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A2Z – Yon Zealots

blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Yon Zealots

 

Okay, it’s obvious I’m reaching pretty far this time.  But it’s April 30th, the last day of the A to Z challenge, and I had to find a way to pull together a title with both a Y and a Z.  I thought about Yonder Zenith – but really, that’s just as far a reach.  😉

In any movement of importance, there are always zealots, and they never bring a level head or a spirit of cooperation with them.  So while our ideals may speak to equality and acceptance, we do need to keep an eye out and guard our hearts and minds against those who take these notions and force them upon people.  Because, in doing so, we’ve turned against equality and acceptance.

Do I advocate accepting a society that treats you as “less than”?  Definitely not.  But we do need to accept those who would try to force you into their mold of what a man or woman should be.  We don’t need to accept their condemnation or bow to their will, but in accepting them for what they are, we can move past them knowing that we don’t need them or their acceptance.  It can be a confusing idea.  But but ultimately, when we accept others for what they are, even if we don’t necessarily agree with them, we free ourselves of the constraints they’d harness us with.

So, my last message for you during this month of discovery on the topic of sexual and gender identity?  It goes back to the letter A, with the word acceptance.  Just as we can free ourselves of the restraints others would place on us by simply accepting them as they are (and thus not giving them power they don’t deserve), we can claim our own power by accepting ourselves as we are.

Accept yourself, and find the freedom and love you so rightly deserve!

A2Z – X

blogging our way from a to z on sexual and gender identity - x

I’ll be honest.  I’m really not feeling up to blogging tonight, and I wasn’t last night either.  I didn’t blog last night, and now I’m one letter behind, so I figure I better do so tonight.

Yesterday was the AGM for the Green Party of Saskatchewan.  It was one I went into, and came out of, with mixed emotions.  It’s an odd thing to serve a group of people for so long and then to suddenly know that time is over.  I was president for four years, and while it is definitely time for me to take a year off from the board, it really does feel incredibly strange.  After I’ve had some time to process, I’ll come back to this topic another day.

Today the kid and I had appointments to see Curt, our dentist.  She had a check-up, I had a filling – my first since my baby teeth.  And now that the pain killers have worn off, my face and tooth hurt.  It’ll pass though.  It was a weird thing having to choose between two different types of filling, each with the potential to leak different harmful substances.  Not a pleasant thought.

After all that, we arrive at X.  I’ve had a few thoughts on words I could discuss.  Mikayla suggested xenophobia, which isn’t a bad one.  But while it can have a more broad meaning, it generally pertains to race relations…  and that’s not something I really feel like tackling.  Her idea brought me to xenodochy though, which is much more positive.  It’s about being hospitable and welcoming to strangers and those you don’t know.  And that would make a nice, happy, positive blog post…  but I don’t know.

Now I’m stuck on words that started with xeno.  Conjuring up xenoestrogen (environmental estrogens), xenogenesis (in relation to parents producing offspring with vastly differing traits than their own), xenopus (a type of aquatic frog), xenobiotic (a chemical found in an organic body where it doesn’t belong), xenophile (someone who is attracted to foreign people)…

Xeno…  It doesn’t help that I like the sound.  Heck, even my bird was named with the sound in mind.  Her name is Zenora.

So there you go.  On a day when I don’t feel like blogging, when I’m stuck with a letter that doesn’t lend itself well to anything besides pirates and chromosomes, that’s what you get.  A post with a few “xeno” words that are stuck in my head.

Night all!  Hopefully I’ll conjure up something a lot more impressive for tomorrow.  😉

A2Z – Wishing

blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - wishing

 

One thing I know with assurance is that wishing doesn’t change things.  But, those same wishes can inspire us to take action that does.  Change happens slowly, gradually, with these sudden AHA moments of hope that cause things to leap forward.  It’s not easy, it’s hard work, but it’s so worth doing.

