Ashley F. Miller https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller Fri, 12 Jun 2020 22:10:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 104281265 JK Rowling’s Anti-Trans Post: A Deep Dive https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2020/06/12/jk-rowlings-anti-trans-post-a-deep-dive/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2020/06/12/jk-rowlings-anti-trans-post-a-deep-dive/#respond Fri, 12 Jun 2020 21:54:00 +0000 https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/?p=6364 The post JK Rowling’s Anti-Trans Post: A Deep Dive appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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In her long essay on trans issues, JK Rowling uses a lot of techniques to make herself sound more reasonable than she is actually being. She frequently minimizes and avoids explicitly saying the things she alludes to. She spends a lot of time poisoning the well. In particular, she avoids acknowledging the truly terrible things she’s said or supported publicly. She implies that all trans women are physically and sexually dangerous, particularly to children, and she consistently implies that trans people are just “men in dresses” or “self-loathing women”.

I’m going to go paragraph by paragraph through what JK Rowling has written because I think it’s important to highlight the tactics she’s using to minimize her bigotry and aim that bigotry at trans people, especially trans women.

Before I get started I will just say… you really don’t have to read this. It’s a pretty miserable experience and there are much more enjoyable ways to spend your time. That said, let’s get on with it.

This isn’t an easy piece to write, for reasons that will shortly become clear, but I know it’s time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity. I write this without any desire to add to that toxicity.

She starts with poisoning the well, making it sound like the toxicity is somehow generated by the topic itself, and not the result of, for example, her own behavior. She also peremptorily disowns her own bad behavior, without actually apologizing for it.

For people who don’t know: last December I tweeted my support for Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who’d lost her job for what were deemed ‘transphobic’ tweets. She took her case to an employment tribunal, asking the judge to rule on whether a philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected in law. Judge Tayler ruled that it wasn’t.

This is deeply misrepresentative of Maya Forstater. Forstater was a contractor whose contract was not renewed following a series of tweets in which she misgendered trans people and called them “crossdressers”. She dismissed the possibility of trans people existing, referring to trans women consistently as “males”. Her contract was not renewed after an individual complained that she was creating a hostile work environment. After suing, Forstater continued to post vile things – insisting on deadnaming trans people, intentionally using incorrect pronouns, and misgendering people. A judge concluded that this harassing behavior wasn’t OK in a workplace. Forstater is allowed to believe whatever she wants, but when that belief manifests in treating individuals badly, an employer has the right to protect its other employees from harassment.

I can only assume that Rowling doesn’t explain the entire story because it would look very bad for her case. You’ll note that Rowling never directly links to anything she refers to, not allowing people to judge for themselves her interpretations or the validity of her sources. Rowling’s tweet in defense of Forstater was equally misleading and dismissive of trans people, implying that they were just crossdressing, not trans.

My interest in trans issues pre-dated Maya’s case by almost two years, during which I followed the debate around the concept of gender identity closely. I’ve met trans people, and read sundry books, blogs and articles by trans people, gender specialists, intersex people, psychologists, safeguarding experts, social workers and doctors, and followed the discourse online and in traditional media. On one level, my interest in this issue has been professional, because I’m writing a crime series, set in the present day, and my fictional female detective is of an age to be interested in, and affected by, these issues herself, but on another, it’s intensely personal, as I’m about to explain.

Rowling’s interest in trans issues started because she wrote a book in which a trans woman attacks the main character (the main character then threatens her with prison rape). Her research was to help her write a villainous trans woman. She writes this paragraph as though she’s a disinterested researcher, when she is, in fact, someone with an agenda. Her agenda is to ensure that cis women do not have to share spaces with trans women.

All the time I’ve been researching and learning, accusations and threats from trans activists have been bubbling in my Twitter timeline. This was initially triggered by a ‘like’. When I started taking an interest in gender identity and transgender matters, I began screenshotting comments that interested me, as a way of reminding myself what I might want to research later. On one occasion, I absent-mindedly ‘liked’ instead of screenshotting. That single ‘like’ was deemed evidence of wrongthink, and a persistent low level of harassment began.

There are a couple of interesting things happening in this paragraph. First, Rowling refuses to take any responsibility for her liking a tweet. It may seem inconsequential, but liked tweets by popular feeds means that tweet show up in a lot of people’s feeds. So a lot of people saw bile who otherwise wouldn’t have had to. Rowling’s large platform comes with additional responsibilities. On top of that, she again fails to acknowledge what research she was doing (how to write a trans woman villain) or the fact that what she was reading was absolutely awful — or the fact that there were actually several incidents of her “accidentally” liking transphobic material on Twitter. That link has a much more exhaustive analysis of how the tweets were problematic than what I can provide.

The first she liked was an article that presented trans women as predators and “strangers with a penis”. The second was a tweet that described trans women as “men in dresses” and said that supporting trans women rather than the (cis woman) author of the tweet was an example of misogyny.

She also casts herself as some powerless victim of persecution for being perceived to have a “wrongthink” opinion. To be clear, she was accurately perceived to have an opinion which this entire piece affirms. She also seems to be under the misapprehension that freedom of speech means the ability to say whatever you want without facing criticism. She can post things denying people’s gender identity, and that’s free speech, but saying she is wrong is necessarily harassment.

I will say this though, she is right that there is too much harassment on Twitter and some of it is aimed at her. Some of the criticism she has faced has been deeply misogynistic and violent. That is, unfortunately, true of Twitter across the board.

Months later, I compounded my accidental ‘like’ crime by following Magdalen Berns on Twitter. Magdalen was an immensely brave young feminist and lesbian who was dying of an aggressive brain tumour. I followed her because I wanted to contact her directly, which I succeeded in doing. However, as Magdalen was a great believer in the importance of biological sex, and didn’t believe lesbians should be called bigots for not dating trans women with penises, dots were joined in the heads of twitter trans activists, and the level of social media abuse increased.

Again, refusing to take responsibility for liking something that she agrees with, understating the impact of liking a tweet when it makes it appear to millions of people, and overstating the criticism of her by implying trans activists think it’s a “crime”. Berns was young for someone to die of a brain tumour, but she was 36 not 16, which is more the age that Rowling seems to be implying here. As a fully adult woman, Berns was absolutely responsible for her reprehensible views, which were much more than thinking it was OK for lesbians not to date trans women. (Never mind that many trans women are lesbians). Rowling here also here mentions penises in an attempt to scare people. I do not understand her obsession with genitalia, but many anti-trans people seem to reduce people to their genitalia.

Why did she even want to support Berns? That’s not some incidental information, Rowling likely wanted to support Berns specifically for her anti-trans work. Again Rowling implies that dots were joined that shouldn’t be joined, in a piece in which she advocates for transphobia! She wants to imply that trans people are crazy for thinking she doesn’t support trans people, even while she is writing an essay about how she doesn’t support trans people!

As for Berns’ beliefs, they were really aggressively dehumanizing. She didn’t believe trans women were women, she said they were “blackface actors” and “men who got sexual kicks from being treated like women.” She insisted that homosexuality was about attraction to specific genitalia not genders. She was very much a TERF, by the strictest definitions. Rowling again avoids acknowledging the worst of Berns’ public statements to maintain some plausible deniability of her own fear and dislike of trans people.

I mention all this only to explain that I knew perfectly well what was going to happen when I supported Maya. I must have been on my fourth or fifth cancellation by then. I expected the threats of violence, to be told I was literally killing trans people with my hate, to be called cunt and bitch and, of course, for my books to be burned, although one particularly abusive man told me he’d composted them.

She knew perfectly well that as someone who had positioned herself as an LGBTQ ally, people would be upset when she publicly supported someone who literally called trans people “blackface performers.” Yeah, that’s not super hard to predict. Here she performs an interesting trick where she conflates genuine abuse (threats of violence, gendered slurs) with legitimate criticism (contributing to trans youth suicide, destroying books). I have to assume the particularly abusive man who composted her book was considered abusive for some unstated reason? Notice also that here she goes from just following so she could DM to actively supporting Maya. She sneaks in this reveal of what is more likely her real behavior — supporting a very transphobic person specifically because she agrees with the transphobia.

What I didn’t expect in the aftermath of my cancellation was the avalanche of emails and letters that came showering down upon me, the overwhelming majority of which were positive, grateful and supportive. They came from a cross-section of kind, empathetic and intelligent people, some of them working in fields dealing with gender dysphoria and trans people, who’re all deeply concerned about the way a socio-political concept is influencing politics, medical practice and safeguarding. They’re worried about the dangers to young people, gay people and about the erosion of women’s and girl’s rights. Above all, they’re worried about a climate of fear that serves nobody – least of all trans youth – well.

