Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hierarchy of Rights

As you, I and everyone else in the world already know, the Supreme Court is in the midst of two cases that could help or hinder the case for marriage equality in The States.  I don't want to repeat what you have no doubt already read about in Huffington Post or the NY Times.  Hell, even The Onion does a better job explaining the Prop 8 and DOMA cases than I could.  I'm not even going to rant about the Facebook trend of HRC profile pictures and the bitter relationship between the trans community and the Human Rights Campaign, because Monica Roberts (my personal blogging hero) over at Transgriot has a very thorough explanation already.  I won't even talk about the "marriage is not a transgender issue" rumor.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Body, My Self

Anyone who knows me well is aware that I have a complicated relationship with my body.  Since my first puberty, my body has been a source of discomfort far more often than a source of pride.  From a brief stint of bulemia and suicidal thoughts in middle school, to self-destructive numbing behaviors in high school, and to the mixture of joy and shame my body brings now, my body seems to be the perfect example of the classic feminist slogan, "The personal is political".

I tend to think of my body as a means to an end, rather than an end in and of itself.  By that I mean, I enjoy the things my body can do, the things I can accomplish by using it, and the way it correctly reflects my gender to society, but I wouldn't say I like my body in and of itself.  Like most women, if you asked me to describe things I dislike about my body I can rattle off a mile-long list without hesitation.  But when I think about the parts I do like, those are harder to find and even those aspects come with qualifications.  "I like my hair, but I can't do anything with it."  "I love my boobs, but I just wish they were a little closer together."  "I have killer leg muscles, but I can never find boots that fit over my calves." 

Why do so many of us do this?  Is this some form of self-effacing tactic we learn at an early age to validate other women's discomfort with their bodies?  Why do I and so many others have such a hard time saying, "I have nice X" and leave it at that?  Why is it so much easier to put our bodies down than to build them up?  There's a tactic I learned that I try to apply in life, "If a friend treated you the way you treat yourself, would you still consider them a friend?"  And the truth is I have pretty great esteem in a lot of areas in my life.  I believe I'm intelligent, a good writer, an accomplished activist and public speakers, a great student, and will be an awesome therapist, wife, and mother in the not-too-distant future.  There are certainly areas for improvement.  I wish I was better about making time for friends and family more often, for example, but I don't beat myself up over those shortcomings.  And yet, if I asked the question, "If a friend treated you the way you treat your body..?" I would kick that worthless "friend" to the curb.

My biggest problems with my body are not the disphoric issues you might think.  Yes, being pre-op does make me uncomfortable at least once a day, but it's easy to shrug off as a temporary situation.  My weight, however, is an issue that is always close to the surface of my mind.  Even at my fittest I was a size 14 and 180 lbs.  No amount of exercise or dietary changes is going to change my skeletal structure or body type and, intellectually, I'm okay with that.  But now that I'm older and it has become even more difficult to lose weight it is a source of immense frustration.  Lately I've tried to embrace the "fatshion" movement more and to make peace with my body size.  While I may have issues with my body, I know that many people find me attractive so I have tried my best to believe them.

In the last couple weeks I've started a new zombie-related exercise routine and have been keeping a food journal to track the calories I eat/burn every day.  I have to be mindful not to go overboard, but I think these two things have been healthy and helpful.  My food journal chooses the calorie goal for me based on my weight and loss-goal (1.5 lbs a week) rather than letting me choose something that is unhealthy, and my exercise routine tells me how often and for how long to work out without hurting myself.  I've tried to make the focus less about weight and measurements (though I do track these just so I can see progress), and more about focusing on goals.  My current goals are to be able to jog 5k (maybe even run a 5k someday) and to get in good enough shape to participate in Run for Your Lives 5k next year.  I have been having a ball with the Zombies, Run! game and choosing the best songs to run with and they make something I never thought I would enjoy, running, a lot of fun.

While I suspect I will always have a complicated relationship with my body, I hope that by enjoying it more and learning to love it I can move away from the unhealthy attitude I and so many other women have surrounding our bodies.  Most importantly, I'd like to get to a positive place with my body so that when I have a girl of my own I can have a head-start on knowing how to fight the body politics that weigh so heavily on women in America.

Never forget it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Grief Without Gods

Chris's grandfather passed away over this weekend.  He was amazingly healthy and active for any age, let alone 87 years old.  Sadly, he had an accident he could not recover from.  It's been a whirlwind of emotions for everyone with a lot of sleep deprivation, love, and support.  It saddens me to think that I won't get to know my grandfather-in-law better, but from the stories shared this weekend I can tell he was a remarkable man.

