Here’s one perspective on trigger warnings.

And here is my response, not just as a blogger, but as a survivor and a pretty avid reader of potentially triggering web content.

I like trigger warnings. I like having the choice to not read about rape when I’m not in an appropriate place to do so. A trigger warning is about restoring choice, it’s not about creating a safe or even a safe(r) space. I think it’s true that sometimes people get itchy about trigger warnings, and request them in unexpected situations, and that we can’t expect to anticipate peoples’ needs for trigger warnings 100% of the time. But I can prepare and be considerate of the fact that there are are a vast and ever-increasing number of people who become triggered by graphic descriptions of sexual violence and other types of violence, including transphobic violence, police violence, child abuse, etc. Do I have to include a trigger warning? Nope! This is my blog, and I choose to, in part because I want you to do the same for me.

There are days that I wake up shaking from my nightmares, not wanting to leave the house. A lot of those days are in my past, but I can’t guarantee that days of constant anxiety attacks and flashbacks won’t come again, and I know I’m not the only person who has experienced that as my “normal”, my daily reality. A friend recently compared a trigger warning to an NSFW (not safe for work) tag. If I see a trigger warning and I’m already upset for some reason (whether my ongoing PTSD related stuff or because my mom and I just got in a fight), I get to make the choice as to whether or not I can handle that subject matter at that time. Simple as that!

Do I get triggered in other situations? Hell yes! But it’s really nice to be able to pick and choose sometimes, y’know?

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I haven’t wanted to write much lately because I’ve felt closed up. This happens–it always does. And then I un-clam, so to speak, and it all comes running forth, a spew. There is a daily dialogue in my head that keeps turning around and around about gender and transition (esp. medical transition). What do I want, what do I want, what do I want. I keep thinking: there are so many different ways to be a woman, why can’t you just carve out a space for yourself there? Sometimes I feel like I can, but most times I feel like I can’t. Not satisfactorily. My confident space, my best space–is in my masculinity. I own my femininity, yes yes, yes yes, but it feels like I’m at a place where I want to keep my femininity closer to my chest (so to speak), and live in my masculinity more. I could be a shy, soft-spoken and reclining woman (always vaguely unhappy and gender dysphoric), or a proud, strong and smart outspoken boi/y. So I pick boi/y. Which for me means binding my chest (and probably later top surgery), possibly a low dose of hormones (tho I am scared of losing my ability to cry, and having to re-train my singing voice). I want my body to masculinize further, it feels good, feels right.

I’ve missed my fixed gear the last couple of weeks. I got a couple of flats in quick succession and didn’t bother to fix the second one, decided to ride my geared bike instead, work out its kinks before the trip. It’s strange, but my fixed gear feels like an essential part of how I cope with gender dysphoria. Riding fixed has literally altered the landscape of my body, and thus helped me feel more in myself.

There are other aspects I like, too, the sensation of working a machine that becomes more like an extension of my own body when I’m riding it. “the rider is but a ghost of the machine/cog teeth willing/speed and journey.” (from Velocipede) When well-tuned, my fix is nearly silent–even with fenders. There’s a joke that the captain (ex, the first of the many nigh-religious fixed gear enthusiasts I met, and the person who introduced me to bike camping) told me, that you can pick up a fixed gear bike, drop it (so the whole thing, tires and all, bounces off the concrete), and diagnose any mechanical issues by the peculiarities of its rattle. While that’s not ENTIRELY true, it nearly is. My geared bike is like a locomotive in comparison (okay, the metal fenders don’t help, either!). I can never pinpoint all of its many rattles, and its mechanical issues often end up flummoxing me completely. And. And it’s prone to an awful lot more of them.

