Monthly Archives: December 2017

Body Impolitic’s 2017 Guide to Sane Holidays


Debbie says:

Laurie is on vacation, so this is my version of our annual list. This is (mostly) for folks who celebrate the upcoming holidays, and are fortunate enough to have people and resources to celebrate with; if you don’t fit that group, skip to the bottom. If you do fit, then even if your family are your favorite people and you look forward all year to the holidays, you still may find useful hints here.

1 – You have a right to enjoy things in your own way. To the extent possible, do as much or as little holiday stuff as you want; it’s supposed to be a celebration, not an obligation.

2 – Spend time with people who know you’re awesome. If you must spend time with people who are toxic, remind yourself three times (out loud) in your last alone moments before seeing them that they are toxic. Then do something really nice for yourself the minute you are out of their presence. (If they are not just toxic but abusive, here’s some excellent advice.)

3 – Eat what you enjoy and don’t eat what you don’t enjoy. Desserts are not sinful, they’re just desserts, and relatives who push you to eat (or not to eat) are not in charge of your choices. If you have a history of eating disorders, or currently struggle with them, this may help.

4 – Wear what you think you look terrific in; accept compliments and ignore digs about your clothes.

5 – Plan your responses to inevitable comments beforehand. If you have family members who support the deplorable U.S. administration, you do not have to put up with racist, Islamophobic, anti-science, or other hateful comments. Decide in advance whether you want to actively disagree with them (marshal your facts in advance), to cut off the conversation with “We disagree, and I’m not willing to discuss it here,” or to just walk away. Make a promise to yourself in advance that you’ll follow through with whatever approach you choose. In any event, try not to spend too much energy on them.

6 – Not spending too much energy applies to the the personal digs too. For example, if you know that your sister is going to tell you, “for your own good,” how unbecoming your hairstyle is, be prepared to say, “I appreciate your concern. Excuse me, I really want to catch up with Uncle Harry.”

6 – If you think kids are fun, they can be a great escape from the adult follies. If kids drive you crazy, keep your distance when you can, and try to keep your patience otherwise: they didn’t overstimulate themselves with sugar and toys.

7 – If you have enough to give to someone who has less, do it. If you know someone who is having a crappy holiday, even if you are too, taking a moment to do something for them that they will enjoy might make you feel better, if it feels right to you.

8 – If you hate the holidays, or they make you sad, you have lots of company. Participate as little as possible. They’ll be over soon. If you’re wishing you had someone (someone particular or folks in general) to spend the holidays with, treat yourself with special care. If you’re a volunteering type, that can work, but so can staying at home and taking a bubble bath.

9 – Be effusive about every gift you get; then be discreetly rude about the awful ones later to your friends. If they’re really awful, throw them off a bridge in the middle of the night.

10 – If it suits you, look for comedies, poetry, and other nonpolitical reading, viewing and listening matter during these weeks. Looking at beautiful art and photography can also feed you.

If these aren’t your holidays, have a great Chinese meal and enjoy the movie!

We’ll be back in the beginning of the New Year.

Photo at the top by Ashleigh Scully, one of the winners in the Guardian’s 2017 Wildlife Photos of the Year: 11-14 age category.  Be warned: the link starts with a very disturbing photo, but most of the others are beautiful and satisfying.

Incandescent Fury at Church and State


13-year-old Trinity transitioned at 4 years old. Before that, she was despondent and depressed.

Debbie says:

I can separate church and state just fine in my head. Right now, I would happily make both of them small enough that I could drown them in a bathtub.

As I write this, both houses of the U.S. Congress have just passed the “tax scam” bill, which Trump will gleefully sign. This bill, aside from increasing the U.S. debt by more than $1,000,000,000,000, is also an anti-health-care bill and an anti-environment bill. I’m not going to write any more about it; you can read and watch and listen to thousands of clear-sighted, carefully argued denunciations of it from all points on the political spectrum, from everyone who isn’t a slave to the Republican donor paymasters.

Instead, I will turn my fury to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, another group which theoretically has kindness, charity, and the best interests of all people at heart. Amy Littlefield reports at Rewire that, in a letter entitled “Created Male and Female,” this group of men has taken it upon itself to declare that transgender people do not really exist, and to strongly imply that transgender children (who presumably also do not exist) should not receive gender-affirming care.

“Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can ‘change’ their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults,” the letter claims. “Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of ‘first, do no harm.’”

“First, do no harm.” I have a great idea. How about first, stop telling people that you know what harms them better than they do.  I am, of course, fine with telling children “don’t swallow those pills” or “don’t touch the stove; it’s hot.” I am profoundly not fine with telling anyone “I know who you are in a deep way, better than you do, and I know it will do no harm for me to get my way about you instead of you being able to tell the truth about you.” And the U.S. Conference of Bishops does harm by superimposing their simplistic beliefs on individuals’ truths.

These men don’t care what the medical establishment has learned, nor do they care what scientific evidence may refute their position:

In a recent survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), respondents with supportive immediate families were less likely to report homelessness, serious psychological distress, and attempting suicide; 37 percent of respondents with supportive families had attempted suicide versus 54 percent of those with unsupportive families.

“The danger of advice like [the letter] for families is that it is giving parents who don’t understand what it means to be transgender and who are desperate for information and guidance for how to best protect the children that they love … the worst possible blueprint for what to do,” the NCTE’s [Harper Jean] Tobin told Rewire.

While the USCCB letter calls for “compassion, mercy, and honesty” for the transgender people whose existence it simultaneously negates, the letter omits any mention of structural threats, like the killings of at least 26 transgender people in 2017.

When I get past the steam coming out of my ears, I really don’t have much to say. Trans people have existed throughout history and across cultures, as have nonbinary people. Treating people, especially children, with the real respect of taking each other seriously and believing our stories about ourselves is the only way out of the mess we have made in this world.

As long as our political and religious leaders refuse to do anything of the sort, as long as they continue to either believe or pretend that they know who we are better than we do, and they know what we need better than we do, AND they have every right to enrich themselves and/or hold onto their power at our expense, we’re at their mercy.

Historically and currently, counting on that “mercy” seems like a bad idea.

Pointer from the indefatigable Melissa McEwen at Shakesville, who never fails to call out injustice. Photo from an excellent article earlier this year by Diana Tourjée at Broadly.