I’ve said it many times before, but here it is again – just for clarity.  I know I’m not the one who will change the world, but maybe I’ll inspire those who will.  I know things can be better, heck, all I have to do is look at how far society has come just in the last twenty years.

The things members of the acronym community had to face when I was young, seem unspeakable and foreign to the youth of today.  The physical punishment and torment, while so fresh in my memory, is a lifetime away for those who are currently discovering their sexual identities.  Bullying is still alive and real – but it’s a very different type of attack.  And I have hope that it too will fade into a distant memory.

My wish is one for my daughter.  And it’s a wish that I hope will spur the action needed to see it come true.  I wish that by the time she is old enough to be discovering her sexual identity that it will no longer matter how she identifies.  She will be accepted as she is, for who she is, without question.  It’s a big wish.  But I know it can happen…  after all, look how far we’ve come in the last decade, given one more, just imagine where we could be!

 

 

A2Z – Ubiquitous

bloging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - ubiquitous

 

So…  for the last week, whenever I’d think of the letter U, the word ubiquitous would pop into my head.  It’s one of the few cool U words that I actually know and use.  I kept putting it out of mind, but it kept popping back in like some annoying song that Barney the purple dinosaur would sing.  *shudders at the mere thought of Barney*  The kid knows zombies and lycanthropes, but we’ve banned Barney in this house.  Anyway…  The word just kept coming back to me.  And you know what?  I’m going to go with it.

Ubiquitous.  It basically means that something is everywhere, ever present but not omnipresent.  It’s just a fancy way of saying something is everywhere.  In the summer ants are ubiquitous.  Got it?  Or should I pull out and quote my dictionary?  Oh heck…  Okay, here’s the dictionary definition:

screen shot that includes my dictionary app and the definition of ubiquitous

My desktop and the dictionary app, complete with the definition of ubiquitous.

 

So there you have it!  “Present, appearing, or found everywhere”  I don’t know why I fought the word, it really is absolutely perfect.  Whether or not we are noticeable, there are members of the acronym community everywhere.  If there are people to be found, you’ll find members of the pride community.  We aren’t always “flamers”, though it can be delightfully fun to stand apart from the crowd.  Sometimes we blend in with everyone else, completely unnoticed.  Unnoticed but ubiquitous.  😉

Okay, I’m off for the night.  Clearly I’m in a rather goofy mood.  But I figured I’m allowed…  ’cause today?  Today is one of those barf rainbows and crap glitter kinda days.  LMAO  Yep, today you’d see me from a mile away.

A2Z – Tobi-Dawne is Turning Thirtyfive

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Tobi-Dawne is Turning Thirtyfive

 

Today I celebrated my birthday, and like the title states, I’m now 35.  I got some lovely gifts (beautiful bedding from my parents, a very cool infusion mug and a bunch of loose leaf herbal fruit teas from my Auntie Risa, a lovely card and $25 to spoil myself with from my Grampa and Grandma Joan, and a stylin’ size Pinkie Pie from my baby girl and my man), but more important was the time spent with those I love.  My mom and dad bbq’d steaks – nice and dark the way I like ‘um – made salad, and baked potatoes…  and the girlie and my dad even baked me a birthday cake.  All in all it was a wonderful afternoon and evening.  🙂

And now for my gift to all of you!

To celebrate my birthday, I’ve arranged for discount codes from a few different artisans on Etsy.  YAY!

Earlier this week a couple of packages arrived from two different vendors – each containing beautiful, hand-made, pride flower pins.  The first to arrive was a pin from Dorothy.  It’s a beautiful canvas pin that I am currently wearing on my purse while I test drive it for durability.  And while I was concerned that it might be a little delicate to handle it, it survived being mauled by my daughter’s pre-k classmates as they all wanted to touch it’s petals and tell me which was their favourite colour.

pride flower by dorothydesigns on etsy

The flower, by dorothydesigns, on my purse.