A yes, a good bandwagon argument. You see the good people of the world, the silent majority, agree with my bigotry, therefore it is correct. She also avoids stating what people are “deeply concerned” about. “[A] socio political concept” means the belief that trans people exist, “influencing politics” means that trans people want their gender recognized, “medical practice” means providing appropriate care to people who are trans, and “safeguarding” means protecting cis women and children from being raped by predatory trans women. The dangers to young people are presumably that trans people are sexual predators and that transitioning is dangerous to the young. The danger to gay people is that somehow their sexuality is not real if trans people exist. The erosion of women’s and girl’s rights is that those rights would also be extended to trans women and girls.

And then there is her claim that, somehow, people who criticize trans people are living in a worse “climate of fear” than trans people themselves. A “climate of fear” is when you don’t know if you’ll be fired, kicked out of your home, disowned, beaten, or killed if someone discovers you’re trans. It’s not worrying that people will call you a bigot for expressing a bigoted opinion on Twitter. These are not the same. The dangers are nothing alike. And using trans youth as a shield here is especially galling.

I’d stepped back from Twitter for many months both before and after tweeting support for Maya, because I knew it was doing nothing good for my mental health. I only returned because I wanted to share a free children’s book during the pandemic. Immediately, activists who clearly believe themselves to be good, kind and progressive people swarmed back into my timeline, assuming a right to police my speech, accuse me of hatred, call me misogynistic slurs and, above all – as every woman involved in this debate will know – TERF.

Again, she uses the term “support” here. Again, without saying what Maya believed and said. Here she says that Twitter abuse was bad for her mental health, without acknowledging that the persistent denial of their humanity and gender is devastating to the mental health of trans people. Again, Rowling makes this about her. She goes on to act as though all she was doing on Twitter was this act of charity for children (you’ll note she repeatedly brings up children to act as a shield for her behavior), when she was actively posting anti-trans missives. Again, minimizing her own behavior and her responsibility for it.

She here mistakes criticism for policing of speech. Your right to say whatever you want isn’t infringed by people telling you that what you said was terrible. You are free to speak, not free from criticism of that speech. Again she does this conflating things as though being (accurately) accused of hatred is the same as being called misogynistic slurs. She also conflates misogynistic slurs with TERF, even though TERF is not that. She also implies that the only women involved in this debate are cis women who don’t support trans people, entirely ignoring all the cis women who’ve not been called a TERF and all the trans women fighting for their rights.

If you didn’t already know – and why should you? – ‘TERF’ is an acronym coined by trans activists, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. In practice, a huge and diverse cross-section of women are currently being called TERFs and the vast majority have never been radical feminists. Examples of so-called TERFs range from the mother of a gay child who was afraid their child wanted to transition to escape homophobic bullying, to a hitherto totally unfeminist older lady who’s vowed never to visit Marks & Spencer again because they’re allowing any man who says they identify as a woman into the women’s changing rooms. Ironically, radical feminists aren’t even trans-exclusionary – they include trans men in their feminism, because they were born women.

Here’s another bit of little word magic. She ends the previous paragraph with the claim that every (cis) woman (who is a TERF) involved in this discussion is familiar with the term TERF, to highlight that it’s a terrible slur being used against everyone willy-nilly, but begins this paragraph with, why should you have heard of the term TERF, it’s so unimportant and niche, so she can build the term up as a slur used with abandon and dismiss it as unimportant at the same time.

She’s actually right here about where the term TERF is applied. It was originally used inside the radical feminist movement to criticize radfems who didn’t support/include trans women, but it has become shorthand for anyone who doesn’t support trans people. It has evolved, like many terms, from one that was merely descriptive of a single philosophical position, to having other meanings and connotations. She lists some people who I guess she thinks don’t fit the term, but she herself is a pretty textbook case of being a feminist who doesn’t want to include trans women.

These examples are weird because they feel like non sequiturs. She presents this mother as a caring mother, not as a person standing between her child and help, which is what she reads as to me. It seems like a lot of people who don’t support young people seeking gender transition care don’t realize that a huge part of that care is mental health-related or that it takes years in the UK – up to three years – to just begin any care, then a wait to get hormonal support (if wanted), and then many years on hormones to get surgery (if wanted). It is not as if a teen just goes to school, gets called gay, and has surgery the next day in a huff.

As for the Marks and Spencer lady, I’ve got no clue what Rowling is attempting to say here except that all anti-trans people can get called TERF, even if not feminist. I’m not sure what makes this lady “totally unfeminist” unless shopping for Marks and Spencer is code for that. You’ll note that the writing is muddy here about whether this is the view of the lady or of Rowling, but this was written by Rowling herself: “they’re allowing any man who says they identify as a woman into the women’s changing rooms.” So this is implying that trans women 1. are just men pretending to be women, 2. are sexual predators trying to get into women’s spaces to rape them, and 3. that women’s changing rooms are somehow sacred spaces when they’re literally just tiny closets to try on clothes.

Finally she says that TERFs aren’t trans-exclusionary because they consider trans men to be women. This is super messed up on a number of levels. First, the complaint about TERFs is specifically about their refusal to include trans women. Secondly, she’s asking for credit for refusing to believe someone else when it comes to their gender. Third, this is absolutely excluding trans men, because if you’re refusing to believe them when they say who they are, how could they be included?

But accusations of TERFery have been sufficient to intimidate many people, institutions and organisations I once admired, who’re cowering before the tactics of the playground. ‘They’ll call us transphobic!’ ‘They’ll say I hate trans people!’ What next, they’ll say you’ve got fleas? Speaking as a biological woman, a lot of people in positions of power really need to grow a pair (which is doubtless literally possible, according to the kind of people who argue that clownfish prove humans aren’t a dimorphic species).

This paragraph genuinely blew my mind, I had to read it several times to even begin to understand what she’s saying. People are intimidated out of bigoted behavior because people will call them out as bigots. This seems… fine to me. Is the ask that people not call out homophobia, sexism, and racism, either, to be sure they don’t intimidate people into not using slurs? It seems perfectly reasonable for a person/organization to say “Should I say something that insults my fellow human beings and denies them their humanity or should I not?” It’s not great that the only thing standing between them and vocal transphobia is a fear of being called on it but, baby steps.

Next she says that calling someone transphobic is equivalent to saying they have fleas — which is to say that Rowling doesn’t think that transphobia is a meaningfully bad thing. She’s really fine with it. Fleas are, sadly, much easier to get rid of.

And then there’s this clownfish stuff that is… confusing. First, she makes this joke (?) about “biological women” (note she refused to use the term cis, instead tying “woman” explicitly to biology) growing balls, but it’s sort of weirder than that, because the implication is that all the people in positions of power are women, which is statistically unlikely. Then she goes on this very weird tangent about clownfish, which she claims that trans supporters believe proves that people can spontaneously grow new and different genitalia.

I spent a long time googling to try to understand this, so here is the only context I can give you: Clownfish exhibit something called “sequential hermaphroditism.” They live as a non-breeding male, and when triggered by the correct circumstances, can sexually mature as either a breeding male or a breeding female. This is upsetting to some transphobes, because it was included in Blue Planet II and they thought this was pro-trans propaganda. What is interesting is that there are many examples of conditions in which humans can present as one sex as a child and then change at puberty or where they look like one sex but actually have chromosomes for the opposite sex. Humans do exhibit dimorphism (differences in body between sexes), though at a lower level than many species, and this is more like a spectrum than two buckets of people — many people are ambiguous, mixed, or change over time, and I’m pretty sure that there’s no one feature of a sex that doesn’t ever appear in the other. (More about biology here.) It is a weird thing to claim that trans supporters believe there are no general differences in physical development, when the transition in question is often about changing those very things. I wonder if she objects to cis women with PCOS shaving their beards or cis men with gynecomastia having breast removal, in order to feel more attuned with their gender identities?

So why am I doing this? Why speak up? Why not quietly do my research and keep my head down?

Uh, because you weren’t ever doing that?

Well, I’ve got five reasons for being worried about the new trans activism, and deciding I need to speak up.

“The new trans activism” is a weird way of putting “supporting trans people.”

Firstly, I have a charitable trust that focuses on alleviating social deprivation in Scotland, with a particular emphasis on women and children. Among other things, my trust supports projects for female prisoners and for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. I also fund medical research into MS, a disease that behaves very differently in men and women. It’s been clear to me for a while that the new trans activism is having (or is likely to have, if all its demands are met) a significant impact on many of the causes I support, because it’s pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender.

A charitable trust that, by the way, is all for including trans women and children in their care. The implication here is that somehow it would be bad if her charity had to help trans women prisoners or trans survivors of domestic and sexual abuse? I genuinely do not begin to understand why she’s upset that these would include trans women. I also don’t understand why she thinks the MS research is negatively impacted by focusing the legal definition of gender on identity rather than on sex. The medical history of a patient is the business of their medical providers and isn’t usually the business of everyone else. As mentioned above, there are lots of people who don’t fit neatly into either/or boxes, and medical research generally has to take that into account. Trans people offer the opportunity to learn more, not less, about how human bodies work. Also the use of “if all its demands are met” implies that trans activism is somehow holding the world hostage, not merely asking to be treated decently.

