Monday, November 18, 2019

A Postmodern Critique of Gender


A Postmodern Critique of Gender
The answer to justifying transgender identities beyond appealing to their suffering is a postmodern critique of gender and language. This is my core argument for the validity of trans people. Don't bother reading if you're not going to read the entire thing. Let us begin.

"You don't become a woman the first time you put on a dress. You become a woman the first time an older female relative turns to you at a restaurant and says, 'You know, maybe you should order the salad sweetie.'"

Sex and Science
Sex is bimodal, not binary. There are common options (modes) and many rare exceptions. Binary systems only have room for two things. Binary code works with 0s and 1s, not 0s, 1s, and sometimes 2s. Intersex people exist. There is roughly the same amount of redheads as there are intersex people. Ignoring trans and intersex people in our analysis of sex and gender is like saying we shouldn't build wheelchair accessible ramps because most people can just walk. Sex is about reproduction and deals with genitals and gametes. Secondarily, it deals with things associated with those things like chromosomes, hormones, and secondary sexual characteristics. XY chromosomes aren't universally indicative of being male, since not all animals with sexual dimorphism go with XY chromosomes. Intersex conditions exist but from my understanding, one set of reproductive organs tends to work far better than the other. One person might bring up that a woman without a uterus or vagina is still considered to be of the female sex. Somebody else might argue it's not a perfect example for why a trans women who underwent genital surgery is a woman in terms of sex, because the woman without a uterus is obviously a woman without a uterus, and the trans woman with surgery done is a man who got surgery done. Then again, what if we've pumped that trans woman with hormones and their epigenetics and brain have changed as a result of that? There are many grey areas and exceptions when we try to sort through nature. There's no need to force trans people into one category or the other.

Sex Isn’t Even Binary
A man is currently 30. At 10 years old he was boy, but at 30 he is a man. At what point is the boy a man? There is no single dividing line when that occurs. The brain doesn’t like that, which is why it prefers binaries to spectrums. It’s also why many cultures have rituals to mark the instant a boy turns into a man. A rabbit is a rabbit, and its parents are rabbits too. But go back far enough and we don’t see a rabbit anymore. Something is or isn’t a rabbit, but that binary system is a feature of language and biology doesn’t care about our language. This is why evolution is hard to grasp. The boundaries of the concept ‘rabbit’ seem easy to grasp but actually setting those boundaries fail. This is the case for pretty much anything.

If we have to define man or woman by biological characteristics, what makes a man? If being a man is determined by genitals, then a man who lost their penis and a trans woman who had SRS are both not men. If one argues they're both men because of their chromosomes, then the goal post has been moved. Is being a man determined by genitals or not? If it's determined by chromosomes, what about people with atypical chromosomal makeup? Those with Swyer Syndrome have XY chromosomes yet are born with uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina.

If we start writing up a checklist of characteristics which define a man or a woman, none of which alone are necessary or sufficient to define what it means to be a man, then we’re just making it up as we go along based on opinions. If we’re going to make stuff up, let’s do it in a way that’s more useful.

But fine. Let’s draw up a list of anatomical features like chromosomes, gonads, genitals, hormones, and secondary sex characteristics. Let’s say a female is a person with XX chromosomes, ovaries, vagina, a certain hormone balance, and secondary sex characteristics like breasts and soft skin. But wait, there are transsexual women with female secondary sexual characteristics, hormone levels, and genitals, but no ovaries or XX chromosomes. Insisting on a binary system for sex leaves unable to accurately describe the anatomy people who don’t conform to our preset categories. There will always be exceptions to a rule so trying to rigidly categorize people is futile.

If a person knows all this and still insists sex is binary, then they are forcing reality to fit their preconceived notions rather than adapting their concepts to fit reality. But none of that really matters, because defining man or woman in a social context has nothing to do with biology in practice or theory. A really simple and not entirely adequate saying here nonetheless gets the point across: Sex is what you have down there, and gender is what you have up here in your brain. Gender is about society.

Social Constructs & Language: Turtles All the Way Down
Categories of 'man' and 'woman' are social constructs. It doesn't mean those things don't exist, are useless, or must be totally arbitrary. Money is a social construct and should exist. If I ran out of money the effects on me would be as profound and tangible as the laws of gravity. However, gravity affects me the same way regardless of how humans behave, whereas the existence of money is contingent on shared human behaviors and beliefs. Investigating gold’s chemical properties to determine its monetary value is stupid. Instead one should investigate the economic behavior of human beings and the symbolic function of gold in our society. The same goes for gender. Peering into chromosomes and genitals doesn’t tell us which gender wears lipstick.

Is language prescriptive (dictionary tells us how to speak) or is it descriptive (based on how people actually speak)? It's the latter. The dictionary gets updated because language has updated since people feel like speaking differently. Otherwise language would never evolve, which is clearly does. Language is a human invention that changes over time. The definition of ‘literally’ in Merriam-Webster's dictionary includes "figuratively" because people keep using the word that way. The dictionary is a usage guide, not the Bible. In the internet age new words constantly get invented (often for little rhyme or reason). If somebody insists using Old English, then they end up being a crazy unintelligible person.

If language is descriptive, then I am to be referred to with female pronouns because that's what people tend to do around me. If language is prescriptive and we default to linguistic tradition, then whether I am a man or a woman can't have anything to do with chromosomes because they weren't discovered when those words came into existence. As soon as we start cherry-picking how far we want linguistic traditions to go before they're invalid to our society, we are making value judgements and the entire deference to linguistic tradition dies.

Conservatives are concerned about postmodern critiques of society because they have low openness to experience and prefer rigid, defined hierarchies. Unfortunately, the world is under no obligation to be comforting to us. Even basic questions like what a human is rise from the realm of mental masturbation into practical and important discussions when dealing with abortion. When is a person a person? Is it the moment of conception? A zygote? After the first trimester? When they are born? What IS a person? It didn’t use to include black people. Then they became 3/5ths of a person, and then eventually an entire person. White in America used to only mean Anglo-Saxans. The deeper we go the fuzzier things get. In the future when humans would be mostly machine, are they still human? If a machine seems to exhibit the same behaviors I do are they just a human in a machine? Time and space seem like simple enough concepts, but if I approach the speed of light my mass shoots up towards infinity as I travel into the future because… space-time and Einstein and stuff.

Common sense deals with realms common to us. Push anything to the extremes and the results become confusing and muddled. Life is not clean and easy. It is difficult, messy, and constantly changing.

Our models of the world both in hard sciences and society in general are best guesses that get revised constantly as we learn more. That includes gender. If you’re never interested in rewriting the definition of gender then you’re not interested in learning because you are in principle closed off to change.

Why is it surprising that gender can change based on interpretation when so many cultures around the world have alternate views on gender? In our own American culture, the appropriate attire, colors, and hobbies for boys and girls have changed over time. It’s normal. Holding onto outdated ideas that we know might serve as an adequate security blanket, but then we lose all right to say facts don’t care about our feelings. Fear of change is a feeling.

