Good Omens

Living a genderqueer life

Month: January, 2013

Change name [X] Stop thinking about it [ ]

The teacher practice ended on Friday, and I’m blessedly free of long-lasting responsibility until the beginning of March and my last period of practice. Of course, I’ve a lot to do in the meantime, going to lectures, two sessions as a studio bassist, and such.

I received my new health insurance and debit cards this week, so the name’s really official now! I still have to go to the local police station to apply for a new driver’s licence card and passport, but I think that can wait for a couple of days.

I’ll have a naming party on my birthday in February. I decided to do it even though I don’t feel like it myself. I had grown apart from the old name, and I’ve been using this one since September, so it’s not as though it’s anything new to me anymore. But some relatives seem to have trouble accepting my name, so I thought that maybe a ceremony of sorts will make things clear for them. I even invited my grandparents to the party. I’ve been kind of avoiding them since all this started, but I can’t go on doing that for the rest of their lives. Avoiding a little discomfort will add up to a lot of it in the long run, and I’m trying not to do it any more than I absolutely have to.

I’m happy with having changed my name officially. Still, I think that the name change was only the beginning of something bigger. I’m not ready yet, or complete – I don’t even think this is the name I’ll be using for the rest of my days. I’ve already begun experimenting with variations of the name in my signatures, just as I did with the old one. But this is a good official name, that’s something I’m certain of. I will get no dysphoria being called by it; it is, like my gender identity, unfamiliar to most people, and so highly interpretative according to the person using it; it is also a name bringing about frequent double-takes in people hearing it for the first time: “Your name is WHAT?” This is good: people have to really listen to what I say my official name is, not just listen to the first half of it and then fill in the rest.

I’ve met some truly wonderful people in the last months, with some of whom I look forward to doing interesting things this coming spring and in the future: activism, chatting over tea, seeing new places – sharing life’s beauty in any of a hundred ways. After a long dark winter, the sun’s showed up again. It’s definitely getting better.

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My feminism

I’m in the middle of a three-week teacher practice period (the second of three, the two others being considerably longer and more demanding), teaching ethics to high school students. Today, we discussed feminism, and specifically feminist critiques of religion. As I firmly believe that the best way to tackle the challenge of objectivity is to be aware of and admit one’s subjectivity, I’ve been thinking a lot of how to explain my take on feminism.

This is what I’ve come up with.

My feminism is about a hope of a world where the (biological) sex has the same social function as, say, one’s hair color or right/left-handedness in today’s Finnish society: one can express oneself through these, but nobody would think of them as restricting or guiding a person’s life choices.

My feminism is about actively promoting the acceptance of the unconditional value of every human being, and actively working against the circumstances preventing this from being realized.

My feminism is about daring myself to question my own prejudices, and believing the best about every person.

After reading Žižek

The world is made from words.

Many people believe that words are something referring to an “objective” “reality”. I believe it is not so. I believe words refer to another words, which refer to yet another words, and back, making a web of words leading from one to another. I believe words are all we have, and words have power – they are power.

Every word we say is a political act of rewriting reality. Either we write the new reality to be the same as the old one, or we change something. And because the web of words that reality is, is constantly changing because of what other people write, even choosing “same as before” is shaping the world into something new.

As genderqueer, I experience the power of words every day, beginning with the morning newspaper. On its pages, my gender identity is constantly being made non-existent: in a gallup analysis “both men and women think…” In a clothes shop advert, “for women, men and children”, every possibility is thought to have been covered. The list of little words and sentences denying my existence goes on and on, and I haven’t even finished my Earl Grey…

So please, take care of what you’re saying. By including somebody in your use of any concept, you automatically exclude others. That can’t be helped, it’s just the way language works. Just be aware of it: there are no objective sentences, and everything you say is being used against somebody else.