I have a long overdue blog entry about what happened in recent times. People that follow my tweets did catch some things. Most noteworthy there was the Trans*Inter*Congress in Munich at the start of May. It was an absolute blast. I met so many nice and great people, talked and experienced so many great things there that I'm still having a great motivational push from it every time I think back. It was also the time when I realized that I in fact do have body dysphoria even though I thought I'm fine with my body in general: Being tall is a huge issue for me. Realizing that I have a huge issue (yes, pun intended) with my length was quite relieving, even though it doesn't make it go away. It's something that makes passing and transitioning for me harder. I'm well aware that there are tall women, and that there are dedicated shops for lengthy women, but that's not the only thing that I have trouble with. What bothers me most is what people read into tall people: that they are always someone they can lean on for comfort, that tall people are always considered to be self confident and standing up for themselves (another pun, I know ... my bad).
And while I'm fine with people coming to me for leaning on to, I rarely get the chance to do so myself. And people don't even consider it. When I was there in Munich, talking with another great (... pun?) trans woman who was as tall as me I finally had the possibility to just rest my head on her shoulder and finally feel the comfort I need just as much as everyone else out there, too. Probably that's also the reason why I'm so touchy and do go Free Hugging as often as possible. But being tall also means that you are usually only the big spoon when cuddling up. Having a small mental breakdown because of realizing that didn't change the feeling directly but definitely helped with looking for what I could change to fix that for myself.
Then, at the end of may, the movie FtWTF - female to what the fuck came to cinema. It's a documentary about six people who got assigned female at birth. And it's absolutely charming, and has great food for thoughts in it. If you ever get the chance to watch it you definitely should.
And then came debconf16 in Capetown. The flight to there was canceled and we had to get rebooked. The first offer was to go through Dubai, and gladly a colleague did point out to the person behind the desk that that wouldn't be safe for myself and thus out of scope. In the end we managed to get to Capetown quite nice, and even though it was winter when the sun was shining it was quite nice. Besides the cold nights that is. Or being stuck on the way up to table mountain because a colleague had cramps in his lags and we had to call mountain rescue. Gladly the night was clear, and when the mountain rescue finally got us to top and it was night already we had one of the nicest views from up there most people probably never will experience.
And then ... I got invited to a trans meetup in Capetown. I was both excited and nervous about it, what to expect there. But it was simply great. The group there was simply outstandingly great. The host gave update information on progress on clinical support within south Africa, from what I took with me is that there is only one clinic there for SRS which manages only two people a year which is simply ... yuck. Guess you can guess how many years (yes, decades) the waiting line is ... I was blown away though by the diversity of the group, on so many levels, most notably on the age spectrum. It was a charm to meet you all there! If you ever stop by in Capetown and you are part of the LGBTIQ community, make sure you get in contact with the Triangle Project.
But, about the real reason to write this entry: I was approached at Debconf by at least two people who asked me what I thought about creating an LGBTIQA+ group within Debian, and if I'd like to push for that. Actually I think it would be a good idea to have some sort of exchange between people on the queer spectrum (and I hope I don't offend anyone with just saying queer for LGBTIQA+ people). Given that I'm quite outspoken people approach me every now and then so I'm aware that there is a fair amount of people that would fall into that category. On the other hand some of them wouldn't want to have it publicly known because it shouldn't matter and isn't really the business of others.
So I'm uncertain. If we follow that path I guess something that is closed or at least offers the possibility to have a closed communication would be needed to not out someone by just joining in the discussion. It's was easier with Debian Women where it was (somewhat) clear that male participants are allies supporting the cause and not considered being women themselves, but often enough (mostly cis hetero male) people are afraid to join a dedicated LGBTIQA+ group because they have the fear of having their identity judged. These things should be considered before creating such a place so that people can feel comfortable when joining and know what to expect beforehand.
For the time being I created #debian-diversity on irc.debian.org to discuss how to move forward. Please bear in mind that even the channel name is up for discussion. Acronyms might not be the way to go in my opinion, just read back up the discussion that lead to the Diversity Statement of Debian where the original approach was to start listing groups for inclusiveness but it was quickly clear that it can get outdated too easily.
I am willing to be part of that effort, but right now I have some personal things to deal which eat up a fair amount of my time. My kid starts school in September (yes, it's that long already, time flies ...). And it looks like I'll have to move a second time in the near future: I'll have to leave my current flat by the end of the year and the Que[e]rbau I'm moving into won't be ready by that time to host me yet ... F*ck. :(
As my readers probably are well aware, I wrote my transgender coming out poem Mermaids over 10 years ago, to make it clear to people how I define, what I am and how I would hope they could accept me. I did put it publicly into my blog so I could point people to it. And I still do so regularly. It still comes from the bottom of my heart. And I am very happy that I got the chance to present it in a Poetry Slam last year, it was even recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
There is just one thing that I was also told over the time every now and then by some people that I would have liked to understand what's going on: Why is it in English, my English isn't that good. My usual response was along the lines of that the events that triggered me writing it were in an international context and I wanted to make sure that they understood what I wrote. At that time I didn't realize that I am cutting out a different group of people from being able to understand what's going on inside me.
So this year there was a similar event: the Flawless Poetry Slam which touched the topics of Feminist? Queer? Gender? Rolemodels? - Let's talk about it. I took that as motivation to finally write another text on the topic, and this time in German. Unfortunately though I wasn't able to present it that evening, I wasn't drawn for the lineup. But, I was told that there was another slam going on just last wednesday, so I went there ... and made it onto the stage! And this is the text that I presented there. I am uncertain how well online translators work for you, but I hope you get the core points if you don't understand German:
Ich bin was ich bin
Fünf Worte mit wahrem Sinn:
Ich bin was ich bin
Du denkst: "Mann im Rock?
Das ist ja wohl lächerlich,
der ist sicher schwul."
Na da schau ich nicht mehr hin,
wer will das schon seh'n."
Jedoch liegst du falsch,
Mit all deinen Punkten, denn:
Ich bin was ich bin.
Ich bin Transgender
Und erlebe mich selber,
ich bin eine Frau.
"Haha, eine Frau?
Wem willst du das weismachen?
Heb mal den Rock hoch!"
Und wie ist's bei dir?
Was ist zwischen den Beinen?
Geht mich das nichts an?
Warum fragst du mich?
