The Problem Is, It’s All Connected

While I respect that we all have varying political views, one thing that I draw a hard line on is when social justice/ human rights issues are turned into political ones. I do not view human rights as political, though many in positions of power seem to. Ideas that would deprive people of their rights to live and to seek happiness are not justifiable. Centrist ideas that acknowledge that human rights should be protected while not seeking to take actions that would do so, is also something I find issue with. If you’re willing to stand by while people are hurting and you have the power to help them, you’re part of the problem.

This is part of why ignoring issues that may not affect oneself can lead to systemic harm. One example of this is with environmental protection. An episode in the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale highlighted this particular example. It can be said that it doesn’t matter what else humans do, if the earth becomes uninhabitable. While this is true, such a line of thinking, if taken to an extreme, can give way to fascist ideas ¹ that cause the loss of human rights. This is particularly a danger when religious extremists or white supremacists become involved. It can become far too easy for fascists to turn a movement that should be good for humankind (along with all other life on earth) into one that causes harm to many.

While the country is fighting for environmental protection, we should also be fighting for the myriad of other issues that also matter. These issues are all intersectional. For example, those living in poverty ² or who live in primarily BIPOC communities ³ are at greater risk of being subjected to health issues caused by a lack of environmental protections. Without affordable healthcare, they are also at greater risk of not being able to seek out healthcare when environmental issues make them sick. Because of this, to truly believe that the government should focus only on a single issue would be incredibly short sighted.

This also applies to other movements. Black, Indigenous, and other communties of color are at greater risk of poverty due to systemic racism. Therefore, actions to end poverty should also take racist policies into account. The fight for feminism has won women’s rights, but has also often excluded the concerns of BIPOC women and transgender/ nonbinary people. In recent news, trans exclusionary extremists have co-opted feminism and fed into the rise of transphobia. This puts black trans women in even greater danger of discrimination due to systemic racism combined with transphobia. None of the movements that our society needs in order to progress exist within a vaccuum. What happens in one can create a chain reaction.

While we are all limited in what we can do as individuals, the society that we live in is made up of many different people, organizations, and professions which can each center their focus on the problem they are most equipped to solve. A position stating that any issue is less important because it only affects a certain group of people often comes from a place of privilege. I would even dare to say that, in worst cases, it can come from an alarming lack of empathy for what others may be going through in the here and now. The United States is dealing with ongoing problems rooted in fascism: racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, religious extremism, classism, ableism, etc. People are already dying. We can not afford to prioritize one thing over everything else. Our society must take advantage of the resources that we have to ensure that all of these issues, all of which matter, can be addressed. The problem with picking only one issue to care about? It’s all connected.

(Though I mentioned The Handmaid’s Tale, it should be noted that the book/ show is problematic due to the historical treatment of BIPOC in the U.S. )

Further Reading:

¹ What is Ecofascism and Why It Has No Place in Environmental Progress by Nikita Shukla,

² Poverty and the Environment by Anup Shah, Global Issues.

³ Environmental racism – the deliberate poisoning of BIPOC by Amaya McDonald, The Statesman.

⁴ Poverty, Racism and the Public Health Crisis in America by Laurie Fickman, University of Houston.,-racism-and-the-public-health-crisis-in-america.php

⁵ What Is Intersectional Feminism? by Olivia Guy-Evans, Simply Sociology.

⁶ Why ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is Problematic by Kiarran T.L. Diaz, Black Feminist Collective.

(Disclaimer: A previous incarnation of this post was misinterpreted as being an attack on an individual’s character, so the post was removed until I could properly edit it. I acknowledge that the misinterpetation was due to poor writing and carelessness on my part to ensure that the intent was fully clear to others.)


Trans From A Pagan Perspective

Growing up as a southern kid raised with Appalachian roots, the line that seemed to divide binary gender was somewhat blurred for those raised as girls. Both boys and girls were expected to be tough, to play outside in the dirt, to be what society called tomboys. Of course, girls were still expected to wear dresses from time to time; which boys were never allowed to do. I felt a strange confusion of feelings when my mom always insisted on a dress for Picture Days. Why couldn’t I wear pants like the other kids? It felt pretty, but also awkward and uncomfortable. As I grew older, the line that society drew between masculine and feminine genders grew stronger. Applachian women were still expected to be tough and unafraid of doing “a man’s work”, but there was also more pressure to lean into the traditional feminine roles. Nonbinary genders weren’t heard of, and any deviation from binary gendered expectations would often lead to bullying for many. I suppose this is all why it took me so long to begin questioning my gender as a teenager, and even longer to realize that I am trans-masc nonbinary, or a nonbinary trans guy. I realized that I was nonbinary in my 20’s, but didn’t make that step into accepting my trans-masculinity until a couple of years ago as I reached my 30’s.

