Monthly Archives: May 2015

Well, That Worked Well… NOT!

Well, That Worked Well… NOT!

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It seems there’s more to this CSS stuff than meets the eye. Despite having followed the instructions I found, my redesign attempts didn’t work. So it’s back to the drawing board.

I thought I would be able to explain how I did it without getting too technical, but I can’t. So if you have no interest in page design and layout, or if you’re not interested in the technical aspects of a WordPress blog, you might want to skip this post entirely. And if you do skip it, you won’t hurt my feelings at all.

Still With Me?

Ah! The diehards! Since you’re still reading, you’re interested in learning how to do it yourself on your own blog. Or maybe you’re just interested in learning more about CSS. There is a third possibility, of course, and that is you’re enjoying my suffering, and laughing at my travails.

After all , I’ve only been working on this issue for the better part of a week, and I’m no nearer a solution than when I started.

WordPress has several plug-ins available that are supposed to allow the use of Google Fonts with no muss and no fuss. Yeah, right. I’ve tried most of them, and have had no luck with any of them. Today I even went so far as to download and install WordPress on my laptop, then downloaded all the files from this site, so I’d have an exact duplicate locally. My plan was to find where the default fonts are defined, and then modify that file to use the fonts I want.

I’m still looking…2 hours later.

My eyes are getting too bleary to make out what’s on the screen anymore, so I’ll shut down for the day and start fresh tomorrow.

For Arianna, On Being A Role Model

For Arianna, On Being A Role Model

(I wrote this in response to a question on Facebook)

Dear Sister,

For sisters we truly are. And as the “big sister,” I’m going to exercise my prerogative and sit you down for a lecture. No, not really! I am, however, going to share some insights I’ve gained over the years. You’re free, of course, to do what you like with them. You might agree with some of them, and some of them might even help you on this difficult and rocky road you’ve chosen.

Your mileage may vary; like you, I don’t claim to be a role model or a spokesman for anyone but myself.

Role models. It’s a word that people will use over and over again with you. At first, as it seems to be doing, it will piss you off. “I’m not a role model,” you will say, and rightly so. It’s not something we set out to be, and it’s definitely something we hate to have people say we are.

When I first began my transition, a little over 6 years ago, my trans “mother” told me something I’ve never forgotten, and it has helped me through some of the darkest hours. She said, “Transitioning is the hardest thing you will ever do in your life.” Yes, it’s been hard. It has cost me friends and family. But the hardest thing I will ever do? No. It hasn’t been that.

Hardest has been those times I’ve decided nothing was worth it, and looked lovingly at razor blades, pills, and so many other ways I’ve considered ending it.

Hardest has been putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to walk this path I have chosen, even when everything in my soul tells me I’m wasting my time.

Hardest has been realizing that–through simply trying to be who I am–I have become a role model for others. I never asked for it, I never wanted it, and I’m definitely not comfortable being it.

“You’re so strong!” they say. “You’re so brave!”

They don’t see the nights I’ve cried myself to sleep, realizing that I will never be the woman I want to be. The nights I’ve cried myself to sleep because I have a father and a daughter who won’t speak to me, grandchildren I’m not allowed to see because I’m a pervert, and I’m going to hell when I die.

They only see the makeup and the dresses and the forced smiles I have to show just to get through another day. They don’t see that even though I have a lot of trans friends and acquaintances, anything I write or say about my journey is only about my own journey–that I can’t speak and don’t pretend to speak for anyone else.

They don’t see the number of younger trans folk who write me asking for advice that I’m not qualified to give. And they don’t see you, Arianna, another trans woman who suddenly finds herself thrown into the unwanted roles of being both a role model and a spokesman for an entire community.

And that is so unfair to us.

So when asked, I always tell people that I’m not strong, that I’m not any kind of a spokesman for anyone but myself. Strong? No, I’m a coward. It’s cowardice, not strength, that keeps me going. Cowardice because I truly believe that if there is any kind of an afterlife, we start out there in the same condition we leave here, and I am too seriously fucked-up to want to start eternity in this condition.

