On Gifts

Shunning, Shaming, Renaming is a moving piece by Rachel Cohen-Rottenburg about the power of reclaiming your identity while navigating disability and ostracism. I recommend you read it now.

There seems to be a desire on the part of abled people to try to balance the unpleasantness of disability with a belief that it somehow confers gifts equal or exceeding the burden of illness.  There seems to be a tendency to conflate a person’s mental illness and their gifts, whatever those are, as though the former caused the latter, as though they were inseparable.

There’s also a tendency to say that adversity brings enlightenment – often true – and that therefore adversity is, in itself, a positive thing, even when that takes the form of being severely disabled.  Even when that takes the form of being suicidal.  People want to believe that misfortune bears gifts.  Worse still is when these sentiments are expressed with envy.

I have a big problem with that.

Pirate maps are awesome.

I accomplished this in spite of depression.

The fact that I can bring beauty and goodness out of badness is something beautiful and good about me, not beautiful and good about badness.  It is a skill I developed out of necessity – if I had not, I would get nothing out of it.  If you must fight bears, it’s good to learn to use their hides and bones as armor and weapons.  Better still is not having to fight bears. Continue reading

Respecting Ignorance: Nope.

Once again from the turgid sea of content that is Tumblr, I bring you something relevant to my interests.

The (lovely and you should be following her) Iridessence got asked the following question.

In response to your “Respect Gender Pronouns” post. I can respect the proper pronouns, but not everyone knows them or is able to tell what someone is. I don’t like it when people get seriously offended when they are called the wrong pronoun by someone that they don’t even know. How is that person supposed to know what you want to be called?

Can there be respect for ignorance too? For those that are old fashioned or just plain unaware of new pronouns?

Respect ignorance.  That’ll be a bumper sticker any minute now.

Iridessence’s excellent answer: “You should probably ask a trans person, since even if it were my place to answer, I’m not sure how to.”

It didn’t actually address the asker’s concerns, though, so here’s my answer, edited slightly for clarity.

Respect Gender Pronouns patch from TheChurchofHotCoffee on Etsy.

This awesome patch and many others are available from TheChurchofHotCoffee on Etsy.

I’m female-leaning genderfluid who was born female and passes as female. It ain’t my place to speak for everyone, and I have a shitton of privilege and am sort of waffly on where exactly I fit in, so I don’t know if I can rightly put forth an opinion on behalf of trans* folks, but I have to say, as a member of other marginalized groups:

“Can there be respect for ignorance, too?”

NO.  Indulgence and possibly understanding, and respect for the people themselves, but for the actual ignorance, no, not ever, NEVER, respect.  You do not respect ignorance.  Ignorance is the water that passively allows the poison of hate to fucking spread, and as it is harmful, it is not something that compels respect. Continue reading