Da ist's dann in Ordnung?
Oder vielleicht nicht?
Ich bin was ich bin
Fünf Worte mit ernstem Sinn:
Ich bin was ich bin
Ich steh weiblich hier
Und das hier ist mein Körper
Mein Geschlecht ist's auch
Das ist mein größtes Problem
Schlägt mir entgegen
Wenn ich mich öffne
Verständnis fast überall
Es wird akzeptiert
und das schmerzt mich am meisten
sagt doch mal wer "er"
Von Fremden? Egal
Doch hab ich mich geöffnet
Ist es eine Qual
"Ich seh dich als Mann"
Da ist, was es transportiert
Wenn ihr über mich redet
sind sie, ihr, ihres
Ich leb was ich leb
Fünf Worte mit tiefem Sinn:
Ich bin was ich bin
"Doch, wie der erst spricht!
Ich meinte, wie sie denn spricht!
Das ist nicht normal."
Ich schreib hier Haikus:
Mit fixem Versmars
Sind fünf, sieben, fünf
Silben in jeder Zeile
Haikus sind simpel
Probier es mal aus
Transportier eine Message
Es macht auch viel Spaß
Wortwahl ist wichtig
Ein guter Thesaurus hilft
Sei kurz und prägnant
Ich sag was ich sag
Fünf Worte mit klugem Sinn:
Ich bin was ich bin
Doch ich schweife ab
Verständnis fast überall?
Wird es akzeptiert?
Doch ich bin auch was and'res
Und hier geht's bergab
Eine Sache gibt's
Die erwäh'n ich besser nicht
für die steck ich ein
"Deshalb bin ich hier"
So der Titel eines Lieds
verfasst von Thomas D
"Wenn ich erkläre
warum ich mich wie ernähr"
So weit komm ich nicht
Man erwähnt Vegan
Die Intoleranz ist da
Man ist unten durch
Hab 'ne Theorie:
Vegan sein: 'ne Entscheidung
Transgender sein nicht
Mensch fühlt sich dann schlecht
dass bei sich selbst die Kraft fehlt
und greift damit an
"Ich könnte das nicht"
Ich verurteile dich nicht
Iss doch was du willst
Ich zwing es nicht auf
Aber Rücksicht wär schon fein
Statt nur Hohn und Schmäh
Ich ess was ich ess
Fünf Worte zum nachdenken:
Ich bin was ich bin
Hope you get the idea. The audience definitely liked it, the jury wasn't so much on board but that's fine, it's five random people and it's mostly for fun anyway. Later that night though some things happened that didn't make me feel so comfortable anymore. I went to the loo, waiting in line with the other ladies, a bit later the waitress came along telling me "the men's room is over there". I told her that I'm aware of that and thanked her, which got her confused and said something along the lines of "so you are both, or what?" but went away after that. Her tone and response wasn't really giving me much comfort, though none of the other ladies in the line did look strangely.
But the most disturbing event after that was to find out about North Carolina signed the bathroom bill making it illegal for trans people to use the bathroom for their gender and insisting on using the one for the gender they were assigned at birth. So men like James Sheffield are now forced to go to the lady's restroom, or face getting arrested. Brave new world. :/
So, enjoy the text and don't get too wound up by stupid laws and hope for time to fix people's discriminatory minds for fixing issues that already are regulated: Assaults are assaults and are already banned. Arguing with people might get assaulted and thus discriminating trans people is totally missing the point, by miles.
There are some things that I didn't mention in my sort-of quickly written entry about DebConf15. So first things first. When I received the mail about the room allocation I was at first confused. I was put into a room with other ladies, which I didn't expect. Granted, two of the other three names were people that knew me since a while, but it still felt like a mistake might have happened. But after a while I realized what has happened: It wasn't a mistake, it was intentional, I was finally recognized as woman for the room allocation too, which made me extremely happy. I was just just concerned about the third person who would be in our room who doesn't know me yet and whether it would make them feel uncomfortable. In the end, that was no trouble at all.
I felt so empowered and more accepted than ever in this community. And when finally being on-site there another thing happened with me. I started to use the women's restroom. Up to now I usually had the feeling of "it's fine for me to use the male one, and I don't want other women to feel uncomfortable", but somehow, with a skirt on, it in the end made me feeling uncomfortable. Additionally, there were only three times in total when I used the male toilet (and one was on the boat for the daytrip), and every single time of it I felt extremely uncomfortable with it, like others might think I'm just faking it. It at least in my mind doesn't help with accepting me as female when I go to the male restroom. And it's not a Good choice! as a woman did put it during the conference dinner when there was a longer queue infront of the male restroom. It's not so much of a choice over here. But I give her the doubt of not knowing how important these little steps became to me over time.
Totally unrelated to the restroom question but interestingly featuring it a fair bit I was made aware of the Assigned Male cartoon. I instantly fell in love with it, and in case you want to enlighten yourself a bit more about how some things you might say or do get received by trans people, be very much invited to read it. Sophie is currently on European tour with her book, unfortunately Vienna/Austria doesn't seem to be part of europe in that respect so I hope someone will be able to visit one of her stations to pick up a book for me ...
And then there was also a small inofficial Nail Polish BoF going on at DebConf. I left it on my fingers for the next two weeks, totally in love with it. Unfortunately the nail polish I got for myself after DebConf had a rather big brush so I wasn't able to work on it, I failed miserably.
... which brings me to the empowerment that DebConf meant for me this year, and the time since. Given that I left the nail polish on I even took the comfort in being myself to go to work in my skirt on a more regular basis. Also, a very nice friend did visit me and we went lipstick shopping. I loved the color she chose, even though in the meantime it isn't visible enough for me and I guess I'll get another one rather sooner than later.
Also, about what I mentioned in my last blog post was that my name change within the Debian project was granted. A quick update on that is that also now my GPG key got replaced. I guess it's finally time for me to write a gpg transition statement, even though I don't follow those myself. I still prefer meeting up with people face-to-face for signing their new keys. But given that it's called a transition statement makes it more appealing to me on that grounds. :)
And I got invited to a local podcast show. Actually I know the person who does the podcast since several years already, he's also part of the local free software community who attends various events, and he does a podcast since several years now called Biertaucher (named after cooling the beer in a fountain). It is held in German language, so if you don't understand German you might want to skip these links.
