The Politics of Confrontation

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Lately, I have had some things on my mind.  Often, when I talk to people either in person, over the phone or (most often) on the internet, I find myself accused of being “too negative,” “so aggressive,” or “oversensitive” whenever a subject is broached which is too controversial for polite conversation.  Folks like to tell me not to be “so angry,” and that, instead of focusing on the problems, I should focus on solutions – this gets into that same “It Gets Better,” and “Build don’t Burn” rhetoric that I find, personally, has a bad habit of missing the point.

What is troublesome about this logic is its failure to acknowledge that one cannot focus on solutions to problems if one does not first recognize the problem.  When I am accused to being too negative, it is rarely because I am a hopeless misanthrope who sees no end to human suffering, but most typically because my accuser doesn’t like the harsh realities which they are being made to confront within the context of the conversation. The fact is, folks don’t really like confronting systematic oppression – especially people of privilege (I know, dirty word) – because to confront would mean to acknowledge its existence and the ways in which we may or may not benefit from these systems. I say this as a white person who has worked (and is still working) to unpack my privilege and preconceived notions about race. Also, as a thin, able-bodied AFAB genderqueer person who, despite not really “passing,” gets to move through life with relative ease due to my perceived masculinity. I know how it feels to come to the realization that my being treated like a human being with rights and dignity comes at the expense of others who maybe don’t look like or get around as well as I do. It sucks and of course nobody would want to accept that, but the fact of the matter is your unwillingness to accept reality doesn’t actually change reality.

The reality is that cops can shoot unarmed black boys and girls on public streets in the daylight with impunity. Women can’t walk down the street without being harassed, or worse, and then blamed for it. “Trans panic” is an actual defense that people can actually use in court to get away with murdering trans women. Intersex folks are all but invisible at best and at worst, mutilated and often sterilized by doctors at birth as a means of “correcting” their genitals to make them appear “normal.” I could go on. For days. But let some of these things sink in – this is reality. And if I seem angry about it, it’s because I am. Because I should be. Everyone should be.

The mentality that “we should be focusing on solutions, not problems”; that we need to be “more positive”; is counter-productive and backwards. You can’t focus on the solution to a problem you won’t acknowledge. Solutions come from confronting the issue, head on, accepting that it is an issue and then finding where that issue comes from. We need to find the root – where it begins and how far it reaches. Then we need to attack that root. Like a weed, if we do not get it at the root, it only grows back. This is what I mean when I refer to the White Supremacist Cisheteropatriarchy – the most entrenched systems of oppression, the ones that have infected our minds like disease – this is the root. It runs deep, in our society, in our everyday interactions, in our selves and it’s so big and so far-reaching that when we do acknowledge its existence and power over us, it seems overwhelming – impossible to defeat. I think this is why it is so difficult to confront. I think this is why I get accused of being “too negative,” because when I make the claim that we are all infected with this insidious, seemingly-unstoppable social disease, I am declaring war on something intangible that exists within the individual as well as outside and it seems hopeless.

I think of humanity as one big organism, each individual person is a cell. The social disease causes some cells to attack others, and the organism is essentially killing itself from the inside out. We need medicine. Something to strengthen the cells being attacked so they can defend themselves and survive the onslaught and to weaken those attacking until they give up and eventually stop and something else to immunize new cells as they are created against the disease so that this can be prevented in the future. This cannot happen overnight – it will take a while.

Mind, this is not a perfect metaphor. This is essentially the best I can come up with while drowsy and a little dizzy from antibiotics. Essentially, what I am saying is that we need to confront the power dynamics which create the systems of oppression that have society so jacked up that folks can’t even see the problem when it’s right in front of their eyes. Or worse, they refuse to see the problems because they’re too big and scary to take on alone. The fact is, it’s okay to be overwhelmed and even to feel hopeless when first confronting horrible realities – really, it is. It’s okay because it’s perfectly reasonable; this shit is too big to take on alone, which is why we can’t. One person cannot take down centuries-old systems of oppression, but what about hundreds? Thousands? Millions? There are seven billion human beings on the planet, how many of them benefit from these systems versus those who are oppressed by them?

