Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed: TDoR Still Fails Trans Women of Color

April:

I don’t often reblog posts, but this one is important.

Originally posted on fake cis girl:

Content warning: Discussion of suicide and ostracism of trans women, significant fatphobic hatespew is involved on the part of Andrea James. Proceed with appropriate caution if this might cause you pain.

It’s with a heavy heart that once again I address all of you before yet another Transgender Day of Remembrance that still  fails trans women of color, fails trans victims of suicide, and directly refuses to count trans people killed by police and in custody. TDoR remains a day dedicated to dividing our community, an already divided and fractious community, rather than bringing us together. Yes, this is directly related to the insular and panicked community we have, but it’s also connected to the problem behind TDoR itself: its “ownership” by Gwen Smith, whose refusal to discuss race on the official TDoR site along with her somewhat narrow choices as to what deaths do and don’t matter, strangles the…

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Winter Update

Holy crap has it been four months?

Well. I suppose I have catching up to do.

The day after my last post, I was fired. My manager will swear up and down that he fired one of his best agents because I wasn’t living up to standards, but that’s bullshit. I was fired because I was trans. I’ve been limping along ever since. Had a few scary episodes, but my sister helped me through them. I’d rather put it all behind me, so I’m not going into much detail. Suffice to say, there were some very black moments where I thought it was all going to happen again.

But it won’t. I’m stronger than I was before. And, if worst truly comes to worst, my sister owns a house now. I don’t really have to worry about having nowhere to go. But I don’t want to leave Portland, if I can avoid it. I don’t want to admit defeat.

There’s an amazing program offered by Oregon State University to do a 1-year program that comes with a BS in Computer Science at the end. It’s for people, like me, who have a Bachelor’s that’s not doing anything for them. It’s pricey, though. I’m doing a scholarship trawl to try and defray the cost before I resort to loans.

Learned helplessness is a horrid, toxic thing. It’s something I fight every day. The first time I tried to sit down and look at scholarships–this happened about a month ago–I got sick to my stomach. The nausea disappeared the moment I closed the scholarship book. I’d become scared to take responsibility for my life, to make big plans and big decisions. Historically, my big decisions haven’t worked out well for me. One can only hope I’ve taken enough lumps and learned enough hard lessons that I’ll do better this time.

I investigated the possibility of doing a similar program at PSU rather than the one through OSU. It’s not looking like it will be an option, though. A bright note, however: for some reason, I’m no longer feeling ill when I look at a scholarship book. I’ve been searching through this book all night, and have seen several interesting opportunities. My goal–to apply for $100,000 worth of scholarships in hope of getting the $30,000 I need to pay for school–is wildly ambitious, but it’s not like I’ve got a huge list of things demanding my time these days.

I just finished up a temp job, which I suppose means I must find another job soon. I hate job hunting. All the more reason to return to school, at least for a year, I suppose.

I am officially estranged from my father now. Good riddance.

I finished my book. I don’t know if I said that before. Yes, I finished it. Finally. I’ve shopped it around to some agents. One seemed interested until a senior agent at his agency stepped on it, and said it was too dark to sell. Another agent requested the full manuscript, but I haven’t heard from her in six weeks. That’s not hugely worrisome or unheard of in the publishing industry, though. Angry Robot Books is doing an open call for submissions until the end of the year. If I’ve not heard back from the second agent by mid-December, I’m going to submit it on my own to Angry Robot.

The sequel is proving to be very difficult. I’ve decided to put off work on it until I get an actual bite from someone in publishing. In the meantime, I’ve begun work on a YA book about a transgender superhero. The idea is to write the book I wish I’d been able to read when I was 15.

I think I’m going to try to keep this blog more up to date going forward. It’s really soothing, and helps keep the black despair at bay.

Progress at last

Those last entries, I hope, will be the end of worrying that I cannot transition successfully. Over the past few days I’ve realized, in a very short period of time, that I am getting correctly gendered much more frequently than I had thought. If I wear the right clothes and put a little effort into it, I can be gendered correctly enough to notice that it’s happening. This lasts for as long as it takes me to open my mouth, and so now I finally am getting around to doing my voice.

A friend on Twitter has taken an interest and is helping me with this. I think something is different this time because before I always had excuses to put this part off. Thinking about trying to improve my voice scared me, scared me in a way that’s difficult to describe. Every few months I’d get over my fear and try to do it for maybe an hour or two at a time. Then I’d scurry away, terrified and ashamed, and let the matter drop for a while longer. But now I can’t wait to get off work so I can go home and work on my voice.

The plan is to sing, and use that to strengthen my throat. I’m also going to be experimenting with recording myself–note to self, find hand-recorder–to hear the difference in what I’m trying to do. There’s a whole subreddit dedicated to this stuff that I’ll go through as well, I think.