Gender as It’s Actually Used
Male and female in a scientific sense provides utility to use by broadly describing the differences between a dimorphic species. It is useful in the realm of science but not necessarily in other domains. Man and woman in a gender sense very broadly describes a bimodal distribution of features in society. But that’s all they are. They’re not derived from science in a strict way.

The utility of categories of man or woman is not about their reproductive roles in society. Not all men or women are fertile yet they don’t get lumped together into a third category of infertile people. If I told you I met a woman from work and we’re hanging out later, you don’t know what her reproductive capability is. A ton of women are on menopause. Maybe she’s my age, but I still have to ask if they can have (or want) children regardless of gender identity. There are women with atypical sets of chromosomes that have no idea they were atypical in any way because they’ve never been tested or tried to have a baby. These are basic questions that have to be asked in a relationship either way. No matter how we reconstruct gender, that’s not a problem.

If I were to point out a cis man convincingly dressed as a woman in a red dress, I would refer to them as ‘the woman in the red dress’ because here man and woman are just categories of typical features people have and it’s convenient to just call them a woman in the red dress. Doing the opposite increases confusion. It’s funny to see Ben Shapiro fail at misgendering Caitlyn Jenner because he too operates under my description of how we define men or women. I don’t insist on calling Ben Shapiro Benjamin Shapiro due to his birth certificate because I realize names in practice usually deal with identity and not legal documentation. Calling him Ben Shapiro is not denying the law. Calling me a woman is not denial or disagreement about biology. It’s a disagreement about how language is used.

To say that categories of man and woman deal with reproduction first and foremost means people are looking at others constantly and thinking about whether they take sperm or give it. When I go to a clothing store and I see men’s clothes, it doesn’t mean “clothing meant people who reproduce on this side of the dimorphic dichotomy instead of the other”. There I think of a man as a person who wears certain types of clothing, exhibit certain types of behaviors with hair done a certain way and legs unshaven. It means a bunch of traits that a person may not actually exhibit.

That is how most people judge other people's gender in day to day life. While I don't look very masculine, people can still tell I'm trans because of my voice and Adam's Apple. Yet, people still mostly use female pronouns. Are all those people deluded about my biology? If so, then I'd expect more masculine-looking trans women to be gendered male and feminine-looking women which can still be clocked as trans to be gendered male at the same rates. That's not what happens. The more feminine I look and the more obvious I am trying to present femininely, the more I get gendered female in conversation. People gender others based on the vibe they give off rather than chromosomal tests or genital inspection. 

The Pitch & The Pushback
Language is a social construct and that gives us the power to modify it as we see fit. We should modify our language to provide the most utility to the most people possible. And to that end, I submit to you that calling trans women, women, is the correct decision because the upside outweighs the downside (of which there is none).

Some insist ‘trans woman’ is its own separate group apart from man and woman. The point of transitioning is to fit in better to the category of man or woman, and to insist they are their own separate category in all cases undermines that. Besides, we consider gay men to be men even though they can’t reproduce with other men, are at risk for different diseases, have different life experiences, and are more likely to commit suicide or be homeless. Just because we can add another adjective to a gender to give extra context doesn’t mean it must be a different category. We can sub-divide categories.

We can be inclusive in the way we group gender by starting with men, women, and other. And of the women there are cis and trans women, both of which are women based on the way they perform gender in society. Women would be a broader umbrella category under which different women have different experiences. When required, greater specificity can be given. If you’re my doctor, my file should state I am a trans woman because giving me care for cis men would be harmful. If we’re dating you would want to know about my biology. Otherwise, my biology is really none of your business. And just like that, we have helped trans people feel like they fit in better with society without harming cis folk.

It is not I who misunderstands biology; it is you who misunderstands language.

It might be edgy to say no matter how much an adoptive parent loves and cares for their baby, they’ll never be a parent because the person is not their biological parent. Adoptive parents are just glorified child kidnappers! That would be impolite and also wrong. An adoptive parent is socially and functionally as real of a parent as a biological parent. It's a similar thing here. I live my life as a woman. All the people close to me know me as a woman. Strangers call me she. To make a point in calling me “he” is really just politically motivated pedantry and sophistry masked with a veneer of cold, hard logic. It's out of touch with the reality of how language is used. I refuse to let Shapiro deceptively frame the debate as a debate about biology.

Pedantry can look like logic because it deals with definitions of things as if it's a mathematical proof. Such analogies don’t work for something as fluid as language. It has the aesthetics of logic, but it’s a distraction from the actual substance. It's like when fascists argue they're not fascists because they don't follow Benito Mussolini and fascism is the movement from the 1930s... blah blah blah. When normal people use that word they mean an authoritarian racist populist. To use such a narrow definition of fascism to dodge criticism is to use sleight of hand not logic.

It is not enough to say trans women are not women because to say so would be akin to saying A = not A. We’re dealing with how we feel like setting up society and group people (biology vs gender expression vs identity) and not deductive logic. When we consider a chair a table based on the way it’s used, we aren’t breaking fundamental rules of logic. We’re just changing how we define chair or table. Tautologies like ‘men are men’ are never useful arguments of their position either.

Debating pronouns is dumb because we're really arguing about values and how society should be. Both sides are political, it's just Shapiro isn't honest and forthright about it. It comes down to his wish to instill rigid, conservative gender roles because liberalism leads to deterioration of the 'social fabric'. Change scares him. I want pronouns my way because it's more practical and I want the world to be more open minded about different types of people. The conservative argument is the pinnacle of a feels over reals argument. The idea of the 'deterioration of the social fabric' or just garden-variety disgust towards sexual and gender minorities is based on feelings, not facts. They claim a postmodern critique of gender and language somehow destroys biology but they cannot concretely explain how. They start with a feeling (trans people are weird) and then justify it after (something incoherent about definitions of words and how homosexuality is bad for society). They learn that men have wee wees and women have boobies and they think they have the gender argument down pat.

Don’t conflate the question of whether trans woman should be allowed to be considered a woman and how we should refer to a person. I call people what they want to be called. I call Ben Shapiro Ben Shapiro instead of Benjamin Shapiro. We can have butch women who act like men but we still call women because they want us to because we realize gender is one giant meme that probably shouldn’t exist. At the same time, we can believe that trans woman should allowed to be considered women. These are not contradictory.

Random Closing Thoughts
Language is just an absurd, made up thing that’s full of contradictions. Languages like German or Spanish assign gender to all kinds of animate objects. In English most objects have no gender, but men often gender their cars and ships female when they clearly don't have the right chromosomes or genitals. It's very dehumanizing for people to go out of their way to gender and name their boats but not call me a she or use my changed legal name. In Finnish there is just one generic pronoun for people. Maybe Finnish people all have the same genitals. I’ll get back to you on that.

Did you know that girls used to be a catch-all term for children of a young age? It was a gender-neutral term. But if Ben Shapiro from that era time traveled to our era, he would say… I would be unwilling to change a biological fact of human experience. Girls are people of any gender up to 4-5 years of age. That’s just a biological fact, an immutable characteristic of human nature. The idea of only calling children which will be ladies after 4-5 years of age is ridiculous. What then do we call the young girl that would later become a man?! Do we just call them a ‘boy’? This is a ridiculous fundamental re-writing of a basic component of human nature! This goes against everything we understand and I will not kowtow to the general notion of re-writing human nature to appease the left.

