The importance of patience

Life is just one big test of patience. Just wait and things will change; nothing stands still.

The discomfort we all have with time is that it’s the one dimension we have no control over; we can move left and right, up and down, forwards and backwards; we can change our rate of motion and we can change our direction. But we can’t change how fast or slow or even what direction we move in time. Realizing the limitations of time and working within this framework means accepting helplessness. We can only brace for the passage of time, which puts us perpetually on the defensive.

I’m no good at being patient. It involves accepting the most basic human helplessness. But when I’m impatient, I push relationships along. When I’m impatient, I frantically ask all the questions that come to mind but don’t stick around to figure out the answers.

Time will pass with or without my cooperation.

Advertisements

Thoughts on “Stone Butch Blues”

Alright so I read Stone Butch Blues. 5/5 stars. Two and two-thirds thumbs up. 1 out of 1 queer nerds interviewed have described this book as “uber duber compelling”.

True to its title, it’s about a stone butch. True to its title, it’s chockfull of the blues.

The book does an amazing job showing the rise of the lesbian subculture, the evolution of feminism, and the isolation of growing up different. If you’re at all gender-nonconforming, if you embody female masculinity or masculine femininity or transmasculinity or transfemininity or any of those permutations, you have to read it. Scratch that; if you’re a person, you should read it.

Things are tough for Jess, who grows up in Buffalo, NY in the 50s/60s, in a working-class Jewish family. Violence, police brutality and corruption, and economic constraints on non-conforming people abound. Butches of all kinds are represented: straight butches, gay butches, transmasculine butches, butch-loving butches; but most of all, femme-loving butches. Femmes are well-represented, butches of color, transwomen, gay men, drag queens, etc. Police brutality and corruption is called out bigtime. At the intersection of labor rights and gay rights and radical feminism, the main character, Jess, comes into their own. Jess discovers and works to overcome their own conservatism as well: double standards concerning gender roles, gender identity, gender expression. Having found a home and a family amidst the hardcore exclusive butch/femme culture, they struggle to transcend the idea that it is the only way to be lesbian.

I don’t identify as butch, so the book spoke to me differently than it would to butch-identified people, but it’s powerful and awesome no matter how you identify. It finds a place for everyone, no matter how they identify, and how diversity strengthened the gay rights movement. And they bring up the difficulties of being butch-loving butches, or straight butches, or butches who wish they could be with men but struggle to find acceptance anywhere they can, and so they try to blend into the lesbian community. Everyone struggles to fit in somehow and to find a label that will provide them with comfort. As Jess confronts this, and struggles with their own rejection after spending years passing as male, their world opens up.

A whole lot of stuff is brought up in the book. If you get the opportunity, pick up a copy. The landscape of LGBTQ life is so different today, Stone Butch Blues is an important reminder of how the world we live in today came to be. 

Man, I’d probably be the bane of the butch/femme lifestyle’s existence, because I’m neither/nor for so many things. How on earth would I have been pinned down?! And back then, not being able to be pinned down was a dangerous thing, because you’d lose your community and your safety blanket. But nowadays, us non-binary, non gay/straight folks are lucky that not only is there space in the queer community, but also in the world at large (for the most part). Separatism is far from over, but it’s fading, and I like it. Because there’s nobody exactly like me. There’s probably nobody exactly like you, either. And to not be tossed out because of it… that’s a beautiful thing.

Fun stuff from the Toast to read on a Friday: Dune geekery and Bend it like Beckham Femslash

I have to share this awesome bit of geekery, courtesy of The Toast, for those of you who may have read Dune. It’s a few plot highlights, in their own words.

Example:

STILGAR: you who are known as Usul among us must choose your desert name
PAUL: just call me Paul
STILGAR: but you are already called Paul
it is a great honor, to be given a desert name
PAUL: ok fine
my desert name is Stilgar
STILGAR: that is my name
you must choose your own name
PAUL: ok i pick bill
call me desert bill
STILGAR: YOUR DESERT NAME CANNOT BE BILL
PAUL: jesus
fine
whats that by your foot
STILGAR: that is a mouse —
PAUL: great
thats my desert name
mouse
STILGAR: we call it the Muad’D —
PAUL: i already said its my desert name
i dont need you to compose a fucking poem about it
Read more at http://the-toast.net/2014/12/12/dirtbag-paul-atreides/#Ci9cKE0BbxmEVsGv.99


In the most egregious case of queerbating of our generation, Bend it like Beckham should totes have been about two queer women. Instead, they fight over a stupid guy. I mean he’s hot and all, but they are so much better together than they are with him. Have you ever seen such a power couple? Anyways, you’re not the only one outraged about it. Even if the movie was an excellent portrayal of first-generation immigrant families that I found really validating, because growing up different is never easy. But it’s easier if you ship everyone, I find.