I am not “negative.” I believe in collective power and grassroots, horizontal self-organization. I have more faith in humanity than humanity has been proven to deserve, given my own personal experiences and what I have learned about the world in my short time here. I truly hate the state of things and I say so, often and loudly, because I can and I must. Don’t tell me “it gets better” unless you’re willing to put your boots on the ground and make it get better. Don’t tell me to “focus on solutions” if you’re not willing to be a part of the solution yourself. Don’t tell me to be “more positive,” you’re naive if you think my hopes for the world are anything but.

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Shit you shouldn’t say when I tell you I’m trans*

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So, by now, we all know that I am Queer and, by now, so do all of my close friends and family.  I only recently came out and since I’ve come out, I have been as open as I can be to basically anybody who will listen.  This is because my identity is important to me and awareness of Queer issues and the general existence and welfare of trans* people is important to me.  This is also because I have known of too many people who have identified as Queer in some form or another who have felt isolated, frightened and confused and who have not had access to the same kinds of resources and information I have or who didn’t know anybody who could help to point them in the right direction.  When I came out first to my family and close friends as genderqueer, I got a lot of responses that, quite frankly, upset me in no particular order.

  • “Why would you go on male hormones, you’re so pretty” – This is not comforting or supportive.  I’m glad you think I’m pretty and thanks but no thanks.  That is not the response I needed or asked for.  Don’t tell me what you think is acceptable to do based upon your standards of beauty as if your opinion would somehow differ if I were not considered attractive.
  • “Do you want a beard and body hair?” – I’ve been asked this a number of times and I still don’t have an answer.  I already have body hair; it comes from not shaving.  But seriously, I don’t know if I want facial hair because, frankly, I don’t know how I would look with it (I’m blonde and I think blonde facial hair usually looks a little funky).  Anyway, my hair is so fine and light-colored, I don’t know if I could really achieve an effective beard if I did want one.  But as it is, this question only serves to put me on the spot and I really can’t formulate a solid answer to it.
  • “You’re not getting surgery, are you?” – Fuck off, it’s none of your business.  This is private information and it requires a lot of thinking-through.  Beyond that, SRS is wicked expensive and requires a whole shitload of hoop-jumping; it is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” and, once again, it’s nobody’s business.
  • *upon being told that I’m taking testosterone* “…you’re beautiful” – …thanks?  This is just something I don’t know how to respond to, just like the first comment.  It’s like a poorly concealed attempt to say “oh, don’t do that, you’ll ruin your pretty little face.”  And, for that, you can fuck off.
  • “You seem pretty feminine to me”/”You’re not really that masculine” – What does that have to do with it?  You don’t have to be masculine to be a man, nor do you have to be feminine to be a woman and since I don’t identify as either, why should I have to be more like one than the other in order to express my identity?
  • “So, you want to be a man?” – No, goddammit.  No, I don’t want to be a man.  I just also don’t want to be a woman.  Gender is a spectrum, not a binary.
  • “Why can’t you just pick between man and woman?”/”why do you have to make it so complicated?” – Again, fuck off.  I’m not making it complicated, it just already is and it wouldn’t be if there weren’t patriarchal gender roles dictating a strict binary that many people, myself included, can’t navigate.

In short, when a trans* person comes out to you, don’t barrage them with stupid questions or ignorant assumptions.  If you don’t know much about it, there are more respectful ways to ask about what you want to know, or better yet, go on the internet and look it up!  There is so much information on Queer identities of all kinds and a huge online community dedicated to raising awareness on all fronts.  Not to say that I won’t answer any respectful questions, but, quite honestly, educating people about Queer issues is not my responsibility as a Queer person – I am not here to speak for the entire community and, beyond that, I don’t like wasting time trying to explain my identity to people whose interest is probably fleeting at best.  Anybody who is genuinely interested in learning about Queer issues should prove their interest by doing their own research and learning what is and is not appropriate to say/do/ask around Queer friends and family.

There are a bunch of other responses I’ve heard, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head so I’ll probably being going back to edit this post and add more.  Feel free to contribute your own inappropriate responses.

I guess I need to vent a little.

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I haven’t been updating this blog as frequently as I would like to largely because I feel like I have run out of things to say.  That’s obviously not true, there are always infinite things to say, but it was an excuse to hole up and hide away because that is just what I do sometimes.