Friends tell me they “hate bikes” because there’s such a learning curve, an intense and problematic hierarchy (mostly cis white dudes, let’s be honest) lording over that knowledge, and because at entry-level, bikes can be prone to a lot of issues (flat tires, flimsy components, uncomfortable setups, etc) and of course in big cities bikes are prone to theft. And then of course there are poorly designed/marked bike routes, shoddy pavement quality, and the worst–downright murderously angry or oblivious drivers. In my city there are the additional barriers of the (often steep) hilly, glacially-tilled terrain combined with the extremely unpredictable weather of the Pacific Northwest. We do call it temperate for a reason, after all! I organized (and still occasionally do stuff in this vein) for a few years to both democratize knowledge (bike fit, how to ride in traffic, best routes, etc) and the streets (protests against anti-bike infrastructure, waging campaigns to get the city to fund a Bicycle Master Plan, and so on). In the last few years I have seen the city’s cycling culture grow and diversify, and the very landscape itself change, especially in terms of infrastructure. There’s a particular bike lane that I can honestly say is there because of organizing my comrades and I did, when residents protested en masse the city’s efforts to cave to business owners’ concerns over bike and pedestrian safety.

I am so grateful to have been a part of that work, and to have cut my teeth there. It very nearly led me to a career in liberal politicks, culminating as a stint as a campaign organizer during the 2008 general elections. But at the same time, the bubble burst on the U.S. economy, I began to actively critique capitalism, the state, and representative politics, and I became utterly disillusioned as I witnessed politicians (and the organizers who support them) treating their constituents as pawns. In short, I began the journey of radicalization, a long strange trip. And here I am, getting ready to embark on the same route (biking the Pacific Coast) again, the same journey that served as a direct precursor to my stint in liberal politicks and my subsequent radicalization. I’m interested to see what perspectives are to be gained along the way, and what will follow in the complicated months to come. I expect these revelations to be more personal than politickal, but who knows? “The personal is political”, after all.

-RD

I just wanna put some sparkle fingers up in here:

I find nothing inherently romantic about marriage. I see marriage (and really any sort of commitment stated formally or otherwise) as a container for romance and companionship. It sets the stage for love & companionship to happen. It is scaffolding for repeated and sustainable feelings and acts of love and care. Marriage is not love. Just as a stage is not a play. Historically love and marriage were combined in cultural narratives (fairytales) to sugarcoat the financial, status-driven approach to marriage which was the norm in so many cultures worldwide.
The conflation of love and marriage old and broken. It uses the individually defined (and socially undefined) mantle of “love” to mask the very real legal and societal benefits being married affords certain citizens.

from here, emphasis mine.

Here are some of my thoughts about marriage. Oh yes, but can I clarify, cos I detest poly-evangelists about as much as I do evangelical christian fundamentalists–I do not believe that non-monogamy or polyamory are the end-all be-all of romantic/sexual relationships, and I utterly respect folks’ choices to be monogs, and still believe their relationships to be rad/radical–and theirs, to do with what they please. Respecting one another’s agency is the best!

Tired of the career-track, I quit my job mid-2008 to try to find some way out of capitalism. I travelled the West Coast, dumpster-dove, toiled in the garden, made all sorts of things from scratch, continued organizing with a grassroots advocacy group I had helped start, and was surprised to fall into my approximate dream job as a campaign organizer during the 2008 general elections with a statewide lobbying/advocacy NPO.

Did I say dream job? I meant nightmare. All my worst fears about electoral politics were realized: the game really is about money, power, and thinly veiled threats, chess played by rich powerful white men of a certain age. Don’t get me wrong, my boss was incredibly impassioned about our goals, but the means by which we were forced to achieve them (or attempt to achieve them) were GROSS, and the compromises we made were grievous and many. Nowhere was this more striking when we were forced to endorse the local fatcat mayoral incumbent over his squeaky wheel challenger because the incumbent had more $$, and was therefore considered ‘more electable.’ Greased pockets and constant contact aside, the squeaky wheel challenger made it through by popular vote.

I made it through the election season by a similarly narrow margin. Electoral politics disgusted me, and I burned out and faded away from liberal organizing. The work I had been doing with the NPO really only stood to benefit an upper privileged crust of the population, anyways. Everyone else might receive some fringe benefit, but I doubted (and still doubt) that such an intensely capitalist system stood to benefit anyone else in a particularly meaningful way.