What does it mean to be a man or a woman? These are philosophical questions, and we all know the defining feature of philosophical questions is they have no final answer. Gender roles today are inadequate and outdated, but that leads to gender abolitionism instead of traditional notions of gender. That is a topic for another day.

Summary
Categories of man and woman (gender) are socially constructed categories in that we chose to make these categories because it gives us utility. Its primary function isn’t to signal reproductive status in practice. Given how fuzzy sex and especially gender are, there is room to increase utility for everyone by grouping the two primary genders by their general characteristics, of which both cis and trans people of that gender reside. To supplement that we call people what they wish to be called and that takes priority. The upside outweighs the downside.

Monday, August 19, 2019

More Than a Disagreement

My mother not supporting me in my trans journey is not the same as us having a disagreement about something. There's a reason why my ex-friend's family used to be the closest thing I had to a family. Trans people with supportive family and friends decreases the chance of reported attempted suicides, which surprises nobody. There is nothing my mom can say or do that can turn me cis or turn me away from transitioning. It's happening whether she likes it or not. Given that fact, standing in my way is nonsensical. She can't change my gender identity, so the only thing she can change is the way she treats me. She can choose to be supportive and show her love unconditionally. Maybe we could've been daughter and mother, and gone out shopping for clothes together. That sounds like fun.

Instead, she decided not to support me. She decided to ignore the fact that her support decreases the chance of my suicide because she'd rather have a dead son than a living daughter. Her discomfort around sexual and gender minorities outweighs her wish for me to be happy. She decided not to protect me against a government which seeks to take away my rights or strangers who would abuse me. I feel betrayed.

Some might say, "Oh, but what if you regret your decision later on?". What about it? I'm already 2 years into hormone therapy. Almost all of the breast growth has already happened. If I stop hormones now instead of 5 years later, the reversal process is very close. The reverse is not true; if I start now versus start later, there is a penalty because older people have worse transition outcomes. And if I realize I have to transition when I'm older and already have a spouse, that might destroy the relationship. It is easier to change things now than much later when I'm settled in. Perhaps longer estrogen exposures increases breast cancer risk, and I know conservatives are hypersensitive to danger. Would she feel equally as uneasy if I were born female and I was exposed to estrogen my entire life instead? Would her worries about breast cancer go away if I meticulously research the science and found no good evidence of harm? No, and she said so as much.

So what really is her motivation for wanting me to stop hormones? Bigotry, of course. And bigots don't often like to say they are bigots, so I have to disprove every one of her stated reasons for disliking HRT before I can finally call it bigotry.

Her attitude towards LGBT people let me know even as a kid in elementary school, that there was no way I could tell my mom I wanted to be a girl. In fact, I never told her anything. She didn't care about how I felt and I couldn't trust her with any secret. And so, I bottled up my feelings. All the guilt and shame and embarrassment. Because of this, it took me much longer to realize I was trans and to transitioning medically. Eventually I was too old for my mother to have direct control over my life. But by then it was already too late; it was already past puberty and the best window of opportunity for transitioning has past. I will have to deal with the physical consequences of that for the rest of my life.

So no: it's not just a disagreement. That's a rhetorical trick. It's a denial which perpetuates my oppression. It's a denial of a core part of who I am. It continues the idea that I should be ashamed and my feelings are wrong.

And for all of that, I will never forgive her.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Why Banning Transgender People in the Military is Harmful

It might be not be immediately obvious why banning trans people from the military is problematic for trans people. First, some people join the military because they are poor and need money or college paid. This is important at a time where housing and college costs are through the roof. Some join to be disciplined and get their lives in order. They get to see the world and get a renewed sense of purpose. Some do it to protect the country at a time where the military often comes up short on recruitment goals.

'SEAL training was the great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, ethnic background, education, or social status.' 
-Admiral William H. McRaven

In combat soldiers don't care about the sexual orientation or gender of the person guarding their back. They only care if they can do their job. In times of stress it's easier to form bonds with the people you experienced it with, especially when those people helped safeguard your life. That makes it harder for veterans to dislike trans people as much because they served with a trans person. In America we have (or at least pretend to have) a huge fetish for veterans, and it's harder to attack a trans veteran. People will probably be a bit more willing to listen to a cis veteran said 'I served with those people, they're alright'.

It's also bad optics. Each hot button trans issue is a battleground for trans rights. Losing one and not caring because I don't want to join the military is a mistake. It's like a tug of war, where the more protections and rights trans people have the more the rope is pulled to our side, and vice versa. The more ground we gain, the longer it takes for others to take it away from us. The ban reminds us our rights could be taken from us on the whim of the government.

Visibility of trans people in culture is important for acceptance. It's harder to think I'm an abomination, pedophile, or fetishist if you actually meet me. When you actually get to know me you realize I'm actually in many ways like most people. We're all actually not that different from one another. Don't let cynical politicians divide Americans against each other to exploit you for political gain. Trans people often value love, family, commitment, integrity just like cis people. For our transgender troops, they also value protection of democracy, freedom, discipline, and protecting the country. With proper visibility people gradually realize their mental image of how trans people are all like is built on stereotypes and that there exist trans people of all sizes, colors, and personalities. They'll stop thinking trans people are merely caricatures of their gender.

Separate but equal might be a familiar phrase if you understand American history. The courts eventually understood that was a fantasy. If the oppressed minority had equal rights and opportunities then almost by definition it means a lack of separation, because why would such separation be necessary? Like the tug of war for mindshare and rights, losing this battle is a loss for trans rights and acceptance. I don't want to tell a kid that when they grow up they can be anything they want. ...Except for the president or a military service member because people hate us. That kid probably gets shit all the time from kids to disapproving family members, so they probably have very low self esteem. They might worry they will never pass or they might start to hate themselves. The despair may be so deep, they consider self harm and threaten to tear apart the lives of not only themselves but their family and friends as well. One day they see trans people in the military being honored and valued. Perhaps I'm not so worthless after all. If they can do it, maybe I can too. Visibility gives voices to those who are silenced and visibility to the invisible.

In reality when a group gets less rights than another group, the government sanctioned discrimination leads to more discrimination from ordinary citizens towards the group. That effect is insidious and affects all trans people, not only those who wish the serve.

We can't on one hand argue bothering to give trans people rights is pointless because they are so rare and on the other hand complain they are so common in the military, they will cost too much in healthcare. If we really cared about saving money, don't do senseless regime change wars that cost trillions of dollars. The cost of Viagra the military spends far outweighs trans healthcare. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Isn't is suspicious nobody is talking about changing healthcare benefits for trans individuals if budget was actually a concern?

If we really cared about logistics for hormone replacement therapy, then it is suspicious nobody is suggesting only banning trans men from the military due to the vials of testosterone they have to take. Trans women can take high-dosage pills, of which many can fit in a small pill bottle. We don't hear anything about the realities of logistics or the medications trans women vs trans men take because it's not about that.