I don’t really know what it is that has been eating at me these past couple of months.  I miss IDA, I guess, and I wish I had stayed longer.  I have been working as a freelance writer, which is good for a little money here and there, but it is not very fulfilling.  I haven’t gotten out much and, despite fall being my favorite time of year and Halloween being my absolute favorite day of the year, I can’t seem to even get excited about that.  I have not been as consistent as I should be with my hormone regimen and that shit isn’t even hard – I just haven’t been doing it and I don’t know why.  I started my period yesterday, which makes me hella dysphoric and I’m sure that my inability to keep a consistent hormone regimen doesn’t help my mood swings and anger issues.  I have been snapping at Lucky over everything and nothing and I had a bit of an anxiety fit over all the clutter in our room today.  Whenever I have money, I’m tempted to immediately spend it on alcohol so I can start drinking first thing when I wake up in the afternoon and get through the day with a nice buzz and a comfortable numbness.  These things are not big problems.  I am not an alcoholic or an addict of any kind and most of the things that make me anxious or upset really shouldn’t – what I am is an escapist with a huge family history of substance abuse and addiction.

In short – I don’t really think there is anything wrong with me, but I feel like there is and I don’t know why.  I am constantly upset about something, or everything and I can’t express it to others either because I can’t articulate it or I know I am being unreasonable.  I’ve been driving myself crazy inside my head for the past few weeks.

This really started a while ago – I had started feeling a little stir-crazy because I work at home and live at home and really don’t get much social interaction.  Lucky and I decided to trip shrooms together one night and wander around the neighborhood and it made me happy for a while because I pushed all the scary bad thoughts back (as I am wont to do regardless of drug use).  But as we went to bed, I was still tripping and I lied there for about an hour just thinking about life and death and all that deep shit you think about on entheogens.  Before I actually got to sleep, I came to the conclusion that one day I would kill myself.  That’s not a threat, I’m not even sure if it’s true, but I thought it just as casually as you might think about your favorite fruit.  The thought doesn’t frighten me or disturb me, really – I just don’t know where it came from or why.

That night wasn’t very long after I heard about Josh’s death.  I remember because I cried for him finally.  But I also cried for somebody new, somebody I hardly knew if ever at all.  A good friend of my family – my older cousins new him best, really, but I’ve known his mother all my life and I know I’d met him a number of times before.  His name was Matt and I had learned that he killed himself the week before.  I had also learned that he was in the closet – another Queer suicide, another Queer murder.  I didn’t know him very well at all.  I know he had a baby and, with the exception of his mother, a very conservative, unwelcoming family, and I know he used to fool around with one of his male friends.  I know he had tried to come out once, but was not accepted and was pushed right back into the closet.  He died because he couldn’t express himself and he couldn’t live with that.  Who could?  This has been on my mind for a long time…I didn’t even know Matt, really.  He was a person who lived somewhere on the outskirts of my ever-expanding world and until he died, I never knew much about him at all except that he existed.

It is an interesting habit I have – when people die, I take shrooms and trip on it.  I did it while my grandmother was dying from cancer and after she was gone.  I tripped for Josh and for Matt.  I tripped for my second cousin, even, when she died.  Someone I know somewhere I’ve been always dies and I commemorate them with a ritual shroom trip.  I don’t really know what it means and, quite honestly, I don’t know why I do most things and I don’t know what has been going on with me lately.  Perhaps I should trip on it.  Or perhaps I should be sober for a while.

I think I just don’t want to be where I am.  I’m not comfortable here – I’m anxious and angsty and tired, tired all the time.  My surrounding environment is just clutter and complacency and it makes me feel lazy and distracted.  I can’t think straight here and I hate it.  I want to go back to IDA and stay there as long as I’m welcome.  I want to make IDA happen where I am.  I wanna live in the woods and bathe in waterfalls and grow food and be a fairy with all of my beautiful Queer fairy friends who want the same.  I’m tired of television and this shitty town in this shitty state, I’m tired of concrete, cars, drama and the fucking fascist fucks who exist everywhere around here.

I have been fighting the impulse to just break shit everywhere I go (though, honestly, I don’t know why).  I think it’s time to start doing things again.  I think I have been holed up for a little too long.

So, it’s been a little while

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I’ve not been posting for a good while partly because I haven’t known quite what to write about and partly because I’ve been busy as hell.  Lucky and I have moved out of our apartment and in with a few friends.  Before we could move, we had to tile our new bedroom and all sorts of other stuff to prepare so that’s my whole excuse.