When I first started questioning whether I might be trans, I was a teenage baby Pagan who was still going through that exploration phase from Christo-Paganism to eclectic soft polytheist Paganism. That break away from the version of Christianity that my parents raised me with started to give me room to view all sorts of things differently. I had become aware that transgender people exist, but wasn’t at the point yet where the idea of nonbinary gender was anywhere on my radar. (I was in southern West Virginia by that point in the early 2000’s, which is only now starting to become more progressive in the 2020’s.) I only knew that my gender isn’t what I was assigned at birth.

All of that said, my focus here will be on my trans experience and how my path as a polytheist Pagan has aided me so far in my journey. Other trans Pagans will, of course, have different perspectives and varying experiences.

By the time I found out more about gender diversity and began exploring my nonbinary gender, my spiritual path was firmly set into a polytheist worldview. I had heeded the call of The Morrígan and Loki had also started calling me. In my experience, these gods don’t play around when they want somebody’s attention. I suppose that is just the way gods in general tend to be. I hadn’t considered early on how my working with these deities could affect how I view myself. My gender and my relationships with the gods have been completely separate. Looking back, though, I realize that some of the lessons They taught me – whether directly or through learning their stories and getting to know Them – helped me to better know myself.

One of the common themes that those who work with The Morrígan often talk about is concerning personal sovereignity. This is the ability to make one’s own decisions, to shape oneself as one feels fit, and to stand one’s ground. Well, that’s my simplified explanation, at least. Though this isn’t directly related to gender issues; it ties in to the ideas of knowing oneself, gaining self confidence, making own’s own decisions, and having the courage to simply exist. All of these are things that I, along with many other trans people, have had to work on. (And in truth, I am still working on these.) The Morrígan has helped me to face the darkest parts of my Self. She has beat it in to my head that the feelings of low self esteem, worthlessness, and shame are feelings that I need to acknowledge in order to fight. Burying them down doesn’t make them go away. Getting to know them, finding their weaknesses (ie- where they come from), at the very least makes it easier to overcome them. In regards to accepting my gender, I had to learn self acceptance; in addition to acceptance of the fact that I am allowed to make my own decisions concerning who I am. Though The Morrígan may not have set out to specifically assist me with my gender issues, the lessons that She taught me have nonetheless been valuable in addressing them.

Loki has a much more straightforward connection to gender diversity. Due to His shapeshifting nature, taking on both traditionally male and female forms at times, some who work with this god view Him as transgender or nonbinary. I am of this same mind, although I recognize that the modern view of gender is surely not the same as it was when people first started telling the stories of the gods. It can’t be denied that Loki’s gender roles have been malleable in the myths and stories that He plays part in, after all. In my exploration of my own gender, I have found comfort in seeing how this god whom I feel so strongly for has embodied both masculine and feminine. It has given me strength in knowing that gender diversity is divine. Loki has helped me on my journey toward self-acceptance, self-compassion, and knowing that my choices are my own. These lessons from my beloved Gift-Bringer¹ and The Morrígan have helped shape me in beginning to connect to my most authentic self.

Paganism, in general, is largely a trans-friendly set of religions. There are some traditions that hold transphobic views, but many recognize that transgender and nonbinary people are a completely natural piece of the human condition. Some Pagans view transgender and nonbinary folks as sacred, either because all people are sacred or because gender diversity in itself is. Our mythologies and folklore that shapes our religions include gods whose genders aren’t only male or female. Some are intersex, some change their genders from male to female/ female to male, some don’t have a gender, some are fluid in their genders, so on and so forth. The gods are a reflection of humankind’s diversity, or perhaps it goes the other way. Maybe the fact that transgender and nonbinary people like me exist is a reflection of the gender diversity of the gods.