In the first episode that I joined in I talked about DebConf. Afterwards we were sitting together and talking about that they would like to have more social topics too, not just technical things. So we took that chance and talked in Biertaucher #221 about Polyamory, which was a quite interesting experience. The host intentionally asked questions coming from a quite ignorant point of view, but it went nice. We were three poly people sharing our views and insight how it works for us.
Then there was Biertaucher #223 where it was just me and one of the hosts. We didn't had much to talk about from the past week, so we agreed to talk about Transgender in the end. Granted, it's mostly my personal story, but I guess I got some important topics addressed in a useful way.
And, after getting my name changed in Debian, I thought about what it might take to get my name changed officially, too (as if it could get more official than using it throughout my work environment, both payed and voluntary, but ...). I covered that in the podcast, but mostly it is either quite expensive or requires me to change my gender in the register of births, which require a lot of other hassles that include psychiatry. Or, settle for a so-called "gender neutral" name as first name, which both doesn't sound very convincing somehow ... Only time can tell I guess.
Guess that's enough for now, if I forgot something I might come back to it. :)
One last note: I consider the Debian project a very welcoming one, and that can only work for a fair amount of people if the tone is right. So yes, I wholeheartly agree with the Code of Conduct. And I'm very disappointed to see that there are still people in the project that are advocating for a freedom of expression, so to say. Respectful communication with each other is a must in a bigger community to make it work, not something that might be a nice to have, and calling someone names and ridiculing them for stating that is absolutely not acceptable. I encourage those people to watch How to Throughly Offend and Insult People in Open Source presentation (or at least read the slides) that Gina Likins gave earlier this year. It might give them an idea why it's important to communicate respectful with each other, and that includes banning degrading terms like "SJW" from your vocabulary because it actually speaks a lot more about your own attitude than about the one of the person you use it for.
I stumbled upon this site thanks to Helga: Parable of the Polygons. On the site you can interactively find out how harmless choices can make a harmful world. I found it quite eye opening. And what most catched me but isn't part of the site is that only unhappy polygons are willing to move. Those who are just ok with their neighbourhood but not really happy about it aren't willing to move. Which made me try it out in my own way: Trying to create the most diverse possible environment by temporarily making as many polygons unhappy to find out if it's possible to make as many polygons happy in the long run as possible.
... which is actually part of the way I see my own life. I always sort-of tried to confront people to think. I mean, it's not that common that you see a by-the-looks male person wearing a skirt. And ... since I moved out in July into a small intermediate flat and thus a new neighbourhood, I found the confidence (in parts also to be attributed to the confidence built up at these fine feministic conferences) to walk my hometown in a skirt. Only on some few occations, when meeting up with friends, mostly at evening/night, but it was always a nice experience. And I only felt once uncomfortable to be honest, when there was a probably right-winged skinhead at the subway station. Too many other people around, so I tried to avoid eye contact, but it didn't feel good.
Diversity is something that society needs. In all aspects. Also within the Debian project. I believe strongly in that there can't be much of innovation and moving forward if all people do think the same direction. That only means that potential alternative paths won't even get considered, and potentially get lost. That's one of the core parts of what makes the Free Software community lively and useful. People try different approaches, and in the end there will be adopters of what they believe is the better project. Projects pop up every now and then, others starve because of loss of interest, users not picking it up, developers spending their time on other stuff, and that's absolutely fine too. There is always something to be learned even from those situations.
Speaking of diversity, there is this protest going on later today because the boss of a cafe here in Vienna considered it a good idea to kick out a lesbian couple because they kissed each other for greeting and told them that they don't have a place for their "otherness" in her traditional viennese cafe and they rather should take it to a brothel. She excused yesterday for her tone that she used, she said she should have been more relaxed—as the CEO of that cafe. Which literally means that she only exused for the tone she used in her role, but not at all for the message she transported. So meh, hope there will be many people at the protest. Yes, there is some anti discrimination law around, but that only covers the workplace, and not service areas. Welcome to Austria.
On the upside, court striked down ban on same-sex couple adoption just the other day. Hopefully there is still hope for this country. :)
If someone would have told me that I would visit three feminist events this year I would have slowly nodded at them and responded with "yeah, sure..." not believing it. But sometimes things take their own turns.
It all started with the Debian Women Mini-Debconf in Barcelona. The organizers did ask me how they have to word the call for papers so that I would feel invited to give a speech, which felt very welcoming and nice. So we settled for "people who identify themselves as female". Due to private circumstances I didn't prepare well for my talk, but I hope it was still worth it. The next interesting part though happened later when there were lightning talks. Someone on IRC asked why there are male people in the lightning talks, which was explicitly allowed for them only. This also felt very very nice, to be honest, that my talk wasn't questioned. Those are amongst the reasons why I wrote My place is here, my home is Debconf.
Second event I went to was the FemCamp Wien. It was my first event that was a barcamp, I didn't know what to expect organization wise. Topic-wise it was set about Queer Feminism. And it was the first event that I went to which had a policy. Granted, there was an extremely silly written part in it, which naturally ended up in a shit storm on twitter (which people from both sides did manage very badly, which disappointed me). Denying that there is sexism against cis-males is just a bad idea, but the background of it was that this wasn't the topic of this event. The background of the policy was that usually barcamps but events in general aren't considered that save of a place for certain people, and that this barcamp wanted to make it clear that people usually shying away from such events in the fear of harassment can feel at home there.
And what can I say, this absolutely was the right thing to do. I never felt any more welcomed and included in any event, including Debian events—sorry to say that so frankly. Making it clear through the policy that everyone is on the same boat with addressing each other respectfully totally managed to do exactly that. The first session of the event about dominant talk patterns and how to work around or against them also made sure that the rest of the event was giving shy people a chance to speak up and feel comfortable, too. And the range of the sessions that were held was simply great. This was the event that I came up with the pattern that I have to define the quality of an event on the sessions that I'm unable to attend. The thing that hurt me most in the afterthought was that I couldn't attend the session about minorities within minorities. :/
Last but not least I attended AdaCamp Berlin. This was a small unconference/barcamp dedicated to increase women's participation in open technology and culture named after Ada Lovelace who is considered the first programmer. It was a small event with only 50 slots for people who identify as women. So I was totally hyper when I received the mail that was accepted. It was another event with a policy, and at first reading it looked strange. But given that there are people who are allergic to ingredients of scents, it made sense to raise awareness of that topic. And given that women are facing a fair amount of harassment in the IT and at events, it also makes sense to remind people to behave. After all it was a general policy for all AdaCamps, not for this specific one with only women.