It's not about logistics. It's not about cost. It wasn't about water fountains in the 60s and it's not about bathrooms or logistics today. Trans people are an oppressed minority and as such the small inconvenience of having trans people serve alongside their cis brother and sisters is outweighed by the benefits of inclusion. Critics might claim the ban only really affects those diagnosed with gender dysphoria medically. Many trans people know this means very little, because that diagnosis is used to obtain hormone replacement therapy in the first place. Many people diagnosed with gender dysphoria don't actually have gender dysphoria in the clinical sense (checklist of symptoms including having trouble functioning in society) but rather dysphoria in the colloquial sense (any level of discomfort with their gender and body which often is not crippling). We're not sending useless tokens of social justice into battle, and that's why a trans service member made it to the Navy SEALs.

Perhaps you are wary of transgender troops out of purely logistical or financial reasons even though most people who claim such are actually uneasy with trans people and looking for a reason to shut them down. Maybe you don't have such unconscious biases. But realize that most people do, and the transgender ban is being pushed by bigots who would take our rights away one step at a time if they could. Is this the company you want to keep, and the policies you want to support? Aren't you worried the government will do more to harm trans people and you just aided them on their quest?

As the New Yorker said, aspiring tyrants like Trump exert control over the people because they can. It is abhorrent for Trump to take away the rights of soldiers who would die to protect him. Patriotism is shown through actions not worship of symbols. Our trans service members demonstrate patriotism in spades. If we care about supporting the troops, then support all of the troops. It's time for freedom-loving Republicans to show us just how much they care about justice and liberty for all. Our cause is just. You can still choose to be on the right side of history and choose love, not hate. Lord knows we already have too much of the latter.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Some Arguments Against Free Market Capitalism in Some Cases

It was interesting how the viewers of Joe Rogan think we shouldn't force a baker to bake a cake for a gay customer because we need limited government, but when Alex Jones comes on the show, WE MUST REIGN IN THE BIG TECH COMPANIES CENSORING ELITE PHILOSOPHERS LIKE ALEX jOnEs and we require STRICTER REGULATION!!!!@@######

Apparently the line for government involvement is drawn somewhere between gay rights on one hand and Alex Jones on the other.

Wedding Cakes for Gay People

I think people who make free market capitalist arguments for letting the baker discriminate against gay people are very naive about how the world works. It's like Dave Rubin talking points, where it sounds like he's an edgy 15 year old who just stumbled on an Ayn Rand book and thinks they've figured out how to solve the world. Dave would have 2 arguments:

1. A baker who pisses off too many of their customers won't be in business, so they can't discriminate too much.

How much is 'too much'? I'd argue any amount is 'too much' because it just shouldn't happen. The reason we protect minorities is because they are a minority - as in, not the majority. They on their own cannot shape policy or render a business bankrupt via boycott (and boycotts just in general don't work for anything... see fast fashion and child labor, etc). What we'd end up with is a minority constantly getting bullied with nobody caring. The only other solution is to ratchet up social justice tenfold, but half the country thinks we are getting too politically correct and Donald Trump is literally the president. That's not happening.

2. It affects personal liberty too much.

What about the liberty of gay people not to feel like shit in day to day life? Applying basic standards of nondiscrimination in places of business (ie, not kicking your customers out) is very little to ask. This isn't about your personal life. The same arguments have been used in the past to discriminate against black or trans people in the past. In the case of rights of black people, we had the civil rights movement which in part involved forcing people to serve black people and it made the world a better place. We do that, but for gay and now trans people.

One might have a better argument about rejecting the gay cake job if the cake is supposed to have a giant penis and asshole printed on the top of the cake. For the most part though, wedding cakes are just normal (albeit fancy) cakes.

Building Codes 

The worst Dave Rubin meltdown for me was coincidentally also when he was on the Joe Rogan show, where he argued we don't need building codes because we have Yelp. It sounds like I'm exaggerating to make fun of him, but I'm not and that's the funny part. We need building codes because we don't want to live in a world where we have to be an expert on everything to know whether what we buy will kill or maim us. Buildings would be expensive to inspect and easy to scam with by cheapening out here and there and we'd be none-the-wiser. By the time a contractor is known to have a bad reputation, many people have lost their life savings in houses which are now worthless or even worse, died in fires or earthquakes like a third world country. We live in a world where people believe in homeopathy, religions, and vaccines cause autism. Do we really want to leave every important decision to individual research when people are this stupid? Do we also trust the contractors to be honest enough to think about their reputation long term, or will they fall into the human impulse of short term gain and go into another field to run another scam somewhere else? People are cheaters. They cheat first, cover it up second, and justify it later.

People like Dave Rubin generalize so much ("government NEVER does anything well") and push easy solutions (free market capitalism) when like many things in life, the devil is in the details. Theories painting a free market utopia are largely pointless if it doesn't work in reality. For people like Dave Rubin, one would be tempted to argue he is pushing feels over facts. For him specifically though I would call it 'Koch money over facts' instead.

Pollution/Global Warming

And finally, I have qualms with extreme free market capitalism when it comes to pollution or climate change. The idea that companies which pollute too much would be forced to pollute less for their own health or because people will boycott their company is ridiculous (the latter of which is already covered). This is especially true for climate change, which seems like an impossible to fix problem with negatives which come slowly and gradually, making it easy to deny or put off. When companies find out they can make more money by polluting more, they will pollute more. They care only about money, and if they don't do it, others will and have an advantage over them. This is a race to the bottom, but once we've trashed the entire planet at least we've generated good shareholder value! I'm sure when a mother's children died in the first earthquake their house encountered due to poor building codes and her husband died drinking poisoned water, she can sue for enough cash to resurrect all of them. /s

We can even try to fix this within a capitalist framework like cap and trade, which used to be championed by Republicans... except now apparently they don't even believe global warming is real now? What the hell is up with that?

Free Market Capitalism: When you have a hammer, every problem begins to look like nails.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Pondering on Sexual Harassment

I will talk about dynamics between men and women now. First story is about Twitch boob streamers. Second is about a sexual harassment complaint and prostitution. Third is about domestic violence. None of these sections feature very insightful or amazing analyses, but here we go.

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Twitch boob streamers are female streamers who stream on a video game streaming site called Twitch. Usually people play games live while a the audience interacts with the streamer. Some enterprising young women started streaming themselves doing various activities while being scantily clad. Essentially they are women who try to turn guys on so they can give them money.

The problem this causes is mostly Twitch's fault in my opinion. Twitch's TOS doesn't allow for sexual content, but they poorly enforce their terms. They can't seem to decide if they want to allow boobie streamers. This creates confusion, and people who are angry that somebody is profiting from breaking the rules of Twitch. While the line between a woman removing a few buttons on her shirt to get some more viewers and a booby streamer is blurred, there are extremes which Twitch still turns a blind eye to.

This is a problem of expectations. Nobody gets mad a cam girl in a porn site gets money. That's because it's allowed on the site and the entire point of the site. People get what they expect. I might like Big Macs, but if I go to a 3 Michelin starred place and get a Big Mac, I'm going to be pretty upset. It's not because the Big Mac is all of a sudden disgusting. It's because I didn't get what I was advertised. What does Twitch want to be about? Is it a gaming only site, or will it allow "IRL", whatever that means?

