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Tuesday, 27 May 2008

I'm at the ETC

Gender

That's the Eclectic Tech Carnival a fun mishmash of technology, feminism and social activism. I'm playing a show tomorrow night. And yesterday, I taught a workshop on Audacity and podcasting (some text from that will be available shortly).

The con is for "women and gender minorities." Which means I'm the only guy in the room. Back in the old days, I was often the only woman in the room, which, at a tech event, really bothered me. Actually, when I go into a public meeting on tech or music, I always do a headcount of men vs. women and wonder what can be done if the ratios are not good. This is entirely different, of course and ok as long as I don't think about it too hard.

I'm not the only transmasculine person here. I might not even be the only transsexual here. But I'm definitely the only male-identified person. "Women and gender minorities" gets shortened a lot to "women." I wonder how I will feel about this in the future? On the one hand, I probably won't ever be in this community again and that's a loss. On the other hand, right now I'm not overly confident in regards to gender and so when I see things get shortened to "women" I feel anxiety. Everyone is really accepting and accommodating. Alas, I think it is my fate in life to always be asking for exceptions. I ask for fewer now, at least. Nobody asks for me to wear a dress or leave the appropriate loo. So on the one hand, it's fine. But on the other hand, I can't think about it too hard.

This avoidance comes out in weird ways. People keep asking if Xena, my dog is a male or female and I find myself getting irrationally defensive around the question. She's a dog! She doesn't have a gender identity as far as I know! Who are you to say if she's a vrowje or a manje based on her genitalia!?! Ok, I know this is crazy, but better to be irrational about my dog than other things.

Until last night, I was staying with Vivian in Delft, which meant a lot of time in transit. I got back to Vivan's flat last night at 2:30 am and had to feed the dog and give myself a shot of T.

Ok, so I don't feel like my feminism is incompatible with being trans. The name of the sponsoring org for this thing is Gender Changers. It's all ok. I still feel weird coming home from being surrounded by all these great women and then shooting up T. But if I were to put off the shot, it would make me feel sluggish and unhappy, and anyway. It's ok to be trans or it isn't. The timing of the shot shouldn't have any bearing on that. And this is part of what I mean about not being confident.

So I was sitting on the floor of Vivian's guest room, naked, right before sleep, trying to flick stubborn bubbles from the needle. I'm still not good at this. It's messy. The way the British ampoules work is that first I draw all the T (in castor oil) up into the needle and then turn it around and try to get the bubbles out without spilling too much. Then, of course, I stab myself. Lately, I've been pushing the needle in slowly, which is a bad idea, but doesn't cause physical harm, so whatever. Push needle, tense muscle, relax, push slightly further, tense again . . . ok, it does cause physical harm, but so does people biting their nails.

I pulled out the needle and there was blood. Not a little spot of blood, but a coin-sized pool of blood coming from my leg. Aieeee! Blood! Aiiieeee! 3:00 AM stark naked at my friend's house and a pool of blood! I saw the antiseptic wipe I had used early and pressed it down to stop the bleeding. Oh my god! Oh my god! oh my god! I started to shake uncontrollably.

I saw this thing where you're supposed to try pulling back on the plunger to see if you draw up blood. If you did, you hit a vein or something and need to re-try injecting. That didn't happen. So where did the blood come from? Ok, weight lifters take more in a day than I just took, so it doesn't matter if it went straight in my blood. Well, 0.8mL of castor oil in my veins in probably not good, but it's not like I could do anything about it. If I can't do anything about t and it won't kill me, then there's nothing to do but shake a lot and try to sleep.

(Castor oil is secreted by beavers, according to the dictionary on my mac. Um.)

Location

This is my first time back in the Netherlands since moving away. It's even nicer than I remember. I love the bikes. I love the urban planning. I love the train system. I love Dutch people. Delft is south of Den Haag, so taking the train into Amsterdam, I could see the train station and the church tower next to where I lived. I felt such an unexpected wave of attachment for the Grote Kerk tower. That's my home. That's where I have friends. That's where I walked my dog. That's where I biked. I love Holland. I love California. I love France. I left my heart in San Francisco. I left my stomach in Paris. I left my mind in Amsterdam. So now I'm heartless and mindless.

Good Dutch food: the beer. The coffee. The little sweet things you eat with coffee. Vla. Pancakes. Appeltart.

I have to find a way to move back here.

2 comments:

kola said...

I really, really miss The Netherlands, too.

Nick said...

So the general rules for kennismigranten are, you have to have a job offer that pays at least €33,000/year if you're under 30, and at least €45,000 if you're 30 and up. However...if the job is in academia, they apparently waive the salary requirement. :)