Awareness: A Double Edged Sword

For this International Intersex Awareness Day, I’m sharing an excerpt from “The fight to end intersex surgeries at a top hospital took a deep toll on activists” by Kate Sosin. (This August 2020 story was published by The 19th, ‘a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy’. You can find the original article here.)

A quote to help contextualize the title:

Lurie’s end to intersex surgeries marks a watershed moment for intersex rights. Lurie is ranked among the top pediatric hospitals in the nation, and intersex rights activists hope that other hospitals follow suit.

But for advocates like Wall, the campaign has also taken a deep toll. Pagonis and Wall garnered support and educated the public by sharing intimate personal stories. It’s largely considered disrespectful for reporters to ask transgender people about their surgeries or genitalia. Intersex activists don’t have that luxury yet, says Hans Lindahl, director of communications for youth intersex organization InterAct.

“Something that we say a lot is that we have not yet had our Laverne Cox moment,” said Lindahl. “We’re still so under the purview of being medicalized that I think there’s a pressure that we almost have to tell these stories at this point in our movement in order to get people to listen.”

PCOS & Hormones

Honestly, hormones are complicated, and I felt a little out of my depth just reading an introduction to how hormones can get whacky with menstruation [PCOS and You: WTF Do Hormones Even Do? by ~butts-bouncing-on-the-beltway]. Luteinizing hormone, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, etc. There’s a hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis, and everything. I am not an expert, and I’m alright not becoming one.

However, PCOS more or less involves a hormonal imbalance that your body maintains as its setpoint instead of what’s considered normal. I’ve got the hyperandrogenic type, which is the most common type, so when the blood test was run, I came back with “high” levels for a perisex female. Metaphorically speaking, it’s a bit like having two recipes where one calls for 1 cup of testosterone and the other calls for 3 quarts (or 12 cups). Between these two choices, having 3 cups is an awful lot for the one recipe, but nowhere near high enough for the other. Keeping in mind that this is a simple example that doesn’t take into account other hormones (like changing the estrogen and progesterone levels, so the ratio of testosterone is high even if it’s still 1 cup).

My point is that PCOS can lead to a hormonal balance that doesn’t align with the perisex female recipe, and it may be somewhere ‘in between’ either perisex recipe, which means it can fall under a hormonal area of intersex experiences. Not every person with PCOS does in fact consider themselves to be intersex, but I didn’t pull this out of nowhere (see: link 1, link 2, link 3, and link 4). I’m comforted by framing PCOS as being hormonally intersex instead of a ‘broken perisex female in need of fixing’, but it’s also taken most of 2020 for me to really self-internalize that I’m allowed to opt-in to calling myself intersex.

Corona-Blogging 5

Because Pillowfort doesn’t have an in-site draft feature, I’ve had to get used to collecting links and building my drafts in a google doc, which isn’t horribly difficult after transitioning to building my WordPress drafts in a similar manner. However, it has meant that I’m more active on PF compared to WP relatively speaking. Fingers crossed that’ll change.

Pillowfort:

(*) Posted early instead of the 10th. That thing I came down with at the end of June? While it can’t be lab confirmed or count as a probable case (see this post), I’m confident it was/is Covid-19. I’ve been mentally out of commission for a bit. (I started this draft in late July or early August, but I’m just now getting to finish it, in October. I haven’t done any Pillowfort updates about symptoms recently, but I’m honestly not sure when the periodic fevers are going to stop or if some ‘symptoms’ are more like side effects I’ll just have to deal with.) I’m not 100% sure when I can say that I’m done with having Covid-19 (and switch to ‘I had it’).

PCOS Awareness Month

At the end of 2019, I hesitantly pencilled into my Google doc of writing ideas that I would like to post about PCOS. I aimed for coming up with one post a month for 2020, and then I got sidetracked by a global pandemic and other events. So, I’m changing things slightly by starting in September and hopefully getting to September 2021.

I’ve found mention of September being PCOS Awareness Month prior to US federal recognition in 2017, but I’ve got to admit that I don’t really feel comfortable wading through the ‘cyster / cysterhood’ and ‘fight like a girl’ material to get to any timelines, an explanation for why teal is the awareness color, or why September is the specific month. I tend to get redirected to PCOS Challenge for US information, and despite a hint that Verity started with an awareness week in the UK in 2010, most searches still seem to focus on the current awareness month.

I can’t say it’s impossible to find this information. I’m just not having much luck with trying to weed out 2020 events, Wear Teal For Me / Reveal the Teal, and trying to avoid most promotional material focusing on cis women as the only ones “suffering” from PCOS. I did find a historical tidbit that the earliest known reference to what we now call PCOS comes from 1721 in Italy, though (PCOS wiki source). There’s also something moderately funny sounding about using the name Stein-Leventhal Syndrome from 1935.