But also, I think a good chunk of the blowback is really from a bunch of horny men who are jealous some beautiful women get to get paid and coveted for being who they are. (To be fair, being beautiful all the time is actually kind of time consuming. This isn't as simple as printing money.) Some people are disgusted by women who appear sexually promiscuous. Harassing women for that is total bullshit. That should go without saying.

As a trans person I can really identify with the jealousy part though. There are a lot of men who never find women who really adore them and covet them like they might covet many women. As a trans woman, I'm never getting that treatment. To some extent I think women who are ugly can relate. (In general though, women find it much easier to get sex if they want it than men... unless you're a trans woman. That, and the whole issue with envy of women from trans people, makes the experience a little different.)

Booby streamers don't often say they are booby streamers. They like to play it off like they are getting viewers for their amazing personality or skills at a game. This dishonesty is to some extent Twitch's fault due to their TOS which is oddly enforced, but I'm sure some women use their sexuality to make money but don't want to be confronted with the fact that it makes them a porn actor. Similarly, women who exchange sex for plane tickets, fancy dinners, and a rich husband, might be prostitutes or 'wife for hires' don't want to acknowledge that that is who they are.

But there's nothing really wrong with that. Women should be allowed to profit off of their sexuality. It's unfair that a lot of people can't do that, but life isn't fair. Personally I find the idea of 'paid love' kind of dishonest and distasteful because I have idealistic views about romance and love, but if an arrangement works out between two people, then good for them.

--

A man offers initially to pay for tickets for a woman's trip to GDQ, which is a charity event where people who try to play games are quickly as possible try to raise donations for a charity. She would be staying over for free with him in his hotel room.

It's not entirely clear if there were clear terms struck, but it seems the agreement was she would at least be his cuddle buddy in bed to make it up to her. Eventually their exchanges got extremely sexual, with the woman talking about all kinds of sexual stuff. She said she will be his sex toy for the week.

On the first night he cuddled her. The guy claims he put his arms over her breasts, and she lifted her shirt up, and things escalated from there. We only have his side of the story, and parts of it at that. On the second day she slept on the floor. Eventually he kicked her our of his room, though he did pay for her flight home. The woman complained about sexual harassment to GDQ.

The woman herself is a shady person who tried to get into GDQ with an expired pass, receiving a 2 year ban. She tried to come back yet again this year. The man's ex-girlfriend posted screenshots showing him saying he's trying to get her busted. It is his ex though.
When it comes to intimacy between men/women especially, it becomes weird. Some people are hell-bent on blaming men or women for everything and calling things rape or sexual assault when it was barely anything. Some other people have very weird, anti-women perspectives on things. Context matters when judging behavior. (What's okay off work at a bar is not okay at work.) Young people make stupid mistakes together and often it ends up being he-said she-said. People interpret things differently, human memory is unreliable, and people often lie. It's sad. Consent is tricky. But I for one would be okay with explicit consent the first time... literally asking if they'd be okay with sex. It's considered socially awkward and for many people it kills the mood but I think it simplifies things. If authorities keep attacking men by default over every sexual mishap, it will increase resentment in men. It's really a case by case basis kind of thing. It's possible to host a family-friendly event that looks out for LGBT people and women while not attacking men. GDQ has banned the man indefinitely, though it's unclear if the investigation is ongoing, and GDQ has better information than we do.

If a woman offers sex in exchange for the man paying for her accommodations and travel expenses to an event, she is literally a prostitute. Prostitution doesn't mean the prostitute is forced to have sex with her client. She gets to change her mind and walk out. But she doesn't get to take a guy's money and walk out without having sex with him. That's a scam. If the client refuses to let her go and insists on sex, that is sexual harassment.

The guy is stupid for thinking a girl's going to be willing to have sex over some plane tickets and not just hiring some cheap prostitute instead. The girl is stupid for agreeing to have sex with a man she's never met before, giving him all of her power in the situation knowingly, and not thinking to have an alternative ready in case the plane ticket deal falls through. I don't think it's fair to shit on the guy for being very lonely and wanting sex, just like I don't think it's really fair to shit on the girl for being willing to sell her body.

Do we believe the accuser by default? It's tricky. I don't know what the statistics are on false accusations, and maybe nobody knows. The crime of falsely accusing somebody of a crime on purpose ought to be as bad as the punishment for said crime, if not worse. But how do we know what happened if we weren't there? Having a long line of accusers certainly tips the scales, but in many cases it isn't like that. In the case of Kavanaugh, it was a job interview for which we had a very long line of competent judges. The Supreme Court justices serve for life. It's better to be safe than sorry in that case. His behavior during the hearings, from his lack of control of his emotions to his blatant dishonesty, demonstrate he was unfit for the office. (Lying under oath isn't just bad. It's illegal. He should be in jail right now.) In this case, I really don't know. I really depends on what happened in the hotel room on that day.

---

There was another man vs woman incident in gaming, when a Twitch streamer slapped his wife off camera after the woman was very upset that he wouldn't drop his stream to eat dinner with his family. She threw various objects, most of which didn't get shown on camera. She was very persistent and very annoying. The man was apprehended by police, and I believe charged.

I'm not sure that a man should lose his family for a single slap. It doesn't make the slap okay. Throwing objects at your husband also isn't okay. To be fair, none of the objects sounded like it was very dangerous. There were no sounds of glass shattering or metal objects crashing through.

I wouldn't be surprised if the justice system was biased against men. People kept talking about how he 'beat the shit out of her'. If one slap counts as 'beating the shit' out of someone, maybe you've never played a video game or watched a violent movie in your entire life. If you got the shit beat out of you and you stop crying 3 seconds later and have the vitality to continue throwing random objects at somebody, then you weren't hit that hard. Does it make slapping people okay? No. But we shouldn't be so loose with out language. It's like the people who call everything 'sexual assault', trivializing actual cases of sexual assault.

Men are on average stronger than women. Not all men are stronger than women. For many years of my life I lived as a guy and most girls could beat me up if they really wanted to. People look at domestic violence from the lens of gender, not power. Even when men are stronger than women, they are not so exponentially stronger to the point where they are incapable of inflicting violence that hurts but doesn't injure. It's not like men are so strong, they helplessly destroy a woman by flicking their fingers or accidentally bumping into them.

Women are not mentally retarded. They are adults just like men. They should be subjected to the same standards for better and for worse.

---

Does it really matter to me who was in the wrong in the specific cases I mentioned? No. I think it's useful to think about these situations and explore dynamics between men and women.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Anti-SJWs and Pushing Back Against Social Conservatives

Being a SJW has gotten a bad reputation in the past several years. Instead of a person who cares about making the world a better place, we now think of a blue-haired female feminist yelling about something benign being unacceptably racist. I think it's time to push back a little bit against the 'anti-SJWs'... These are people who spend all of their time railing against SJWs.