In the midst of all this, we have also been putting some of our transition research into practice and have been experimenting with dietary changes.  Lucky has been taking herbal supplements for a couple of months now, but is planning on no longer taking them at all and instead replacing them with herbal teas (in particular, teas specifically designed for “women” such as “Female Toner” and “Moon Cycle,” two of many phytoestrogen tea blends meant for menstrual regulation).  They have also discovered that spearmint is an incredibly strong natural anti-androgen so they have also taken to mixing that into their tea blends.  The biggest concern for Lucky is that many of these menstrual regulation teas include a fair amount of licorice root which can be dangerous if one is not careful – Licorice is one of the strongest phytoestrogens we have been able to find and it’s also an anti-androgen, but if overused, side-effects include major water retention and a failure to absorb Vitamin C.  Basically, you could ingest nothing but licorice root and live up to six days without water before you die from scurvy (among other things).  They’re also unsure of cramp bark, which is a big ingredient in the teas, but I don’t know if that’s such a big thing to worry about.  In terms of diet, Lucky found that eggs and milk have a shit-ton of progesterone in them (kind of a “duh” moment, but of course neither of us thought about it before).  So as a part of their daily transition diet, eggs for breakfast with lots of cheese mixed in (neither of us drinks dairy milk), have proven an effective way to obtain progesterone for breast growth among other things.

I’ve found it a bit more difficult to find phytotestosterone teas, but I’ve accepted that I’ll just have to figure out those blends myself.  Overall, my focus has been more dietary than herbal – I have been dosing myself with pine nuts on a daily basis, which is awesome but pine nuts are goddamn expensive (around here, at least – they can only be found in tiny little packages for like $7 a pop, a quarter of which equals a dose for me.  Fortunately, I haven’t had to pay for them yet – they seem to just keep falling right into my pockets while I’m shopping).  Pine nuts, combined with lots of estrogen-flushing veggies such as kale, brussels sprouts and other cruciferous goodies have been super effective.  There’s really only one thing that I have trouble with – mother fucking mushrooms.  I’m supposed to add white cap mushrooms into at least one of my meals each day – these help me retain testosterone by preventing it from converting into estrogen.  The problem with this is…I fucking hate mushrooms.  I hate them a lot.  Lucky had been cutting them up for me really really small so that I wouldn’t really notice them in my food, but the smell of mushrooms cooking is enough to make me ill and eventually I had to stop doing that.  I need to find another testosterone retainer to take the place of icky nasty white caps, but I’m not sure where to start on that.  I have also been drinking Hawthorn tea for another estrogen flusher, but realistically, the pine nuts are the most important part of my regimen.

In terms of noticeable changes, I have no news on my side as yet except for perhaps an increase in sex drive and irritability (the latter, I’ll need to keep in check with damiana).  I would like to get my hands on some tribulus to add to my regimen, but I’ve only just started and I’m too realistic to expect things to happen right away.  Lucky, on the other hand, has been at this way longer than I have.  They have gone from medical, to herbal to diy hormones and so far, this newest transition seems to be working best.  The herbal supplements they were taking seemed to be lacking in anti-androgens, making the estrogen and progesterone way less effective, but now that they have added their own touch to their regimen, shit seems to be happening.  They’re getting more breast growth again (that has been halted since switching to herbal supplements, and their facial hair had started thickening again), and there has been a very noticeable difference in emotional reactions to things as well as sex drive.  One reason that Lucky switched from medical to herbal was because the Spironolactone that they were taking for an anti-androgen was in many ways too effective – in that, it made them feel like something incredibly unhealthy was happening to their body.  It all but killed their sex drive and definitely reduced sexy feels in the genital area which was pretty sad.

This is due to the medical hormones being so absolute – they don’t work with the body’s natural rhythms, nor do they acknowledge that we need all of our hormones, one cannot just completely 86 one to replace with another, but rather, all that is needed is the reduction of one to make room for the dominance (for lack of a better word) of the other.  What medical hormones do is prepare the body for a full hormonal and physical overhaul as preparation for a binary surgery.  Since full SRS is not the goal at the moment for either of us, the medical route is not only unnecessary, but also far less than ideal.  Our current experimentation with herbal teas and dietary changes seems to be most effective for both of us.