Corona-Blogging 4

If I focus on crossposting/rewriting posts, I don’t have to think about how the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing, right?

Pillowfort:

  • #hitching post – #1 (June 6th), #2 (June 12th), #3 (June 20th), #4 (June 26th)
  • Responding to AUREA’s ‘The Importance of Representation’ here.
  • Repost – Discussing White Deaf Privilege (copied the title of the video shared). US focused discussion of Black Deaf and White Deaf history. Interviewee includes lived experiences with racism and talks about current events as well.

I went from thinking that it was a little bit weird to have been affected by a particular solarpunk to anarchy cluster of blogs to already recognizing mutual aid and being able to link to resources at the start of the pandemic to posting/reblogging a few intro anarchy explanations for people confused by the claim that anarchists were to blame for XYZ at a Black Lives Matter protest. I went from seeing police and prison abolition content from anarchists to seeing a lot of people talking about this. (They don’t need me to do this, but I’m plugging Kite Line’s episode Beyond Reform, which talks about some people combining different reform ideas with abolition phrasing in less than helpful ways.) It’s a lot.

Yeah, I’m aware that I haven’t been posting here on WordPress much. I also didn’t exactly do the June theme for the Carnival of Aros [here]. As a heads up, July’s probably not going to be horribly active on the posting front. Towards the end of June, I came down with Something, and I’m uploading this particular post a few days late because I’m still in the Eh Zone. Fingers crossed, it will go the fuck away on its own in about a week.

Resonant Vibes

For context, I ran into TTR’s tumblr post back in March:

panace-void:

i find it interesting that i’ve so far seen heathens attributing covid-19 to Loki and hellenic pagans attributing it to Apollo, both with the reasoning “it’s just like them to force us to acknowledge the flaws in our system”

kemetics, which god do you volunteer as the rightful sender of this virus?

smarmykemeticpagan:

I feel somewhat uncomfortable with rhetoric attributing 50,000 deaths (and counting) worldwide to divine justice, it reminds me of that “everything happens for a reason”/“God will never put you through something you can’t handle” shit. I don’t think a god sent the virus so much as that I’m counting on my gods to use this disaster to bring attention to the already unconscionable and increasingly precarious state of the world we live in; the assumptions we make about how it works, how it must work, how it will always work.

[…] I don’t think things will ever go back to normal, and I know following Set for seven years before a disaster happened helped prepare me for it -even if we were to assume the gods weren’t real, the act itself has helped me cope both practically and mentally with the rapid changes needed to my expectations, point of view, and lifestyle. That’s how I see the Dread Initiator in this instance; not as the source of the virus, but as the possibility of learning and changing, hopefully as a group, through the difficult and confusing days to come.

satsekhem:

I agree with smarm’s sentiment. We should not be attributing any of this to any of our gods for the reasons they listed.

That said, in the FB groups I’m in, I’ve seen an uptick in people trying to appease Sekhmet. She was the ancient Egyptian deity that was the giver and healer of plagues, so the people, in their fear, turn to her to stop it.

I don’t agree with what they’re doing but I’m also not going to shit all over people who are terrified. They’re turning to their religion (just as everyone else has done in the past or is currently doing) in a time of crisis.

thetwistedrope:

To me, this virus is a thing that exists in the natural world, not sent by anyone, it just /is/.

If I had to attribute it to anything in our pantheon, I’d attribute it to isfet. Particularly our response to it.

Since illnesses were often attributed to Sekhmet, I get why people are invoking her. I would, if only to ask her to help to heal people, not because I think she needs pacification to take it back. The Egyptians may have believed that illness came at the hands of the gods, but we know better now and should act accordingly.

I’ve met my fair share of Christians who seem to think this is god’s way of teaching us a lesson. I’d like for the polytheist community to not give into that abusive and destructive line of thinking, tbh.

I also ran into a related sequel from TTR:

this is your unfriendly reminder that climate change is gonna make it easier and more likely for us to have more pandemics in the future.

instead of saying its gods and whatnot bringing this down on us, let’s blame the actual source: climate change brought on by unsustainable capitalistic structures.

While I definitely feel like Dad’s coming through in terms of ‘less static’ when communicating and a resonant vibe for these times, I don’t feel like He’s involved in the sense of being the one to blame as the origin point. I don’t want to knock anyone turning to their deities as a coping mechanism because that’s a human thing to do, but I’m uninvested in the idea – or the hope – of divine intervention. Personally, it just edges a little too close to certain Protestant Xtians calling one natural disaster after another a sign from their deity that the world needs to repent, turn away from its ‘sinful’ ways, and the disaster could be diverted. I can understand that it’s terrifying to be met with the prospect of living right by your deity being irrelevant right now, but I like TTR’s phrasing that the coronavirus simply is.

