Resurrecting Transgender Science

So something interesting and unexpected has happened: Transgender Science is coming back.

For those who weren’t around: in 2013 I started a Tumblr blog where I intended to blog about science and health issues of interest to transgender people. At the time I envisioned myself being a science journalist, doing research, writing long articles, etc. I had some fun with it for awhile and it got some responses, but about a year ago it fell off my priority list and died off. No one seemed to miss it so I didn’t make an effort to bring it back. A few months ago I let the URL expire and ported all the articles back to this blog.

Fast forward to last week, where I ran across some articles I felt would have been well suited for TransSci. Since my Facebook and Twitter feeds for TransSci were still out there with followers, tossed the links on them. And to my surprise, I got some positive responses! Facebook, in particular, seemed to latch onto the posts I made — I think maybe “transgender” is a hot term in its algorithms right now — and I began to see Likes and comments on the FB page. So I found some more links, put them up, and got more Likes, more feedback.

If there are people interested, I’m going to keep posting stuff. I’m going to keep it to social media for now — no separate blog again, for sure! — and I’m not going to push myself to do a lot of writing for it. Links and commentary, mostly, with maybe the occassional article appearing on this blog.

You can find TransSci on Facebook and Twitter. Please feel free to Like/Follow if you’re interested. The archived articles from 2013-2014 are here.

Go Read This M:tG Story

I do not read Magic: the Gathering fiction normally. I don’t know who the Mardu are, I’ve never learned of the naming rituals of orcs, and I have no idea why the  brood of the Kolaghan is on the attack. But I do know good fiction when I read it, and the M:tG short story “The Truth of Names” is a pretty good read. You can read it here.

Honestly, I really, really wish I’d written this story. Also, I really want her card now. In fact, I wonder what a deck built around her would look like …

Tara’s back!

Trying to get back in the writing habit this month, and it’s been a struggle. Inspiration is a fickle things influenced by too many random variables, and the random variables have not been coming up in my favor since Christmas. As it turns out, writing is somewhere higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy than is the life I have been living of late.

I was also stuck on what turned out to be a tricky moment in The Trials of Tara Titan (hereafter TTT because why not?). It was sort of a denouement moment for the current “issue,” AND I wanted to drop some plot hints, AND I wanted to insert a new recurring character. But I’m finally done, and the new part is up. It’s the second-longest part I’ve posted.

Tara Titan 2.5: Brother Tiresias

If you read it and like it, please consider voting for it and leaving a comment. Both help me gain ranking and views on Wattpad.

 

A Statement About My Voice

I had a new episode of Skeptoid release recently, and it’s happened again: I’m getting shitty comments about my voice. I have been misgendered.  I have been told I don’t sound “natural.” I have been compared to one of the Venture Brothers. In short, let’s just say that this week has not been a good one for my dysphoria.

To those put off by my voice: I’m sorry that my voice isn’t able to sound like a cis woman’s voice. It’s not a cis woman’s voice, and so far I have failed in my attempts to make it sound like a cis woman’s voice. Voice training is difficult and so often feels futile. Everything I do in life gets judged to impossible-to-meet cis standards, and my voice is one of the worst in terms of my transition so far. It’s a tell I can’t seem to do anything about.

But you know what? It’s my voice. Stop shaming me for it. Your standards are cisnormative and transphobic, and if you don’t like my voice I invite you to read the transcript of my episodes and kindly keep your comments to yourself.

Ali’s First Christmas

It’s my first Christmas as Alison, and in many ways I have never been happier.

The blog has died down in recent weeks, but I’m not stressing about it. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, both over at Wattpad and in a private writing group where I’m blazing on a novel. It feels good.

Life just feels good, generally. My first Christmas as myself, both in my heart and on my driver’s license, is something I’ve wanted for a long time. I was so close to it last year, but it was a few days after Christmas that I came out to my kids and more than a month later before I started telling everyone. To be here now, a year later, finally whole … the feeling can’t be quantified. It just is.