I enjoyed the event. Totally. And that's not only because I was able to meet up with a dear friend who I haven't talked to in years, literally. I enjoyed the environment, and the sessions that were going on. And quite similar to the FemCamp, it started off with a session that helped a lot for the rest of the event. This time it was about the Impostor Syndrome which is extremely common for women in IT. And what can I say, I found myself in one of the slides, given that I just tweeted the day before that I doubted to belong there. Frankly spoken, it even crossed my mind that I was only accepted so that at least one trans person is there. Which is pretty much what the impostor syndrome is all about, isn't it. But when I was there, it did feel right. And we had great sessions that I truly enjoyed. And I have to thank one lady once again for her great definition on feminism that she brought up during one session, which is roughly that feminism for her isn't about gender but equality of all people regardless their sexes or gender definition. It's about dropping this whole binary thinking. I couldn't agree more.
All in all, I totally enjoyed these events, and hope that I'll be able to attend more next year. From what I grasped all three of them think of doing it again, the FemCamp Vienna already has the date announced at the end of this year's event, so I am looking forward to meet most of these fine ladies again, if faith permits. And keep in mind, there will always be critics and haters out there, but given that thy wouldn't think of attending such an event anyway in the first place, don't get wound up about it. They just try to talk you down.
P.S.: Ah, almost forgot about one thing to mention, which also helps a lot to reduce some barrier for people to attend: The catering during the day and for lunch both at FemCamp and AdaCamp (there was no organized catering at the Debian Women Mini-Debconf) did take off the need for people to ask about whether there could be food without meat and dairy products by offering mostly Vegan food in the first place, even without having to query the participants. Often enough people otherwise choose to go out of the event or bring their own food instead of asking for it, so this is an extremely welcoming move, too. Way to go!
Yesterday I managed to get the last ticket from the waitinglist for the premiere of Trans Gender Moves. It is a play about the lives of three people: A transman, a transwoman and an intersexual person. They tell stories from their life, their process of finding their own identity over time. With in parts amusing anecdotes and ones that gets you thinking I can just wholeheartly encourage you to watch it if you have the chance to. It will still be shown the next few days, potentially extending depending on the requests for tickets, from what I've been told by one of the actors.
The most funny moment for me though was when I was talking with one of the actors about that it really touched me that I was told that one of them will be moving into into the same building I will be moving into in two year's time. Unfortunately that will be delayed a bit because they found me thinks field hamster or the likes in the ground and have to wait until spring for them to move. :/
Recently I was wearing my Free Hugs shirt to different Free Software meetings, and I came up with the idea if we are advocating the Free in Software specificly, why not come up with Free Hugging Guidelines, too. So here they are, from now on considered to be named the RFHG.
Your hugs may not restrict any party from passing on the hugs they received from you.
The hugs must be possible to be perceived and understandable in complete. You are not allowed to use any special techniques that can not be perceived.
Your hugs must be allowed to be modified, and must allow the modified forms of your hugs to be distributed under the same terms as they received them.
Integrity of The Author's Source Code
While you are allowed to pass on the hugs in modified form, you are not allowed to modify the DNA of the original person you received the hugs from. Genetic modification is out of the scope of the RFHG.
No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
While we acknowledge that you might not feel willing to hug everyone, you must apply rules that do not distinquish by rules which would violate The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, you have the right to not hug a person if you are not in the mood for it. Please refrain from wearing any Free Hugs markers at those times though.
No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
The hugs can not be restricted to be used in a specific field of endeavor. For example, you may not restrict the hugs from being passed on only in times of sorrow.
Distribution of Hugs
The rights attached to the hugs must apply to all to whom the hugs are redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.
Hugs Must Not Be Specific to Rhonda
The rights attached to the hugs must not depend on the hugs being related to Rhonda. If the hugs are extracted from Rhonda and used or distributed without Rhonda nearby but otherwise within the terms of the hug's permissions, all parties to whom the hugs are distributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with Rhonda.
Hugs Must Not Contaminate Other People
If you are contagious (e.g. got the flu, or worse) you have to apply appropriate counter measures to not transfer your illness with your hugs.
One last note: If you feel like it you don't have to wait until I wear my Free Hugs shirt again. I am fine with receiving (or giving) hugs like almost always. Surprise me. I at least know then that you read the RFHG. :)
I'm moving. Well, not right here, right now. Rather less than two years. But I already know what my flat will look like and was able to influence that decision. And there will be more to influence, like what to do with common rooms in the builing, or what to put in the garden (voting for climbing facilities for my son of course!). It's this kind of co-housing project where you already know your neighbours beforehand and can find common grounds for decisions like that.
The co-housing project I'm moving to is called Que[e]rbau. And it will be living up to its name. It is specificly aimed at people who live tolerance and acceptance, and also potentially live an sorta alternative lifestyle, defining their own identity; but not limited to those. There also will be conventional families living there who specificly don't want to raise their kids in a conservative environment.
When I told about this plan to someone they asked me if I really want to do that. Their concerns were with respect to my son and if the house wouldn't become a target. I was puzzled at first, given that we have the Rainbow Parade, the Life Ball and most of all the Rosa Lila Villa since several years in Vienna and I'm not aware of any bigger disturbances it causes, rather the opposite.
After thinking a while about it it sounded a bit for the wish of a Don't Ask Don't Tell environment. Recently there was this great documentary done by Vice on youtube about YoungandGayinPutin's Russia (watch all five parts of it, it's worth it). In the light of that I don't think hiding does improve the situation, rather the opposite. Not speaking about it doesn't improve acceptance. And actually, I was approached by at least one person during the Debian Women MiniDebconf about how brave I am considered. I'm not sure if it really is brave, I just don't want to lie to myself anymore, and I very rarely had troubles through that. The more open and natural you behave, the less confrontation area you leave left, and people notice that.
