Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Understanding

“Just accept that you’re a girl!” Luina yelled down at Arien who sat on neir knees, shaking. “You can cut your hair all you want and bind your chest or whatever the fuck you do all you want, but you’ll never escape the fact you’re a girl. Just accept reality already!”
     Luina’s jaws tightened and the top of huir nose scrunched. Huir eyes were two daggers jabbing down into Arien’s hunched and trembling back. 
     “You can say you’re a boy all you want, but in the end, people are going to see you as a girl, and they will always treat you like a girl. Millions of girls all over the world suffer because of sexism and violence—you don’t see them trying to become fake boys in order for people to treat them differently because that’s just some stupid privileged first-world bullshit. Instead, they own up to what they are because that’s how they can help end this sexist epidemic. So no matter what you do, no matter what you want people to call you, they’ll see you just the same as the rest. Stop trying to play fantasy and pretend you can be something you’re not! Idiot!”
     Luina looked as though zei might kick Arien but instead remained in the same position, towering over nem. However, she began to tremble. Huir eyes harbored frustration, anger, and something else. 
     Arien remained silent, tears welling at the bottoms of huir eyes. Zi could feel neir eyes cutting deeply. Zi could not bring enself to move, let alone face nem.
     As Liuna began to turn away huffily, Arien’s soft voice emerged from the stormy silence.
     “I know…”
     Luina paused. Turned back slowly to face Arien. She saw that neir trembling had softened slightly, however, something about it was more intimidating. 
     “I know…”
     Luina looked as though zei were about to say something, however, as against huir will as it was, zei remained silent and listened as Arien continued. 
     “You think I don’t know what people see me as? You think I don’t know what my own damn flesh prison is? You’re wrong.”
     Arien turned huir head abruptly to face Luina, huir eyes wide and huir teeth clenched. Huir voice increased in volume.
     “I’m not what I am because I want to escape from sexism. I am what I am because it’s how I feel! And if people refuse to address, let alone see me as what I am just because it’s how I feel, then fine! There are people who will accept me, and I will stick to that for now because it’s what I have. But never, never would I become a boy just to escape reality and sexism, not when even girls on my own street have been abused for their bodies! Maybe it is a privileged first-world epidemic, but as long as sexism keeps going in our first-world society, I’m not going to run away from that reality!”
     Arien lifted a hand and formed it into a fist, then brought it down heavily to the floor. The sound of a thump preceded huir next words. “If you don’t want to see or address me as I am, as a trans boy, then fine! I guess it’s too much like asking you to fight my battles for me. But I still won’t give up who I am. I will be happy with whoever can accept me for me!”
     Zi stood up on trembling legs. Shot one last fierce look to Luina, then turned away and sped off into the next room.
     Luina stood, looking as though zei might yell out something else, but remained frozen. Huir eyes widened and huir hands began to tremble.
Later on, as night fell, Arien sat on the back porch facing a small garden adorned with soft yellow lights that seemed to float among the plants. The stars showed clearly in the black-dark blue sky. The crickets sang calmly in the slowly fading heat of the day. Zi had huir knees pinned up tightly against huir chest and huir arms wrapped tightly around huir legs to keep them up. Huir eyelids were lowered and yet huir expression looked uncomfortable—unresolved. 
     Luina stood inside the yellow-lit living room, looking out through the windows of the sliding doors that led to the back porch. She watched Arien for a moment contemplatively—a little bit hesitantly as zei caught huir lip between huir teeth. She leaned forward and back. After a while, she began to walk. Opened the sliding doors. Approached Arien. 
     She sat down next to nem. 
     “Hey,” she said.
     The two of them were silent for several heartbeats, looking away from each other, words hanging at the tips of their tongues. After that time passed, they both spoke abruptly and in discorded unison. 
     “You know, I’m sorry,”
     “Hey, I’m sorry.”
     The two of them looked at each other, a bit baffled.