I got a free copy of Stone Butch Blues!

Something exciting happened yesterday in my quest for more brain fodder regarding gender: I got a free PDF copy of Stone Butch blues! Leslie Feinberg, “revolutionary communist”, is one of the most influential LGBT activists. I’ve been looking for a copy of Stone Butch Blues for months, but it’s out of print and copies are selling for $150; money that isn’t going to a particular cause, or to Feinberg zirself. But nowwww I have it in PDF and I’m so excited to read it; it’s on my computer, which unfortunately means I’m torn between doing work and reading SBB.

I’ll write a post with my impressions soon.

All about binders: a first-hand review of binders for larger-chested people

I’m a 32DD, so I have some serious chest to contend with on such a tiny frame. I can’t always relate to most binder reviews because they’re written by *ugh* lucky people with small chests…

I’ve tried a bunch of different types, which unfortunately can be expensive but then again I’ve spent wayyy more money on bras over the years. So after months of trying different binders, I thought I’d put all the money I’d spent to good use, and write a very comprehensive review of all the ones I’ve worn, specifically for larger-chested folk.

What I’ve found is generally this: if you’re large-chested don’t go for asian companies (Amazon/eBay binders; also T-Kingdom has a reputation for making dangerously non-stretchy binders). I didn’t love the ones I got on Les Loveboat either; they are supposedly good for larger chested people but I personally have had no luck there, and it’s too expensive. GC2B and Underworks are consistently good for bigger-chested people.

In order to get a sense of why I bind, what I look for in a binder, and what I use them for, I’ll give you a brief summary of my gender identity/expression and lifestyle, because not all binders work for all chest-obscuring people:

  • I’m a genderqueer androgynous female who is ambivalent about pronouns and uncomfortable having a visible female chest.
  • I want a binder to be comfortable and low-maintenance so I’m not constantly thinking about it.
  • Some binders (BE CAREFUL WITH THIS ONE) I actually can work out in, as long as they don’t hurt or restrict my breathing. I find they minimize movement well, and when I run in them I feel like a guy cuz my chest isn’t whipping around like a swingset at recess. So if I can find one I can wear for sports, it’s like, the holy grail.
  • Lastly, I don’t typically look for full-length binders because I get hot easily and anyways I don’t think these hips would look much different. I also hear they roll up. And I’d rather it feel like a sports bra than a girdle. Besides, isn’t it hard to eat when your stomach is compressed? I mean where will I fit my pizza?? These are serious concerns.

Here are all the things, ranked in decreasing order of preference. I took photos in a shirt that isn’t best for concealing anything, so you can really see the differences; also to show how high the neck comes up on some of these (hem hem, Les Love Boat velcro binder).

Okay!

  1. The GC2B short binder (Medium): Just got this today. As soon as I put it on I was like, “Ehrmehgehrddd I want to order 5 million more of these!!” I’m currently wearing it and it’s amazing. It was easy to put on so I thought it’d be too loose, but somehow the cut/shape is exactly right. It flattens well, and though some flab sticks out of the armholes (but less than every other fucking binder), I don’t get a uniboob or cleavage out of the top or spillage from the bottom. My chest stays up. Things just look right. And for you larger-chested gents, ladies, gender-anarchists, and otherwise-identified folks, you know how rare that is.What makes the company so special is that they are a spinoff of GC2 Compression, a sportswear company with a genderqueer employee who was using their compression shirts to bind. They put said genderqueer employee in charge of GC2B binders and are now making two really quality (affordable) binder styles specifically for transmasculine folk. Baller.I don’t know if this is intentional, but they only come in white, gray, black, red, and navy, which don’t match anyone’s skin tone any better than any other person’s; so on the one hand, there are no skin toned ones (yet), but on the other hand, nobody gets the privilege of finding a binder to match their skin more than anyone else. Besides, I don’t know about you but the white/gray/black feel less like underwear and more like compressionwear than skin-colored tops, so I find them preferable.

    It’s also worth noting that the material is a synthetic spandex-y material, so shirts don’t stick to it. It’s breathable.

    Another detail of note: it can totally pass for a sports bra without a racer-back, so if discreteness is key (parents and locker rooms and stuff) this looks reasonably sports-undergarment-like. Oh yeah and it doesn’t show at all through t-shirts, the seams lie flat and everything.