Not totally unrelated to that, I created myself a new gpg key. It doesn't carry my official name anymore but just the name I prefer to be addressed with: Rhonda. It also carries a last name you might not have heard yet (it was adopted on the Discworld MUD several years ago, even before I wrote Mermaids; actually in connection with the person who partly triggered the poem), that's the reason I added a plain Rhonda UID to it for those who aren't aware of the last name. I will submit that key to keysigning parties from now on, and it of course is up to you if you feel comfortable with signing it.
There is still a lot of things going on inside me and turning, and I'd like to share two words that I grow attached to, one a fair amount longer now than the other, but both are terms that I seem to had lacking in my vocabulary which I tried to explain in a different way. After finding out about them, I noticed that both what I felt and believed were actual things that were not totally uncommon concepts, even though most people wouldn't know about them.
The first term that I stumbled upon years ago was the term of pansexuality. (Do not dare to read the German Wikipedia article. It's ridiculous wrong, insulting and shows that they don't understand the topic at all.) I always had issues to explain my intimate preference to others. Especially after they found out about me being female on the inside. Questions arose (if they understood that I'm open about these things when I post the poem publicly) along the lines of "what are you now: gay, lesbian, hetero—and if the latter, what does that mean?". My usual answer was that I fall in love with people, not with their bodies, and that things will eventually work out if meant to be. And thus even though I love my "Bi" shirt, it doesn't really describe properly how I swing, so to say.
The latter term I discovered just recently. A friend of mine with whom I chat every now and then told me about it, and when we met again last autumn, they wore a button of the Italian community for Polyamory (I so much prefer the Italian logo to the "widely used symbol", to be honest). It was an eye opening moment for me. I often mentioned to people that I felt like I have a big heart, being able to store multiple people in it. It always puzzled me that when I'm together with someone (and I always was faithful) why I should feel bad and especially keep it a secret when there is someone else who touches my heart, too. Society seems to see this already as a breach of trust, no matter whether it gets pursued or not, just the thought is enough. But it never changed anything with respect to the person I was together with, so what's the deal? Finding out about this term explained so much to me and made a lot of sense. It is about honesty and communication, which I see lagging in a lot of relationships these days...
So here you are, getting another inside view on me. And I'm sure that there will be again the one or the other person who considers to use this as ammunition against me, but you know, being open about it acts as a shield. It's not embarrassing for me, never was. And like always, I hope that I can help others feeling similar being lost for words or an understanding that it's not as weird as it might feel.
This poem was triggered by a discussion with a special person—not special in the sense I address in the poem though.
My life's hating me
But it is not a one-way:
I'm hating my life
Hate being special
I know I can help others
But what about me?
All quite supportive
Respect for my openness
Though, no step further
No clue how to handle me
Afraid to ask me
Hooking up with me?
Just scolding words left
Want to be normal
Maybe I'll lie to myself
Though that won't work out
I am what I am
And sometimes it just pains me:
Hate being special
I'm hating my life
But it is not a one-way:
My life's hating me
Please refrain from asking whether I feel fine, I am in good mood. :) But I haven't written anything in a way too long time, I noticed how little actually during selecting poems for the International Poetry Night during debconf. So I picked up the idea and caressed it until I came up with the above piece about with which I am quite happy. Think about it, and ... try to enjoy.
Things happened as they liked to happen: the video streaming setup for debconf still was giving me a bit of headaches, and suddenly it was too late to print out the poem because I didn't even had CUPS installed on my new laptop. Also, having reread it recently I noticed that it wasn't flowing too well, so I was uncertain whether it would be possible to properly perform it.
I attended nevertheless. It was rather cosy in El Panal, but still a fair amount of people there. And to my surprise, quite a lot of Debian people were presenting poetry. Some in Spanish, some in English, but also one in Japanese, one in German and even one Esperanto. I had the feeling that I really should present something too. I still was extremely nervous, but during the day I had opened some of my poems in the browser, so I started to write down The Girl and the Boy, and when Fito called me to the microphone, I think most people were able to tell how nervous I was about it.
But it went well. It even went so well that I felt the need to perform another poem. I chose that's what friends are for, quickly scribbling it down in bad light. The choice was easy, given that it is one that means a lot to me and that an haiku already got presented. It was really a nice experience to not only write these poems and publishing them on deviantART and in my blog, but also to present them to a live audience.
Then there was a break. Actually I thought it was over already, but they started a second round. And I somehow liked the way it worked out, so I started to dig for something else to present. I settled for Strange—and Jonathan insisted on translating it into Spanish and present that version, too. His version wasn't in Haiku style, but I think it still was a very nice idea. It seem to have been received well, but given that I don't speak Spanish I can only hope he was able to catch the feelings that I did put into this short piece. I am confident he did well. :)
As final piece I settled for another short piece, this time it was in German, Wahre Liebe. I think I was able to transport the feelings of it with adding pauses in certain spots, although I fear most people didn't get it because it was ... well, in German.
Again, a fair amount of the people who presented poetry were from Debian, actually more than half of it I think. And I am wondering: When will the CfP for next year's debconf open so we can try to establish this event as regular debconf event? And who knows, maybe I'll find the courage then to perform Mermaids.
It's almost seven years now since I wrote/published Mermaids. It was an important step in my life, confessing publicly what I've found out about myself, how I feel and identify myself. It definitely has been a certain turning point in my life.
A year later, there was the Debconf6 in Mexico, which was just as important. I was wearing a skirt for the first time, and that for the whole duration of the two weeks. It was an enormous feeling of freedom, and I knew I was feeling at home. That was also the time I shaved off my beard.
And since? Well, I sort of limited myself to these two weeks every year. Debconf is my haven, Debconf is my home. Here I allow myself to be myself. Debian is my family. And like in every family, there are people who won't understand, but that doesn't matter. I feel comfortable to express myself in this crowd in the way I feel.
Being abroad seems to help with the confidence, and it seems like it also shines through. I haven't had lots of strange looks. To the contrary, when I went with a skirt to a homosexual acceptance event at home in Vienna, there was a group of gays who were pointing and laughing. Quite an interesting experience, one would assume that people who are wanting more acceptance would be more acceptable and tolerant themselves...
But, I don't think I will ever take the step toward actually turning my body into a female one. It was an important step for me to find out about my inner self, and it actually managed to make me accept my male body; even though I can totally relate to people not being able to understand this—both people not in the situation and people being in the situation and needing the physical adjustment to be able to be happy again. But this is what and how I am: Contents may vary from packaging.