     “Ah…” Arien continued. “Please let me go first.”
     “No, let me,” Luina said sternly. She grabbed the edge of the porch and tightened huir hand around it. Averted huir eyes down. “I’m sorry for yelling at you earlier. It’s just…I was unwilling to accept you as a trans guy. I guess cognitive dissonance or whatever, since, you know, we were sisters for so many years. But I want to accept you for who you are, so I’m sorry about before. I just snapped, and it hurt you.” She looked away and down at the stone walkway.
     Arien continued to look at nem, a somewhat relieved expression surfacing. Then zi looked away. Took a long, drawn out, shaking breath. “I’m sorry, too. I understand where you’re coming from, and I’ve considered giving up my identity plenty of times for the sake of the many that suffer because of their bodies. I’m sorry if I hurt you…You don’t deserve to be hurt because of people who refuse to see the reality that hurts female people. I know that reality is there, and I don’t want to be a part of the problem. So I'm sorry.” 
     Zi looked back at Luina. Saw that nei was trembling. Zi lifted a hand towards nem and gaped slightly. “Luina…”
     Luina began to speak with a soft, trembling voice, all of its previous hardness washing away. “I—I guess I just got so mad because…Especially because you aren’t taking hormones and surgery, and sometimes I get so mad when trans people call themselves trans when they aren’t doing those things because it makes me think they’re just trying to escape and make things harder for everyone else…And I know that’s a heartless thing for me to say because trans people shouldn’t have to put their bodies through so much, but sometimes it just hurts me.”
     “I understand,” Arien said quietly. “But you understand my situation. Why I don’t do that stuff…”
     Luina nodded. “Yes.” 
     She remained silent and contemplative for a moment.
     When she spoke again, huir eyes began to glaze over as tears welled. “It’s just…” Before she could stop the tears, they began to overflow. Huir chin began to quiver.
     Arien lightly placed a reassuring hand on neir shoulder. 
     As soon as it landed there, Luina began to sob.
     “I—I never told anyone this.” She struggled as the words fought to get out of huir throat. “It’s just because they raped me…s—so many times…because of this body, it…hurts. They’ve…”
     Arien’s eyes widened. The shock of the words pulsed through huir chest and then throughout the rest of huir body. Zi suddenly pulled Luina roughly to huir chest and nei began to sob even harder as nei reciprocated the embrace, grabbing onto huir brother’s plaid blue shirt. 
     They stayed like this for a while as Luina buried huir sobs into nem. Stayed like this until they slowly diminished.
     “I’m so sorry,” Arien said, to the point of tears. “I’m so sorry they did this to you. I didn’t know…”
     Luina released nem and shook huir head. Wiped away the tears that smudged huir makeup. Let out a jagged breath. “No, I’m fine. It’s all over now.”
     Arien looked at huir sister sternly. Grabbed both neir shoulders. Luina looked shocked back at nem. 
     “It’s not fine,” Arien said to the point of yelling. “I know it’s not, otherwise why would you be crying over it now? No matter what, I will be here for you to talk to, even if I may not be your sister now…I want to be there for you no matter what. Even if you have to see me as your sister for now…I can wait. Because I want nothing but happiness for you.” The tears in Arien’s eyes began to spill over. 
     Luina let a small smile show through, yet it prompted even more tears. She leaned into Arien’s shoulder and sobbed more.
     “Thank you…” she said with a cracking voice between sobs. “You’ve always been there for me. Thank you.”
     It took some time, but Luina’s sobs slowly diminished into shattered breaths. However, she kept huir head on Arien’s shoulder.
     The cricket voices took over the forefront of the soundscape as the night became darker, the stars became brighter, and the two of them sat side by side on the porch. The yellow light from the living room beamed out, casting their shadows on the gravel ground.
     Luina began to speak in a more stable manner, quietly as if not to break this delicate moment.  
     “If anything,” she started. She lifted huir head slowly from Arien's shoulder and looked nem in the eyes. Smiled genuinely. “If anything, I want to try my best to call you my brother for now, if that’s fine. It will be difficult, but I still want to try for you.”
     Arien turned huir head to face huir sister. Nodded. Smiled brightly in return. “Of course.”   