I absolutely love this piece.  I know the white in the center won’t stand up to the rugged wear I tend to dish out, but it is beautiful and well-made, just the same.  Dorothy is offering all of you a coupon code worth 10% off anything in her etsy store.  The code is TD2012 and it expires May 15th.  You can find her lovely work at http://www.etsy.com/shop/dorothydesigns.  And if you’re looking for this pin?  You’ll find it listed as the Kanzashi Pride Boutonniere…  which is basically “Fancy Nancy” for fabric flower pin.  😉

The second package to arrive came with an extra surprise.  Peggie sent me TWO pins!  One of which is her take on a Kanzashi pin – which will make it’s debut in her etsy shop in the next few days:

Peggie's felt flower design

The first flower by PegPlush.

Peggie’s Kanzashi pride flower is a lot more heavy-duty and I know it could stand up to the rigors of daily wear on a backpack or diaper bag quite easily.  It’s made out of felt, and can take some serious damage while still looking great!  I love hand-made items, but it’s rare to find a piece that can take some punishment and come away looking just fine – and this one definitely can.  It’s awesome!  I’d have no problem popping this one on the kid’s bag and would trust it to last.  Heck, it survived some mauling itself – and even got doused in water… and came through looking like I’d just taken it out of the package!

The second flower by PegPlush.

The second flower Peggie sent me ended up being a little bigger than I first thought it would be – but that only makes it all the more fun and bold!  I love all the beading and hand-stitched accents too.  And while it’s also a pin?  I found myself clipping this one in my hair.  With my super short locks it made quite the statement.  😉

Peggie is also generously offering you all a 20% discount on anything in her store (which includes some awesome, kitchy, felt panty designs too).  Just use the code PEGPRIDE.  You can find her at http://www.etsy.com/shop/PegPlush.

The last coupon code comes from Trish (who is also celebrating her birthday today).  Now, I haven’t had a chance to handle her work myself, but based on her photographs I definitely like what I’ve seen.  She’s a stained glass artist!  Check out her work at http://www.etsy.com/shop/GlassMonkeyArts and enter the code TDBLOG15 to receive %15 off.

So…  I’m 35.  Everyone kinda made a fuss over the fact that I’m “old”…  but I laughed and told them that 35 is the new 25, just like 50 is the new 40.  Aging doesn’t scare me or bother me.  It’s just proof that I’ve done my fair share of living, and I’m looking forward to continuing doing just that.  😉

A2Z – Native & First Nations Individuals in the LGBTT2QIA Community

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Native and First Nations Individuals in the LGBTT2AIA Community

 

The 2 in LGBTT2QIA comes from my Native and First Nations brothers and sisters.  It stands for Two-Spirited.  There has been quite a bit of confusion lately on what two-spirited actually means, and I hope I can help clear the water vs further muddying it.

I know quite a few Native and First Nations individuals who identify somewhere on the sexual minority, gender variant spectrum, but that does not make them all two-spirited.  However, all two-spirited individuals, are by nature of the word itself, Native and First Nations.  Not all birds are Eagles, but all Eagles are birds.  Clear so far?

Even within some of our local First Nations communities, the idea of an individual being of two spirits has become muddied.  It has been used by so many as a blanket term for all First Nations individuals who identify as being part of the acronym community that it is losing some of it’s power and intent.

When asked to share his personal thoughts on the term, Ryan Jimmy (a wonderful individual I am blessed to know) said this:

I understand how the term is a way for indigenous queers to reclaim their sexual spaces rather then have other non indigenous folks create identities for them. What I struggle with is that there still seems to be a lot of romanticism around the term meaning that people tend to believe the term is a simple male\female spirit and that we poses some super neat powers. I feel the term is very complex and I personally just haven’t found my place with …it.