This though has an inherited problem: as I am not (usually) heading for a female appearance (besides my skirt during Debconf), people keep addressing me with a male pronoun, even, or rather especially when using my nick Rhonda. This is something that I consider a fair bit disturbing, especially when it comes from people that I consider to address with the term friends. One would assume that people who you share a fair bit of private life with would be the ones who can understand and relate better than others. But that's where we are, and I also can understand the troubles: I'm not giving them much visual help for fixing their thoughts.
I found the confidence in my body, and like most of you know, I have a son I dearly love (and miss like hell these two weeks), so I know how to use the tools it comes with, frankly spoken. But I won't go the road to adjust my body to be a female one instead, just to convince people that I really am the female person that I identify as. It might be hard for you to understand that, it might be hard for you to accept it—it is also hard for me, to fight for the acceptance that I thought are an inherent part of the term friendship.
I have deepest respect for the people who feel the requirement and have the strength to adjust their body to their mind. It though just isn't the road for me. I already have enough uncertainties in my life to cope with, and I don't need another one to deal with, related to that I might not be able to accept my body after the transition than I am able to accept it now. It's just not important enough for me to find my place. My place is here, my home is Debconf.
If I'll make it through this week it's because of these special people in my life. They help me through thick and thin, they believe in me, they are there for me. There is one universal term for them, friends. The term in its real meaning, in its original meaning, not in the perverted sense that sites like Facebook want to make you believe that it's alright to apply to random bystanders. You won't go as far for those as you'd go for your true friends, so don't let them steal away the meaning of the word from you.
As music is one of the most driving force for me and this song makes me wanna cry, this is what I want to send out to my friends who are able to motivate me to keep me going: That's What Friends Are For. And as this song is so special I won't drown it in two more like I usual do, this blog entry goes to my personal section anyway. There is though a second video of a live version of it that in my opinion adds quite something to it, it contains a short interview with Dionne Warwick at the end.
On 20th of March, at five to midnight, we have released out most straining and time consuming project ever. Its codename is Simon André and we are pleased that it was (more or less) a smooth release process with just a minor delay of three days—but the best don't release on time but when it is ready.
Because everyone loves screenshots, and a few might be viewed on our dedicated Screenshot Page, for completeness this announce contains one:
After one week into the release we have to say the feedback and the interest so far is pretty good, the maintenance is requesting its toll, but nothing really unexpected happened so far. We look into a bright future!
Thank you for your attention, enjoy the nice spring weather!
It's a bit strange. Still. Writing this personal part of my blog, opening some of my most inner thoughts to the wild public. Though, so wild it doesn't seem to be. To be honest I can't remember having received any bad feedback on my personal stuff, only positive, supportive ones. (Or, there was one. Though, it wasn't related to the core of the personal section but someone thinking it would be "cool" to misinterpret some statement therein and try to hurt me with it. It only made me laugh at them, trying to "use" it as an argument.)
No bad feedback might be related to that I don't have comments enabled because I don't want to have a moderation system that would make it look like I filter out bad comments but I also don't want to open it up to SPAM. And people who propably usual leave scathing comments don't consider it convenient to address me directly, via any IM system, including emails.
Anyway, opening in that way has quite some benefits: For a start, it helps me myself to keep track of things that happened. Secondly, it hopefully helps others that are in similar situations to see that they aren't alone out there and that one can survive with not hiding it. But last but not least some people address me and provide me with interesting links on the topic.
I think they shouldn't be just hidden in my personal mailbox so I am going to offer them to a broader audience here. I won't show the names of who sent them along, I'm not sure if they would like being connected to the topic. But they can be assured of my blessing for offering them to me.
First link I like to hand out is an article from advocate.com about a pregnant husband. Yes, this was no typo and the reason why I haven't posted it right the next day because I received that link on March 31st. I can just wish all the best to Thomas, Nancy and their yet unborn girl. Looking forward to see baby photos. :)
The second article I got sent lately is When Girls Will Be Boys. It is about the transition story of Ray and acceptance problems. Pretty long but definitely worth reading.
Again, thanks to the people who offered me the links to the articles, I truly appreciate them—and I hope some of the people reading my blog will too, or at least that it might change their perception and opinion on "such people".
One says the eyes are the mirror of the soul. I made this experience back in easter for the first time. I was over at my brother's place for easter celebration when I got up in the morning, went into the bath and looked into the mirror for morning toilet. I washed my face like always with cold water to refresh myself, and when I removed my hands... I was sure I was looking into a female face. It quite a lot bewildered me; it was the first time this happened. And I wasn't even properly shaved...
An experience like this is something special I guess, and it happened more and more often in the meantime. I guess this is one more proof that what I feel is the right thing.
... even though still some others seem to be immensly ammused by it. When I went to the ceilidh at the debconf in EDI I received some pretty nasty responses to my outfit, which I didn't expect within a project about Freedom and Openness. Though, I give the people the doubt of not knowing what they have done. It's too much in human nature to joke about things they don't understand, not knowingly insulting others. I'd like to dedicate this fine tune from Garbage to them: Bleed Like Me. If you listen closely to the lyrics you might be able to find out why...
There has also been a genderfuck night in the club next to the night venue which on the other hand was pretty nice. It was attended by quite some people from Debian, some expectedly, some to my happy surprise. Thank you again guys, for making this evening to something special. I hope you keep it in as nice remembrance as me.
My former SO drew a while ago a pretty nice picture about me. I didn't ask for it, or did hint it, which makes me even more happier about it. Thank you Babsi, really. :) I switched my hackergotchi on Planet Debian to it just in case.
Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. I stumbled upon it in the Venus Envy comic I got notified about earlier this year, you might want to check its contribution, but beware, it might as disturb you as it does to me. I'm thankful that Erin dis survive it, because she gives so much strength with her comic to me and possibly also others...
Not sure if you remember my blog entry about Xing. Anyway, something interesting happened again which I don't want to keep for myself. I've taken a look at the english version and well, it said Gender—not Sex. So I requested to have it changed to match my Gender, don't want to lie to them. I even noticed this meaning difference in the comment field about those changes which needs to get approved by the team.