I’m still scared, but now I’m excited, too.

Summer Update

I suppose I should start blogging again.

Let’s see, where did I leave off…

Ah.

Well. For a brief bit of time there, I had heard of a career opportunity that sounded perfect for me. I learned everything I could about it, and more and more it was the right choice. Then I learned that being on antidepressants disqualifies me for it. For the six weeks or so where I thought I had a plan for the rest of my life, a strange feeling came over me. One of calm, and happiness. No matter what was going on in my life right now, things were going to be okay. I had a plan. I was moving forward. Then I learned the plan wouldn’t happen and all those six weeks of anxiety and fear caught up with me at once. I was rigid in bed, cold with terror. Not a recommended experience.

I’ve got a new plan now. It’s harder, and riskier, and with less sense of purpose and meaning, but if all goes well I should be able to buy a house in a few years. I’m going to become a coder or a database administrator. Something along those lines. Hopefully that will be enough to buy me a house and stock away some money for retirement. My sister just bought a house down in the Bay that she’s agreed to let me stay at for a little while, so that helps immensely.

A few weeks ago, I was awarded a scholarship to the Cascade Writer’s conference, and I’m really looking forward to that. The conference, and my mother’s visit in early August, are the only things keeping me here. Once those are done, I’ll be packing up to move fairly quickly. It’s been a long time coming. It took me 2 years to recover enough to be able to make decisions on the basis of what I wanted rather than what I needed to do to survive, and I’m excited to be able to make that kind of choice again.

Almost Famous

There’s this weird thing that happens whenever I stay in one place for more than a couple years. It happens without me trying, or even if I’m actively working against it. I notice it in drips and drams first, and then a trickle, and before long I realize it’s happened again and I’m being swept downstream.

I get famous.

Or, no. Let me rephrase that. I feel famous. I feel this way because lots of people, who as far as I know I’ve never spoken to, start calling me by name. Everyone seems to know who I am, and I know nobody. There are maybe eight co-workers, not counting my manager, whose names I know. Everyone else, I sort of maybe recognize.

But everyone seems to know me.

Why does this happen. Surely, it’s not that everyone knows everyone’s name and I’m just the odd one out on that? There are more than three hundred people just in my department alone. It must be that I’m famous. Or, almost anyhow. I hope it’s for a good reason.

Updates, good and bad.

Left off here on a rather ominous note, I suppose. It’s been a busy few weeks.

No sugar coating it: my manager is trying to fire me. Claims he’s not, but that’s shit. I was a good employee with a stable record until I landed on his team, and within 24 hours I was on a PSP (Performance “Success” Plan–what they do to under-performing employees) and my trajectory never recovered. There’s no statute of limitations with this man. Every mistake you make is with you forever, and then they’re looked at in aggregate to make a “pattern of under-performance.” He’s trying to fire me, and I don’t care what pretty lies the senior management spins to cover his ass. I wrote a letter to HR about what was going on, and a few days later I saw him returning to his desk from the front office with a sick look on his face. It was better for a while after that, but I think it just made him craftier. I’m on two separate final written warnings at the same time. Didn’t even know that was possible. I’m looking for another job as fast as I can. Hope to find one soon. I’ll leave if I have to, but I don’t want to be fired. I hate this feeling of helplessness, of not knowing when the ax will fall. I need to save up enough money to be able to move back down to the Bay and be with my sister.

(Oh, by the way, I have a sister now. She’s wonderful. The queer tradition of a chosen family didn’t make sense to me until we decided to be siblings.)

On a brighter note, I have been awarded a scholarship to attend the Cascade Writer’s workshop this year. I’m very excited. My main fear is that my situation up here will fall apart and force me to flee to California again before I have a chance to attend. There will be other writers there, serious, committed artists. I haven’t had a group like that since college.  I can’t wait. There will also be professionals from the publishing world. I look forward to learning a lot from them. I have to say, as well, that it is immensely rewarding to have been awarded a scholarship. It was in part based on need, but a part of the application was based on a 1000-word sample I submitted. Someone I’ve never met who has no reason to care about me decided that, among those who submitted applications, I was the one they wanted to support. It gives me hope.

I’ve been submitting my application to agents. Nothing but rejections and silence so far. This is to be expected. No serious writer gets through life without  a thick sheaf of rejections. Still, having something, anything, break my way is very nice.

My cousin seems to be having trouble. It would be quite dramatic to say that madness is the family curse, but no. We live in a more civilized age, where mental health is more sterile, and better classified. We’re not mad. Simply depressed and scared. No matter. I’m pulling for you, cousin. I wish you all the best.