The second reason is that I’m an ex-teacher and the founder of a children’s charity, which gives me an interest in both education and safeguarding. Like many others, I have deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement is having on both.

It is not that nothing else in this has made me angry, but this dog whistle is especially infuriating. She’s returned to the term “safeguarding” which in this context means “I think trans women are pedophiles”. I am unclear of the effect of trans rights on education, except, perhaps, that children will learn that trans people exist. It is incredible to me that someone who supposedly supports gay people cannot see that this is the exact same argument that was used against gay people — they aren’t safe around children and children shouldn’t have to learn about them.

The third is that, as a much-banned author, I’m interested in freedom of speech and have publicly defended it, even unto Donald Trump.

… How can someone post this long screed and also claim she doesn’t have freedom of speech. She has a much bigger platform than any of the trans rights people she hates.

The fourth is where things start to get truly personal. I’m concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning (returning to their original sex), because they regret taking steps that have, in some cases, altered their bodies irrevocably, and taken away their fertility. Some say they decided to transition after realising they were same-sex attracted, and that transitioning was partly driven by homophobia, either in society or in their families.

Detransitioning is a relatively uncommon phenomenon and it can happen at any phase of transition, meaning that someone doesn’t even have to have taken hormones, much less have surgery, to detransition. Because of how long it takes to reach the point of surgery (years and years, especially for very young people) it is even rarer for someone to have permanent alterations to their fertility when they detransition. Still, such things do happen, but they’re generally from choices made by individuals when they are adults after having extensive medical and mental health care. The logic of thinking trans men shouldn’t be allowed to transition at a young adult age is the same as the logic of doctors who refuse to let women get permanent birth control until they’ve had two children or are in their thirties. If this isn’t policing individual choices of what to do with their bodies, nothing is.
This focus on trans men (as she calls them, young women) is interesting, because she’s been presenting trans women as the bogey man so far, and mostly focuses on them throughout. Trans women are men who are predators trying to get into women’s spaces, and trans men are self-loathing women or self-loathing lesbians.

Most people probably aren’t aware – I certainly wasn’t, until I started researching this issue properly – that ten years ago, the majority of people wanting to transition to the opposite sex were male. That ratio has now reversed. The UK has experienced a 4400% increase in girls being referred for transitioning treatment. Autistic girls are hugely overrepresented in their numbers.

Researching this issue properly seems to mean reading a bunch of articles from Quillette. Note again she refers to young trans men as girls. I don’t know many women who like being called girls, but trans men definitely don’t.

This 4400% number is misleading for a number of reasons. First of all, there’s been a huge increase of young people being referred for gender treatment overall. Second of all, it is likely that this is because of the activism to reduce stigma against trans youth. Thirdly, 4400 is larger than the actual number of young people referred. The number of young people referred rose from 97 to 2519. That is indeed a large jump, but considering that there are over 10 million people under the age of 15 in the UK, it’s not a very impressive number. The vast difference of more “boys” than “girls” to begin with was 40 “girls” to 57 “boys.” The numbers currently are 1806 to 703, a much bigger difference, but still such small numbers that it’s difficult to discern much from it. Not all of these referrals lead to transitions, either.
I’m not sure what to make of this statement about “autistic girls” being overrepresented. The first is the implication that autistic girls are not capable of knowing their own gender, which is ableist. The second is the implication that “girls” who are “autistic” can only be “autistic”, and not also trans. Autism must explain everything. Either way, it’s a weird thing to bring up. Note again that she has not provided links for either of these claims so that we can evaluate the actual data.

The same phenomenon has been seen in the US. In 2018,  American physician and researcher Lisa Littman set out to explore it. In an interview, she said:

If this phenomenon has been seen in the US, the following story is not an example of it. Again, no actual reference to support this claim.

‘Parents online were describing a very unusual pattern of transgender-identification where multiple friends and even entire friend groups became transgender-identified at the same time. I would have been remiss had I not considered social contagion and peer influences as potential factors.’

Not linking to this story also makes it more difficult for readers to identify the problems with this study. Lisa Littman went specifically to sites known to host anti-trans people and specifically asked parents who didn’t believe in their children’s transition to participate in her study. This sample method is not ideal. Her conclusions have not been replicated in other studies. It sounds very reasonable to insist that you consider social contagion when you don’t consider that she’s specifically sought out anti-trans parents. She also doesn’t offer an alternate possibility, like that children who are different in the same way often find each other. Or that children with anti-trans parents may be open at school, meet other trans kids, and form a social support network before talking to their parents.

Littman mentioned Tumblr, Reddit, Instagram and YouTube as contributing factors to Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, where she believes that in the realm of transgender identification ‘youth have created particularly insular echo chambers.’

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria is a term Littman made up that has not been validated by any other study and is NOT a recognized medical condition or term.

Her paper caused a furore. She was accused of bias and of spreading misinformation about transgender people, subjected to a tsunami of abuse and a concerted campaign to discredit both her and her work. The journal took the paper offline and re-reviewed it before republishing it. However, her career took a similar hit to that suffered by Maya Forstater. Lisa Littman had dared challenge one of the central tenets of trans activism, which is that a person’s gender identity is innate, like sexual orientation. Nobody, the activists insisted, could ever be persuaded into being trans.

Her poorly researched paper that overreached in its conclusions did indeed create a backlash and had to be edited to meet the journal’s standards.

The argument of many current trans activists is that if you don’t let a gender dysphoric teenager transition, they will kill themselves. In an article explaining why he resigned from the Tavistock (an NHS gender clinic in England) psychiatrist Marcus Evans stated that claims that children will kill themselves if not permitted to transition do not ‘align substantially with any robust data or studies in this area. Nor do they align with the cases I have encountered over decades as a psychotherapist.’

Trans youth suicide is a big problem. It may not require transition to prevent, but transition is one way to lower the risks. Other ways include creating a supportive atmosphere where the author of the world’s most popular children’s books isn’t calling her young readers sexual predators and delusional lesbians. Again another reference without a link or any critical thinking about the claims of the person quoted.

The writings of young trans men reveal a group of notably sensitive and clever people.  The more of their accounts of gender dysphoria I’ve read, with their insightful descriptions of anxiety, dissociation, eating disorders, self-harm and self-hatred, the more I’ve wondered whether, if I’d been born 30 years later, I too might have tried to transition. The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge. I struggled with severe OCD as a teenager. If I’d found community and sympathy online that I couldn’t find in my immediate environment, I believe I could have been persuaded to turn myself into the son my father had openly said he’d have preferred.

She believes young trans men are only clever and insightful insofar as it concerns other mental health issues, not their own understanding of their gender. Why is Rowling willing to believe them on one and not the other? Presumably because she doesn’t think that people can actually be trans. She here conflates all mental illness with being trans and absolutely believes that actually feeling like the other gender is not required for wanting to transition. That her self-hatred would have been sufficient for her.

When I read about the theory of gender identity, I remember how mentally sexless I felt in youth. I remember Colette’s description of herself as a ‘mental hermaphrodite’ and Simone de Beauvoir’s words: ‘It is perfectly natural for the future woman to feel indignant at the limitations posed upon her by her sex. The real question is not why she should reject them: the problem is rather to understand why she accepts them.’

This feels, more than anything, a resentment of the fact that youth have more options available to them than she did. She seems to be dancing around the idea that she herself is a self-loathing non-binary person (not to claim that she actually is). And also that not identifying as a woman can only be evidence of living in a world of misogyny. She’s missing the very salient point that gender, because it is a social construct, is absolutely impacted by social assumptions about people of different genders.

As I didn’t have a realistic possibility of becoming a man back in the 1980s, it had to be books and music that got me through both my mental health issues and the sexualised scrutiny and judgement that sets so many girls to war against their bodies in their teens. Fortunately for me, I found my own sense of otherness, and my ambivalence about being a woman, reflected in the work of female writers and musicians who reassured me that, in spite of everything a sexist world tries to throw at the female-bodied, it’s fine not to feel pink, frilly and compliant inside your own head; it’s OK to feel confused, dark, both sexual and non-sexual, unsure of what or who you are.

Again stating that being trans is a mental illness. Again being sure to exclude trans women from the experience of womanhood with the term “female-bodied.”

I want to be very clear here: I know transition will be a solution for some gender dysphoric people, although I’m also aware through extensive research that studies have consistently shown that between 60-90% of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria. Again and again I’ve been told to ‘just meet some trans people.’ I have: in addition to a few younger people, who were all adorable, I happen to know a self-described transsexual woman who’s older than I am and wonderful. Although she’s open about her past as a gay man, I’ve always found it hard to think of her as anything other than a woman, and I believe (and certainly hope) she’s completely happy to have transitioned. Being older, though, she went through a long and rigorous process of evaluation, psychotherapy and staged transformation. The current explosion of trans activism is urging a removal of almost all the robust systems through which candidates for sex reassignment were once required to pass. A man who intends to have no surgery and take no hormones may now secure himself a Gender Recognition Certificate and be a woman in the sight of the law. Many people aren’t aware of this.