And so I have no choice, really, but to keep going. To strive to be the strong, courageous woman that people think I am. Not to be that person for them, but to be her for me.

If that makes me a role model, then that’s just a price I have to pay to be myself.

My dream is to go back to school and get my Master’s degree so that I can be qualified as a counselor. I want to specialize in people–particularly young people–with gender issues. I hope to be a resource they can turn to, a resource who can honestly and without exaggeration, take someone by the hand, look into their eyes, and say, “I’ve been there. I know exactly what you’re going through. It’s painful, yes. But in the end, it is so worth it.”

So keep on hating the fact that people have forced you into the role of a role model. (Does that sentence even make sense?) Don’t try to live up to their expectations, or I guarantee you’ll fail. Just keep on doing what you are already doing: living up to your own expectations. When (not if) it gets too hard, reach out to a friend. Reach out to a sister.

Reach out to me.

Lovingly,

Robyn
(Your big sister)

A New Look For My Blog

A New Look For My Blog

I finally figured out how to fine-tune some of the settings on the blog. The default WordPress template used what I thought was too small a font size. Unfortunately, since I’ve grown older, my eyes aren’t what they used to be, and so I’ve found myself straining sometimes to see what I’ve written. I wanted to make the font larger, but I didn’t know quite how to do it.

I also wanted to change the font style. I’ve always preferred serif over sans-serif fonts, and I wanted to incorporate them as well.

After poking around on the web for most of the morning, I’ve found the solution. And, since I’m such a nice girl, I’m going to share the solution with all of you.

The Problem

The problem with using a special font in a blog or on a web page is that in order for you to see the same font that I’m using, you have to have the same font on your computer. That’s because the HTML that does the magic behind the scenes specifies both the font family and the font size to use. And if your computer doesn’t have that font installed, it will choose whatever you do have that’s close to what I specified.

In the old days of the Internet—say, the early 1990s—the only way to be sure that you saw exactly what I wanted you to see (as far as fonts are concerned) was for me to make my entire site a series of .PDF documents. This is a cumbersome system at best, would require you to download and install a .PDF reader (if you didn’t already have one), and would probably result in you saying, “Screw this!” and heading somewhere else.

So what is the solution? How can I be certain that the font you’re reading on the page is the one I wanted you to see?

Enter Google Fonts

Google fonts is a series of web-based fonts that are available for anyone to use for free. By using these fonts, I have assured myself that where I am using Gentium Book Basic 12 point font, you are seeing Gentium Book Basic 12 point font.

Without going into a lot of technical detail (which you can find here, if you’re interested—or if you’d like to use Google Fonts on your blog or web site), what I’ve done is told your browser not just the font to use but where to go to find it.

In plain English, you are now viewing my blog in the font that I wanted you to view it in, without having to actually have that font installed on your computer.

Other Font Magic

I’ve also specified a different font face and size for the various heading styles on the page. And if I wanted to, I could even change the color or the type. The possibilities are endless. The one thing I was careful to do is this: since I have about 20 different fonts in my Google Fonts collection, I only told the page to load those fonts that I’m actually using. To have it load all 20 would result in the pages taking my longer to load, and that can turn a lot of people off. I know it does me!

The Secret?

If you would like to use Google Fonts, you’ll need to know some basic HTML. But don’t panic! Google shows you exactly how to do it. All  you need to do is edit their example to reflect the specific fonts you wish to use, and edit the CSS behind your blog template.

Here’s how I did mine (using a WordPress-style template):


<link href=’http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lobster|Gentium+Book+Basic:400,400italic’ rel=’stylesheet’ type=’text/css’>
<style>
body {
font-family: ‘Gentium Book Basic’, serif;
font-size: 12pt;
}
h1 {
font-family: ‘Lobster’, cursive;
font-size: 36pt;
}

h2 {
font-family: ‘Lobster’, cursive;
font-size: 24pt;
}
h3 {
font-family: ‘Lobster’, cursive;
font-size: 18pt;
}
</style>


The beauty of style sheets is that I only need to do this one time for the entire site, as opposed to once for every blog entry. Another plus is that later on, if I decide to change the appearance again, I just have to modify the style sheet and the entire site will reflect the changes.