March for Liberation: A Call to Action

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Boy, people like marching these days! There are marches for solidarity, for world hunger, animal rights, ecological justice, racial equality, gay pride, etc., etc., but for every worthy cause which gets only a march when it deserves much, much more, there are dozens of conservative wingnut organizations marching against the freedoms we worked so hard to attain (back when we did more than just march). One of these such organizations is the Catholic diocese of St. Augustine which has taken to organizing a yearly March For Life – a gigantic public protest against abortion rights which floods the streets of downtown St. Augustine with scores of patriarchal prudes and false priests from all over the Southeast and, often, even farther. Since 2007, this event has gone on without so much as a counter-picket until last year when some friends and I decided these assholes needed to be challenged. With only a month to work out the details, we were unable to manage a very large crowd, but all in all, the counter-protest was successful, pulling in folks from Gainesville, Daytona and several locals and Flagler College students. On top of that, some friends of friends even took it upon themselves to pink bloc the pro-life march, scattering wire coat hangers along St. George Street to give the marchers some perspective on the unsafe alternatives to legal abortion.

March for Life protesters walking over scattered hangers

March for Life protesters walking over scattered hangers

This time around we have quite a lot more time for planning, and we intend to make damn good use of it. The March for Life has a parade permit which reserves San Marco Avenue and St. George Street along their route a year in advance and guarantees them police protection for their protest. The next March for Life will take place on January 18th, 2014. Other information, such as speakers and whatnot will be collected as it is released. A number of our local affinities here in St. Augustine have agreed upon a counter-march with the understanding that we will have no such permit. It must also be understood that we do not wish to fall into the dichotomy of the choice-versus-life debate, but that our purpose is broader – our focus has more to do with total liberation from the patriarchy, going deeper than just abortion rights.

Our local resistance groups are small but dedicated, and we strive toward an end to all forms of oppression. The broader purpose of this counter-march pertains to the fact that reproductive rights are not specific just to cis women. Many of those affected by the patriarchy are Queer folks (including trans women, trans men, and genderqueer/non-binary folks), intersex folks, or sex workers – all of whom tend to be silenced or forgotten in the fight for just “women’s rights.” Many of the organizers for this counter-march identify as genderqueer or trans* and feel that the inclusion of Queer voices in the fight against patriarchy is essential to success.

With respect to the fact that there will be no “legal” permit for this counter-march, there are some things potential participants must know:

  • The March for Life is, and has always been, heavily police-protected. It is important to remember security culture – don’t ever talk to cops!
  • Facial coverings (masks, bandanas, etc.) are strongly encouraged for identity protection.
  • Black bloc attire is encouraged.
  • Bring glitter, condoms, smoke bombs, and whatever else you can think to throw (with the understanding that many people bring their poor,
    brainwashed children to this march).
  • Bring flags, banners, and shields because motherfucker, we mean business!
  • Bring friends! Safe, secure friends, to be sure, but friends! Numbers are power, and those conservative fucks have a whole lot of both.

This is not a protest, it is a confrontation. We plan to challenge our oppressors head-on. If you are uncomfortable with direct action, this action is not for you. If you plan to sabotage our efforts, we kindly request that you do not come.

Any and all interested should contact us at march4lib@riseup.net. Out-of-state folks are strongly encouraged to come and we will do whatever we can within reason to help facilitate transportation, food and board – that said, we are mostly a bunch of poor folks who depend upon one another for general sustenance, so mutual aid is encouraged and appreciated. See ya’ll in the streets!

Day 4, Last day at IDA June 8th – My Mom is a Dick

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Our last day at IDA was largely spent attempting to get a ride out and dealing with crazy communication problems and general chaos as the festival was still in full swing.  Lucky and I had not initially planned on leaving so early, but after getting a hold of my sister finally on Thursday, we were under the impression that we would be able to get a ride from Nashville on Saturday and that that would be the most convenient and ideal for my family.  This information turned out to be false.

I will spare the details of waiting around the camp with our gear packed while we waited for a ride and asked around, hoping and praying we’d be able to get to Nashville in time to be picked up and just skip to the part where we got a ride from a cool trans guy named Auggie who dropped us off at the Greyhound station where we said our goodbyes and wandered off on our merry way.  As we made our way downtown, we found out that we had come to Nashville in the middle of the CMA music festival, meaning that we had just walked into white redneck heaven.  Thankfully, we found shelter at a Panera bread where we could charge our phone, get some food and call my mom.  We had hoped to camp out there and wait for my sister to come give us a ride after she got off work, but our hopes were too high.