¹ Gift-Bringer – A reference to Loki’s role in attaining the Dwarven-made gifts for the Aesir (including mjolnir), as well as Loki’s gift of Her child Sleipnir to Odin. This also has personal meaning to me, as I feel that Loki’s prescence in my life has been a gift.

Hey, It’s Me: They/ He

While I was never a consistent writer, I must acknowledge that I have really slacked off. For that, readers, I must apologize. There were a couple of blog articles that I had begun and simply could not bring myself to finish as of yet. I suppose the time wasn’t right for them to come to fruition. All of that said, I do feel a calling to write an update of sorts. I have been dealing with, among the usual ebbs and flows of life, some inner work that needed done regarding my identity. One aspect of that is still too raw for me to discuss here, but another wants to be said.

In the past, I have discussed my gender on this blog. I believe that the last thing I mentioned regarding who I am in terms of gender is that I’m non-binary. But, that may have been before I became sure that I wanted to drop she/her pronouns. I’m they/them, leaning toward he/him. Feminine pronouns and language directed toward me has become increasingly uncomfortable for me. Truthfully, it’s not an entirely new revelation. It’s more that the recent development is my acknowledgement of my feelings.

Ever since I was a child, being called a “girl” and “she/her” felt wrong. I pushed it under the rug, largely because I didn’t have the language or support to understand why I felt that way. I was a bit of a tomboy who didn’t quite understand why it was that I couldn’t be more like boys. As a teenager, I had found some of that language and questioned whether I might be a trans boy. Yet, I was still missing some of the language and any of the support I needed in order to further explore who I was.

Enter my twenties: This was in the 2010’s, when more information regarding nonbinary genders was become easier to happen across online. Something about that clicked with me. And yet, and yet… It took until I was about to turn thirty before I was able to allow myself to fully accept that I really am not a cisgender woman.

Pretending to be a woman was easier than facing the task of coming out as nonbinary. It hurt, but that pain of pushing who I am down was easier than telling people who I feared may reject me. Or so, I thought it was easier. Eventually, I had to stop playing the ill-fitting role that I was assigned.

At first, I only told those who were close to me, who I trusted. As is the case for most in the LGBTQIA+ community. Then, I slowly started updating my pronouns on social media and even started openly discussing it here and there online. I was becoming more confident in accepting and exploring who I am. I tried on the label of genderfluid, which fit like a comfy sweater. But there was a hole in that sweater. Something was missing and, any time I tried to express femininity in my appearance, I felt wrong all over again.

Just over a month ago, after many months of deliberation, I started T. I cannot express how freeing taking this step has already been. I now feel ready to say that I am transmasc nonbinary. (To be clear, medical transition of any sort is not required to be transmasc. Testosterone has only given me the push I needed.) I finally came out at work. I think the genderfluid label might still fit me, but I do definitely lean more toward the transmasc side of things. Perhaps, once I can pass as a guy more easily, I will become comfortable with presenting with femininity again. If so, I suspect it would be because then, I will not always be automatically seen as a woman by outsiders. I will be more free to express myself as a genderqueer person.

I am finally becoming more comfortable with myself. And, though I know I still have a long way to go, I am beginning to understand what it means to love oneself.

Somewhere In Between

There’s this song by Poppy that I feel down to my bones when I hear it. It’s called Am I A Girl?

“Am I a girl? What does that even mean? I’m somewhere in between”.

Poppy, Am I A Girl

The lyrics discuss both binary gender expectations and gender fluidity in a way that’s not often seen in music. It feels good to listen to because it’s so relatable for someone like me.

Sometimes I’m feminine. Sometimes I’m masculine. Don’t evaluate me as woman or man

Poppy, Am I A Girl

There is so much truth for me in the lines of this song. As a genderfluid person, my gender is… well, fluid. Sometimes I’m a woman, sometimes I’m somewhere in between, sometimes I’m a guy. I am always nonbinary.

Being nonbinary in a society that typically only recognizes binary genders feels so weird. In a previous post, I mentioned how it feels almost alien to be grey-ace in this society. Yeah, that feeling is the same in terms of my gender, too.

