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Wed, 14 Oct 2015

Post DebConf15

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.

/personal | permanent link | Comments: 8

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A. wrote at 2015-10-14 19:47:

Uoooo, I'm very proud to be a Debian member on reading it. Congrats and let's sign our keys next time, I forgotted it at MiniDebConf'14.

stew wrote at 2015-10-15 08:13:

I'm so very happy for you, Rhonda! Keep on keepin' on!

Jonathan wrote at 2015-10-15 10:04:

I am so happy to read this. It's a fantastic tonic to some of the intolerance I've read on PDO lately. Glad to hear progress *is* being made!

highvoltage wrote at 2015-10-15 10:41:

I also feel like the other commenters and very happy that there can be positive stories like this in DebConf, especially with so many awful stories happening in other conferences, there's a small piece of me that's a little worried about organising DC16 and that something bad might happen there that might marganilise someone. If DC15 is anything to go by, we might end up with more stories like yours and that would make my tiny little black soul glimmer with a little hope for the future :)

Andy Cater wrote at 2015-10-15 18:52:

Rhonda - it's good that you write these blogs and that you continue to feel comfortable in the Debian family. You're making us live the commitment to acceptance of different styles, understanding of others and diversity of approach that we deal with in our software and pushing this outwards into daily life and acceptance. Well done for this

Anonymous wrote at 2015-10-15 19:24:

>and that includes banning degrading terms like "SJW" from your vocabulary

Why do you hate freedom?

Rhonda wrote at 2015-10-15 20:05:

Der Anonymous,

that's a quite interesting interpretation of the word freedom. There is no freedom of discrimination in Debian. It's even part of the social contract: "No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups"

Your freedom ends where it has an influence onto others because that's not acceptable. If a licence discriminates against persons or groups that software can't be considered to be part of Debian. If a person uses downright intentional disrespectful terms for others that's just as uncalled for within the Debian project as it would be for software. So yes, it definitely aligns with the view on Freedom that is used in this community.

kevix wrote at 2015-10-25 05:05:

haven't read PDO in a while ... but upon reading this blog post, its sounds great that you where able to have those accommodations that respected your identity at Debconf and that you can enjoy some measure of happiness in the Free Software world despite it being much harder to do IRL. I love how Debconf is pushing boundaries in the new events like knitting and the Nail Polish BOFs. The transition to a more sensitive project has had a few bumps but I knew that will be fixed soon enough.

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