As I'm in the midst of transitioning from Chris's girlfriend to his wife, his family has become increasingly important to me as they will soon be part of my family.  I love my own family deeply and am glad to find that, despite the vastly larger number of people in Chris's family, I love them as well.  They're very supportive, caring, and engaging.  We may not always see eye-to-eye on some issues, but that's easy to put aside.  I feel that through this process of helping him and his family, especially his grandmother, I've become even more rooted in this bond of trust and understanding.  Does marriage still intimidate me sometimes?  You bet.  But I think it's just the same intimidation we all feel when facing the unknown.  The thought of joining this family fills me with nothing but pride.

I don't want to talk about too many details of his family's loss.  That's a private matter and not something for me to talk about on a public blog.  But I do want to talk about the role religion played.  Chris was actually the first one to call his grandparents' church and request a minister to be with his grandfather as he died and his grandmother as she grieved.  While some found it interesting that their atheist grandson called the church, Chris summed it up perfectly when he said it wasn't about what he believes or wants, it was about helping his grandma.  The minister, Alice, who worked with his family was a very kind and understanding woman, and I believe she brought a great deal of comfort to many.  She took the time to learn about his grandfather, to gather stories and details so that she could put together a fitting memorial for him.  She worked with his grandmother to put together a memorial service with a very short amount of time to prepare.  While a small portion of her eulogy had religious themes, it was done with the aim of comforting the religious survivors and not to push an agenda.

However, there was some discomfort at the words of the head minister, who seemed keen to preach more about Christianity than about Chris's grandpa.  Thankfully, this was at the beginning, so that the lasting impressions were the eulogy given by his great uncle and Alice and the stellar flag presentation by the Marine Corps.  These are the moments that will stick for me, and I suspect that is also true for both the religious and non-religious family members.

Does religion help with the grieving process?  I'm not sure.  I personally don't think thoughts of being reunited in the afterlife are helpful for moving forward in life, but I can't deny the social network that a church can provide.  Religion seemed to take away from the memorial service rather than add to it, but I can't deny that pulling off something so elaborate so quickly may have been impossible to do secularly.  Alice was obviously a great help to the family, but I suspect people like her become ministers because they want to help, rather than helping because they are ministers.  I guess at the end of the day, it all comes down to circumstance.

It's been a complicated weekend and we'll still be dealing with the aftermath for a long time to follow, but I needed to unpack a few things.  Sorry if I seem to be rambling, but chalk it up to sleep deprivation and high emotions.  This blog is my way of dealing with the world and this weekend has given me a lot to think about.  I thank you for thinking about this issue with me.  What are your thoughts?  How has religion affected your grieving process?  Was it helpful or harmful?  Please feel free to share.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Slumber Parties, Podcasts, and Politicians, Oh My!

So, needless to say from my brief posts through the week, I've been getting the most out of my spring break.  Since I've been neglectful this week (sorry) I thought I'd give you a detailed breakdown of what I've been up to lately.

Silly as it my sound, I started my spring break off with a slumber party.  Why?  Because I never had one growing up and now that I'm a grown woman I can do whatever I want!  Seriously, though, it was strangely therapeutic.  There was Chinese food, bad movies, and abundant alcohol.  Shayrah and the other girls really went out of their way to make sure we had a great time and that we could make up for my lack of slumber parties growing up.  There were no pillow fights, we just thought we'd skip the pretense and have a big cuddle party in the bed instead.  We got very drunk, stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, and had a hang-over breakfast at Cafe Brazil in the morning.  All in all, I think it made up for the years of slumber parties I missed out on as a girl.

Click the link to see the "All-Star" cast version.
Saturday Chris took me on the first of several "decoy dates".  He told me to dress nice, he did the same, and we went out to eat.  He even got on one knee and asked me to tie his shoe.  Goof.  Once we finished dinner we took some of my youth to see a reading of 8, the new play about the Proposition 8 trials.  I've actually read the trial transcripts in entirety and the play did a great job in summing up the points and making the case for marriage equality without misrepresenting the other side.  After the play, the director asked all the audience members who were in a committed relationship with someone of the same gender to stand.  He asked those who were together for less than 5 years, 10 years, and so on to sit down until the last couple standing had been together for almost 30 years!  The experience got me thinking about how lucky Chris and I are to be able to marry in Texas, and how ridiculous it was that everyone didn't enjoy that right.