The nonbinary label covers many different gender labels and can be considered part of the transgender umbrella. Not all nonbinary people identify as trans, for various reasons. Because of this, a new term has also been coined to cover nonbinary people: metagender. I do acknowledge that I am technically transgender, but I also feel like the label doesn’t quite fit me. There’s still a lot of binary expectations with being transgender and I don’t see that experience as my own. At the same time, I wholly believe that nonbinary people should be accepted by the transgender community. Even binary trans people will have different experiences, after all, and we are all different genders than what we were assigned at birth (in simpler words – not cisgender).

Each nonbinary person’s experience is going to be different. There are just so many ways to exist, not only as nonbinary, but as a human in general.

I’m AFAB. I still use she/her (as well as they/them and sometimes he/him). I still present sometimes as femme – makeup, leggings, a dress on more rare occasions. As a parent who gave birth, I still go by “momma” and am very attached to “motherhood” as a label. I also prefer more gender neutral, androgynous, or sometimes masculine presentation. I feel euphoric when people can’t figure out if I’m “a boy or a girl” or when they code me as a guy after seeing me. (Unfortunately, they usually “correct” themselves after hearing my voice.) At the same time, as a feminist and someone who is AFAB, it pisses me off when people use their outdated preconceptions about binary gender roles to assume that my job (or any, really) is being done by a man. Likewise, I get frustrated when people code me as a man because of my gender neutral birth name (I love my name – just can’t stand people who insist it’s a boy name). In these cases, I would prefer to be assumed a woman rather than a man. Fuck the patriarchy and all that, heh.

Some nonbinary people choose to medically transition, to various degrees, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it for myself. I hate how high my speaking voice is, I love that I can hit some higher notes when singing. I love my feminine curves and breasts sometimes, I prefer to wear a binder and baggy shirt when I feel dysphoric about my body. Making a choice to alter my body, even with a low doses of hormones, is an enormous decision that I’m not yet ready to make.

I’m out as nonbinary, but not OUT out. I don’t mention it to those in my life who I know wouldn’t accept it. I don’t push it or correct the language anyone uses for me. Being coded as a woman (mostly) doesn’t bother me much. Still, I feel a shift in me that’s growing more and more frustrated with the binary thinking of this society that I live in. Masculine? Feminine? What does that even mean? I’m somewhere in between.

Being Ace In a Society of Sex

S*X! SEX! S*X! It’s everywhere in American culture. It’s both glorified and viewed as something to be hidden. The gender of the person indulging in sex acts makes a difference in how it’s viewed, as does the sexual orientation and other preferences. A straight cisgender man who loves sex has the privilege of being viewed more favorably than a ciswoman or anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community who enjoys sex (or who doesn’t want it). These issues are relatively common discussion topics when sex is brought up in social justice circles. One topic that’s been gaining traction is asexuality.

I can only speak from my own experience as a gray-ace pansexual. American culture’s obsession with sex can feel awkward, at it’s best, for someone like me. Sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable. I can’t seem to understand why people feel such a seemingly constant desire for doing the dirty. At the same time, I am grey-asexual. I can enjoy it, if the mood is right. Sometimes I even desire it – like how I sometimes want a big slice of cake. I have my kinks and other preferences. It’s just not something that I feel is needed.

Some might say that my gray-asexuality is a symptom of an underlying psychological issue. As someone who was socialized female in a Christian home, there has been quite a lot of shame surrounding sex ingrained in me. That is an issue. So, too, are past bad experiences. Does that mean that there is inherently something wrong with me because of these things? Pssh. Not at all. I view these things as separate from my sexual identity. Sure, they have influenced me. It would be a lie to claim that they don’t. However, correlation does not equal causation.

When two people with different sex drives are together, this difference can make their relationship difficult to navigate. The popular idea that sex is owed to one’s partner is harmful. This is regardless of whether someone is on the asexual spectrum or allosexual (anyone who does not identify as asexual). For asexual people, this idea fuels the misconception that something is wrong with them. Not only that, but it can lead to unhealthy relationships wherein the asexual partner feels like they need to pretend to have an interest in sex in. Learning to communicate, particularly in relation to sex, is crucial to any relationship. For allosexual people, learning to communicate with an asexual partner can be difficult. Neither can fully understand the other’s needs. Therefore, it is all the more important to communicate clearly and make sure that consent is always clearly given. This is good practice for anyone.