See, the reason we left early instead of staying at IDA the full five days is that my sister had told me that her friend, Mandy, was in Nashville that week and would be leaving on Saturday to go back to Martin where she and my mother live.  She also said that, though she worked that day, she would still find a way to get us home from Nashville (but she did not tell me when she was supposed to go to work, which matters to this story).  So, when we got into Nashville at 5:30pm despite our initial plan to be there by 1:00 or 2 at the latest, we were pretty peeved to find out that not only had Mandy left for Martin the night before, but that Kimmy, my sister, would be at work until 9:00.  Of course, there was nothing to be done about that, so we just waited at the Panera Bread and charged our phones, now and then talking to my mom and trying to figure out our next move.

Over the phone, my mother told me that Kimmy probably wouldn’t want to come get us so late after work being tired and all this, but I held out hope until Kimmy got home at which point, I learned that the second she stepped in the door, my mom took her car (the only available car) and went to her new boyfriend’s house where she stayed all night.  Kimmy expressed to me her fear of driving at night and falling asleep at the wheel as an excuse not to come get me after her car was returned (mom was supposed to only take an hour) and I expressed to her my anger at the fact that regardless of whether she intended to come get me, the only available car was taken for the night because our mom is selfish.  Essentially, Lucky and I were stranded.

After some wandering, we found a spot out of the way from the main roads so as not to attract unwanted attention and slept for a couple of hours underneath a tree.  Our initial plan as per Kimmy’s suggestion was to try sleeping at the Greyhound station because “hey, people do it all the time,” but the security pig there wouldn’t even let us in without a ticket – our packs made us an immediate target of pig attention while we were meandering about the city.  All the same, we made it through the night without much difficulty and the next day, Kimmy eventually came to get us (it took her six hours to make what is supposed to be a two hour drive at most because of a huge wreck on I-40) and I spent the next couple of weeks punishing mom by smoking all of her cigarettes.

Day 3 of IDA, June 7th – There Are No Things About Things…

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Lucky and I went back to the waterfall on acid – we had brought some with us and spent the first two days exploring to find an ideal place and time to take it. We could not have chosen a better place, the waterfall is absolutely amazing, and mystical and awesome (in the literal sense of inspiring awe). I had a mud bath and, instead of washing it off in the waterfall, I spent the rest of the day with my breasts bare and covered in a layer of clay – as it turns out, that was a great idea. The clay protected me from sunburn, bug bites and even, at one point, helped my breast heal after having been attacked by a thorny branch on the way back to the trail. I didn’t even notice the scratch until a couple of hours later, right under my nipple, and by then it was completely healed and the clay had kept it from getting irritated or infected.

Speaking of infection, remember that toothache I mentioned in the first post? And the root canal I refilled? See, my gums had been swollen for days since then and I was taking Ibuprofen to bring down the swelling because it’s an anti-inflammatory (also a blood-thinner, but we’ll get to that in a second) and I had no access to antibiotics (well, I did but the first person I talked to in the med tent didn’t offer me any, another thing we’ll get to in a second). Well, during lunchtime, about mid-trip, my gums busted open and I began bleeding rather profusely from my mouth. It only lasted about a minute or two and it wasn’t painful at all, just a bit bothersome but I went to the med tent and my fears were essentially put to rest. Turns out, I had had an infection in my gums, most likely from having had an open cavity. When I refilled that cavity without first treating the infection, it got trapped and my body had to find a way to expel it, which it could only do by bleeding the infection out, a reaction made easier by the Ibuprofen I had been taking for the swelling. I’m pretty proud of myself for having been able to take this all in and react well to profuse mouth bleeding on acid, honestly. But anyway, med tent person whose name I don’t recall obtaining gave me an herbal mouth wash; prickly ash, I think it was; which helped to disinfect the area and also to close up the tissue so that the bleeding would stop. If you’ve never used a prickly ash wash, it is not pleasant in the mouth hole. It actually felt like my tongue was swelling and bleeding out through my taste buds or something, it got really cool and, actually, felt pretty fucking prickly. My tongue tingled for a good few minutes after I took it, but it did help; the bleeding stopped and my face seemed to go back to normal, the swelling was gone pretty much the second the bleeding had started in the first place and all that was left to do was to keep up with basic dental hygiene with the addition of a salt water rinse at least three times a day for a week or two or however long it might take for the infection to go away and stay gone. I can happily say now that my teeth and gums are as good as they were before, despite the gingivitis I’ve probably had for years.