Social Justice is a Good Thing
What race or gender I am or where I was born were accidents of birth, purely up to chance. The best way for me to construct the rules of society is to construct it in a way such that I would feel okay being born with any race, gender, or at any location. That's what fairness and equality means. It's tough to achieve because people understand their own problems better than that of others, and give themselves excuses for their failures while refusing to give the same charity to others. We empathize with people like us.

I think the way to re-frame the situation of somebody lecturing you about how calling people fags is not nice is to think about Colin Kaepernick. He knelt at the US flag during a football game instead of standing at attention with hand over heart. Arguably it's more respectful to kneel than to stand. The conservatives who constantly attacked liberals for being politically correct snowflakes and were scared of being deplatformed by offended college students all of a sudden felt what it was like to be on the other end of that situation. While it's okay for a Mississippi senator to joke about watching a public lynching (of black folk) or how some liberals should be prevented from voting so they can get a more favorable result, it's not okay to kneel in front of a flag in solidarity for black men killed by police officers. Whether or not you agree Kaepernick's opinion on police brutality, it's obvious the aims were noble.

Why can't we just enjoy a football game without politics, some conservatives would ask. Well, the entire patriotic show during NFL games itself was and is a political game. We were scared of the godless commies, so we reacted by trying to be the exact opposite. The idea that people could just forget about politics when they don't feel like it is a perspective born out of privilege. If things are going okay for you, you don't have to worry about things all the time. If your life is a dumpster fire, any time is a good time to try to put the fire out. From the sofa in front of a TV, a white guy might feel annoyed or unreasonably triggered due to their constant hard-on for nationalism, but those people need to remember that it's hell of a lot better to be annoying in front of their big screen TV than to fear the police. There's a remarkable difference in what each side has to give up for this flag-kneeling situation to go their way: Some people have to spend 5 seconds watching a black man kneel, while many other people would be unable to voice their plight.

Anti-SJWs
Sargon of Akkad aka Carl Benjamin comes to mind. (What kind of weirdo names themselves after an old king, anyways?) When being a conservative or a Trumpist seems too shameful, I guess the trendy label now is 'classical liberal'. When all Carl does is praise Trump and ruthlessly attack SJWs and those who oppose Trump, it's not a surprise he attracts a conservative viewership. Oh, but I can't be responsible for my sexist audience! ...Or so he might say. Actually in a way, yes, you are Carl. His viewers have a strong conservative stance on things because Carl constantly makes fun of the other side, while never criticizing "his own side". How many times has Carl attacked Trump?

Yes, extreme political correctness is a problem. But political correctness itself isn't a problem. It exists because it's society way of shaming people with shitty opinions. When Carl told somebody he wouldn't even rape her, it wasn't politically correct. It was bad and he should've felt bad. But he didn't and stood by his statement. This is my point: Too many anti-SJWs aren't well-intentioned people who worry about a stifled public discourse. They're just conservative bullies.

A lot of conservatives put great emphasis on personal agency when in reality free will doesn't even exist. Personal agency is an illusion. We take responsibility for our successes and then give excuses for our failures. I'm rich because I studied hard in college. Oh wait, that ignores the fact that I can even afford college. Or that my personal life is stable enough to allow for that. Or that I was taught soft skills like showing up on time and getting along with people when I was young because my parents taught me those things. Or that I didn't grow up in a world of crime with no real role models.

There is where Carl would say that the solution for black poverty is to be married because married people are better off, as if causation is the same as correlation. Staying married is a sign of stability in life and wealth. Even if getting married is some sort of panacea for the problems which ails the black population, that's not how people make choices. Show me the law which says blacks aren't allowed to marry, he would say. Yeah, well, just because a law doesn't exist permitting racism or sexism that must mean it doesn't exist, right? These people have simple ideas to complex problems and people think they are 'telling it like it is'. No they're not.

Carl's not a centerist. When somebody agrees with almost every conservative position, they are conservative, even if they prefer to call themselves something else to come off as more objective and neutral. The extreme left aren't 'taking over' the left. Carl's a shitty contrarian man-child and a failure of a human being. He's a closet Republican who doesn't even live in America but cares about US politics because he's in a cult of Trump. Other anti-SJWs aren't as bad, but they still defend regressive people while constantly attacking SJWs over and over.

--

Dave Rubin also calls himself a classical liberal and probably feels better about himself for not aligning himself officially to any political party, yet he constantly defends or makes excuses for conservatives and grills liberals for everything. He keeps talking about 'having conversations', ie, talking about talking. But when it comes down to it, he only brings a certain type of person on his show. They're either conservative or people who have serious problems with PC culture.

The problem with people is they won't honestly tell you what they thing, who they align with, and what their motivations are. Dave Rubin is a careerist who had a sudden 180 on politics and went from TYT to PragerU. Carl Benjamin just likes to trigger SJWs (and said as much). Stefan Molyneux went from actual anarchist/libertarian to actual white supremacist who believes in the White Genocide conspiracy. The 'Race Realist' people who support a white ethnostate in America are actually just closet racists. A good example is Lauren Southern traveling to France to record a footage of her walking across an area with many brown people with ominous music in the background. Nothing actually happens in the video. What that means is the problem is there are brown people. Or maybe they don't speak French when talking to other brown people.

The 'free market of ideas' assumes everyone is well-read and open to having their opinions changed. That's rarely the case. When people allow shitty human beings like Nick Fuentes who think trans people should suffer electroshock therapy, gay people should be sterilized, or that white people are superior to non-whites without pushing back on their opinions, all that does is give those terrible ideas a new platform to spread. That's irresponsible.

And the Left is bad at their job. An older generation fought against the brunt of racism, and we just swept the rest under the rug. The election of Trump is a wake-up call because those bigots never left even after we shamed them into silence. They're still there, and they're voting. Oh look, now they're angry and they have Twitter and Youtube. We have to be able to destroy white supremacist talking points. It feels like we not longer know how to do that because we all figured the problem was gone, and now we've forgotten the relevant arguments.

And when idiots like Ben Shapiro repeats that 'facts don't care about your feelings', pundits have to call him out on his shtick: He talks at 100 miles per hour and lists many studies which we couldn't have possibly read ahead of time, but many of his 'facts' and studies aren't true or don't say what he wants them to say. It's actually pretty funny how quickly some of his studies fall apart because he obviously never read them, and he knows most people won't either. They'll just accept him at face value when he says 'this study shows...'.

The pundits also have to call him out on the idea that conservatives are the ones who take facts over feelings, because otherwise the image of a confident man who is good at debating is very attractive to many weak men who follow in kind. Being conservative is often about fear and not wanting change. That's how we get xenophobia, protectionism, and wanting strong national defense. Black people look different from us, so maybe they will give us diseases. Gay sex is disgusting and that feeling of disgust causes me to be against gay marriage. Trans people are different and defy what I am used to and maybe crazy people will exploit bathroom rights to rape others. Those are some pretty emotional ideas based on fear and disgust. It takes a lot of reason and evidence to suggest that the world is safer than ever or the fear of people abusing trans bathroom rights just never came to fruition despite all of the fear-mongering. It's far easier to fall back to our gut instincts which helped us survive a long time ago but cause us to reason miserably.

