April 7, 2016

Some days it’s a struggle to find anything to say, and for anyone trying to make a living writing, this is pretty much hell. Today is definitely one of those days, so here comes a few hundred words of rambling.

I suppose today (April 7th, 2016) I should be writing about the newly released teaser for “Rogue One” (it looks fantastic btw) but that got me thinking about Star Wars in general, my childhood obsession with it and how much of my life has been influenced by this fictional universe.

You can watch the teaser trailer on YouTube here:

I wish I could say it’s been nothing but good, but my lack of social skills, coupled with being overweight, made me a big target for school bullying. So being a Star Wars nerd on top of all that just made things even worse.

Oh I want to read one of the expanded universe books? Well that means sitting under a tree by myself during recess and lunch, hoping the popular kids and cliques just ignore me. Most days it worked, but not always. Book reports and art projects were always terrifying though.

And even at home, my obsession with Star Wars earned me the ire and ridicule of my brother and sister. In some ways this was because I was the youngest of three, and an easy target. Looking back I can see that a lot of it was also mis-directed anger towards my mom; my brother and sister thought I was her “favorite” child, so whenever she bought me a Star Wars toy/action figure, I got their guilt and resentment in full force.

There was a brief reprieve where it was “cool” to be a Star Wars nerd for the “Special Edition” theatrical releases, and again for the prequels (even though they turned out so terrible) and one of the few memories I have of feeling like I fit in at all, was seeing episode 1 in theaters with a group of kids from school.

That was the last time I ever fit in anywhere; one afternoon of swinging plastic light-sabers around while waiting in line for the movie, then excitedly talking about it as we walked to a neighboring outlet mall afterwards.

By the time episodes 2 and 3 were released, I was too far gone; already overwhelmed by depression and self harm that set in full force with the onset of puberty.

In a lot of ways, my childhood made me ashamed of being a Star Wars fan; ashamed of being a “nerd” at all for a long time. In some ways that continues today; I never found success through my nerdiness, so is it really worth celebrating or embracing? Maybe the guilt and resentment from my siblings wasn’t misplaced? Some days it’s hard to really know.

Anyway, back to “Rogue One” before I ramble even longer and just delete this post.

I’m intrigued and impressed with the tone and imagery conveyed in the teaser already. I’m especially thrilled to get little slivers of story that expand on the original trilogy, and it will be a joy to see familiar set pieces (e.g. The Death Star) on a big screen again. It gives me hope that maybe the next off-cycle/side movie could be inspired by the “Shadows of the Empire” story from the expanded universe. I’m also happy to see another strong female character, even though I don’t think it was necessary with how well written Rey was in “The Force Awakens” (assuming of course that she continues to be so strong, independent, and well grounded in episodes 8 and 9.) I can’t help but feel like Disney has taken to heart a quote from Joss Whedon years ago; when asked why he kept writing such strong female characters, he replied (paraphrasing) “because you keep asking me this question.”

Tranny, she-male, trap, etc.

Some day I plan on writing a post (or series of posts) about the many problems and issues of trying to “date” while being trans, but in the meantime, I wanted to write a little about the topic of trans slurs. Like most nerds these days I use Reddit for a variety of reasons, and in response to one post someone sent me the following message:

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So first, yes, the terms “tranny” and “she-male” are generally considered offensive, and yes they’re even offensive to me. I don’t use them much in my day to day life except when I’m bordering on panic, or having a breakdown. They only really come out in my daily life as a result of all the crippling/overwhelming anxiety and shame I live with.

In my online life however, I’m trying to use them as a kind of “acceptance therapy” if that makes sense.

I’m not female (genetically I’m not 46,XX) and I lost both the socio-economic and genetic lotteries; I wasn’t able to transition before puberty, or be raised/socialized as a normal girl. And after 6 years now on hormones I still don’t pass for female, so it’s safe to assume I never will. I also wasn’t born into a country with socialized health care, so the likelihood of ever affording surgery is almost nil.

So I have to find some way to be ok with the fact that to the vast majority of people, I’m a freak; I’m just a man in drag, trying to “invade” women’s spaces.

I’m just a “tranny.”

Quick aside, if you really want to argue this, go read up on “HB2” just signed into law in North Carolina. This isn’t the first or last time anti-trans laws will be codified.

And sure, other people have (and will continue to) use these words/slurs with the explicit intention of hurting me. Though it’s much more common online (It happened at length back when I was hardcore playing “Lord of The Rings Online”) than in person; in real life it’s usually more subtle, a cashier of waitress will shift to gender neutral (or sometimes outright male) pronouns “hey guys” instead of “hey ladies” if I’m around.

One day in particular I’ll never forget…

+++++

Three years ago, just a normal day out to lunch with my mom, we go to a local diner (like a Denny’s) and the hostess greets us, “Hi lad-” she literally stops mid-word, pauses and recovers, “Hi guys.”

