The Arcade in SL, September 2017

It’s the first of September, and once again, the Arcade is open in Second Life. It’s been five years now, and it’s still going strong!

I was in the first Arcade, and I’ve been in lots of them (but not all) since. I’m there again this time, with a bunch of Corn Dollies.

 

Corn Dollies Key image
The Corn Dollies Key

It’s all Marianne McCann’s fault. She was the one who begged for them. I was going to do this set a long time ago, and then got distracted, and only did one. I put that one in an Arcade set called Grandma’s Attic, which was really a whole lot of things that I had sitting around in my workroom, but had never really finished, or finished and never put up for sale. I have a lot of things like that, at any time.

But Mari never forgets, especially when it’s something she really wants, and so she kept nudging until I got this set done. If you like them, thank her!

There are 12 in the set, plus the reward.

Many of them are scripted; for instance, there’s one with a quilt, which lets you swap between 3 different quilt patterns. There’s one with a parasol, that lets you choose from 12 different parasol designs. There’s one holding a bird, that plays birdsong when you touch her, until you touch her again. There’s one with a working lantern that has all kinds of different options. There’s one with a bubble wand, that lets you toggle the bubbles on and off. There’s one on a swing that can really swing.

All of them let you change the colors of their skin, hair, apron, dress, and kerchief (or hair bows) separately, so you can have them look just the way you want.

You can also use your own pictures for the one with the quilt, or the one who is painting, just by dragging them over the quilt or picture that’s there.

The Reward is only available during the Arcade, and is copy/mod, no transfer, so you won’t be able to pick her up at any of the sales or trades. This is your only chance to get her, and only by playing the machine 25 times. She’s holding a jack-o-lantern that’s really a light, with all the options (including changing the light color and brightness.) It’s a bit early for Halloween, but it won’t be by the time the Arcade closes on September 31.

Corn Dollie Jackie, 25 play reward
The Reward you get for 25 plays!

So go ahead, and try your luck at my machine at The Arcade! All the dolls (except the Reward) are mod/transfer, and all of them are 1 LI at the size given. You can shrink them small enough to put in my dollhouse, or make them huge, although LI goes up as they get big (of course.)

While you are there, don’t forget to pick up the Birthday Presents! You’ll find them on the huge cake in the middle of the venue. Happy Birthday, Arcade!

Thoughts

I wrote this in January, and just found it. I didn’t post it then, and I don’t know, now, why I didn’t. I suspect it’s because I was sick, and none of it seemed worth posting. It was a rough winter, and spring; I was sick most of the time, until we realized that the constant coughing and exhaustion from all the coughing had more to do with ducts that were not cleaned before we moved in here than with my lousy immune system. (Check your ducts!)

The ducts are clean now, and have been for weeks. I’m no longer coughing. And, slowly, I’m trying to get back to writing. I haven’t been writing for a very long time. Like most of the other creatives I know, creating under these circumstances is surprisingly hard. So much for hard times yielding great art.

Anyway, here’s the piece I wrote so long ago. And my hope that I’ll be writing more regularly in the future.


It’s been a long, hard time since the last time I posted on this blog, and I have a horrible feeling that it’s just going to get harder for a while.

Like many other creatives, I’ve been unable to write. The one time I tried, the post before this, someone found it necessary to write a very long comment explaining to me that I didn’t actually mean what I said in that post.

They were wrong, of course. I did mean it. I don’t write things lightly, and I think carefully before I say anything, and even more carefully, including running it past at least one other person, before I actually post.

It’s taken me months to decide what to do about the comment. I’ve never just declined to post any real comment before. (I delete spam all the time, but that’s spam. You get plenty of that already, I’m sure.) But this time, although I thought about countering his points one by one, I’ve decided not to. It’s a waste of time and energy that I frankly can’t spare at the moment. So I’m just going to ignore it.

Instead, I’m going to post something I’ve been thinking about all day, as I sit here with the snow falling all around my house.

I have a friend in California. Okay, I have a bunch of friends there, but I have one I frequently exchange weather info with.

She is forever telling me that the sky is blue. That’s what she sees, when she looks out her window. She’s even sent me pictures to prove it.