    I’m right in between sizes for S and M, so I ordered the medium, but I’d probably go for a small next time. Speaking of sizing, theirs is very inclusive: they have XXS through 5XL.

    • Comfort: 5
    • Fit: 4.5 (just a lil bit not tight enough)
    • Quality: 5
    • Look/flatness: 4-4.5 (sizing down in between sizes might flatten a tad better, but the shape is great)
    • Cost: 4 (for $30 I think this is the best you can do)
    • Fate: Keeping it! Using for daily wear, but also will definitely be using for rock climbing. May not be tight enough for running.gc2b
  2. The Underworks Tri-Top (Medium): The gin martini of binders. The classic. This baby gets the job done. One layer of industrial grade nylon/spandex in the back for stretch; three in the front for flatness. Before this I’d been binding with item 3 on this list, but as soon as I put this one on I was sold.It stretched out with time, and lately I’ve been wearing it climbing and running. I think I could size down, although putting it on used to be a feat of strength and flexibility like no man has ever achieved! It was epic, it was heroic, it was a battle of Homer-ian proporions. Maybe I have weirdly shaped shoulders or something.Things I didn’t like: it gets sweaty when it’s hot out; no absorbant or wicking properties.

    Also unlike the GC2B binder, the front just below the collar tends to fold in and stick out when I move my arms forward; I modified it by cutting the neckline into more of a v-shape in front. Seriously you can cut this bad boy up all you want; it will not fray!

    Another concern: the infamous rolling of the bottom… I fold mine up and it works great, but it can be visible under tighter/lighter/whiter shirts. (the GC2B one doesn’t do this! just sayin!)

    Also depending on what you’re doing, it requires “maintenance”: you may have to rearrange the chesticles every few hours. Again, most binders require some of this.

    Again, I’m in between sizes (I’m between genders, sexualities, AND binder sizes apparently) so maaayyybeee some of these could be solved by going smaller. But this one was hard enough to put on, as it is. Besides, this one gave me very minor back pains for the first few months, so it would be unwise to size down. And it chafes around the arms.

