Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Who is BP?

I'm a non-binary transgender person in transition.  I'm a housewife and ex-philosophy professor.  I'm now volunteering at a national transgender focused charity.  I live in Terre Haute, IN, a medium Midwestern town that despite having several colleges isn't really a college town.  I'm 41, with a wonderful wife and 2 kids.  I'm a fan of webcomics, geekery, RPGs, LARPS, computer games, reading and poetry.  I cook a fair bit, and have been pretty active about running and weightlifting over the last year.  I'm religiously eclectic, politically cynical, and in classic GenX style have a taste for obscure 80s bands.  I'm a survivor of suicidal depression.  

I kinda hope all of that will come out in various ways over the course of this blog.

But let's unpack it a bit

Non-binary? -  I don't self-identify as a man or a woman.  I also like the old-fashioned word "androgyne."  The common current term "genderqueer" also works pretty well, although I'm a little less politically radical than many people who use that term, and I certainly only mean queer in the reclaiming sense rather than the using-an-offensive-term-like-an-asshole sense.  Current estimates are that about 1 person in 1000 is non-binary in gender, self-identifying as something other than male or female (more in cultures where it is very accepted like Hawai'i or India.)  The two main ways to wind-up non-binary are to be intersex or transgender, although most intersex and transgender people think of them selves as one of the binary genders, male or female.  But a sizable minority of us think of ourselves as something else.  In my case, I'm transgender and think of myself as somewhere in-between male and female, although third gender talk is fine for me too.  My preferred pronouns are ze and hir, although I know those are odd and rare, and in practice I take he, him, she, and her just fine.  Please don't call me Mr. or sir though.  I've suspected I wasn't exactly male for most of my life, but I didn't think I was exactly female either, and I didn't really think I had any options.  So I did my best to be sorta-male or almost-male or barely-male or whatever. I questioned whether I was a transsexual in college, but had a very narrow view of what that was like (based largely on gatekeepery books I found in the college library), and concluded I wasn't. I tried to keep my gender issues locked up tight in the back of my head for many years, although they leaked out in weird ways anyway. A few years ago I finally faced them, let them out of the locked box, and came out to myself as transgender. I tried to figure out exactly what that meant, and what it meant for me, and discovered that contrary to what I read in college there are many different ways to be transgender.  I experimented with several of them to see if they felt like the "fit" me.  In the Spring of 2014, I came out publicly as trans and non-binary, and began feminizing HRT, which has helped me immensely. I doubt I'll ever really think of myself as a woman, but I'm hopeful I'll get pretty close and live as a near-female, much as I lived as a near-male for decades. Since that's all a pretty rare and frankly interesting situation, I imagine I'll wind up talking about various aspects of it a lot on this blog.

Housewife? - I'm an unemployed at-home person. I use gender-neutral language for almost everything about myself, but the two big exceptions are that I describe my job as “housewife” and my kids can call me “Dad” as long as they want to (I hope the day will come when they don't want to anymore, but that day is not today). My wonderful, smart, fascinating wife, Robyn, works full time at the White VioletCenter for Eco-Justice, a crazy organic farm/alpaca farm/fiber art collective/environmentalism education center/etc. ministry owned by a wonderful sisterhood of Catholic religious women (roughly nuns). She appeared on TV this morning to speak about her upcoming class on the spirituality of bread baking, and she's guest lecturing on the role of religion in the environmentalist movement for a friend's class at the local college in a few weeks. She was probably juggling budget spreadsheets and working on refining her internship program today. That's the kind of life she leads. I take lead in taking care of our kids (two boys age 12 and 10), cook, clean, run errands, and all the standard housewifey things. I was pretty lousy at it when I started being full-time "at home" 5 years ago, but I'm getting better at it every year.

Ex-Philosophy Professor? - Yup, I have a Ph. D. in Philosophy and I've taught at a number of colleges across the US. Never got tenure though. My major interests revolved around religion and logic. I was especially interested in mystical traditions and non-standard logical systems, but I certainly dabbled in many different issues in philosophy. It has been suggested to me that my long interest in logics with contradictory values, or non-bivalent values, or other weird features may have been a reflection of my subconscious knowledge that I didn't fit into the categories of male or female in the usual ways, but was somehow neither, or both, or a contradictory combination of the two. Yeah, I suppose that's possible.  Odd to think of something as abstract as logic, and as personal as gender interacting in such an intimate way, but that's my life, I guess.

Volunteer? - I spend 10-15 hours a week volunteering for an organization called the TransLifeline – a crisis hotline for trans people by trans people. If you're trans and thinking about suicide give us a call. You'll get to talk to another trans person who can probably relate to some extent. Or if you're just freaking out and have questions. Or you've just been kicked out of your house. Sometimes we can help you find resources, or come up with ideas, but we call always at least listen and help you think and talk about your situation.

Geekery? - I play RPGs with some of my friends every week and have for decades. I read a LOT of webcomics. I read a fair bit of other fantasy and science-fiction and these days even some graphic novels. I play video games. Our house collects bottle caps for our Zombie Apocalypse fund. I've LARPed on and off for years. If it's geeky I've probably at least tried it, and maybe spent years obsessing on it … obscure math? Yup. Old anime? Yup. The SCA? Yup. Euro-style boardgames? Uh-huh. I could go on, but you probably sense the pattern … - For that matter, I suppose many of my interests look more hipsterish than classically geeky, but if you really understand it's just a slightly different flavor of geekery. Local food systems? Yup. Urban Chickens? Uh-uh. Pretentious old bands like They Might Be Giants or the Pogues or the Primitives? Want that on vinyl, tape, CD, or MP3 Local poetry readings? Every month babe! Do I sound like the kind of white person that would have been middle class 20-30 years ago when there still was such a thing? Yeah, I suppose so. But hey, I am what I am, and geekery is about unapologetically enthusing about the things that genuinely interest you so if you're gonna read my eclectic blog, that's what you're gonna get.

I suppose that's enough introduction for now … hope you enjoy ...

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