Amongst all those I know who identify as both First Nations (or Indigenous) and a member of the acronym community, I only know one individual who identifies as two-spirited.  And that’s an important thing to note.  As Ryan mentioned, there is this romanticized view of two-spirited individuals which has found it’s way into modern culture.  And while the idea of one person with two spirits (each of a different gender inhabiting the same body) does have aspects which lend itself easily to those types of ideals and fantasies, those notions ignore the hard struggles that have faced our Native and First Nations community members. While there may have been a time when two-spirited people were revered in some First Nations cultures, that vanished along with so many facets of their culture with the unfortunate Christianization of their world.

Clearly, this is far too large a topic to really get into in any real way in a blog post.  But, if nothing else, I hope this brief look at what “two-spirited” means encourages you to dig a little deeper yourself.  It’s an absolutely amazing area for study, and filled with a wealth of enlightenment.  In a search to understand ourselves, it is one area that should not be overlooked.

One last, rather unique tid-bit I’ll share:  Have you ever looked at your hands, at the length of your fingers in particular?  Well, there have been numerous studies over the last couple hundred years that reflect a hormone correlation which suggests Women have a longer index finger, and Men have a longer ring finger.  The one individual I know who identifies as two-spirited?  Has a longer index finger on one hand, and a longer ring finger on the other.  Just one of their many intriguing qualities.  😉

 

A2Z – Love & Marriage

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity

 

I’ve been out sick the last couple of days, and am just as sick today as I was yesterday…  so really shouldn’t be blogging at all.  BUT I hate to miss a deadline, even a self imposed one.  I knew I could fit L and M into one post, and as long as it went up on Sunday I’d still be on schedule for the Alphabet Blog Challenge.  Of course, I figured all this out on Friday afternoon, when I figured I’d b all shiny by Sunday.  And now it’s Sunday.  And the last thing I want to be doing is blogging.  Seriously.

Being sick sucks.  But want to know what makes it easier to get through?  Knowing I have the love of someone who will see me through it all… someone who doesn’t care if I’m dripping mucus from every orifice, sinuses unloading in all sorts of unattractive, downright, inhuman ways…  And you know what sucks?  Knowing that some people are denied this same gooey “stand by me” melodrama that marriage provides.

Sure, you can stand by someone without a contract (and lets face it, when you get down to brass tacks that is what marriage is), and for those who are content doing so without?  Well, I think that’s great!  In fact, I know some happily unmarried folks who have been in a state of unwedded bliss for almost as long as I’ve been alive.  However, for those who WANT to be married, they should have the same right to do so as anyone.  Some chicks marry chicks, some doods marry doods… get over it people.

I, for one, am glad this is one area in which the Canadian government hasn’t seriously screwed over it’s people.  This is one thing which they’ve gotten very right.  It shouldn’t matter what parts a person has, love and marriage are about what’s in your HEART not what’s in your PANTS.  And now that I’ve made my point?  I’m closing up my computer, and crawling back into my flu-induced stupor, feeling much better for NOT having missed my deadline.

A2Z – In Flux

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - In Flux

 

If you haven’t figured it out already, based on reading from A to H, I’ll state it here nice and clear; generally?  I’m fairly anti-label.  But when push comes to shove, I identify as “In Flux”.

The idea of people being in flux is a fairly natural one.  We are constantly growing and changing.  The more we learn, the more we evolve.  Who I am now is not even remotely close to the person I was 20 years ago, or heck, even five years ago.  So the notion that we must have a constant and steadfast label that applies in all instances seems ridiculous to me.

Not only do I change from decade to decade, year to year, but from hour to hour and day to day.  How I feel right now, laying in bed, blogging is very different from how I felt even twenty minutes ago while I was reading a novel to my daughter.  So if I change as often as the air in my lungs, how can I be expected to identify as something constant?

Some days I feel very “girlie”, others I feel far more “butch”.  I’ve always identified as female, but what that entails is different based on the circumstances surrounding me and within me.  So I am IN FLUX.  It just makes sense to me.  In fact, it’s one of the few things that is constant and unchanging.  I can say with certainty that I will consistently and constantly remain as an every changing and evolving person.  😉

What about you?  Do you identify as a static being with a label?  If so, how do you identify?  Or are you, like me, constantly in flux?