    • Comfort: 3.5-4 (minus points for lack of breathability, chafing, tightness)
    • Fit: 4.5 (minus for rolling and bunching and rearranging every couple hrs)
    • Quality: 4 (I don’t love the material, although it makes modifications easy)
    • Look/flatness: 5
    • Cost: 4 ($30)
    • Fate: Kept this one, with modifications. It’s my go-to.uw_tritop
  3. The Underworks Magicotton Concealer Sports and Binding Bra (Medium): This one has “bra” in the name, so it’s not the most gender-neutral item of clothing; if that bothers you, skip this one. Or you can call it a “brah” and keep reading.This was my first product with “binder” in the name; a stepping stone to full on binding; my training wheels. I got it because I thought it’d be a fun experiment to hide my boobs… and I suddenly felt lighter. I get way flatter in this than my regular bras or even sports bras, but it doesn’t flatten me out completely. The magicotton is nice on the skin and absorbent. It’s good for the summer, decent for sports (and is designed as such), and it fits well and is comfortable. It’s also good for lounging around the house. It does sometimes stick to t-shirts, and it does sometimes cause uniboob and underarm spillage, so don’t size down. Still though, a decently comfortable multipurpose thingie that’s great for sports. And it’s not as low-cut in the front as a typical sports bra.Also a discrete option, like a sports bra without the racer-back.
    • Comfort: 5
    • Fit: 5
    • Quality: 4
    • Look/flatness: 3
    • Cost: 4 ($35)
    • Fate: Keeping it, but when it wears out I might not replace it.uw_sports
  4. Underworks 988: Cotton Concealer Tank (Small): This looks least undergarment-like and has some back support if you need that. It kind of feels like a hug.First off, the full-length cotton-blend outer layer is really soft. Secondly, it’s easier to pull on than the Tri-Top. It doesn’t have the bunching/folding issues of the Tri-top, since it’s a lower cut and has 2 layers front and back. But again, shirts stick/cling to the cotton. The lower cut can be a little… cleavage-y if things shift. I will likely shorten the straps by hand; I have to do this anyways with most of my tank tops. I have weirdly low shoulders I guess? Is that a thing?Anyways it works great and feels great and I could wear it as an undershirt .
    • Comfort: 4.5
    • Fit: 4
    • Quality: 5
    • Look/flatness: 4.5
    • Cost: 4 ($35)
    • Fate: Keeping for now; may donate or modify slightly.uw_full
  5. Les Loveboat Super Strength Short Velcro Binder (Medium): Eh. Yes it works, it gets pretty flat. But the neck comes up too high and is visible under crew neck shirts. The velcro makes a crinkly noise and can itch. It’s hard to reach in to adjust. However it comes up high enough under the arms to prevent spillage. It looks decent under clothing. But I wind up looking like I’m wearing a sports bra no matter what I do; something with the shape of it, I think the velcro makes it too “freeform” if that makes sense. Plus this was too expensive and not quite stretchy enough. And the crinkly noise bugs me.That being said, some people get great results with it. It costs more for a reason. The materials are nice and breathable and wicking and absorbant, the construction is good, and there’s plenty of velcro real-estate so no matter how much you wanna tighten it always can go tighter (for better or for worse). I think I’m doing something wrong, because my shape is a little too round, even after rearranging; but it’s a flat round, so under some shirts it looks great.
    • Comfort: 4
    • Fit: 4
    • Quality: 5
    • Look/flatness: 3.5
    • Cost: 1 ($57)
    • Fate: Donating. I’ve tried it a few times, and every time I wind up swapping it out for the tri-top. I’ve only worn it out a handful of times. The picture doesn’t adequately capture the shape; maybe I’m overly sensitive but it feels really round when I do wear it.llb_velcro
  6. Les Loveboat Sports Pullover Short binder (large) : Thought this would be good for doing the sportstimes! I thought wrong. It extends downwards enough, but weirdly shaped armholes lead to half my chest spilling over to the sides, and if I wear this under a shirt the scooped neckline seam shows, so I might as well be wearing a sports bra or camisole. I guess it flattens and the material is nice, and it doesn’t create a uniboob. Maybe for someone with a smaller chest it’d be nice. But gawd, this was AWFUL. However, if it happens to work for you, it’s the most discrete of all the options listed here.
    • Comfort: 5
    • Fit: 1
    • Quality: 5
    • Look/flatness: 3
    • Cost: 2 ($45)
    • Fate: Gave to a friend who also hated it. Might ask him for it back to put in my pile of donations. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of this hot mess.
  7. WHATWEARS Les GL Lesbian Chest Binder Flat Long Vest (XLarge): Bottom of the barrel. First off, too many words in the product title! (Big pet peeve… also what does GL stand for? Giant Lesbian? ‘Gina Lovers? ALSO why only lesbians; what about transmasculine folk?) Secondly, the straps were too narrow for it to look like a men’s tank top; it just looked like an ill-fitting women’s tank. Thirdly, OFF LIMITS for big chests! If you’re a C cup maybe it’d work, but these poor babies were spilling over up and out, down and out, up and in, all around. Required way too much fiddling… and even then I wasn’t flat. I sized up 2 sizes like they said, but I was on the smallest set of hooks; not great IMO. But had I gotten a smaller size though, there’d be even more spillage than Deep Water Horizon. (too soon?)That being said, I didn’t hate everything. It got me flat. It was cheap. The construction is a loose outer tank top with an inner stretchy band with hook-and-loop clasps (same things that hold together a bra, only like 10 of em in a row). Hook and loop is way better than velcro. The loose outer tank top is made out of a comfortable synthetic material. Definitely, definitely not the worst binder you could get off Amazon; unless you downsize too much it won’t restrict breathing. And if you prefer a quadriboob to a uniboob, you’re in good hands here.
    • Comfort: 4
    • Fit: 3
    • Quality: 3.5
    • Look/flatness: 2
    • Cost: 5 ($15)
    • Fate: Donating this ‘un. I’m getting all sorts of lumps and it requires all sorts of readjustments. You can even see the lumpiness at the top of my chest in the photo below.amazon

Update 10/20/15: I always go back to the GC2B and the Underworks Magicotton. #3 might have replaced #2; tri top is still good for special events, but the Magicotton is so much better for, like, taking deep breaths. I’ve gotten rid of all the rest of the binders.

Gender roundup of awesome TED talks

Recently I’ve watched some really inspiring and thoughtful TED talks about gender, because I like thinking about it and hearing narratives from people all over the gender spectrum. These TED speakers run the gamut. I especially love that cispeople question this stuff also in connection to their (or their children’s) gender variance.

“Why am I so gay?” by Thomas Lloyd. Discusses how we lose a significant part of ourselves by suppressing our self-expression, and why it’s important to him to be visible. Suppressing his “gay” mannerisms takes too much “creative energy”, which probably most people reading this blog can relate to (if not “gay” mannerisms, then whatever gender-variance you may exhibit).