Guess what, it was denied. With a template answer including the possible reason of that "it doesn't fit our guidelines". But the most interesting part of the reply was in the first line:
Sehr geehrte Frau Fuchs,
... which means something like "Dear Ms. Fuchs". I guess the change was possible at least in parts of their system. ;)
I later sent them some support request asking about maybe a non-template answer why it was declined, including the links to wikipedia again. Well, I was a bit astonished to find out that it was accepted and changed. Yet again, there was something funny with this mail, yet again in the first line of it:
Some small impressions of Sunday that made it the happiest of my life: spent the day with a very special person—good indian food for lunch—Spiderman 3 in the afternoon which I enjoyed quite a bit—meeting up with friends in the Metalab, have a nice chat and quick dinner—moved over to B72 for the concert of Grossstadtgeflüster which was absolutely great—received a "Sudoku for Dummies" book from Berk with whom I did Sudokus at lunch at work until he let the company—received a pink-fluffy handbag with matching riveted belt and a mini tartan skirt—received a Mermaid mousepad from Alex—received a Grossstadtgeflüster patch from Raphael.
Hope you don't take the list of some presents as belittling the others. It's just that these meant something special to me, not that I didn't enjoy the others.
Some friends were still a bit puzzled about the tickets I bought—they tried to give me the money for it. They weren't aware of the try to at least thank them with them for that they were and are there for me in bad times, giving me support and strength when I need it. And I can say that most of them enjoyed it, even though I was distracted quite a bit... And be sure, this is what you get when you let me do some birthday arrangements on my own. ;)
I'm not sure if you have heard about Xing (formerly known as OpenBC) yet. It is meant to be a platform to keep in touch with your business contacts, by having them update their contact data on them own. It also offers additional services, including discussion groups, because since Orkut we know that such a platform won't work without. (But I don't want to rant about Orkut here, thanks for asking.)
I stumbled upon a group called GayBC. I guess from the name of it everyone is able to find out what it's about. And it is a closed group, so people who are afraid of discrimination because of stating there preferences publically can feel save. I though that might be the group I'd like to join, having no real problem with my own sexuality of being Bi. (Although, I say it myself that my poem "Mermaids" isn't about the sexual part at all and people who seem to read this in it are not understanding it.) Given that there wasn't too much information on the group page about what they want in the join info I didn't provide too much informations and was rejected of course. I say of course, because that just gave me the impression that the moderators do really care.
Alright, I told myself, I'll answer their mail with all informations I could provide. I'm not sure if my fault was that I did that offsite per email or what, but it was never responded to, at all. So I tried to look on the site again for the group page, only I wasn't able to find it anymore through the search. After some digging around through the system and other groups I found out the schema of how the URL has to look to see that I just see on the page that I was rejected. No informations on how to contact the moderators anymore, no information on if this is permanent or whatsnot.
So I tried to contact the site support, asking if there is a timeout to such a reject and posibility to reapply, or any idea how to go on. Well, they first tried to tell me to contact the moderators (and ignored the other question). After I told them that that's not possible and teaching them about their own system, they finally forwarded a mail from me with more informations to the moderators. After a while I got a response from one of their moderators saying that as a Bi person I'm not gay enough to join the group...
I was like... Uh! A group, that is about people facing discrimination in quite different ways is discriminating themself. I wasn't able to think straight for a while after I read that, trying to find out about what's going on...
Well, I thought to myself, the group is German language, and doesn't want to have Bi people in it—so I thought I should turn the anger into something productive. Turning emotions into something productive/creative is the way quite a lot of conflicts can be avoided and good things happen. I applied for creating a group called LesBiGay with the intended purpose of being a closed group too, but not discriminating against Bi people and being English language, and explicitly stated in the comments that the existing GayBC group doesn't want Bi people amongst them.
Guess once what happened. The staff from OpenBC rejected the request with the reasoning that GayBC exists already and that I should get in contact with them. Interestingly that message was sent in a way that doesn't allow a reply...
The much I like the feature of having all the contact informations for the people available in a nice way and having them current the much I have to make you aware that the rest of the system stinks. Keep away from it, it works against you, doesn't offer minimal informations or features and flexibility.
On a sidenote—a dear friend of me showed me Venus Envy after my last blog entry and it really made my last days. Read it all! :D It gives me quite a lot of strength, and there I found this beauty that I dedicate to the GayBC group on OpenBC. Enjoy.
I think it's time to start blogging more often about this topic, and fill this section a bit more. I mean, Mermaids was a long time ago... And debconf in Mexico with my first try on skirts, getting rid of my beard and dying my hairs red is history in the meantime, too.
In summer I met upin Bratislava with a longtime friend from a MUD I played way back, and enjoyed running around in a skirt there, too. Gladly it was a sunny day. It was though... people back here in Vienna looked more awkward at me than in Bratislava. At least that was my impression...
Had been to Extremadura for the i18n meeting which was quite nice. It was quite productive, even though I have to admit that I haven't done much on that front since. Even in Spain people didn't look that strange at my skirt as over here in Austria...
At our company's Christmas party I got into a talk with a work colleague about the topic and she informed me that a former working colleague of us is starting with hormone treatment after the year change and if I'd fancy a meeting with him. I was quite happy about that offer so we arranged a meeting on December 23rd. It was a bit strange at first to address him as he, and we didn't know how to start talking because said working colleague was late, but after a while we talked about various things and even were finished with the more interesting topics when she finally appeared. We arranged to visit the next Trans-X meeting after the year change.
I left them for leaving home, but I wasn't able to catch my bus on time—the subway had serious problems. Well, I thought I might spend the night in the Flex so I called another working colleague who usually hangs out there about what was going on that evening, and interestingly he told me it was Gay Heaven night. I stopped believing in coincidence long ago... Anyway, was a nice evening all in all, they had a Christmas rabbit handing out "I love you" stamps with pink ink-pads. :)
The Trans-X meeting wasn't too bad. It was some discussions about various topics. After a while my first shyness dropped a bit and I started to join in the discussion at some points. After the first started to leave I had some more direct talks with two of the women from there, one of them had mostly the same trip home as me so we talked on in the subway.
A week later they had set a transgender weekend—no wonder, it was the weekend of the Rosenball. They were meeting in a cafe on Friday and I joined them, a bit less shy now that I at least knew some of the faces. Maria was quite ill and was sitting in her jacket within the cafe, shivering like hell... But all in all it was a nice meeting too, got to know some more nice people.