Or to put this another way for the Heathens, Asatruar, and related Pagans who don’t like associating with certain deities they think may (or will) influence the end times: I don’t think Fenrir set the coronavirus loose as a means of bringing about Ragnarok. I don’t think Jormundgand, Loki, Hela, or really, any particular deity did. Is it possible that you’re upset that one of your deities didn’t warn you, or you think Someone is spinning the pandemic to Their advantage? I don’t get all up in Otherworldly politics, I don’t do the oracle thing, and I don’t think it makes a difference if someone expected divine protection because of whatever personal reason they had. The pandemic is here, and we humans have to figure some of this shit out on our own.

After writing all that, I can’t deny that I sometimes get a ping of feeling like something is rather Fenrir-esque. The societal paralysis and the lockdown in March and April reminded me of the sword and anchor point. While the telling of Fenrir’s Binding focuses on Gleipnir itself, there’s also the little detail of a sword being plunged through His tongue and anchoring His jaw to a stone. Y’know, to really make sure He doesn’t move. (I don’t view quarantine measures as being equivalent to Him being Bound, but that’s more because I view Fenrir’s state as being similar to solitary confinement in prison, which is not the same as sheltering in place.) The [US] government (in)action, the economic effects (I’m not sure if it’s an official recession), and the societal unrest as Destruction (or the ending of an old system that doesn’t work) feel like some sort of Fenrir vibe.

Aside: Literal destruction also seems up His alley, too. My gut impression says that Loki fits with planned destruction and having some sort of strategy, while Fenrir fits with destruction as a means of releasing rage and pent-up emotions. However, that’s definitely an unverified personal hunch on my part.

I don’t really have a definite ending, and I suspect that my interpretation of some of these associations may change as the pandemic progresses, a vaccine rolls out, and we leave this fake ‘back to normal’ stage of denying the pandemic is still ongoing. That seems a bit of a downer to end on though, so here’s a throwback:

May you never howl alone.

Corona-Blogging 3

I’ve mostly done behind-the-scenes stuff this month {written for May 2020, but posted in June}. In no particular order:

I worked out placeholder summaries from fic notes for Ophiuchus Ch 23 and the four Parts of the Darkling series.

I got through spontaneously eye leaking. Fuck pollen, and fluctuating weather (the potential for snow Mother’s Day weekend and then 80*F the next week), and this stye.

In the process of writing the long post about aro diversity and trauma (the one that talked about caedromantic), I poked around on Pillowfort (PF). I’ve seen some tumblr and WordPress posts link to posts and comments on PF before, but I haven’t really done a lot of browsing before now. {ETA: I made a fort, and I started working on crossposting/rewriting old Carnival entries.}

Some other notes on what’s happened this month:

Unfortunately, Ohio is attempting what it calls a ‘Responsible Restart’ plan.

Ohio rolled out a form for employers to report employees refusing to work, which was variably called a ‘snitchform’ or ‘snitchline’ because this could lead to those employees being unable to claim unemployment insurance (more or less punishing them for not returning to work).

More than one hacker kept a script that could flood the form with junk data going until the form was removed while it’s “under revision pending policy references” [direct quote from Covid-19 Fraud website; accurate as of May 25th].

{May 25th, 2020: The killing of George Floyd.}

May Carnival of Aros (DIY)

A Carnival of Aros Call for Submissions went out on May 15th centered around “DIY” [Do It Yourself]. {A tumblr crosspost will go up after the deadline to prevent link confusion.}

What I had penciled in to write about: Knitting.

What I got sidetracked by: Digital flags appear to be created without considering how difficult, if not impossible, the colors used are to find in physical materials like yarn. (Mentioned in a Pillowfort post about flag culture.)

What I inevitably wound up contemplating: The global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, how not everyone accepts an event as trauma, and how quarantine may provide the push to question certain aspects of amatonormativity or one’s identity.

What I wrote: “Thoughts On Aro Diversity & Trauma”.

tl;dr Trying to research the history and usage of a so-called uncommon identity (per AUREA glossary organization) is difficult. I don’t actually know that anyone will question amatonormativity or their identity during quarantine and/or this pandemic in any way that may relate to the aro community, and I don’t know if they’ll actually find any terms from the aro community useful. Despite speculating on a term that I wish I could’ve found when I was questioning, I don’t think creating a new label is necessary because the underlying desire could be addressed with exposure to a range of aro narratives outside of a static ‘I’ve  always been aro’ perspective.

What felt relevant, but I couldn’t really think of a way to naturally work into my already long and rambling post: A Pillowfort post about glossaries. There’s some interesting comments, but I particularly pulled out this to quote from the post itself, “There’s really something to be said about glossaries […] and how they obscure the internal development, debates, diversity, and complexity around particular identities, in favor of quick sound-bite definitions”.

What I still have not written: Anything about knitting.