Where are these study numbers coming from? I cannot find them. But I believe it also refers to the understanding of gender dysphoria in prepubescent children (not teens). The problem with *that* is mental health professionals tend to lump any gender nonconformity into gender dysphoria when they are dealing with children, which means a lot of LGBQ youth get labelled gender dysphoric rather than gay. In other words, many parents of boys who liked to wear dresses took their children to psychologists because they assumed something was wrong. There is no reason to assume that everyone with gender dysphoria has any interest in transitioning even just socially, much less through hormones and surgery. That is even more true of children, because children get brought to therapists by parents who assume certain behavior, like boys dressing in dresses or girls being tomboys, is somehow pathological, and not within the normal range of experiences. Most prepubescent children who are thought to have gender dysphoria grow up to be gay or just slightly outside typical gender presentation. Some do grow up to be trans. But again, this observation is of prepubescent children, not of teenagers.  So, as far as I can guess without a source, Rowling is referring to numbers that apply solely to prepubescent children and NOT to teens. My understanding is that the majority of teens who identify as trans are, in fact, trans.

I hate that she’s dismissive of the young trans people as simply “adorable.” I also hate this “I have a trans friend, so I can’t be transphobic” move. Again, she doesn’t recognize how many steps and how much time it actually does take to seek transition care in the UK. And again she thinks that trans women are men trying to sneak into women’s spaces to attack them.

We’re living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced. Back in the 80s, I imagined that my future daughters, should I have any, would have it far better than I ever did, but between the backlash against feminism and a porn-saturated online culture, I believe things have got significantly worse for girls. Never have I seen women denigrated and dehumanised to the extent they are now. From the leader of the free world’s long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, to the incel (‘involuntarily celibate’) movement that rages against women who won’t give them sex, to the trans activists who declare that TERFs need punching and re-educating, men across the political spectrum seem to agree: women are asking for trouble. Everywhere, women are being told to shut up and sit down, or else.

There is a lot about our current era that has manifested misogyny in a really ugly way — and Twitter is among the worst places. She once again puts wholly different things in the same list: violence (punching) and educating. One of those is not a threat. She also here implies that trans activists are men telling women to sit down and shut up. Again refusing to acknowledge the identities of trans women.

I’ve read all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don’t have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive. It’s also clear that one of the objectives of denying the importance of sex is to erode what some seem to see as the cruelly segregationist idea of women having their own biological realities or – just as threatening – unifying realities that make them a cohesive political class. The hundreds of emails I’ve received in the last few days prove this erosion concerns many others just as much.  It isn’t enough for women to be trans allies. Women must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves.

I don’t understand why it’s misogynistic to think that women don’t all have common experiences. There is a huge spectrum of what women’s lives look like and how their bodies behave. Not all women menstruate, not all women can get pregnant, not all women grow breasts, not all women are raped. The idea that women’s lives are all similar comes from an extraordinarily middle class and white conception of what it means to be a woman, something the feminist movement has a history of doing. This claim is classist, racist, transphobic, and homophobic.

Also, again and again, she uses the term “women” to solely reference *cis* women, excluding trans women.

She claims that trans women insist that there is no difference between trans women and cis women, when actually they just want to be recognized as women, a remarkably broad category of people with plenty of room for trans women, and they want even more to not be treated as predators and abusers.

But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating.

Okay, so here she is saying that trans women are men wearing a costume, based on an idea in their man head, because they think being pink-brained and liking shoes makes them a woman. Apparently any kind of desire for femme things is… not progressive and based on a specifically male understanding of femininity. See, here’s the thing, because not all cis women menstruate or even have vulvas, it is useful to be specific when you’re addressing a particular concern, even before you consider including trans men in the equation. I’ve also personally never seen the word “menstruators,” only the phrase “people who menstruate” which again, not dehumanizing, it has the word “people” right there. There are real slurs that have been spat by violent men, some of which Rowling has a genuine grievance about being thrown at her on Twitter, but this ain’t it.

Which brings me to the fifth reason I’m deeply concerned about the consequences of the current trans activism.

I’ve been in the public eye now for over twenty years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor. This isn’t because I’m ashamed those things happened to me, but because they’re traumatic to revisit and remember. I also feel protective of my daughter from my first marriage. I didn’t want to claim sole ownership of a story that belongs to her, too. However, a short while ago, I asked her how she’d feel if I were publicly honest about that part of my life, and she encouraged me to go ahead.

I’m mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who’ve been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces.

Yo, you are a bigot for not wanting women in your women spaces. No amount of domestic abuse and sexual assault makes it ok to deny other people their humanity.

I managed to escape my first violent marriage with some difficulty, but I’m now married to a truly good and principled man, safe and secure in ways I never in a million years expected to be. However, the scars left by violence and sexual assault don’t disappear, no matter how loved you are, and no matter how much money you’ve made. My perennial jumpiness is a family joke – and even I know it’s funny – but I pray my daughters never have the same reasons I do for hating sudden loud noises, or finding people behind me when I haven’t heard them approaching.

“My trauma justifies my bigotry. I refuse to recognize trans women as not men and I am afraid of men.”

If you could come inside my head and understand what I feel when I read about a trans woman dying at the hands of a violent man, you’d find solidarity and kinship. I have a visceral sense of the terror in which those trans women will have spent their last seconds on earth, because I too have known moments of blind fear when I realised that the only thing keeping me alive was the shaky self-restraint of my attacker.

“I don’t want trans women to be murdered, I just don’t want them to be treated as fully human. Look at how reasonable I am!”

I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others, but are vulnerable for all the reasons I’ve outlined. Trans people need and deserve protection. Like women, they’re most likely to be killed by sexual partners. Trans women who work in the sex industry, particularly trans women of colour, are at particular risk. Like every other domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor I know, I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who’ve been abused by men.

You can just call them trans. Calling them “trans-identified” implies that they’ve just chosen to call themselves that. Here she lists many many reasons why trans women should be welcomed in women’s spaces, including, for example, her domestic violence charity that she is afraid of trans people benefiting from.

So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.

She wants trans women to be safe, just not from being misgendered and harassed by people like Rowling. “Natal girls and women”? There is literally a word for what you’re trying to describe, it exists already, just use it. Again, she outright states that trans women are delusional men, denying them their identity and humanity. I do not understand why people like Rowling believe that the lack of a gender certificate would stop a predator from coming into a bathroom. The thing is, these certificates have been issued for like a decade, and there hasn’t been some increase in bathroom attacks by trans women.

On Saturday morning, I read that the Scottish government is proceeding with its controversial gender recognition plans, which will in effect mean that all a man needs to ‘become a woman’ is to say he’s one. To use a very contemporary word, I was ‘triggered’. Ground down by the relentless attacks from trans activists on social media, when I was only there to give children feedback about pictures they’d drawn for my book under lockdown, I spent much of Saturday in a very dark place inside my head, as memories of a serious sexual assault I suffered in my twenties recurred on a loop. That assault happened at a time and in a space where I was vulnerable, and a man capitalised on an opportunity.  I couldn’t shut out those memories and I was finding it hard to contain my anger and disappointment about the way I believe my government is playing fast and loose with womens and girls’ safety.

Again, trans women are men who just say they’re women. She was triggered because she doesn’t believe trans women are women and thinks that they’re all predators. She thinks that trans women being allowed into changing rooms is a rape threat. She thinks her own mental health problems are best addressed by denying humanity to an entire class of people rather than, for example, therapy.

Late on Saturday evening, scrolling through children’s pictures before I went to bed, I forgot the first rule of Twitter – never, ever expect a nuanced conversation – and reacted to what I felt was degrading language about women. I spoke up about the importance of sex and have been paying the price ever since. I was transphobic, I was a cunt, a bitch, a TERF, I deserved cancelling, punching and death. You are Voldemort said one person, clearly feeling this was the only language I’d understand.

She was just innocently looking at the pictures of children (again, using children as her shield) not, you know, actively saying some transphobic stuff. “Paying the price” being people saying that she is a bigot, because… she is. Again she conflates a bunch of things that are very different: legitimate criticism (transphobic, TERF, deserving canceling) with gendered slurs and threats (cunt, bitch, punching, death). I think she’s genuinely upset that someone called her Voldemort, which is pretty funny.

It would be so much easier to tweet the approved hashtags – because of course trans rights are human rights and of course trans lives matter – scoop up the woke cookies and bask in a virtue-signalling afterglow. There’s joy, relief and safety in conformity. As Simone de Beauvoir also wrote, “… without a doubt it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one’s liberation; the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.”

Earlier, and below, she will state that there’s a huge number of people who agree with her, and that they’re in the majority, but somehow what she’s doing isn’t virtue signaling to that crowd, she cannot bask in her own afterglow. It is conformist to believe what she has elsewhere claimed to be a minority view. Confusing.

Huge numbers of women are justifiably terrified by the trans activists; I know this because so many have got in touch with me to tell their stories. They’re afraid of doxxing, of losing their jobs or their livelihoods, and of violence.