Blah Blah Blah
The only person I still give the benefit of the doubt to is Joe Rogan, because I've seen enough of his podcasts to know where he's coming from. He talks over and over about how SJWs ruin things or how trans movements are problematic for sports or for children as if it's a massive problem, when the biggest problem in the entire trans issue is the lack of basic human rights trans people have. He just won't have articulate trans people on his show to talk about this issue. If somebody puts 95% of their time talking about sports and children getting hormones too early instead of discrimination trans people face, then you know where their priorities lie.

This is why people get annoyed and say things like 'you're white, you don't get it'. Different people have different lived experiences. While it's possible to understand a situation from both sides through reason and evidence, that requires a lot of mental effort and people generally aren't up for the task. Over half of Americans think society has gone too far in accepting trans people or just right. This is a time where trans people have next to no protections federally and can be fired for being trans, and many attempt suicide due to discrimination and shame. Those people aren't all bigots. They're just ignorant and don't put themselves in other people's shoes. How many trans people are pro trans rights? How many non-trans people are pro trans rights? Lived experience still counts for something.

More Shit Conservatives Say
Rubin's talking about how we don't need building regulations and there's nothing the government does that is better than private enterprise (and backtracking each time he gets pummeled by Joe Rogan on his podcast). It's easy to build shoddy buildings which people won't find out until a major natural disaster, and by then you already earned so much money you might not even care if you get found out. Dave Rubin says that's fine because we have Yelp, and when pushed he said he just liked the idea philosophically of the free market doing everything. How many free market capitalists does it take to change a light bulb? None. The free market will take care of it. We don't live in Dave's free market utopia, but rather the real world where things get complicated and people do stupid things against their own interests thinking they can get away with it. That's why idiots go full autopilot in their Teslas and die and people steal money. Sometimes they do get away with it, because not everyone has the time or expertise to check all the reviews and understand what separates a good from a bad product. Even if Yelp for buildings works out in the long term, I sure as hell don't want to be an early buyer of a house, because those people get screwed.

Jordan Peterson said he didn't sleep for 25 days once after drinking apple cider, and that women wearing makeup is hypocritical because they don't want sexual harassment. Yeah. Let that sink in for a minute. Yes, makeup or high heels could be conscious displays of sexuality, but they could very well be nonsexual or unconscious. Maybe I want to put on makeup because prettier people get an easier go at life. As a trans person the idea of looking good to feel good about myself is totally obvious from a female perspective, but is totally foreign to many males. He puts the burden on the women to fix sexual harassment in the workplace, as if men will helplessly harass women if women present a certain way. Because it's unclear exactly what behavior is or isn't allowed, he reasons, women should just not have sexual displays to make it easy. Maybe men should start shaving and stop wearing suits, being handsome, or being funny, or having nice things which demonstrate wealth.

Or you know, let people have personal autonomy. See, this is the problem with Peterson. He makes a bunch of claims about how the world is and never says how to fix it, but he heavily implies how it should be done. He's so slippery. He complains about Bill C16 which was supposed to limit free speech by making it a crime to misgender somebody, when nobody ever got locked up. He complains about the 'postmodern neo-Marxist left' who want to define gender in all sorts of ways, but then he claims all atheists believe in god and comes up with a crazy definition of what god is.

Conclusion
I'm done giving conservative thinkers the benefit of the doubt. Too many of them are dishonest or idiots. I unsubscribed from Dave Rubin and I didn't bother to listen to Rogan's latest podcast with Peterson. If all you do is complain about political correctness and you don't put any energy into attacking racists and homophobes, you're part of the problem.

I've been slowly having these thoughts over the past few years and Destiny on Youtube/Twitch really enunciated what I've been thinking but could not find the words to say.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Death, Consequence, and The Hill of Thoughts

Death PT I
Totalbiscuit died recently. While it's unfortunate he told somebody he hoped he got cancer and die and died to cancer himself, it by no means he deserved it. It's not eye for an eye at all, and even that makes the whole world blind. It's not the same to make an angry comment in the heat of the moment as it is to sincerely wish somebody has their life ended. It's one thing to know it's difficult to be on the receiving end of countless criticisms every day, and it's another to experience it. Our minds were evolved to handle input from our tribe, but while technology has given a voice to those who could not speak, it has allowed us to peer into a window into a never-ending cacophony of angry noises. Geography stops mattering in a way that must feel evolutionarily bizarre.

People see a sliver of somebody's life and personality and assume they know them. For sure he has changed his opinions as he came down with the illness, but on the internet people assume others never grow. This is literally death, and a painful one at that. It's years of painful fighting, knowing the whole time it could very well end all too soon. There's the dealing with the medical staff, but most of all there's his wife and disabled son that he left behind. To lose somebody that means the world to you is something nobody should have to go through. I don't know what I would do. Imagine watching people wither away, cachexia and all, hair lone gone. Totalbiscuit was an interesting video game critic/personality. The world is a little colder without him.

Death PT II
I've never seen him act this way. I thought he was the type that slept with different girls but never got attached to any of them. Turns out there was a girl he kind of liked. He told me how she was kind to people and gave to the homeless even when she had none for herself. But life was hard on her, and she had a drinking problem. When caught driving drunk, she couldn't drink anymore, so she turned to harder drugs: Cocaine. She admitted this when she came and visited him. 'Do you think what I'm doing is wrong?', she asked him. Being a counter-culture guy, he said no. Days later she died of an overdose.

'It's like nothing changed!', he remembered her saying. Her attention to detail impressed him. She remembers the way the house was, and the pets. It felt like she came back to him, and the world took her away. He feels guilty. He thought he should've put anti-overdose drugs in her purse, and told her not to take cocaine. I tried telling him that with things like this, it's usually very hard to stop or control. Other people in her life couldn't get through to her either, so his part was just one of many things that could have gone differently. We'll never know if anything he could've done would've made a difference... but he felt it was important for him to have at least tried.

Somebody once told me a story about my father decades ago, before I was born. He liked to ride his motorcycle, and it was legal to ride without a helmet. My aunt was annoyed that he didn't wear a helmet, and after many attempts at convincing him to get one, decided to buy one and gave it to him. He started wearing it since he got it for free without hassle. Later that week he got into an accident and got pushed off the motorcycle. He suffered a scar but came out okay. But if he landed poorly without a helmet that could've been it. It was a story told to say that sometimes one person can make all of the difference.

And that's life. Sometimes you never know. Sometimes bad things we can't predict happen and there's nothing we can do. Lack of control is scary, maybe even worse than guilt or what-ifs.
A pill to make you numb 
A pill to make you dumb 
A pill to make you anybody else 
But all the drugs in this world 
Won't save her from herself

Death PT III
Over time I've had different people confide in me their various life problems. If you have existential problems, you are not alone. Most people care a lot about what other people think of them, so they might bury their problems, thinking other people would think lesser of them if they ever come to light. Unless you really know a person you might not know how many skeletons are in their closet. This means most people can empathize with you on some level because they've got shit to deal with too.