Oh! And I was recently interviewed for an article in the Toledo Blaze, a thing that happened because someone read the Skeptoid article I wrote on Christmas last year. So that was pretty cool.

There are a lot of things I could be complaining about right now, job and money chief amongst them, but there will be time for that after the holidays.  I will also write more regularly on the blog again after the new year. The next few days are about my kids, my family, and my Self.

Happy holidays, everyone.

Tara Sue

About a decade ago, my brother-in-law loaned me his copy of City of Heroes. At the time I was craving an MMORPG but didn’t feel that I had the time to invest in World of Warcraft. CoH seemed like a good choice — it felt more casual to me, and it was in a genre I loved.

Character creation in CoH was pretty standard for superhero games — decide on a power type, choose powers, set your costume, and on your way. I decided to make a “strong” character based on a technology power type. So I made a tall, well-muscled woman with a long blonde ponytail and a cybernetic arm (and maybe leg, too — I don’t recall anymore). She basically punched really hard, jumped really high, and had a few other powers. No lasers, no cape [“NO CAPES!”], no weapon. Just a girl with a big punch who was taller than all the other female PCs I encountered. I named her Tara Titan because she was so tall and strong (named after the Greek Titans, of course) and because name alliteration is a standard comic book trope (e.g., Silver Surfer, Peter Parker, Martian Manhunter, etc.).

I’m not going to admit that Tara was some kind of Mary Sue for my trans self at the time, but she was endemic of the kind of characters I always played in MMOs: female, pretty but not sexy, and always the very first character I created in a game. My alt character was always male, I guess to take the curse off it; but I never played that male alt much. My female PCs were always the first to reach the level cap. The only thing that made Tara stand out from the rest was than I didn’t give her some variation of a name with Ali in it.

Something about the Tara Titan concept stuck around long after I stopped playing CoH. I liked her, liked the idea of her, and eventually recruited her into my fiction. Tara’s journey from a City of Heroes PC to the leading P.O.V. character in the superhero opus I’ve been composing in my head since middle school is not a story easily told. It’s just one of the creative quirks in my head: eventually, every idea of value I have seems to get swept up in the Touched. My brain is wired for epic world-building. You’d think, given such a proclivity, that I would be the kind of nerd who obsesses over Tolkien’s Silmarillion or who knows the name of every midshipman on the USS Enterprise, but you’d be wrong. I don’t enjoy being a fan of such universes. I just want to build my own.

I tell this story merely as backdrop to this week’s big Wattpad experiment. I thought you might want to know a little about where she came from … and why certain story events are about to happen. It’s weird sometimes; once an idea digs in I don’t like to change it so much as make it fit the story. Tara is no longer a technology hero, but the original had that cybernetic arm and there’s a fragment of that concept that I just couldn’t let go. I will be interested to see how it plays out on the page.

There are four segments of The Trials of Tara Titan published right now, clocking in at over 5,000 words, and I hope to have another 1,000 up by the end of the day. Give it a read, why don’t’cha? Thanks.

The Trials of Tara Titan

Last week was a bit of a derailing for my writing. I’m back on track though this week, and I have begun writing something I’ve wanted to get serious about for a long time.

Tara_Cover_NewI have tried for years to get a story out of my head. Honestly, there are many stories in there clamoring for attention, but one in particular has been in my heart and in my head since quite literally middle school, where the first seeds of the idea planted themselves. I have tried and failed in the past to tell some part of this story, including a spectacular fail at writing a “Twitter novel” back around 2008. Now, I think that both the idea and my own writing have matured to the point where the story can be told in full

The overarching series concept is called The Touched. Put briefly, it’s my take on a superhero mythology. Emphasis on the mythology, because my superheros derive their super abilities not from mutation or accident or alien intervention, but from the myths and legends of yore. Thor and Wonder Woman are probably the popular heroes closest to what I mean, though my own ideas are a unique take on things — at least, I like to think so. It’s a concept that has slowly consumed a lot of ideas over the years, not to mention a lot of my personal views on the world. The resultant story is so much bigger than I ever expected it to be. It’s daunting to think about telling it all.