So what else can you do with style sheets? If I wanted to, I could change every single element of this blog, from the colors to a background image to the width of the reading area. You name it, a style sheet can change it.

And that, in a nut shell, is the magic behind the new look.

Catch you later!

Dear Wal-Mart

Dear Wal-Mart

Dear WalMart,

I recently read where you’re losing market share, and sales are down, resulting in lower profits. Might I make a suggestion as to where your problem might be?

Your store-brand butter sells for one price. You also sell a two-pack of the exact same butter. However, the two-pack sells for more than twice the price of the single pack. In other words, the price per pound is higher.

Another example is Tropicana Orange Juice. You sell if for $3.00 a bottle. But just as you do with the butter, the twin pack of the exact same product sells for more. Specifically, $6.98.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a degree in either marketing or business management. But I do have several semesters of economics courses, including Economics 100 (Introduction), Macroeconomics, and Microeconomics. And from what I can see, your pricing strategy violates basic principles as enunciated in Econ 100.

Or could it be that you figure (given the location of the stores in question) your customers are too stupid to notice these strange prices? (Actually, seeing them drive and park in your parking lots lends strong support to that theory.) But please, please stop insulting at least MY intelligence.

This seems to be standard practice in the two stores in which I shop. Bulk packages—the purpose of which is to save the shopper money—consistently cost more per unit (ounce, pound, etc.) than do smaller sized packages. What’s up with that?

 

Thank you.

Sincerely,
A Shopper Who Knows When She’s Being Shafted

On Genders, Binaries & Fluidities

On Genders, Binaries & Fluidities

Let’s Define Some Terms

Gender: (noun) the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones).

Sex: (noun) either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

Binary: 

(adjective)
1. relating to, using, or expressed in a system of numerical notation that has 2 rather than 10 as a base.
2. relating to, composed of, or involving two things.  “testing the so-called binary, or dual-chemical, weapons”

(noun)
1. the binary system: binary notation. “the device is counting in binary”
2. something having two parts.

Gender Fluid: (noun) Gender Fluid is a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is Gender Fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more boy some days, and more girl other days. Being Gender Fluid has nothing to do with which set of genitalia one has, nor their sexual orientation.

Gender identity: (noun) is a person’s private sense and subjective experience of their own gender. This is generally described as one’s private sense of being a man or a woman, consisting primarily of the acceptance of membership into a category of people: male or female.

Gender identity disorder (GID) or gender dysphoria is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe people who experience significant dysphoria (discontent) with the sex and gender they were assigned at birth. (I have a lot to say about this later in this post. In the meantime, just remember that these are the same “experts” who for so many years considered homosexuality a mental disorder.)

Cisgender: (adjective) denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex; not transgender.

Masculine:

adjective: having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness. “He is outstandingly handsome and robust, very masculine”
synonyms: virile, macho, manly, muscular, muscly, strong, strapping, well built, rugged, robust, brawny, heavily built, powerful, red-blooded, vigorous

noun: the male sex or gender. “the masculine as the norm”

Feminine:

adjective:
1. having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness. “a feminine frilled blouse”
synonyms: womanly, ladylike; girlish; soft, delicate, gentle, graceful; girly “a very

noun: the female sex or gender. “the association of the arts with the feminine”

A Rule To Remember

This is the perfect time to remind you that unless I specifically quote or cite other sources, everything on this blog site is my own opinion. I do not nor can I speak for anyone other than myself, so don’t use my words as an “all trans people are like this.”