You're not a loser because you have problems. Maybe the people you least expect are contemplating suicide right now. Life can be really hard sometimes with no easy way out. Sometimes it's flat out unfair. But whoever you are reading this, I hope you pull through. Even if I don't like you, stay safe.

Strong people show weakness and survive.

Weak people act tough yet perish anyways.

Death PT IV
The following is loosely adapted from Time magazine.

With the recent death of Bourdain and Spade, we are reminded of the uselessness of envy. It is a miscalculation in the relative worth of things. We don't have our own TV show or fashion line, and that makes us think we aren't as hardworking or intelligent as they are. They must be better people than us. But this comparison is made with flawed data. People's lives are not as they appear. Bourdain's line is the epitome of this: 'What do you do after your dreams come true?'

Life PT I
Transitioning has been unexpectedly difficult for me. Due to both hormones and life experience changing how I think, I've had to adjust to fluctuating emotions. It's not all bad. I don't take for granted showing who I really am instead of hiding, or not thinking testosterone ruined my body. Yet having a gender that aligns with sex is something over 99% of the population take for granted. It's like a diabetic. They don't take eating for granted because one careless day and it could be their last. So yes, it gives me joy sometimes when I feel feminine. Sometimes when I find something funny I laugh until there are literally tears in my eyes. Emotion flows more easily and I feel less pressured to act a certain way.

But sometimes things aren't so good. The realization that one is transgender is an opened Pandora's Box. Things will never be the same again no matter what you do. Sometimes I feel like nothing I do is ever enough. I will always be a fake, trying, wishing, to be female. Even with sex reassignment surgery, which itself comes with a whole host of potential problems, I would still be a shade of a natal female. There are things I can never take back because of when I started hormones. There are times when I see a normal female and get jealous. The flip side to unabashed joy is neuroticism and depression. At first I was surprised at how upset I was at various events, until it happened again, and again, and I realized how I processed emotions changed. Maybe it's a second puberty and it brings along with it some of the teenage angst, except when present as an adult others are less understanding.

This too shall pass.

It's a Persian adage about the temporary nature of the human condition. If you are happy, it will fade. On the flip side if you are sad, that too, will pass. Well, life itself will pass. Change is the constant. Things don't stay the same. One could claw away and yearn for the past, but while it is a good place to visit, it's not a good place to stay.

Some very bad things happened very recently to me. Thankfully when suicidal thoughts enter my mind I know it's an empty threat. I still have much I want to do and experience. Self-transcending love. Sex. Friendship. The future of my transition. Cute outfits. The future of computer technology. The completion of my Skyrim work. Lazy day of hot chocolate and cuddling. Making lemonade. Skyrim while it rains outside. The smell of her hair.

I will pull through. I always have. This is not enough to stop me. Times like this, I rely on my close friends to lean on. These are people who I can say anything to without a filter and confide potentially life-destroying secrets without fear. People who actually care. That's rare. And when I find them, I don't want them to go.

Sometimes though, life wants to borrow them for a while. Full time job. School. Just stuff. Have you ever, in a hangout with friends, ever stop to think that this memory here, yes, this one, will be one which you look back on with fondness? Maybe it'll help people cherish what time they have. Because it will pass. It always does.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, 
But I have promises to keep,
Miles to go before I sleep.

Life PT II
The following is a quote from Sam Harris during a speech.
Most of us try our best not to think about death. But all of us knows that we're just a doctor's visit away from being starkly reminded of our own mortality. I'm sure many of you know somebody who has experienced this. You must know how uncanny it is to be thrown out of the normal course of your life, and just be given the full time job of not dying. The one thing people tend to realize at moments like this is that they wasted a lot of time when life was normal. It's not just they spent too much time working or compulsively checking email. It's that they cared about the wrong things. They regret what they cared about. Their attention was bound up by petty concerns... year after year when life was normal.

And this is a paradox of course, because we all know this epiphany is coming. Don't you know this is coming? Don't you know that you'll look back on the kinds of things that captured your attention and you'll ask, what was I thinking? You know this, and if you're like most people, you'll spend most of the time in your life, tacitly presuming you will live forever. It's like watching a bad movie for the fourth time. These things only make sense in light of eternity. There better be a heaven if we're going waste our time like this. There are ways to really live in the present moment. What is the alternative? It is always now. However much you may feel the need to plan for the future or mitigate risks, the reality of your life is now. This may sound tripe, but it's the truth. And we spend most of our life repudiating it, overlooking it. The horror is that we succeed. We manage to never really connect with the present moment and find fulfillment because we are continually hoping to become happy in the future, and the future never arrives. We're always anticipating what is coming next. We're always trying to solve a problem. It's possible to simply drop your problem, if only for a moment, and enjoy whatever is true of your life in the present.

Consequence PT I
Being transgender is confusing and many people don't immediately know what it all means. I was young, pushed to act a certain way, and didn't find good sources of information. I was a kid living in a time where LGBT support was still in the minority. It took me a long time of self-debate before I decided to call myself transgender and pursue hormone replacement therapy. So when I saw two people I thought might be transgender but did not know it, I asked them a few questions and gave a few of my thoughts. In both cases they realized they were transgender and decided to pursue or seriously consider pursuing HRT.

It is crazy how I can drastically affect of some people I talk to. Because I debated myself for so long, I knew what to say and how to think about the issue. A person recently thanked me for helping them discover themselves. I just wished somebody was there for me when I was young, because I would've started hormones earlier and hit puberty. At least I made a difference. That's special.

Would those people have found themselves without me eventually? Maybe. It's surprisingly hard to do so, even in this internet age. People harbor too many misconceptions about what it means to be transgender. And when they figure it out, they might be 40 and married with kids. Or they could figure it all out next year somehow.

Consequence PT II
A long time ago in middle school, I wore the same clothes every day and got bullied by mean-spirited people that enjoyed the suffering of others. My self esteem was at an all time low in my entire life. Then I met a girl on Maplestory. We got along really well. She once confided in me that she got along with me better than her online 'boyfriend'. I went to visit my father in Taiwan for a month and forgot to tell her. I tried to contact her on Maplestory in Taiwan, but due to the IP block, I couldn't log on. By the time I got back to America, she was gone. Sometimes people enter our lives for a relatively brief period of time and leave footprints on our heart that stay forever. She taught me that I wasn't an undesirable bag of shit nobody could ever love. She probably don't remember me anymore. But I remember her and the impact she made on me, and that is enough.

Hill of Thoughts
On the Joe Rogan podcast a guest brought up something interesting. He said to think of your mind as a hill. Your thoughts are sleds going down that hill. After a while after a lot of thoughts have gone down that hill, there will be these grooves, which get deeper and deeper... Until you can't go down the hill without slipping into those grooves. That's who we are in middle age. And what psychedelics do is flatten the snow. Lots of fresh powder. I found it a beautiful metaphor. And when people come out of a psychedelic experience and repeat these platitudes like 'love is what matters', it really is true. Platitudes are truths with all emotion sucked out of it. Sometimes we are looking so hard for novel ideas that we forget that some of the most basic ones are the most important.