I tell her that the sky is white, or sometimes light gray. That’s what I see when I look out my window. Featureless, unbroken light gray or white, from horizon to horizon.

Neither of us is wrong about what we are seeing. We’re both reporting it accurately.

Except I’m not really seeing the sky. I’m seeing clouds. All I’ve seen for days and weeks is clouds. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this thing called “sun,” although I’m pretty sure I saw a picture of it once.

But the truth is, the sky beyond those clouds is blue. If I could see through the clouds, I would be able to see that it is.

Privilege is like that. I’m a cis white woman. I don’t have as much privilege as a white cishet man does, but I have quite a bit. From here, behind my privilege, we have always had equal rights, here in the US. That’s what it says in the constitution, in the laws, in the stories we tell ourselves about our country. Once, long ago, we had Jim Crow, but that was all swept away in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It’s gone now. Heck, we had a black president!

People on the margins of society knew that was just an illusion. That was the clouds in front of the sky. In reality, a reality I never experienced from behind my bank of privilege, there has always been massive racism in this country. The laws changed, but the attitudes of the people didn’t magically change along with them.

Ask anyone who isn’t white.

People have been trying to tell us this, ever since the sixties. From where they are, where they are being systematically imprisoned, beaten, and killed, even by law enforcement, it’s obvious that it’s not anything close to over. From where they stand, it’s clear that they have to work many times harder to get a scrap of what we assume we have by right. They are refused housing, refused education, refused simple courtesy, their very humanity and right to exist is constantly questioned. Doctors assume that they have higher pain tolerance than a white person, even though there is no evidence of such a thing, so they aren’t given the same pain meds, if they are given any at all.

They are considered to be “over sexed” through no fault of their own, and so are treated as sexual predators when they are simply minding their own business. Their sexualization a part of white fantasy, not due to anything they have done. The law treats them as if they are adults the moment they reach puberty, if not before, while treating white men as if they are children, not responsible for their actions, when they are 27, or 35, or in their 40s.

At the same time, they are treated as if they can never become adults intellectually, no matter how much experience or education they have. Totally ignorant white people talk down to people of color, because of course they know more; they’re white!

They tried to tell us. They kept pointing it out. They showed us videos, they showed us evidence, they held marches and demonstrations, where they were met with policemen in riot gear.

And then the Election came, and the clouds of our privilege rolled back, and we glimpsed the reality behind them, just for a moment. We saw that yes, indeed, racism is still alive and well, and the evidence is really all around it.

We are stunned. They tried to tell us, but we wouldn’t listen.

So now, please, for our very lives, it’s crucial that we listen.

We might not have any idea how to navigate this world, but they do. It’s the world they’ve been living in for their whole lives. In their place, we might be so angry and spiteful that we wouldn’t lift a finger to help the white people who are now tasting the bitter draught they’ve been forced to drink.

They are better than that. They aren’t really interested in changing places with us; they know too well what it feels like to be in this position.

But they can’t help us if we won’t listen.

So please, please listen.

Show up to all the marches and rallies that you can. Our white bodies offer a level of protection for those with more melanin in their skin. Did you see the difference between the police at the Women’s March and those at any Black Lives Matter demonstration? There was no riot gear, no mace, pepper spray, or nightsticks. There were pink hats, smiles, high fives. That is one of the reasons we have to be there.

But don’t talk. It’s not about us. Besides, everyone has heard our white stories too many times to count. They all know what we have to say.

Instead, let them speak. Hand them the megaphone. They are the leaders here. They are the ones who know this territory. They have lived here forever, and know how to navigate in it.

Respect the sacred spaces of those who have other religions than you. If they kneel to pray, or draw up a sacred circle, or do anything that they are doing as a group, sacred or not, don’t barge in or through. You are not more important than they are.

We are all humans, together, trying to fight through the mire and work our way to a place of freedom where we can, finally, really, be equal.

Yes, when the Founding Fathers wrote “all men are created equal” they didn’t really mean “all human beings, no matter their gender, skin color, religion, or ethnic background.” We know that. But that’s exactly what we mean. We can fulfill their dream, and make it a reality.