“Hey Doc, some boys are born girls.” by Decker Moss. Touches upon mourning a lost boyhood by being coerced into girlhood, as well as losing a part of his identity as a fraternal twin. Also about internalizing his feelings and hiding them from the world, when his twin could pick up on it. His connection to his sister is incredibly sweet.

“Gender Fluidity” by Gabrielle Burton. A straight cisgendered mother describes coming into awareness that she herself sometimes enforces gender norms on her children, and goes on to open her mind and heart in the sweetest way. PARENTS TAKE NOTE THIS LADY IS SUPER.

“Beyond the Gender Binary” by Yee Won Chong. All the practical reasons that trans* individuals face: voter ID laws, navigating restrooms, social justice in the eyes of a non-white trans* individual. Also seeking political asylum for LGBTQ protection, and their relationship with their mother.

“Understanding the complexities of gender” by Sam Killermann. Cis-male white upper-middle class straight people are at the top of the totem pole, right? Even this comedian/spoken-word artist, who falls under those categories (more-or-less), speaks out against how restrictive society is in policing gender. He’s funny and well-spoken and really smart.

“How You Know You’re in Love: Epigenetics, Stress & Gender Identity” by Karissa Sanbonmatsu. She is a scientist slash transwoman who knows her genetics. She does a really good job explaining epigenetics to non-scientists, so don’t be intimidated. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember your basic biology, it’ll be interesting and entertaining trust me. At one point she speaks Klingon.

A gender rebel’s gotta do what a gender rebel’s gotta do.

I’ve been doing some mindfulness stuffs, as part of a new years resolution I’m undertaking with a friend to meditate and/or do yoga regularly. As a naturally anxious person, I tend to just stew with the thoughts in my head, and most of them are pretty mean. For anyone who is curious, I personally like the super straightforward interface of calm.com for relaxing background sounds and a timer; there are also guided meditations. Nothing spiritual or touchy-feely. Just you doing you, for 2-30 minutes. (If you do 2 minutes nobody will judge you. But it’s awesome, seriously.)

The meditation I try to do is about being gentle on myself and letting myself feel the things I feel. That’s the only reason I’m still thinking, “Okay. Let’s explore this whole gender bullshit.”

I started with dresses, and then cut my hair, and then slowly stopped wearing dresses except when necessary, and then started binding, and then started experimenting with men’s clothing, and now most of my clothing is men’s. It’s a weird progression and has really thrown me off.

When I cut my hair into a pixie cut, I thought that’d be okay. But then suddenly my feminine clothing seemed too feminine in juxtaposition; so I tried styling my hair “pixie” but wound up giving up on that and letting it go androgynous. Then I tried androgynizing my clothing and it felt good. Every step seemed to get me closer to recognizing myself in the mirror. I started exploring how comfortable I am being perceived in different ways. I’m sure I was perceived as ugly at some points along this path; I didn’t like that. I wanted to flirt and be acknowledged. It’s shallow, I know, but I can’t help it. I’m sure i was perceived as confused. I didn’t like that either. I want to be seen as a secure adult, and I’m such a long way off from that.

The reason I feel the need to explore gender is that with this progression has led me through anxiety and depression to a point where I can live with myself, where I more or less recognize myself. So I don’t know if this is where I’m settling down, as an androgynous female with very open views of stuff, or if I need to go further.

I want to know now. I don’t want to wait 6 years to figure things out. But for now, things are getting better, and as a side project to my life it’s not half bad. So maybe I’ve reached the end of the road; but I need to see this through.

I like a few things now: 1) I attract open-minded friends (or repel the closed-minded ones). 2) I am treated as an equal by guy friends and find it easy to be myself around them. I think they think of me as a lesbian but I’m not shy to disclose my mixed dating preferences. So I guess that’s all cool, and maybe I’ve settled down in a place that feels good for now.

If I keep saying to myself, “This is stupid. I’m so foolish and selfish for going down this path; people must know I’m in a quarter-life crisis…” then I’ll never see the end of this road. No, I have to be nice to myself. I’m not stupid or foolish. I’m me. And I am not the most graceful at life but it’s my life to be not graceful at!!

I’ve pushed through a lot of discomfort to get here. When I sly-ly began exploring everything by wearing a men’s t-shirt here and a sports bra there, I had intense anxiety about wearing it in public. But I pushed through. And I feel myself walking taller, feeling prouder, being lighter. And still, I feel I have a ways to go.

A gender rebel’s gotta do what a gender rebel’s gotta do.