Huge numbers of cis women who don’t believe trans women are valid are afraid of being called bigots or having their bigotry exposed. I don’t support the harassment of these people, but I don’t know why anyone thinks that saying bigoted things will not cause some pushback.

But endlessly unpleasant as its constant targeting of me has been, I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it. I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who’re standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who’re reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces. Polls show those women are in the vast majority, and exclude only those privileged or lucky enough never to have come up against male violence or sexual assault, and who’ve never troubled to educate themselves on how prevalent it is.

No one is targeting her, they are responding to her actions and statements. She’s an extraordinarily famous person expressing extreme bigotry on a very large platform. Responding to that isn’t targeting any more than buying Harry Potter books was targeting. And here again this person, who supposedly is down with trans people, says that they are predators and trans women aren’t women. She’s literally targeting a class of people by calling them predators and denying them their identity but complaining that people are responding to that negatively. There are trans young gay kids, fragile trans teenagers, and trans women who are reliant on spaces without men. It’s just that she fails to see them as valid.

Here again she refers to some external source of a poll without citing it or allowing us to determine whether we think it’s valid. She also makes the claim that it’s only possible to support trans people if you’ve never experienced gender violence, even though trans women are subject to more risk for assault than cis women. I truly doubt that whatever poll she is referring to asked people if their beliefs about trans people were informed by their own personal assaults. But I can speak with complete confidence that being raped doesn’t make you hate trans people.

The one thing that gives me hope is that the women who can protest and organise, are doing so, and they have some truly decent men and trans people alongside them. Political parties seeking to appease the loudest voices in this debate are ignoring women’s concerns at their peril. In the UK, women are reaching out to each other across party lines, concerned about the erosion of their hard-won rights and widespread intimidation. None of the gender critical women I’ve talked to hates trans people; on the contrary. Many of them became interested in this issue in the first place out of concern for trans youth, and they’re hugely sympathetic towards trans adults who simply want to live their lives, but who’re facing a backlash for a brand of activism they don’t endorse. The supreme irony is that the attempt to silence women with the word ‘TERF’ may have pushed more young women towards radical feminism than the movement’s seen in decades.

Here she again implies that all cis women are against trans people and that trans women aren’t women and trans men aren’t men. Unsurprisingly, non-binary people really aren’t part of her schema. Again and again she fails to acknowledge that *her* concerns are NOT the concerns of all women, cis or trans. It may be that none of her friends who don’t support trans rights “hates trans people” they just are afraid of them, think they’re delusional monsters, and don’t want them in any of their spaces. You know, in the same way that you don’t have to “hate black people” to want them to use their own water fountains and have their own schools. And again, the wild accusation that the term TERF, which literally describes her actual philosophy, is meant to silence people. It’s like thinking that calling a Christian a “person who believes in Christ” is somehow negative. But here again she’s basically saying it’s great that people use the term TERF because it makes there be more TERFs. She’s all over the place.

The last thing I want to say is this. I haven’t written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one. I’m extraordinarily fortunate; I’m a survivor, certainly not a victim. I’ve only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex backstory, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions. I never forget that inner complexity when I’m creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people.

She is asking us to excuse her bigotry because of her experience of abuse. And while she claims not to forget complexity when it comes to trans people, she absolutely doesn’t want to treat them like fully realized humans. They are evil to her mind, as she’s expressed repeatedly in this piece and in her own fiction.

All I’m asking – all I want – is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse.

She has spent an entire article insinuating that trans women are abusers, rapists, and pedophiles, but she’s asking for empathy for her own plight. Lovely.

The post JK Rowling’s Anti-Trans Post: A Deep Dive appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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So someone you like is accused of something bad https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2018/12/06/so-someone-you-like-is-accused-of-something-bad/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2018/12/06/so-someone-you-like-is-accused-of-something-bad/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 23:47:13 +0000 https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/?p=6266 The post So someone you like is accused of something bad appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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In these times we feel an instinctive reaction, we want to believe that the people we like are not Bad People. We find ourselves tempted to defend them, to say nice things about them, to paint their behavior in the best light and read their apologies with rose-colored glasses.

I would like to offer some rebuttals to the thoughts you may be having.

1. “I want to say something in his defense”

Ok, but do you need to say something right now? Is what you’re about to say going to add something to the conversation? Is it possible to just wait until you know more before you weigh in on these particular accusations?

So often with these stories, after the first accusations, more end up being brought forward. Do you want to have gone to the mat for someone only to find out there are a lot more stories waiting in the wings? Is it possible that your skepticism could be misplaced or even that you could hold onto it for a few days and see how it all shakes out? Is this comment right now going to help anyone or just make you feel better about having liked this guy before?

Are you just trying not to feel guilty about liking someone? It’s ok that you liked him, he was very likable, it was probably his job to be liked. You don’t have to feel guilty about that.

2. “But I’m a good judge of character”

You probably are a good judge of character insofar as it involves how people are going to act towards you, especially if you’ve actually met the person involved. The thing is, it’s likely that you haven’t met the person involved and, if you have, that you didn’t met the person in the same circumstances as those that are accusing him. Lots of people would vouch for the character of Jeffrey Epstein, but most of those people wouldn’t be teenage girls.

Even people who abuse a lot of people don’t abuse most of the people they interact with. Most people are safe around most abusers most of the time. This is especially true for people who are successful. They’ve got jobs and things to do with their time. It’s not abuse 24/7.

It’s not your fault that you didn’t know about these character flaws, they weren’t aimed at you. But maybe give a little benefit of the doubt to people in a better position to know. Especially if the person you like confirms that the accusers actually did know and interact with him in ways that mostly match the accusers stories.

3. “But this person in particular seems so nice and good”

Ah yes, this guy is not like so-and-so who seemed like he was so angry or creepy with women, he’s downright affable and friendly. How could he have done a Bad Thing? He’s professional and a good guy? So many of these other accused people were openly jerks, but not this one that I like!

Well, being nice and affable doesn’t prevent you from being a jerk in private. In fact, it helps you get away with being a jerk in private. Even when you’re not doing it on purpose to get away with stuff, the fact that people like you means you will get away with more stuff and won’t be held accountable for your actions. It means you’re more likely to have crossed boundaries without being called on it because no one wanted to tell the nice guy he wasn’t being nice.

Best case scenario, it means a mostly good person never had the opportunity to learn to be better because no one called him on his shit. Worst case, he’s using his niceness to hide his not niceness. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust someone just because they seem nice, it just means that if you don’t know someone very well, what they seem like isn’t very much to go on, one way or the other.

Anyway most people aren’t all one thing or the other. People are complicated, someone can do a bad thing without being a bad person, and still deserve to face repercussions for that. Unless you are his personal friend or family, you’re probably not the support network he needs right now.

4. “But I really like his work”

His work doesn’t disappear because he’s been accused of something, and even if he’s held accountable for his actions, the penalty is generally not the erasure from existence all previously published work. You can still watch the show and it still has value. You just no longer have the luxury of enjoying this work without knowing the context of the creator. Everyone gets to decide how to cope with the context of the creator in their own way.

It’s also important to remember that often their work comes at a greater cost than we can know, all the people they abused who left their industry whose work we will never see and the human cost on how that abuse shaped those people for the rest of their lives.

5. “Fine but his position/fame is too valuable to my cause to lose”

So this is a question of strategic value, and it is a cold and calculating one that has nothing to do with who you believe but what is most useful to you for others to believe, but let’s be honest: is he really that valuable? And are you in any position to be the strategic mastermind here? Are your comments online going to be the thing that gets people to dismiss the accusations and rally around your hero to your cause? Is your flawed hero really better for your cause than someone new or different?

And finally, to return to #1, are you sure you want to defend him right now, before the facts are known, before other stories have come to light? Are you sure that’s strategically valuable? And are you sure that being his defender right now is going to be a good look for you in a week or a month? And if it is, why not wait a week or a month and say it then?

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Recent Artwork: Beauty, Aurora, and Melisandre https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/05/03/recent-artwork-beauty-aurora-and-melisandre/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/05/03/recent-artwork-beauty-aurora-and-melisandre/#comments Tue, 03 May 2016 11:15:35 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/?p=6173 The post Recent Artwork: Beauty, Aurora, and Melisandre appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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Aurora

A young woman of color in front of flowers
Aurora

An old woman in smoke across from a young woman in red and yellow
Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke
A white woman with brown hair
Beauty

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Say No To This https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/04/12/say-no-to-this/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/04/12/say-no-to-this/#comments Tue, 12 Apr 2016 12:00:07 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/?p=6162 The post Say No To This appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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Painting of Black Woman in Green Dress

I read an article about a new book that treats Thomas Jefferson’s “relationship” with Sally Hemings as a romance rather than a master raping a slave, right after watching Anita, the documentary about Anita Hill. I have also been listening to Hamilton. The song, “Say No To This,” is about Hamilton trying to resist the temptation to have a consensual affair (that ends poorly), but the words convey something else entirely.