It will be a struggle, and it won’t come without cost.

But if we can get there, it will be oh so worth it.

It’s worth fighting for. So let’s fight. As one, with respect for all and malice towards none.

I’ll see you at the demonstration. I’ll be the one listening, not talking.

Join me.

The Arcade September 2016 Round is Open!

It’s that time again, and The Arcade is open for the September round.

Items from the R(SW & YKFK Gacha machine at The Arcade in Second Life
R(S)W Playful Pastimes 2 – Arcade Sept. 2016

Marianne McCann and I have collaborated on a set of Retro toys for this round. (I did the mesh, and she did most of the textures. Mari also did the animation in the plane. We both worked on the scripts.)

If you’re a resident of Second Life, you can visit our Gacha Machine at The Arcade, and try your luck! It’s just L$50 a try, and everything is mod/transfer.

All of the items do something. The tops jump onto their tips and spin when you touch them. Touch them again, and they fall over. Or just wait, and they’ll fall over by themselves after a bit (because this isn’t a dream.)

When you touch the handheld pinball games, you hear the plunger, and the ball rolling, and then the ball appears in one of the slots. It’s exactly like really playing it! (Or as close as I could manage, in SL.)

The sliding puzzles scramble or solve themselves with a touch.

If you wear the plane, your avatar holds it up in the air. If you touch it, you get a really cute kid voice making a plane noise, so you can run around pretending the plane is flying.

The ray gun water pistol is the most fun! If you wear it and go into Mouse Look, you can shoot a cascade of water at your friends! The disks on the front of the gun also light up and spin when you’re in Mouselook, so everyone knows you are ready to douse them at a moment’s notice.

If you play the machine 25 times, you get a special Reward; a tin Police Box Bank.

Tin Police Box Bank - Reward for playing the gacha machine 25 times
R(S)W Playful Pastimes 2 Reward – Arcade Sept 2016

There’s no other way to get it, and it’s only available during this round of the Arcade, so if you want one, you have until September 30. Unlike all the rest of the things in the machine, the bank is copy/mod, so you won’t be able to buy, beg, or borrow one from anyone.

When you touch the bank, you’ll be able to hear the coins dropping into it. There’s also a script in the Instructions (in the Object Contents) that lets you turn it into a tip jar, if you want to.

So that’s part of what I’ve been up to! Hope you enjoy it, and if you’re in Second Life, I hope to see you there!

News – August 15

What a month! As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted in a while. There are two reasons for that.

The first is that I came down with a ferocious bug. I ran a high fever for a week or so, and then spent the last month coughing like mad. A lot of people in this area got it, and it seems that it takes most somewhere between a month and six weeks to recover.

I’m about finished with it now (I hope) but as you can imagine coughing until you are so short of air that you lose vision and your chest muscles cramp up doesn’t leave a whole lot of energy to do anything that’s not vital.

Since very few people actually read this blog, I’m afraid it fell into the “not vital” category. I’m sorry, if you are one who checks here regularly. Thank you so very much, and I didn’t mean to let you down.

The second reason is that I agreed to teach a series of four Photoshop tutorials at my local quilt shop, Bits ‘n Pieces, during the month of August. Of course, that meant that I needed to plan lessons, and I quickly realized that I needed to give the students a transcript and detailed illustrations with explanatory text and arrows on them. Which took more time than I expected to put together, although I did find an incredible tool to take screenshots on the Mac, called ScreenShot PSD, that lets me arrange all the windows, menus, and cursors however I need them after taking the shot! If you have a Mac, and need screenshots for tutorials, I highly recommend it. It’s even free!

At this point two of the lessons have been given, the third is in the can, and the fourth is written and (mostly) illustrated. Another day or two should take care of finishing it up.

Just in time to set up for The Arcade in Second Life! I knew I’d be short of time this round, so Marianne McCann offered to do textures, and I took her up on it. But I still need to do all the keys, promo, and set-up work, so that should keep me busy the rest of this week, since the first day of setup is less than a week away.

After which, I have Plans.