There’s plenty to tell about the world of the Touched, but for now I’m just going to sit back and let readers discover it as it comes. The first serial, The Trials of Tara Titan, is already started on Wattpad, which will be my de facto platform for now. By the time this post publishes there will be four parts of Tara Titan’s story online with more to follow soon. Tara’s story is a long one that will probably continue the way comic serials continue, for a long time to come.

A second short serial, tentatively titled Under a Violent Moon, will probably begin just after the new year. That story has a definite end (think like a comic book miniseries). You’ll meet the hero, Leila, along with Tara before UaVM starts.

Suffice to say that any success in this venture boosts my ability to write as a professional. Wattpad books have become published books; Wattpad writers have become bestselling writers. So please, if you like what I do here, click through and read what I’ve written so far. And if you like what you read please follow the story on Wattpad [one more account isn’t going to kill you] and please vote for my story so that it gets more visibility and hopefully readers. Wattpad can be a big boost for the right stories. I think mine can be one of them.

Becoming a Statistic

I am scattered this week. I can’t focus on writing, or really on anything. This post was supposed to go up yesterday, but I just didn’t get to it.

I am feeling the crush of becoming a statistic. In 2009, the NCTE found that transgender people suffer twice the rate of unemployment as cisgender people. A follow-up study in 2011 confirmed that number and also reported that 41% of transgender people are underemployed (i.e. have a job but it doesn’t pay a living wage).

I had hoped to avoid falling into this category. When I lost my job in June I knew I had six months of safety net before things got bad. In the meantime I have picked up some part-time work and sent out a ton of resumes; but my safety net is basically gone and I have very little to show for it. I did not make enough money last month to cover my mortgage, let alone all my other expenses. This month will be worse, as the last of my reserve cash runs out. I am underemployed and I am struggling to change that fact.

Dozens of resumes have led to three contacts back, two face-to-face interviews, and one (so far) rejection letter. I have a job prospect that I am hopeful for, but I am also nervous as Hell because this is about the best bet I’ve had come up in the past three months. I need a job. Ideally, I need this job, ideally, so that I can maintain my professional credentials and not break an 18-year career employment streak. The silence is deafening, though.

I’ve had to return to my anxiety meds to sleep at night the last few days.

I’m not in a truly awful place … yet. I have some classes lined up for next semester and I’m trying to add more. But this is not going to be a fun Christmas, and I’m only going to hold off the collection calls for so long once all the cash runs out.

Sorry that this is just random bitching. Sometimes I need this blog to just say things out loud. Please, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t bother to comment. It’s my blog, I can cry if I want to. I will return to more valuable content later this week.

Writing Music: Zella Day

In keeping with the theme of “not doing my usual thing” this week, I’m not covering one album in this post. Instead, I’m going to introduce you to an artist I just discovered recently: Zella Day.

I first heard Day’s music when Spotify dropped her song “Sweet Ophilia” into a random mix I was listening to. The song stuck in my head, literally — I was humming it for the rest of the day. I am not good with modern music, so I can’t say for sure what she sounds “like”, but I’ve seen her described as “indie pop” and “bohemian pop.” Whatever; it’s good music.

She hasn’t released a lot of music — just an EP and a couple singles — but it’s all worth a listen. I’ve linked to the EP on the right (it’s a Spotify player, but you shouldn’t need an account to listen).

I don’t know how much she’ll make her way into my regular writing mixes, but so far I enjoy her sound. I think you will, too.

Weep for the Future (Story)

I’m playing with story samples again this week, both to test things out on a technical level and to drum up at least a little interest in my fiction on the reader level. Plus, I have a job interview today that I’m a little stressed about and I’m not in the most focused frame of mind for blogging.

The story below is very short–it’s more of a vignette, really–and I know I posted a version of it on a blog before (not this one though). It’s actually based on a real incident I experienced while tutoring once, though I’ve fictionalized everything of course. I swear to you, the final line in the story is an exact quote.

Download (PDF, 58KB)