(Note: I tried my best to write this as true as possible, however, this doesn't represent all trans people's experiences.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Legend Of Zxerou

In a land called Merp, rested upon an unusually small island was a village filled with dragons. (Of course, from the human point of view, the island was enormous!) There, living among these dragons was a somewhat long, silver, (albeit “wimpy” according to dragon standards) dragon called Zxerou (pronounced zero). Zei was neither she, he, nor it because zei was genderless and not technically a dragon… I won’t get into that because that would be a whole other story. 
     On this particular day, Zxerou was at "training lessons" along with a number of peculiar dragons who all seemed to have major attitude issues. One was quite large and muscular, one was round and lumpy, one was lean and haughtily posed, one had an eternal sly smirk, and one other was quite wimpy, just like Zxerou. Zxerou was in full armor along with everyone else. Huir helm was crooked and zei dragged huir shield upon the floor. Huir friend, Birch, was the wimpy dragon like Zxerou, but much better off than en for nei had notable muscles. 
     "ALRIGHT!" Master screamed. (Huir voice was always a scream...) "Today is FLIGHT TRAINING!!!”
     "But sir..." started another dragon named Meep, who was most incredibly strong, but too shy for huir brawn.
     "YEAH, YEAH, I KNOW! We have trained like that ever since you were little maggots, BUT THIS IS BASIC TRAINING!!!" Master distracted.
     "But I thought this was major fighting class," said Mudlash, the lean and haughtily posed dragon who was also clever and could beat anyone in a fighting contest.
     Master crossed huir big brawny arms over huir chest. "Yes, quite, but YOU LAME DRAGONS CAN'T EVEN PICK UP A SWORD!!!"
     Oh, gurgling glacksticks. I hope this doesn't turn into another ‘Master and Mudlash mess,’ Zxerou thought with a great glare of agony to the sky. Birch, who was patiently sitting beside Zxerou was nodding off to sleep. (Obviously, that was known as "patience" to the dragons. Dragons slept when bored, even at the dinner table and that was considered a compliment). Zxerou nudged nem awake.
     Get up, zei said through huir mind to Birch with a strange double voice—one a little higher and one a little lower. Get up before Master blasts us to the infinites…
     Master was pacing back and forth, observing the dragon's wings. The little dragon's wings amused en, and zei chuckled.
     "TERRIBLE WINGS!" he said with a grunt when zei got to the end of the line of dragons. "All of you will FAIL!!!"
     "Especially you, Zxerou," Mudlash hissed under huir breath towards Zxerou. "You will never be the God of the Dragons."
     The other dragons chuckled at this. Zxerou only stared ahead blankly as Master lifted huir oversized tail and gave a big, loud fart to silence the dragons. When that didn't work, he began to erupt.
     "SILENCE YOU LITTLE MAGGOTS, BEFORE I EAT ALL THE LIVING CARPFLEAS FROM THOSE LITTLE BRAINS OF YOURS!!!" he thundered with a great shake of huir great, overhanging belly. 
     Still, the room did not fall silent.
     "Not before I roast you and eat you," Zxerou managed to say in a snarky manner.
     Birch laughed at this in an overly exaggerated manner until Zxerou gave nem another nudge.
     Finally, after twenty whole minutes, the dragons became silent. At last, Master gave the orders.
     "ALRIGHT!" he boomed. "Now, go and do twenty laps around Merp!!!"
     Everyone moaned and groaned and began filing out of the main training hall.
     "Unless you want me to stick FIFTY FIREBALLS UP YOUR BUTTS!" Master continued.
     "No, no!" everyone cried in discorded unison. They immediately became silent.
     Zxerou was pushed and mauled by the hefty dragons as they all attempted to fit though the door at once. (Not to mention, the door was more made for long dragons like Zxerou or Birch or their dreaded enemy, Mudlash). When Zxerou and Birch were finally outside, they came to find that all the other dragons had taken off and were already halfway around Merp. 
     "Come on," said Zxerou, flapping once with huir wings and lifting off the ground.
     "Oh, joy," Birch groaned close behind Zxerou. "I absolutely, definitely, positively, seriously... Well, I kind of forgot what I was going to say, but I think I was about to say that... I HATE THE FACT MASTER MAKES US RUN LAPS!!!"
     "Hmmm..." Zxerou said, hardly surprised. "Quite so, since we are supposedly training to protect stupid jewels from knights who want to slay us…and you mean fly laps.”
     "It's all myth!" howled Birch. "They're training us for MYTH!"
     And so they both flew on as Zxerou managed to hold back huir temper while Birch complained and complained. (And even though one wing beat brought all the dragons practically halfway around the island of Merp, they still took an hour to finish. How lame).