 

P.S. – if you are up for it, I believe I posted a photo of a button a dear friend and artist made for me.  It’s me, holding a label that says “in flux”.  I think it’s on a post about AKA (the art gallery in Edmonton, Alberta).  Scavenger hunt?  😉

 

 

the april a to z blog challenge

A2Z – Heroes

Blogging our way from A to Z on issues of sexual and gender identity - Heroes!

Heroes.  They are something we should all have, and they come in many shapes and sizes.  Some may be the usual suspects, heralds of a cause, but others can be found unexpected places.  In truth, I believe everyone has the potential to be a hero.  And I can’t think of any better way to demonstrate this fact that to share a few of my local Saskatchewan heroes who also happen to be members of the acronym community.

Mikayla Schultz is the founder of TransSask (support services).  She is a tireless advocate and campaigner for equality.  Through tremendous efforts, she recently put government to the test and had many successes with the signing of a declaration formalizing March 25-31 as Transgender Awareness Week in communities across Saskatchewan.

Don Cochrane is a former University of Saskatchewan professor, who continues to educate everyone he meets.  His groundbreaking work into subjects of importance to the Sexual Minority and Gender Variant community continue to force change, improving the lives of everyone in Canada.  You can see his hand all over this province, and especially at the annual Breaking the Silence conference here in Saskatoon.

Sarah Houghtaling is a local high school student.  She strives diligently to make lives better not only for those who attend school with her, but for minority students across our province.  A student activist who’s name I highly recommend taking note of.  She’s one of the many young people who WILL change our world for the better.  If you are ever able to attend one of her talks, DO!  You will be inspired.

Kay Williams is one of the most outspoken allies you will ever meet.  A determined advocate for her son, and a helping voice in a confusing world for parents new to the world of parenting LGBTT2QI children and youth.  Kay is a proud volunteer, and one of the founding members of PFLAG in Saskatoon.  She also was awarded the Peter Corren Award for Outstanding Achievement this year at Breaking the Silence – and yes, I teared up during her acceptance speech (which I recorded, and will share at some point).

Four individuals, all unique, all at different stages of their journey, all willing to do whatever it takes to see things become better for those around them.  All four are heroes, and all four I’m proud to call friend.

Who are the heroes in your life?

A2Z – Family

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Family

One of the most difficult things in the world is coming out to our families.  There is so much emotion wrapped up there, that it can be hard to separate our own fears from reality.  And listening to the coming out stories from previous generations only reinforces that sense of fear.

I had the privilege of serving as coordinator for a youth retreat last Summer, for Sexual Minority, Gender Variant youth.  During an exercise led by our Artist-in-Residence, Spencer J. Harrison we all got the chance to share coming out stories while in small groups.  One young man’s story in particular made me cry – and not for reasons you might suspect.

At first he didn’t feel he should contribute to the discussion, he didn’t feel that his story was worthy of sharing.  Upon encouragement, he opened up and told his story.  The story of coming out to a family who loved him and supported him – a family to which it didn’t matter what his orientation was.  Unwavering love and reassurance.  And that is what moved me to tears.

More and more people are realizing that orientation doesn’t matter, a person’s sexual desires don’t change who they are as a person.  More and more families find it easy to accept the idea that one of their children may be pansexual, bisexual, asexual, homosexual et al.  More and more young people have GOOD stories to share – and those stories are so worth hearing.  And in those instances where the outcome isn’t so positive?  That’s where community comes in.

If your family doesn’t accept you for who you are, they don’t deserve you.  Family is a choice, and is built on love.  So whether family of blood or family of choice – surround yourself with people who know how amazing you are.  Because you really are incredible!

 

 

a to z, april blog challenge

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