Just like every other person on the planet, we are individuals. We have our own thoughts and feelings, and no one can presume to speak for any group. Besides, my opinions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings change over time.

This post is a perfect example of my changing ideas.

Who Am I?

All ideas of existential angst aside, I am a trans woman; that is, I was born into a male body, but I identify as female. I don’t consider myself “a woman trapped in a man’s body” (although at one time I did, before my knowledge increased). I did have a couple of women friends say that I was a lesbian trapped in a man’s body once. And that was prescient, since I hadn’t yet come out or, indeed, realized who I was.

So I identify at various times as wife, mother, daughter, sister, and grandmother. But that’s not really who I am; after all, I also call myself a writer, blogger, photographer, and baker. All these things are only parts of who I am: they are not who I am.

Some Background

For the longest time, once I understood the reasons I never felt as if I quite “fit in,” I considered myself a trans woman. Later, as my views evolved, I started to understand what it meant to be gender fluid. To paraphrase an old candy commercial, “sometimes I feel like I’ve nuts, sometimes I don’t.” In other words, although I mostly identify and present as female, there are still times when the boy comes through. So in this sense, I guess I’m gender fluid.

Not that I have ever been comfortable with the gender binary. It’s like the Kinsey scale as it pertains to sexual identity. Alfred Kinsey discovered that the majority people identify not as exclusively heterosexual or exclusively homosexual, but rather somewhere along a continuum of sexualities.

Science today is discovering that the same thing holds true of gender—which is, after all, merely a social construct. And to me, all that being gender fluid means that I’m quite comfortable living on a continuum…

…most of the time:

genderfluid


Gender Identity Disorder, and Why It’s Frustrating

I consider the fact that my gender doesn’t match my sex to be an unfortunate fact of life. And fortunately, there are things I can do to bring my sex more in line with my gender. Indeed, I am already doing some of those things: I take a testosterone blocker, and I take estrogen supplements. All well and good.

But even with new insurance “reforms,” all too many of us are locked into a Catch-22. I’m referring specifically to sex reassignment surgery (initialized as SRS; also known as gender reassignment surgery (GRS), genital reconstruction surgery, sex affirmation surgery, gender confirmation surgery, sex realignment surgery, or, colloquially, a sex change).

Why do I call it a Catch-22? Because in order to obtain necessary treatment (indeed, it is life-saving in so many cases), we have to claim that we have a recognizable and diagnosed disorder, in spite of the fact that very few of us who experience it consider it to be a disorder.

Consider: if you had been born with amblyopia (aka lazy eye), you could simply consult with an ophthalmologist, schedule your surgery, and have it corrected. You wouldn’t be required to consult with a psychiatrist both before and after your surgery, nor would you be required to live for a full year as someone with normal vision before you could get the surgery.

But that is exactly what I would have to do before I could get my necessary surgery. Why do I say it’s necessary?

According to surveys, 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population has self-reported a suicide attempt, with that number climbing to between 10 and 20 percent for lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents. By comparison, 41 percent of trans or gender non-conforming people surveyed have attempted suicide.

The most recent, comprehensive data on suicide attempts was gathered by The Williams Institute, in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Its report, Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults, analyzed responses from 6,456 self-identified transgender and gender non-conforming adults (18+) who took part in the U.S. National Transgender Discrimination Survey. The results are staggering. (http://www.vocativ.com/culture/lgbt/transgender-suicide/)

In the case of trans gender people, SRS can truly be a matter of life or death. And yet in order to qualify for it, I have to live as a woman for a full year before I am eligible. I would have to see a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist both before and after my surgery. And above all, I would have to “admit” that there is something wrong with me mentally.

This is the only type of reparative treatment that has these kinds of requirements.


What it All Means

To me, in practical terms, it means that I am no longer worrying or wondering about who I am: I accept myself as I am, with all my questions and wonderments. And having accepted me, I like myself. I’m comfortable with myself. Above all, I respect, admire, and love myself—and none of this is affected by any labels other people may hang on me.