 

That’s when I began to pray: Lord, show me how to say no to this, I don’t know how to say no to this.

But my God, she looks so helpless. And her body’s saying, “hell, yes.”

It’s not that the song is bad, or even that it does a bad job of portraying what might have been going through Hamilton’s mind at the time. But those first two sentences sound like an abuse victim trying to figure out how to avoid a non-consensual encounter and those second two read like a sexual predator justifying his behavior. It’s triggery is I guess what I’m getting at.

And these topics are all so deeply tied in with questions of power and gender and race. They seem intertwined in ways I can’t quite put words to. But painting it made some sense, so that’s what I went with.

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Hello Orbit! See my coloring book! https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/03/14/hello-orbit-see-my-coloring-book/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/03/14/hello-orbit-see-my-coloring-book/#comments Mon, 14 Mar 2016 09:40:38 +0000 http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/?p=6075 The post Hello Orbit! See my coloring book! appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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A star, of sorts
Are you worried about conflict in the atheist movement? Do you like bright colors and coloring? Is all this change in the air making you wish you had something to occupy your hands? Buy a coloring book!

Or, you know, read all the deep and insightful posts here at The Orbit, but, come on, it’s a new site that features the images predominantly on the main page. How could I miss that opportunity? Being point person on the press release means that the pretty pictures I already had are just the ticket for a first post!

Like a pirate wheel, sort of, with some cool stuff happening
Sort of floral
really tiny details y'all
Sunflowers and starfish
The cover

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Reason Rally 2016 Interview with Lyz Liddell https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/01/22/reason-rally-2016-interview-with-lyz-liddell/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/01/22/reason-rally-2016-interview-with-lyz-liddell/#comments Fri, 22 Jan 2016 23:29:40 +0000 http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/?p=6139 The post Reason Rally 2016 Interview with Lyz Liddell appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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Lyz Liddell reached out to me to talk about the Reason Rally, including the concerns I had about diversity and the response I got regarding the current line-up. We agreed to do a written interview. Here on, everything italics is me, otherwise, it’s her.

RR-logo
Hi! I’m Lyz Liddell, the Executive Director of the Reason Rally Coalition. My job is, first and foremost (and almost exclusively) the coordination of the 2016 Reason Rally. Prior to this position I was a staff member at the Secular Student Alliance, directing the organization’s programs for more than seven years – my most recent success being the Openly Secular campaign. I’ve been involved in the secular movement for more than a decade — since grad school — and a secular American for most of my life.

Ashley’s blog post went up on January 15, while I was living out of a suitcase doing site visits for the Reason Rally. But I knew that she had a pretty good point, and so I reached out to her. I really appreciate Ashley’s response to that outreach, and her offer to do this written interview. She and I both want the Reason Rally to be successful and we both support the secular community. So we decided to get out here and chat about it a bit.

What is Reason Rally 2016 — when and where is it? How is it different from the last one?

Reason Rally 2016 is a celebration of fact-driven public policy, the value of critical thinking, and the voting power of secular Americans. It will be bigger, better, have a larger impact that the first Reason Rally in 2012. The Rally will be held June 4, 2016 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, along with a number of ancillary events at nearby hotels. Such events include two days of lobbying (we’re scheduling visits with all 535 congressional offices!), a pre-party and afterparties, a Sunday mini-conference, and several VIP events.

Not only are we celebrating our secular, atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinking, Bright, and nonreligious identities, we are us all to exercise our power at the voting box to bring good sense back to government. But the Reason Rally is first and foremost a celebration — we’ll have awesome speakers, bands, entertainment, and political leaders — all there to celebrate and support the secular community.

What is the goal of the Reason Rally? Why is it being held?

The goal of the 2016 Reason Rally is to show the presence and power of the non-religious voting bloc, and to put reason back at the forefront of our public and political discourse. We want to excite and empower attendees about that message so they bring it back home and apply it at the local and state levels.

Of equal importance, though, is the fact that every once in awhile we, as a community, just need to come together, be among like-minded folks, and celebrate who we are and what we’ve accomplished. We’re calling it a “voting bloc party” because we want to capture that feeling of community and celebration alongside the strong message of political power.

How long have you been in charge of the Reason Rally event? How did you come to be in charge of it?

I was hired as the Executive Director of the Reason Rally coalition on December 2, 2015, after serving on its board of directors for nearly two years.

One of the things we discovered in the planning process for this event is that it’s a massive job, and it really is too much to ask of volunteers. Since our board members all have full-time jobs with member organizations, we made the decision (and received generous financial support from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation) to hire a paid staffer to handle the logistical coordination of this massive project.

How many people are working on Reason Rally? Is it mostly volunteer or people from an organization?

The Reason Rally has one paid staffer  — that’s me! We additionally have a few contracts in specific areas (our PR firm, our event producer), and we have access to a handful of staff “on loan” for a few hours a week from some of our major sponsor organizations. The rest of our amazing team is 100% amazing volunteer. We have 14 members on our board of directors, and a small army of talented and dedicated volunteers besides. (I wish I could list them all here!) (Incidentally, if you’d like to join that small army, you can sign up at www.reasonrally.org/.)

Many of those individuals are affiliated with a secular organization — but not all of them! — and they come from all walks of life and all parts of the country. I’m delighted to have such amazing support and such a wonderful team of people to work with. This event would not be possible without them.

Last time there were a lot of big names — Tim Minchin, Eddie Izzard, Adam Savage, and several politicians and Paul Provenza was the MC and Dawkins the keynote. Obviously, we see Paul Provenza and Dawkins again. How is the rest of the event going to compare? Will there be celebrities and politicians in addition to movement insiders?

I wish I could give you specific names right now! Alas, we’re still negotiating contract details and I have been sworn to utmost secrecy until those contracts are finalized (because leaking that information at this point could cause the speakers to back out, and that would be no fun).

What I can say is that if even a few of the speakers we’ve received preliminary “yes” responses from come through, our lineup for 2016 is going to knock the socks off the 2012 rally. We have mainstream musicians (in two rather surprisingly different genres), nationally known celebrities, and some very high-profile politicians who are interested in speaking.

In all our planning, we want to appeal to as wide a range of attendees as we can. Not every speaker is going to appeal to every attendee (which is good, or you’d never have a chance to grab lunch or take a bio break!). But we really hope to have something for as wide a group of people as we possibly can.

When will we see a push for advertising? When do you expect to have more speakers finalized? How many speakers will there be?

The first week of February is going to be the beginning of our big media roll-out. At that point, we’ll have a full schedule of events and opportunities, registration for the various ticketed events, and many more details to run with. We should also be able to start announcing our really big-name speakers by then. Once that week hits, you’ll be seeing new information about the Rally on an ongoing basis through June.

Will there be merchandise for the event? How are you going to get people pumped for an event that is coming up soon and has so little information or promotion thus far?

We have a great line-up of merchandise that will also be ready for roll-out by February 1 (if not before). T-shirts in both men’s and women’s cuts, hoodies, hats, infant onesies, and more. We’ll be adding items as the Rally gets closer, and we’ll have on-site merchandise options if you haven’t had a chance to pick up your shirt beforehand.

In the meantime, we’re taking your [Ashley’s] own suggestion and adding a note to our speakers page to make it clear that the speakers we currently have listed are only a small segment of the final lineup, to avoid the impression that what’s on our page now is the entire lineup for the event.

What is the event’s approach to diversity?

Great question. We’re not going to be able to appeal to the full body of nonreligious Americans if we aren’t taking a diverse approach to our speakers and programming. We have a few different ways to ensure that we’re able to meet that goal. First, we have several sponsor organizations that specifically work with minority and under-represented groups in the secular movement: Ex-Muslims of North America, Hispanic-American Freethinkers, Black Nonbelievers, and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, to name a few. These groups have had strong input into our program planning process to ensure that we’re considering a wide variety of speakers, not just in terms of racial diversity, but also in terms of background, experience, profession, and attendee appeal.

It’s a tough job! Folks with more privilege can more easily take the social “hit” of the atheist-label stigma and so they’re more likely to say “yes” when we approach them. But we have a great set of invitations out to speakers right now, from a wide variety of backgrounds, and we’re dedicated to making the 2016 Reason Rally an event that appeals to a wide base of nonreligious Americans — and that means a diverse program.

If you were to point out issues within the email that I received, what do you find problematic about it? What do you think needs to be addressed and how are you addressing it?

I want to be very careful about how I answer this question because I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus. So rather than answer the exact question you have asked here, I’m going to share here what I took back to my team once you posted your response.

We discussed how the email that you received came off as somewhat defensive in its attempts to make our speaker lineup appear diverse when it is, at the moment, a bit monochromatic. As an organization, we are upfront about the fact that, at the moment, the speaker lineup on our site is not as diverse as we want it to be. My team agreed that the key piece of information missing in the message sent to you was that we have a lot of outstanding invitations that, when accepted, will make the list of speakers much more diverse. Our team was very responsive to the discussion so, in the future, inquiries such as yours will be much improved.