Being gray-ace in a society that raises sex up on a pedestal comes with some challenges, sure. It feels almost like being an alien that can’t quite adjust to the culture of the planet they landed on, or can’t understand the human need for various foods over a single nutritional pill. For many allosexuals, sex is considered a need and deprivation of it can negatively affect their mental health. For asexual people, it’s typically something we may view as unnecessary, but sometimes still enjoyable to partake in.

My Truth Is Grey II

If you’re following my page over on Facebook, you may have already seen this post:

For years off and on, I’ve questioned my gender identity. At some point, it must have been recent, I’ve begun thinking of myself more and more as genderfluid/ nonbinary instead of questioning it. I still mostly consider myself a woman, but I now feel like I’m ready to accept that sometimes I am also a guy and sometimes I’m both/ neither. I will still be using she/her pronouns.
Obviously, this changes nothing about who I am. This is simply a fun fact like, “I just found out that I really like cake”.

If not, you just did. Before I made that little announcement, I had set my gender as “genderfluid” when I was setting up my PaganSpace account. I hadn’t even thought about it or registered fully that I was officially accepting this gender identity until afterward. If you read The Conundrum of Gender from a while back, it’s possible that you saw this coming from a mile way.

Gender identity is a complicated topic. You always have the “penis = man, vagina = woman” people who probably aren’t going to be convinced that it’s more complicated than their brains can handle. Then, there’s still difficulty even in parts of the LGBTQA+ community to accept genderfluid and nonbinary identities. Apparently, people like us “give ‘real’ transgender people” a bad name. Huh. Because apparently struggling with one’s gender and then finally finding self acceptance can be a bad thing. [/endsarcasm]

Despite feeling comfortable admitting to myself that I am genderfluid, I feel that this is still a strange period. What do I do with this realization? I’m not a transman, despite feeling more like a guy sometimes, so a route based on that won’t work for me. Not that I’m necessarily complaining. I understand that hormonal transitioning FtM can be a complicated stage filled with many mixed emotions.
I am still choosing to use female pronouns. It’s just easier for me. It’s not like I’m going out and telling everyone I know that I’m genderfluid, anyway. There’s a benefit to being assigned female at birth presenting masculine, in that modern society typically often views that as tomboy-ish. I am privileged to be able to hide in plain sight like that.
Another worry I have is wondering if this could affect my marriage down the road somehow. But, my spouse is already aware that I’ve questioned my gender and has often half jokingly pointed out that I am more man than woman sometimes. Maybe I have nothing to worry about in that regard.

The only thing that I know for sure regarding this is that I feel what I feel. Sometimes I am a woman. Sometimes I am a man. Sometimes I am neither or both. I guess saying, “My Truth Is Grey” is true in more ways than I realized. This changes nothing beyond my acceptance for these parts of me.

[Update: 4/2/2022

Since writing this, my pronouns have changed to they/them.]

The Conundrum of Gender

I have a confession of sorts to make. There have been multiple times that I questioned whether I’m really cis-gender. The pesky idea that I’m more boy keeps coming back. At one point, I had nearly decided that I was genderfluid. Then the idea floated away.

Growing up, I resisted the notions of what being a girl should include. I was a typical tomboy. Dresses and pink were for girly-girls, showing that I was tough instead of a “damsel in distress” was a badge of honor. I grew up on Dragon Ball Z, horrified by how the girls were often sexualized while envying the strength of the Saiyans. As I grew older, I slowly began falling away from some of that. Yeah, misogyny and rape culture would always make me uncomfortable. It would anger me. I was not immune to it and the disgusting behavior of grown cis-men toward both girl children and women.
Still, the shame of being a girl faded away. I wanted the power of being a woman. I learned to love the idea of being a woman… Even if I didn’t always feel like one. Yes, even if there are times when I feel more like the label of “boy” or “genderfluid” might fit better.

What is it that makes me a woman? I refuse to adhere to the idea that my reproductive organs are the deciding factor. I know that trans-women are women. Don’t try to convince me otherwise. They may have different struggles as women, but so do many cis-women.
I don’t know how anyone really knows what gender they are. Gender itself is really just a social construct, is it not? Or is that an oversimplification? I think it may be more complicated than that.

Perhaps, in the same way that I decided it was okay for me to be a woman, I may eventually give myself permission to be nonbinary. Or perhaps the idea of gendered labels simply don’t matter so much to me. The world sees me as a woman and I can live with that.

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