Sunday, Chris and I spent most of the day hanging out with friends, some who were briefly in town for the break.  We took a trip to one of my favorite places ever, Half-Price Books, where I spent $30 and walked out with an armful of treasures, including Naked by David Sedaris, the first two books of Series of Unfortunate Events, a copy of the game Twister, and a few more to boot.  Chris went to his parents house while we spent a couple hours in the book store and later met us for dinner.  At least, that's what he said.  I suspect he might have been working on his proposal.  The waiting is starting to kill me.

Monday, I took half a dozen youth on the Equality Texas bus to Austin to participate in LGBTQ Lobby Day.  We were assigned to discuss house bill 1300, the Marriage Equality bill, from a youth perspective with six politicians.  Surprisingly, only one of our visits was less than friendly.  Most representatives and their staff were enthusiastic about our visits, especially the representative of our district, Rafael Anchia.  As soon as we saw a rainbow flag in his office, we knew we were home.  It was a tiring but extremely rewarding experience to look people in the eye and ask them to help our friends get married.

Tuesday, I got a new iPod Touch and was thus distracted for most of the day downloading apps and other fun toys.  Yes, I prefer an iPod to an iPhone.  Call me old fashioned, but I think the "smart" part of smart phones gets in the way of the actual phone.  This way, I have a toy and a phone and I can keep them separated.

Wednesday, I started my new workout plan with the awesome app, Zombies, Run!  This thing is so cool.  It's part audio adventure, part exercise trainer.  It links up with your music and as you walk, job, run, whatever it feeds the story into your headphones inbetween music.  Sometimes zombies chase you and you need to run away as quick as you can or risk being eaten.  I have often said that I would only run if something was chasing me, now I have no excuse.  I had a brisk walk and jog around my neighborhood for nearly 40 minutes and can't wait to start the next "mission" tomorrow.

After getting home from my zombie chase, I called in as a guest to Dogma Debate to discuss the recent clusterfuck of the Fallon Fox controversy.  "Do trans women have an unfair advantage in athletics?" I was asked.  And of course, my answer was, "Hell no."  But no matter how many doctors testify about it and how many national and international sports organizations have trans positive policies, until we fight transphobia at its core, people will always see trans women as men.  Thus, they will believe we have an unfair advantage against other women.  The truth is, after hormones there's no difference between a trans woman's muscle and body composition and a cis woman's.  If anything, we have a disadvantage because we have the same muscle trying to move around a heavier skeleton.  That means we're slower, easier to hit, with slower reaction time.  But whenever a trans woman does well in a sport, the assumption isn't that she trained hard, that she earned the recognition she deserves.  No, instead it all goes right back to the magic dick theory.  Penises are magical, apparently, and even getting yours removed somehow gives you super powers against people who never had one.  It's ignorant and frustrating, but we have to keep fighting it until trans athletes are common place.

As for the rest of my break?  Chris and I are chaperones for the Spring Break Lock-In this Saturday night into Sunday morning.  If we manage to get any sleep, we might head over to the Fellowship of Freethought meeting to meet Seth from The Thinking Atheist.  But we'll see how that goes.  Enjoy the rest of your breaks, and the blog should be back at its regular schedule by next week.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Transgender Athletes

Do trans women have an unfair advantage against other female athletes?  Tune in LIVE to Dogma Debate tonight to hear my thoughts on this touchy subject.  A real article on this subject to follow shortly after.

Daniel, David, and Shayrah of Dogma Debate

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ms. Mooneyham Goes to Austin

Today I'm on my way with 10 of my youth to lobby with our state legislators with Equality Texas.  Wish me luck as we go to bat for equality and justice for all.

Trans and Godless: Coming soon to a capitol near you!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hug a Lesbian Today

This made me smile.  If all the lesbians in the world disappeared I would be very sad.  So go out there and hug a lesbian.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Here's a Treat

Just learned about this fun blog by Elias Ericson: Super Queer Artsy Blog.  Since it was such an enjoyable distraction from my homework, I thought I'd share it with you.

Is It Spring Break Yet?

I sadly will not be able to brighten your day with witty observations about gender norms or religion, even though I'd really love to as I was just exposed to a lot of "woo-woo" in my last class about homeopathy and general demonization of modern medicine.  But that rant will have to wait until Wednesday because I have two papers to finish and turn in by then as well as a research team meeting and probably something else that I'm forgetting.  So forgive me for my absence this week.  I shall return stronger, faster, and better than ever once I'm done with this atomic fuck-load of homework.