How did the email that was sent to me come to be written? Had diversity not come up, were those numbers a talking point internally, or was that an individual simply taking responding into their own hands?

Again, I want to be careful here because I don’t want to point fingers at any one volunteer or group of volunteers. Ultimately, I’m responsible for the messages that the Reason Rally sends, and I take full responsibility for the response you received. It was not our finest moment.

Given our limited resources, we rely on a great team of volunteers, who help with everything from responses to website and social media inquiries to graphic design to vendor sales calls. My approach to staff and volunteers alike is to find competent people, set them up with the resources they need and give them the autonomy to complete their tasks. If something doesn’t go quite right, I circle back and provide feedback to ensure that we do that task better in the future. Sometimes that results in some initial embarrassment. But I’d rather treat my team with respect and allow them to act with autonomy and authority than micromanage and bottleneck the processes involved.

Is there anything else you’d like to add — about the event, about the email, about diversity, or about anything you want!

I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to dig into this issue a bit more. Diversity is a big topic in our movement right now, and it’s hard to do right. But I’d rather try, screw up, and learn from it so I can do better moving forward than not try at all.

As for the rest of the news and excitement about the Reason Rally, it’s coming! And soon! This is a huge event, and we’re going to have some hiccups along the way. But, ultimately, the Reason Rally is a celebration. It’s going to be a fun ride and an important opportunity to make ourselves heard.

So I’ll share this one request, in the form of the song that popped into my head as I was reading some of the comments and responses to your original post:

If you like what I’m doing, consider supporting my Patreon.

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Reason Rally 2016: 71% “Minority” and 89% White https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/01/15/reason-rally-2016-71-minority-and-89-white/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2016/01/15/reason-rally-2016-71-minority-and-89-white/#comments Fri, 15 Jan 2016 19:17:56 +0000 http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/?p=6123 The post Reason Rally 2016: 71% “Minority” and 89% White appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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I sent a web form message to Reason Rally expressing concern about the people who were speaking and their ability to appeal to a broad base of non-believers. I thought, especially with both Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins in the line up, that they might need a nudge to understand that they were turning off a lot of potential attendees. They should consider finding more women and people of color to speak. I submitted it via web form quite a while ago, so I don’t remember the wording exactly, but that was the gist — be more inclusive, add diversity, get a bigger audience.

This is the email I got back.

Thank you for your interest in Reason Really. We appreciate your concerns regarding minority speakers. Please visit the website to view the 7 confirmed speakers thus far.

You mention James Randi, who is homosexual. Of the remaining 6 confirmed speakers, 3 are women, and Lawrence Krauss was raised Jewish. At this moment, the 7 speakers are 71% minority and 42% female.

Of course, we are always striving to improve and hope to bring a diverse and interesting variety of personalities together in an effort to appeal to a very wide audience.

I commend them on having nearly as many women as men on their roster. It took me a minute to figure out who the 5 minority speakers were. It’s 71% minority AND 42% female.

The Reason Rally Speakers: James Randi, Cara Santa Maria, SciBabe, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, Paul Provenza, and Eugenie Scott

James_Randi
Cara_Santa_Maria
Science_Babe1
Lawrence_Krauss-1
Richard-Dawkins1
Paul_Provenza
Eugenie_Scott

 

OK, so, Cara Santa Maria is part Puerto Rican, everyone else is white, so minority in this case must mean something like, “Any possibly marginalized population.” They told me Lawrence Krauss was “raised Jewish” and James Randi “is homosexual,” so that’s two more by their definition of minority. And I guess all the women are “minorities” as well. Paul Provenza and Richard Dawkins must be the odd straight white non-Jewish men out.

I could certainly spill a lot of ink here about Richard Dawkins, James Randi, and Lawrence Krauss’s unfortunate behavior. It’s enough to know that Dawkins says ridiculous things on Twitter about women all the time and blackballed a woman from speaking at the previous Reason Rally, Randi, according to himself, knew of sexual misconduct by a male speaker and did nothing about it, and Lawrence Krauss supports his close friend who went to prison for sexually abusing many underage girls.

So that’s Reason Rally 2016 for you. Way to be a leader on diversity and inclusion!

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Atheist tribalism poisons everything https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2015/10/02/atheist-tribalism-poisons-everything/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2015/10/02/atheist-tribalism-poisons-everything/#comments Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:26:30 +0000 http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/?p=5696 The post Atheist tribalism poisons everything appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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Atheists, we need to talk. We need to talk about our tendency to think we are better than other people and better than religious people in particular. We need to talk about how we think that religion is the reason that bad things happen in the world. We need to talk about our culture of turning a blind eye towards the despicable behavior we see among ourselves. All of those things we do are exactly the problem with the religious institutions we hate: tribalism at the cost of morality.

Reason without decency is useless. If it’s unreasonable for the pope to hide rapists, why do we accept it from our organizations? If it’s unreasonable for the Catholic Church to trivialize child molestation, why do we accept it from our supposed leaders? If we don’t like Christian politicians peddling untrue stereotypes of Muslims, why are we ok with it when it comes from bestselling atheist authors? Atheists heal thyself.

There is anger and fear from atheists today upon the revelation that the most recent of the mass shooters in America was a non-believer who targeted Christians. They will blame us, they will think this is all atheists, they will think we are all the same as him.

Yes. They will. Just like we do to Muslims and Christians. “Oh look,” we smirk, “another religious person killing a dozen people. Just goes to show religion poisons everything.

Hitchens was wrong. Human institutions and tribalism poison everything, regardless of creed, and atheism is no different. Radical atheists who want to kill people are not different from radical Christians and Muslims doing the same thing.

Militant Muslim, Christian, and Atheist
So stop posting this picture

This is not the first atheist shooter, there have been many throughout history. Earlier this year, Craig Hicks took the lives of three brilliant humanitarian Muslims over a parking dispute.  Atheists tried to distance themselves and label him as “anti-theist” and others thought he was secretly really a Christian.  Still others labeled him as a redneck from NRA-land, because hatred of the ignorant South is acceptable among educated atheists. I am sure atheists will be eager to point out that the current shooter was a Republican and No True Atheist.

I don’t know enough about the current shooter to say. But Craig Hicks was a typical atheist until he pulled the trigger.  He was friends with a lot of atheists on Facebook, we had many mutual friends.  If you went through his Facebook feed, he did not come off as an Islamophobe or a racist or someone likely to go on a shooting spree.  The guy acted like literally hundreds of atheists I know on Facebook. The majority of his posts were reposting things from George Takei. He was friends with feminist activists. He hated right-wingers and country music, but loved Obamacare.

He was one of us. So was the shooter yesterday.

I want us not to flinch away from that fact, because it’s not useful to us to ignore it.  Stop with your buts and your wells and whatever you want to add, just sit with it and live with it for a minute. Let it make you uncomfortable.

Atheism can motivate terrible crimes, just like religion can. This is a thing we have to get used to.  Atheists are so used to being exceptional, to being smarter and less criminal than other Americans, that the fact that someone was an atheist and did a bad thing seems to be exceedingly difficult for us to understand.  Atheist exceptionalism cannot survive the exponential growth of atheism — all atheists are not better than all religious people.

Furthermore, the atheist community is culpable of spreading bad ideas. We share memes and the belief that religious people are bad and that all religions and expressions of those religions are bad. That people who are religious aren’t worthwhile and are certainly too stupid to be respected. We dehumanize people who disagree with us instead of arguing about ideas. This is because we are human, but we have to guard against. Atheism itself doesn’t create these ideas, but atheist culture does — just like religions don’t encourage the bombing of abortion clinics, but some religious culture does.

My article, “The Non-Religious Patriarchy,” delved into why removing religion did not remove sexism from the atheist movement, but we have to remember that removing religion is not going to remove any basic human behavior or system of power. Humans are tribal, humans are sometimes sociopaths, humans are power-hungry, humans get angry. The atheist demographic being dominated by young white men means that it’s not surprising that there are mass shooters who are atheists, shooters are predominately young white men (the Oregon shooter was mixed race).

Atheism is a rejection of a belief, but it is not a philosophy or creed. The atheist community online builds up creeds and philosophies in light of that absence. It is reactionary. Many of us have come from environments that were hostile to our non-belief and so we respond with hostility to the kind of beliefs and people who were responsible for our unhappiness. We, like nerds have always done, take refuge in our intellectual superiority to salve wounds of rejection and, in doing so, think other people are less worthy than we are.

We have to let it go. We have to stop thinking we are better than other people just because we know something they don’t — that’s exactly why religious people act the way they do. We aren’t better than anybody and we never were.


See this from Libby Anne for more on Atheist Tribalism.