Monday, July 10, 2017

Regarding Gender/Trans Issues

This is a kind of long post pertaining to some stuff bothering me a lot lately. It's got a lot in it, but feel free to leave insights in the comments!

So I have an issue… Basically, people argue that anyone should be able to dress, act, and express their gender however they want no matter their biological sex without being discriminated against, and yet people also advocate for trans rights, and usually trans people depend on the “binary” in culture in order to pass as the gender they want—especially people who don’t have access to or may not want hormones and surgery. It seems counterintuitive. I don’t know if both agendas can coexist. So then how do we proceed? And which one is better? If neither, then is there a middle ground? People should be able to express as they wish regarding gender, yet would that not be detrimental to those who are trans since people would simply refer to them as the gendered words that generally accompany biological sex because, i.e., no one would care about the difference between a trans man and a “butch” woman or a trans woman and a drag queen? As well, would it not also force anyone trans to take potentially harmful or unwanted hormones and surgery since the lines are even more unclear? However, at the same time, these “binary” lines that trans folks may depend on tend to be detrimental to the general population, as it forces people into boxes based on their biology, and no one really wants that, do they? But then again, would that kind of equal world be realistic in the first place? It seems like there must be a reason why male and female humans discriminated themselves into these “gender boxes” in the first place. Is there really no way to get these two agendas to coexist?—where people accept trans folks as well as folks who just wish to dress and act in a different way from their “gender box”? 

As well, pronouns seem to be a huge issue on this topic. Would there really need to be gendered pronouns, let alone sex-specific ones, especially in a world where people can express themselves however they want regarding gender? Or would people not care about omitting sex-specific pronouns as biology would not be a big deal in gender expression? However, then that assumes no one has pronoun dysphoria, and if trans people were included in this world, then clearly pronouns are still an issue. So then, do we just continue to deal with the pronoun issues or would it really be detrimental to omit the genders from them and just depend on the nouns for gender expression in our language?

I realise that there are always going to be exceptions in any culture, however, I am thinking from an overarching point of view, as I think it is safe to say that all cultures have some sort of overarching gender structure in them.

"I don't know anymore. I'm so confused."

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Lost Moments

plaster the future to a mask and
weld another day to the iron year
trap an image in the steamboat and
let it sail to the top of a mountain on thin air.
break your dream a thousand times
RE: kept them safe in your email drafts
and have deleted so many days
from then on.
taking the hand of a small lost moment
are you lost, too? you say no
but it couldn't be less true.
where did Sunday go, where are those 24 hours?
--clutching your head with your hands
the realization that this day won't last
in the thread of memory
twenty years past, and the seconds you once grasped
roam free in some unknown dimension.
one year has passed, falling from the swing
the joy of circles in the park
spinning up and away all the way 'til it becomes some
memory in the fabric of space
into the stars, eyes stare, reflect the vastness
we hold so dear

This poem is actually supposed to be a rap, but I haven't yet set it to music.

Friday, July 7, 2017

An Important Note For This Blog

Greetings, readers~!
     From this point on, I will be using a pronoun system on this blog you may not be familiar with.
     Instead of your typical he/she system, I will use a different pronoun system that differentiates people by a "fourth person" system, also known as an "obviative/proximate" system. (I will explain that shortly and provide brief examples).
     Now, there may be two different versions of the system that I use for this blog, however, they both tie together in that they both use the obviative/proximate aspect that I mentioned. One version is completely genderless while the other uses the genders, but only in the subject pronouns. I will clarify that shortly.

The Basic (Genderless) Obviative/Proximate System:
This system, also known as a "fourth person" system is a system that distinguishes one third person who is more in focus and another who is less in focus. The former is marked with a "proximate" pronoun (PROX.) and the latter is marked with an "obviative" pronoun (OBV.). In this version of the system, there are no gender markers.

Pronouns In Use:
zei, en, huir, huirs, enself (PROX.)
nei, nem, neir, neirs, nemself (OBV.)