Backing up a notch, before the bleeding out of my mouth incident, Lucky and I had a good long tent trip. After getting back from the waterfall, we were ready to lie down and rest and be naked and alone. As wonderful as IDA is, tripping around large groups of people, even in a setting where it is completely accepted, can be very stressful and Lucky and I both experience social anxiety from time to time (theirs is a bit more severe and consistent than mine, but on acid, social situations are probably the most stressful thing we could imagine). That said, before wandering out into the common areas where people were and things were happening, we had to prepare ourselves so we hid in our tent for a while, undressed because naked is the official uniform of hallucinogens and began writing out ideas for how to create a new world in the shell of the old. We discussed the patriarchy of histories and the need for new histories – those of the oppressed, ignored and hidden third gender to the challenge the binary enforced under patriarchy. We came to recognize how all forms of oppression are connected to the patriarchy as the patriarchy is connected to them (it’s cyclical). We spent our time realizing things we knew but hadn’t been able to articulate in the same way – hierarchy begins with gender imbalances and the balance is needed back. All cultures have been affected/destroyed/appropriated in the name of dominance and expansion, structural characteristics of a patriarchal society. Basically, shit be fucked up and we aim to fix it.

On a slightly different note, Lucky and I attended a workshop about Queer herbs after the whole gum-bleeding incident which was a nice way to take my mind off of my teeth. Queer herbs refers to herbalism for gender transition and it was a very loose workshop, open to anybody with an interest and, while there wasn’t a great deal of information available, we were able to learn some things which we had not known before. For instance, I was initially under the impression that kudzu is just a shitty invasive species running rampant throughout Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky but, as it turns out, on top of being a hugely invasive species, it is also a fairly powerful phytoestrogen as well as a useful treatment for alcohol addiction because drinking alcohol with this plant will make you physically ill (in fact, I’m fairly certain this is true with most medicinal herbs and with quite a lot of Queer herbs, but perhaps not to the same extent). Another phytoestrogen is black cohosh, best paired with wild yam, according to several trans* fem people in the workshop, as the latter is heavy in progesterone. We focused quite a lot of femininizing herbs for transition because there is very limited info on that in general – most of the info I have found on herbal transition is for masculanization and while I’m sure their is a patriarchal reason for that, I also imagine it has something to do with how much harder “feminine” transition is as opposed to “masculine,” particularly since nobody seems to know of any natural anti-androgen (testosterone blockers), without which, physical changes are improbable at best and, if any do occur, they will be too slight to matter to any person who wishes for a full physical transition. Without anti-androgens, phytoestrogen supplements can only do so much, causing mostly psychological effects, but if the supplement is strong enough, it might also work for softening skin and facial features, but full breast growth might require a progesterone supplement and cannot be accomplished (at least not easily or quickly) without an anti-androgen. Lucky is suspicious of this lack of natural anti-androgens and has been doing further research on the subject in hopes of finding something promising – initially, she believed that chaste berries might have this effect because they were once used by monks to wipe out the sex drive and render themselves sterile, but they are incredibly dangerous in large doses and in small doses have the exact opposite effect. Lucky and I will be looking more into herbal transition for AMABs so that they can grow and harvest their own treatment instead of having to rely on shadily obtained pharmaceuticals.

As for my own transitional needs, I learned that pine pollen is pure testosterone. I have a feeling this might apply to most pollens, but I could be wrong and I’ve heard this about pine pollen specifically before. There are also a good number of mushrooms and fungi with high testosterone levels but I can’t remember many of the names. At some point during the workshop discussion, I started getting distracted by bugs and fractiles and things (lest we forget I was still trippin’ pretty hard) and once we started getting into AFAB transition, the discussion became a little difficult to follow because there were so many people pitching in so much different information and I, having forgotten my notebook, could no longer keep track. Anyway, I felt it would be more useful for me to remember as much of the AMAB stuff as possible because it is harder to find reliable information on that than it is to find things for AFAB transition. The most important thing I think I learned was that none of this has been studied and that any and all information about herbal gender transition has been and must be obtained through personal experience and (safe) experimentation. That said, if anybody knows anything more on the subject of herbalism and, particularly Queer herbs, or if I have said some things which are incorrect, please comment and let me know what more there is to know 🙂

Also, for those interested in herbal transition or who have experience with it, the person who facilitated the Queer herbs workshop has a mailing list at queerherbs@gmail.com for anybody interested in sharing their experiences or getting advice/information for their own experimentation.