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Adventures in Narcolepsy, Part 6: The Sleep Doctor https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2015/07/29/adventures-in-narcolepsy-part-6-the-sleep-doctor/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2015/07/29/adventures-in-narcolepsy-part-6-the-sleep-doctor/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 18:15:09 +0000 http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/?p=5982 The post Adventures in Narcolepsy, Part 6: The Sleep Doctor appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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2015-06-10 16.39.43
MSLT

After months of doctors and no answers, the appointment in which I got diagnosed with Narcolepsy was a bit of a non-event. All the build-up, but the payoff was a foregone conclusion. I had so much time to read about it that I wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis.

I was surprised by my sleep test results. As you may recall, the test involves sleeping 8 hours overnight and then being left in a dark room every 2 hours to see if you nap and how long it takes to fall asleep. A normal person might not fall asleep at all if they got enough sleep the night before. I fell asleep in every nap – it took me an average of 4.5 minutes to fall asleep in each – 8 minutes or less is the general consensus on what is pathological sleepiness and I was half that.

The other surprising thing was that, although I entered REM early in my overnight study, I didn’t enter REM at all during the naps. I remembered dreaming. At the point I saw my results I assumed that would mean “idiopathic hypersomnia” rather than Narcolepsy (idiopathic hypersomnia: we have no idea why you’re really tired, but we’ve got test results that prove you are.)

2015-06-03 14.41.08
Overnight Test Results

 

It turns out that my antidepressant, Wellbutrin, sort of treats Narcolepsy by making your REM more cohesive and less random. According to my doctor, it is likely the Wellbutrin that prevented SOREM (sleep onset REM) in my naps, even though I had it in my overnight. She came to that conclusion after interrogating me on my cataplexy symptoms, which she said were textbook. She said that we could do another sleep study without the Wellbutrin, but there was no need with the cataplexy, which is sufficient for diagnosis even without a sleep test. She recommended I start Xyrem.

I was scared of trying Xyrem, especially because, despite her conclusion, the lack of SOREM made me doubt the diagnosis. I was still half-convinced that my “cataplexy” was just poor coordination and vasovagal syncope. Xyrem is specifically for Narcolepsy with Cataplexy, so if I didn’t have that, it wouldn’t do anything for me but give me side effects. On the other hand, if I did have it, Xyrem was the best treatment available.

Xyrem itself is scary. It is GHB, aka the date rape drug that is used to spike drinks and knock women out. People who take it report constant nausea, vomiting, extreme weight loss, wetting the bed, defecating in bed, sleepwalking… and so on. And you have to set an alarm to wake yourself up in the middle of sleep to take a second dose. And it is completely non-intuitive that someone who sleeps too much need to take a drug to make them sleep. I didn’t like the sound of it at all. But, if it stopped my “cataplexy” maybe I could be certain about my diagnosis

With great trepidation, and after quizzing my poor doctor, I agreed to try Xyrem.

2015-06-10 16.44.17
Xyrem Instructions

They handed me a packet for the Xyrem and got my out-of-pocket payment, because my insurance doesn’t cover sleep specialist in SC. My mother was upbeat about it, “Now you know what’s wrong and can treat it.” I was less happy.

I was happy to have an answer that didn’t point to something terminal and confirmed that it wasn’t all in my head, but it’s hard to feel joy after being told that you’re permanently brain-damaged. It’s hard to feel joy when you’ve agreed to take a drug that can kill you in your sleep and prevent you from being able to wake up even if your house is on fire. It’s hard to feel joy when you get this information a day after being told you’re being laid off.

I felt a lot of things – devastated, relieved, scared, angry, curious, exhausted. Of course I felt exhausted, I have Narcolepsy.

Previously: Part 1, How I got Here
Part 2: WTF is Narcolepsy?
Part 3: The Sleep Test
Part 4: I’ve got Narcolepsy
Part 5: The Dark Place
Next: Part 7: Xyrem (Coming Soon)

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Adventures in Narcolepsy: Part 5, The Dark Place https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2015/07/23/adventures-in-narcolepsy-part-5-the-dark-place/ https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2015/07/23/adventures-in-narcolepsy-part-5-the-dark-place/#respond Thu, 23 Jul 2015 19:42:25 +0000 http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/?p=5916 The post Adventures in Narcolepsy: Part 5, The Dark Place appeared first on Ashley F. Miller.

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A letter from the night before diagnosis. I didn’t originally write this for publication, but just to work through my feelings. After re-reading it with a little distance, I decided it offered some insight into what it is like to have chronic conditions and what it is like to be facing a diagnosis of something incurable. It’s important to note that this was simply me at my nadir, I have, for the most part, been a lot more positive both before and since, and being diagnosed came primarily as a relief.  Content note: It’s a real downer.

Sadness from Pixar's Inside Out
It’s difficult to explain how profoundly tired I am and how much this is hurting my life. Sleep deprivation affects everything: my ability to pay attention, my ability to control my emotions, and my ability to mentally perform are all suffering. Between my anxiety about what is, at this point, almost certainly narcolepsy and the actual effects of that narcolepsy, I am really struggling.

I feel guilty that I am so low during what should be a happy time in my life. I just got engaged, and everyone is so excited about it, but I am so tired and anxious that I don’t have much room for happy. Which, obviously, creates anxiety about how I should be happier. I’m so barely together that I cry every time I feel even a bit of physical pain — I break into tears stubbing my toe or being bumped in my glasses.

The worst part for me is that I feel like I have no control over my brain. I’m experiencing depression, memory loss, inability to pay attention, and inability to remember words. I just can’t think right and since narcolepsy is functionally a brain injury I am freaking out because my brain is broken and my brain is really the most important asset that I have. Having a brain that’s useful intellectually is what I have, it’s how I’ve dealt with having other chronic conditions that prevent all the other things a young woman in this society can be expected to gain value from. I’ll never be thin or active or bubbly, but I could always cope because at least I could think and pursue intellectual and artistic pursuits. What if this fog never lifts, what if this is just reality? What will be left to me then?

My medical expenses are already nearly $2000 and that’s just in the diagnostic phase, I haven’t even begun to treat what’s wrong with me. I am incredibly lucky because I have a support network, but I’m terrified at the continuing expenses that this is going to bring to my life.  I hate this. I hate the not knowing and I hate not having anything I can do to make it better. I hate knowing that the chances of successful treatment are not 100%.

And I’m just so fucking tired all the time, I’m never not tired, it’s awful. They say that having narcolepsy is like Parkinson’s in terms of loss of quality of life. It’s so depressing. It’s so depressing that I want to cry right now just saying that.

I am never going to finish my dissertation and get my PhD. All that work for nothing.  I won’t ever be able to do any of the things I want. I will have a job at which I perform not up to my own standards. And I will not have the energy to do anything in my free time – not school, not reading, not art, not music, and especially not writing the book I’ve been developing. My life will be like what my life has been for the last year.

In some ways, it’s not new, just worse.  I’ve always been tired and I’ve always had to work around it, but not like this. It seems I always had narcolepsy but it’s gotten worse, possibly because I had pneumonia. They say a non-narcoleptic person would have to stay up 48 to 72 hours to feel as tired as a narcoleptic does after a full night sleep. I guess I feel like I’ve gone from 48 to 72. 48 sucked but 72 is hell on earth. And it just won’t stop. It’s not like I wasn’t already dealing with so much shit from my allergies and asthma, depression, and hypothyroidism (all of which I now know are probably caused and exacerbated by the narcolepsy). It’s not like I wasn’t already dealing with chronic incurable conditions. But no, let’s pour some more shit on top of that cuz it looked like you were very nearly on top of the rest of it.

I’d complain that it’s not fair but it feels at once so self-involved and so insufficient.  I just know that I’m going to break down into tears in front of the doctor on Wednesday, no matter what the diagnosis and no matter what the treatment and no matter what her prognosis for me is. I hate that. I hate to be emotional in front of other people. If I officially do have narcolepsy it’s going to be so upsetting, but if I don’t and there’s nothing they can do to help me, I’ll be out $2,000 and no closer to being able to make my life better.

The online support group is telling me that I shouldn’t ever trust doctors and I shouldn’t need a diagnosis to know what is wrong with me or to expect it to improve anything. They’re all just saying it’s going to suck forever and ever and there’s nothing I can do about it. And I’ve read plenty of literature that suggests this isn’t true, but the only people I can find to reach out to are just downers.

I’ve been reading stories from women who have narcolepsy. It’s not a disease you want to have if you are a woman. All of the treatments interfere with all hormonal birth control and can’t be taken if you’re pregnant. A disease you can’t treat if you want to have a child, a disease you can’t treat if you want to have control over your uterus. I also wonder at this point if it is simply unfair for me to bring a child into the world, between genetics and the fact that I’m going to be too tired to take care of it. I’m sorry, I’m crying again now, I’m sure there’s a million more things I want to say but I just can’t without crying. I feel so scared, I feel trapped, I feel betrayed by my body again and again and again and again.


 

Previously: Part 1, How I got Here
Part 2: WTF is Narcolepsy?
Part 3: The Sleep Test
Part 4: I’ve got Narcolepsy
Next: Part 6: The Sleep Doctor

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