  1. "Zei(PROX.) told nem(OBV.) that zei(PROX.) liked neir(OBV.) art." (First speaker told second speaker that first speaker liked second speaker's art.)
  2. "Zei(PROX.) told nem(OBV.) that zei(PROX.) liked huir(PROX.) house." (First speaker told second speaker that first speaker liked first speaker's house.)
Some Concerns: 
There are still plural pronouns. The third-person plural they pronoun still exists—it is not to be confused with zei, which is used in a singular fashion. "They are," vs "zei is" (for reference). All the pronouns remain the same for the most part—except for the he/she pronouns. The only real difference with my pronoun system and the one already established is that he and she are both replaced with the genderless singular pronoun, zei. This pronoun is declined the same way as he/she.
     However, the issue with condensing he/she into one genderless pronoun creates the problem of more ambiguity between third persons. In order to solve this problem, I created the nei pronoun, (which is also declined the same way as he/she). The nei pronoun tends to be the subject "less in focus." I will explain that promptly. 
     Generally speaking, when assigning zei and nei to subjects, the zei pronoun will accompany a name and the person/thing doing an action to another person/thing, while nei is assigned to the other third person that is being acted upon. "Kiri was angry. Zei lashed out at nem" (for reference). Basically, Kiri (in the first sentence) turns into zei (in the second sentence), while nem belongs to a being Kiri is acting upon. So regarding the reference point, zei and nei are just two third-persons in reference to each other.  

The Obviative/Proximate System (Modified By Genders):
In this version of the system, sheheand two trans pronouns, zi (used by trans men depending on the context) and vi (used for trans women depending on the context) may replace the proximate subject pronoun, zei, when necessary. However, the gendered subject pronouns do not decline into their own separate gendered variations, unlike usual English. (I will show examples later). As well, the obviative nei pronoun stays the same. Basically, the only difference between this version and the former is that zei can turn into she/he/zi/vi depending on the gender of the subject. One thing to note is that in a sentence, a gendered subject pronoun will turn into zei within the same sentence.

Pronouns In Use:
zei/vi/zi/she/he, en, huir, huirs, enself (PROX.)
nei, nem, neir, neirs, nemself (OBV.)

  1. "She(PROX.) told nem(OBV.) that zei(PROX.) liked neir(OBV.) art." (First speaker told second speaker that first speaker liked second speaker's art.)
  2. "He(PROX.) told nem(OBV.) that zei(PROX.) liked huir(PROX.) house." (First speaker told second speaker that first speaker liked first speaker's house.)
  3. "Zi(PROX.) liked to go for walks often as a child, but now zei(PROX.) was too scared to even set foot outside." (First speaker liked to go for walks as a child, but now first speaker was too scared to even set foot outside.)
  4. "Vi(PROX.) told nem(OBV.) that zei(PROX.) wanted a new pair of headphones, however, nei(OBV.) said to en(PROX.) that they needed to save money." (First speaker told second speaker that first speaker wanted a new pair of headphones, however, second speaker said to first speaker that they needed to save money.)
  5. "For most of huir(PROX.) life, zei(PROX.) lived in the solitude of the grass plains." (For most of first speaker's life, first speaker lived in the solitude of the grassy plains.)

Some Concerns:
If a subject is already mentioned in a sentence, the subject pronoun will turn into zei if used later in the sentence. The only time a gendered variation is used is if it is the first subject referent in a sentence. One thing to also note is that the obviative pronoun does not have gendered variations. In other words, nei will not be replaced with gendered variations, unlike zei.  

Why this system, you may ask? Unfortunately, I have no short, simple answer. Truthfully, trans issues did prompt it, but what I can say for now is that it came to my mind after years of mind wars and various iterations of what would someday become what I have now. And so I wished to use my artistic license to execute it. It is meant as a thought experiment and not intended for forcing on people to use in our own reality. If you believe you can have an open mind and handle this seemingly significant difference in English language use, then by all means, I hope you enjoy the writings on this blog. 

With love,
Aber N.T.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The New: They Imagine Us

For those rare folks who previously followed my old blog: here is my new blog, mostly for various writings and maybe some art, photography, and life happenings. And for you new folks who may be visiting for the first time...welcome! And I hope you enjoy.

For now, here's a watercolor and its accompanying poem for you to enjoy.

between us...
i like what we have
our connection
it's so delicate and reassuring
so painfully 
it could snap like that
you don't see how i carefully watch it every day
tenderly trailing my hands over its overt dark matter
and the stars that shine through and grow in numbers
all because you care
and yet i want you to notice
how much
it brings me


(Thank you to my Japanese friend for translating!)

Until next time~!

-Aber N.T.