Thursday, August 25, 2011

A rambling rant (that started out as a thank-you) on biphobia and transphobia.

I am thankful for the BECAUSE community, thankful that conference was there when I was 20 years old and just coming out as bi. I was a new queer kid, I was privileged and sheltered and I sometimes think that if I hadn't come out as bi and attended that conference, I too would be one of those who all too often forget the T in LGBT, or try to dismiss it.

Because of the awesome bisexual folks of varied gender history and identity who organized and attended the conference, it never occurred to me that trans folk wouldn't be a part of my queer community. It never occurred to me that they were less than. It never occurred to me that they weren't part of my queer feminist community. It also never occurred to me that someone would stop being bisexual or queer just because of their current partner's gender. At BECAUSE, we were all there because our sexuality (and sometimes our gender too) didn't fit into an either/or – we were all both/and. I met genderqueer kids before that word existed. I met magnificent people of many genders and sexualities from the very beginning and because of that, I felt more comfortable exploring my own gender and sexuality.

We were tired of being the forgotten and disrespected B's and T's. We booed Elizabeth Birch of the Human Rights Campaign when she gave a speech and consistently said only “gay and lesbian.” We shared experiences of being treated rudely and painfully by lesbians and dykes, who often placed ads that said “no bi's” and didn't consider trans women women.

So it boggles my mind that 16 years later, we are still fighting this battle. I and many others still experience biphobic remarks from lesbians/dykes/queer women, and women who are trans are still consistently excluded from and made to feel unwelcome in women's spaces and communities. It boggles my mind that “queer” went from being a word that encompassed all deviant, radical sexualities to a word that for many basically only means “gay and lesbian.” That it's okay for queer women to date guys who are trans – their communities will still accept them, for the most part. But if that same queer woman was to date a non-trans guy, well then suddenly she's suspect, she doesn't belong. This happens all the time and I will tell you that it is happening right now in the supposedly progressive and radical queer community of the PNW to someone I know. Not a theoretical someone – an actual person is being judged and dismissed and excluded because of other peoples' assumptions about her partner's gender, and it is just so stupid.

And while I don't think gay marriage is where we should be devoting so much of our money and resources, and while I think it is necessary to think critical about the cultural and religious institution of marriage, I also don't think we need to dismiss and denigrate those queers who get married, whether it's sanctioned by the state or not. Since when did two people expressing love and commitment to each other become something to mock or despise? Isn't that part of what we're fighting for: the right to express our love and desire, in all of its permutations?

I am just so tired of us doing this to ourselves, because don't we get enough of this from the world at large? What is up with that need to define and exclude? Are our identities and lives so fragile that they are threatened by others'?

Monday, August 1, 2011

What it means for one person to not have health insurance.

I can't walk without near-constant pain.  I have self-diagnosed (well, with the help of a medically-inclined friend) plantar fascitis, and have sprained both ankles several times, not quite recovering from the last time about 3 months ago.  It's not immobilizing, but between feeling like there are deep bruises on the bottoms of my heels, ankle-joint pain and looseness, it's not so fun to be active anymore, which is creating a vicious cycle of pain and inactivity.

When I fell and sprained both ankles 3 months ago, I also landed pretty hard on my wrists.  My wrists that already had untreated RSI.  My wrists that have actually gotten progressively worse since then, which means that it's painful to move them in certain ways, and that while my arm muscles are relatively strong, I can't pick heavy things up because my wrists hurt and feel so weak.  Picking up my laptop with one hand is no longer an option.

My knees have been making a strange crackling sound for years now.  They used to hurt more, but now they only twinge a bit when I walk down stairs or hills.  They, like my ankles and wrists, feel wobbly and uncertain.

I haven't had dental insurance in years, which means I haven't been in for a cleaning in about 5 years.  Luckily, I had a privileged upbringing that included regular dental care, so my teeth could be much worse.  Still, I have retainers on the backs of my teeth that should have been removed 15 years ago, and I can tell I have a few cavities.

I worry that I will break or lose my glasses, since I don't have any sort of vision insurance and couldn't afford to buy new ones.

I might have a pre-cancerous spot on my nose, but I can't go to a dermatologist to find out.

So that's just me, and the issues I'm dealing with.  I had a privileged upbringing which certainly helped provide a more solid foundation for my health, but I'm also currently the poorest I've ever been and literally can't afford the low-income community clinic's co-pay of $10 right now.

The point of all this isn't to get pity, or to get resources (I have a few that I'm going to take advantage of), but just to say:  this is what it's like for one person, in relatively good health, with a decent amount of privilege.  This is a severely broken system and it's infinitely frustrating and infuriating. Public health systems are exhausting and extremely time-consuming to deal with, and frequently deliver sub-par quality of care (due to underfunding), if you can even qualify.

In closing:  grrrr.  arrrggghh.