look for good resources on inter-racial relationships and cis-trans relationships to see if there is any useful ideas there.

However, I think I have found a central theme – for someone who is not otherwise oppressed, these relationships force you to confront your own privilege and internalised -isms while discovering the oppression in mainstream society. (One of the key functions of privilege is to make your own privilege invisible to you). A key part of caring ethically and non-oppressively is learning to negotiate that within intensely personal relationships, with all the usual tides and undercurrents of love and jealousy and frustration you find there.

haggis: (Celtic)
2015-07-01 05:37 pm

Thoughts about caring and being a carer.

I saw this article linked on Twitter, in response to Jeremy Hunt's call for people to be less 'atomised' and spend more time socialising with and supporting elderly relatives.


"Should we as a wider society debate how we view older people? Absolutely. Should we as a society be less ageist? Yes definitely. However, those are in some ways the easy questions; the real debate is Should we as a society spend more money on social care and support services to help older people stay independent and happy in their own homes till the end of their life irrespective of whether they have family support?"

These are issues that disproportionately affect LGBT people, as it is more likely that they have lost contact or been rejected by their families. But it affects everyone - 1 in 5 older people do not have regular contact with their families but social care systems are built on the assumption that everyone does.

On one hand, I think this article is a little unfair on Jeremy Hunt - increased social inclusion of elderly people needs effort by everyone.

But in practice "everyone should means that nobody actually does". This currently means that where there are carers available (friends, family, neighbours) - the work of caring is loaded onto those individuals until they collapse. Equally, there is potential for abuse from carers, which is exacerbated when the person receiving care is forced to be dependent on their carer AND where there is inadequate support for both the carer and the person receiving care. (Newsflash - the current support available is inadequate. )

haggis: (Celtic)
2015-07-01 05:34 pm

BiCon Workshop - Bi Carers Meet

I am also running a BiCon workshop about being a carer.

I was inspired to run the Carers workshop by the really good one that Ludy Roper ran last year. Being a carer can be hard work, physically and emotionally. We want to support the people we care for (which can be partners, friends, parents, children, neighbours) but there is rarely appropriate support for us. We may be disabled or experience poor health ourselves. We are directly and indirectly affected by disablism and discrimination against the people we care for but being a carer is different from being disabled. There are complex issues about speaking for/over disabled people or being viewed as 'virtuous' or 'heroic' (which implies the people we care for are a burden).

I am planning to run this workshop as a safe space for people to talk, listen and share experiences. If you have any thoughts or experiences on this subject that you would like to share, please contact me via FB, FB chat, Twitter, LJ or email. I will keep everything confidential unless given explicit permission to share it. If you are happy for me to share information, I can anonymise it if required. (Note this is a public post.)

I view being a carer as being an intersectional issue so there doesn't have to be a specific connection with sexual orientation or being bisexual to join in this conversation/workshop. However, we know there are high rates of disability and mental health problems in our communities, increasing numbers of older LGBT people who may not have family support as they age and professionals/support services may make assumptions about LGBT people and their relationships that affect both carers and the people they care for.

haggis: (Celtic)
2015-06-12 01:00 pm

Addendum - Benevolent sexism

While I am on a roll, I am going to rant about another defence of Tim Hunt -that he 'meant well'.
This article (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psysociety/benevolent-sexism/) does a really good job of summarising what benevolent sexism is and why it is damaging.

"[Benevolent sexism is] a subjectively positive orientation of protection, idealization, and affection directed toward women that, like hostile sexism, serves to justify women’s subordinate status to men."

Under the touchy-feely stuff, benevolent sexism implies that women are weak, sensitive creatures that need to be “protected.”  They are naturally interested in motherhood and caring for others ... so we don't need to praise them for doing those things or acknowledge that they require hard work.

Benevolent sexism is usually contrasted with hostile sexism, which is characterised by obvious hate and fear of women but the two are strongly linked.  In a study across different countries, Glick and Fiske found that countries with high rates of benevolent sexism have high rates of hostile sexism and that countries with high rates of benevolent sexism had the most gender inequality. Gender equality in this context means "men lived longer, were more educated, had higher literacy rates, made significantly more money, and actively participated in the political and economic spheres more than their female counterparts".

Benevolent sexism is enraging because it is harder to challenge than hostile sexism and because benevolent sexists are psychologically protected against recognising their own sexism.  "He meant well" is NOT a defence for the stupidity of advocating for "separate but equal" gender segregated science labs.