+++++

Other times it’s more subtle, the hostess or cashier won’t stop mid word, but will change to gender neutral for any subsequent interaction. That happens so frequently that trying to remember every instance is impossible.

This is why “Hi guys” is just as upsetting to me as outright slurs; it’s subtle, and nuanced, and it strips me of my identity in a seemingly polite way. It’s another way for people to tell me, “You’re a fraud, you don’t fool me, I know you aren’t female.”

As one therapist told me a couple years back, I’ve developed borderline agoraphobia from this.

That’s reality for me, even living in the greater Los Angeles area, one of the most “progressive” and LGBT friendly areas in the world.

So at least if I’m up front about it and use these slurs to describe myself, it dulls the pain ever so slightly when someone uses them with the intent to harm. Maybe it even cuts off some would-be harassment attempts before they begin, I don’t know.

Another ordinary day?

While I don’t really want to write about being transgender, it doesn’t seem like my obscure writing about tech is ever going anywhere. I’m never going to be a part of that “cool kids club” of tech bloggers (e.g. Serenity Caldwell, Rene Ritchie, Jason Snell, et.al.) so what can I do with my time?

And today I saw this tweet in my timeline by a trans woman (presumably) in tech, being retweeted by a prominent “tech-celebrity”/”influencer” that I follow.

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And it immediately made me uncomfortable. How would I talk about my life experiences pre and post transition? I can’t pretend to know what CIS-women go through, because I’m not CIS.

It got me thinking about all the little ways that my life is a struggle. I’m not female; nobody views me that way. I’m a third gender that’s basically non-human, even in one of the most socially progressive states in the country.

+++++

I’m with my mom, visiting the Apple Store today, she’s looking for a case for her new iPhone SE. The store isn’t busy, there’s easily 4-5 employees talking amongst themselves, not helping any customers.

Nobody greets us or asks if they can help us. We have to actively seek out someone to see if they have the leather case in the color she wants. The employee forgets about us, so my mom flags down another employee. I walk around and browse the Apple Watch display, two employees are talking together one table away. Neither one asks if I have any questions or want to try one on. They do greet and help a young woman and her male friend (boyfriend?) find replacement watch bands.

I keep browsing, this time the iPad Pro. Another woman is there, trying out a 12.9″ model with the Smart Keyboard, an employee walking past asks if he can help her, then moves on when she declines. I pick up a 9.7″ model to try out, then a 12.9, then move to one with the keyboard attached. Nobody ever says a word to me. Eventually my mom and I leave, they didn’t have the case in the Navy Blue color she wanted.

While our visit was short (20 minutes maybe?) nobody ever acknowledged that I was there.

+++++

This was a good day, I was just “invisible” to the people there, or at least they were polite enough to act like it. Some days, a lot of days, are far worse.

Lust…

http://www.apple.com/ipad-pro/

So I really thought the new 9.7″ iPad Pro would be what finally sold me, but between listening to so many podcasters gush about the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and seeing how amazing the split view/multitasking is in person, I’m not so sure anymore.

I definitely like the size and weight of the smaller, 9.7″ model, and it’s unquestionably the better size for reading in bed. But split view isn’t as incredible, and it lacks the fast-charging with the 29W USB-C adapter.

Regardless, thanks to the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, I’m definitely tempted to just forgo a desktop computer altogether for a iPad Pro.

Please apple, just give us a compiler/Xcode for iOS at WWDC this year. While you’re at it, local, encrypted backups without iTunes (e.g. To a flash drive using the new USB to lightning adapter) would be great too.

Now to find a purse large enough (but still stylish!) to carry around such a monster of a tablet.

Memories

For several months now I’ve been using the app Day One (Journal / Notes / Diary) – Bloom Built, LLC to force myself to write at least a few sentences every day, even though this normally doesn’t make it anywhere public.

One handy feature is the ability to set a daily reminder, and even popup a quick entry window from your menubar. These reminders also show you a simple writing prompt, and can send them to Notification Center in Mac OS X.

Granted, after a few weeks you’re likely to see some repeat prompts, but on the whole it’s a nice touch, especially if you’re particularly struggling to find something to write.

Last night a reminder I hadn’t seen before showed up, not really a prompt at all, just a statement.
memories

This one struck me.

habitual cynicism

My initial reaction was cynical and negative, but I kept thinking about it until I went to bed, and still can’t quite shake it two days later. Do I really only have bad memories? I know there were good days or moments, but do they stand on their own? Is it possible to separate out the good moments from the overall context of my life? I feel like trying to isolate memories diminishes them; but trying to personally contextualize them makes them all negative/sad. And is there really any benefit to this?

I don’t know, I can’t really tie up this line of thought just yet.

The more I think about this, the more I’m reminded of an interesting conversation and thought experiment by CGPGrey which he talked about on Hello Internet 29. (the particular segment starts around the 54 minute mark)

Without hesitation, I would press the button.