I was a bit lazy from there on, didn't join another meeting... But another working colleague did invite me to the carnival party of his sister. I thought I could try a bit more than before, in the disguise of the carnival party, so I used a bra my former wife left behind, filled it with some socks, and put up some eye makeup (quite discreet, I hate overdone makeup already on natural females...) The light there wasn't the best, so they just saw my tall body at first. It took them a while to even notice the skirt, and only after I put off my long-sleeve they haven't noticed my breast. But well, I don't really blame them, my working colleague has announced me as a he, and given the low lights it's not too bad. Though, after the host noticed my breasts he asked if he could touch them and I even received a quite nice kiss from him. :D
I stumbled upon the Gaia TG Guild on Gaia Online—a quite interesting web-based community. In general Gaia is filled with mostly kids, many of them immature, not able to spell and considering that even cool, but there are some quite special guilds that are lots of fun. But still, when I stumbled upon the TG Guild I was in awe of that such a thing could exist there. What I read made me feel totally happy and more confident on the path I'm having ahead of me.
Last week I finally had been to an Trans-X meeting again, and Maria showed some quite interesting reportages about transsexual people—including one that was on TV just the day before about a 14 year old girl who is already on hormone treatment and has the absolute support from her family since she was 4 and confronted them with cutting "it" off when they don't allow her to wear skirts when going out, too. All the best to you, Kim! I so envy your strength...
I'm sorry about the length of this entry—but I'm sick of people who tell me that I'm only playing it, or that I would hide... And I also see it as a chance to document my path for myself. I promise—the next entries will be more often and thus shorter.
Alright. Have been working on this poem for quite a while, got me sort of an editor for some suggestions and proof reading. I guess it might light the last bits about why I'm using Rhonda as nick these days....
Life ain't easy, that's nothing new
though for some it's more true than for others
This is about me, just to get it through
to all the people, sisters and brothers
People put you in boxes, no matter
how much you like it or what you try to avoid
So it might take you a while until you open up
and when you finally do, they might get paranoid
You see, being transgender isn't easy, you don't fit
on neither side of the sex related weirdness
You aren't allowed in a picture that is "the girls only"
and you get pushed away for not hiding your cuteness
People judge by what they see, not by what they feel
it's so weird and stupid it makes my inside scream
And when people get to know you just virtually
and once you open to them you awake like from a bad dream
What's the difference, when people know you only online
if you are a girl on the inside, and recognized as one?
You would say none, though for some people it is
and all the friendship that was forming suddenly is gone
You know you might never have known each other offline
and you felt safe for it being only virtually anyway
But now everything is completely different
You are reduced to your sex and discriminated that way
It might sound strange, I must admit
speaking of sexual discrimination as a male
But when you don't identify yourself that way
your face might turn up being strangely pale
People put others in boxes because it's easy
so they don't have to think or care
They only find out when it's done to themselves
how much it hurts to be the one in there
My plea is simple: People are individuals
So treat them individually as they are
And don't apply the things that worked for others
just like you are driving a similar car
Note to self: When going on something like a daytrip and you are putting sunblocker on and you are running around in sandals, don't forget to cream your lower legs which are shown below the trousers, too!!! *ouch*
There's one thing I found out: When you feel like crying go to the sauna — noone will notice it. Driving around on your skates for quite a while drinking beer doesn't help, but crying in the sauna afterwards helps a bit. Too bad that it appears to not to help enough to not come up again when out of the sauna, so everyone sees you breaking down... Oh well.
Appart from that, it's not like I'm not used to it. Especially I'm used to people telling me that they want to listen to me and when one is almost ready to find the words to say and poor your heart infront of them they leave you right there. A slap in the face wouldn't have worked better, it just would had been more honest... Wasn't my evening at all. I was at least strong enough to not starting to get totally drunk, I was too terrified of what I might have done then....
Soonish they are going to take a group picture. I'm not too sure if I want to be part of it. I don't feel like I'm part of it. Andreas Schuldei's talk on Small Groups seem to be what debconf is about: Flocking together in small groups, the same people that flock together at home already, and well... there's no group here that I'm flocking together with at home. Too bad.
Monday was a really bad day. First it started off with some call from the office from a sales collegue who didn't listen to reason but was just complaining about our sysadmin team. At work I noticed that he even sent the corresponding mail to an address he never used before, making it hard to find... Later I got notified that a dear uncle of mine died and gets buried on friday. And if this wouldn't be enough for a bad day the European Council Presidency adopted the Software Patent Agreement against the council's rules...
At that time, the day did finish itself on me. I tried to get my work done and hope I didn't do too many mistakes. Even finally got around to upload the new sponsored upstream version of libetpan1 into the pool. But it didn't help much for a distraction. Disappointed a dear friend really much by publishing a (to me, at that time) stupid private statement and getting him into trouble. Tried to help him in return though to get some "inner knowledge" about the Überraschungseier for a friend of him from an old online community I'm in. Though I wasn't able to find the conference room there anymore (I guess it got removed, like everything interesting gets removed or discontinued after some time...) but stumbled across a different conference room there: "Hate and Selfhate".
Exactly what I needed in that mood, thank you... There was this link in it to Selbsthass which really made me wonder. Reading the page touched me to the bottom of my heart (especially the Dialog), though I'm not cutting myself and haven't been (sexually) abused. But the page about narcissism shocked me and just enforced my own knowledge that I'm female inside. I don't care what (most) people think about me, they don't know me. If you want to put me into some stereotype, feel free but you are mostly always wrong and won't receive my acknowledge. I don't fit anywhere, I'm an individual, not a mass-production. I can understand why people wonder about Rhonda and what's behind it, and from time to time I might write something like this up letting out some background information about that part of me, which turns out to be more and more important to myself. But pretty please let myself choose the time for it.
I like to thank one very special person, though. That person helped me through the monday evening and managed that I could go to sleep with feeling quite cheerful again. I have no idea how I deserve friends like this, maybe it's not about deserving anyway, but I know that my life wouldn't be what it is without that very special person. You know who you are, thank you a thousands time!!!
Friends are an important part of my life. And I'm really glad that there are some I can depend on, even in the toughest times. I know about at least two other persons that I could depend on to be there for me, and I'm sorry that I didn't contact you two, too. And I'm quite sure you two know that I'm talking about you. Thank you, too, for staying with me and being there for me when I need some help to make it through this hell called life....