Which brings me to the stories. As far as I can tell, only a few people are reading them, and no one is interested in supporting them on Patreon. (Except Lauren and Michael. Thanks, you guys!) So my question is, do you want me to keep posting them here? If you do, I’ll be happy to. But it does take time, and seems kind of silly if no one cares. Please let me know in the comments if you want to read them here.

I think that’s everything. With any luck, my life will get back to normal soon!

Take care, and thanks for reading!

New Story on Patreon

I just put a new story up on my Patreon page, for those people who subscribe at $5 a month or more.

This could be you!

The story is from a collection that I’m tentatively calling The Dreamweaver’s Tales. Here’s the introduction for the collection.


The Dreamweaver

Introduction to the Dreamweaver’s Stories
by Robin Wood

Long ago, in the Before Time, our arm of the galaxy twirled through a spoke of the Cosmos that was filled with Enchantment. In those days, all the world was thick with Magic, and fantastical creatures roamed land and sea, bringing joy or terror, according to their natures.

There were many kingdoms then that have since fallen to dust, and even the ever-so-very-great grandchildren of the ancient Kings and Queens no longer remember their names.

You might be one, all unknowing.

In one of those kingdoms there was a mighty city, with walls and towers of shining alabaster that blazed white in the sun. Many-hued banners snapped in the breeze at the tops of the towers, and the air was filled with the perfume of a thousand flowers.

There was a bustling marketplace there, where hundreds of merchants hawked their wares under colorful canopies. There were rows of booths filled with amazing fabrics, shimmering in the sunlight. There were hidden nooks where mysterious figures shrouded in robes stiff with mystical embroidery sold jeweled treasures glimmering with magic. There were pens and cages filled with animals from every corner of the globe, from small crested dragons no bigger than your thumb to towering, tusked creatures that were armored for war. There were sections filled with a thousand musical instruments, all inlaid woods and gleaming strings. There were whole squares given to selling foods from plain bread rolls to the most exotic spiced confections you can think of.

Imagine it, if you will.

Picture the rows of booths, each with its bright awning to shade the buyers and sellers. Picture the sunlight, dazzling as it reflects from polished wood, metal, and precious stones.

Picture the sounds with your mind’s ear; the sweet notes of women singing of perfumes and baubles to entice customers. The harsh bellows of men outshouting each other in their attempt to engage the crowd. The calls of the livestock, the peals of metal chimes, the snatches of song played by wandering minstrels, the calls of the street performers, all mixed into a cacophony that somehow blends into a busy, harmonious whole.

Picture the scents with your mind’s nose, perfume, and heat, the spicy musk of the wooly beasts, spices, rare woods, meltingly delicious desserts, and the cool fragrance of growing plants.

Picture the crowds, dressed in clothing from all the world, feathers nodding in an elaborate head dress here, long sleeves flowing there. Bare feet, scarlet slippers, and tooled leather boots with curled toes all vying for space on the red porphyry pavement. Children in splendid finery, and children in little more than rags laughing and playing as they slipped through the crowds together.

Let us follow two of them, a boy and a girl in plain homespun with just a touch of embroidery, as they race below the elbows of their elders.

Together, they weave their way past the booth where an old, old woman is selling sweets dripping with honey. Past the fat, bearded old man with ranks of toys. Past the young woman with bunches of bright ribbons. Not even pausing for the flute player, or the puppets, or the man with a basket of silky-furred puppies.

Down to the far corner of the market they run, to a nondescript tent of dusty brown, with a single silver star on a deep blue banner trailing down the side.

Here they pause, catching their breath and each other’s hands. And then they lift the flap and slip inside.

Inside, all the noise and light from the market are gone. Inside, it’s quiet and cool, and stars glimmer in the twilight. Inside, it’s outside, on a still hilltop, on a summer evening.

There are other children here, and grown-ups, too, all sitting in a circle, watching a still figure draped in white.

For a moment she remains motionless, as we settle in the circle with the others.

Then she lifts her head, and smiles gently.

“I spin you a dream,” her soft voice stirs her listeners. “a dream from the Borderlands between this world and the next.”

Then she lifts her hands, and starlight and dream-stuff pour between them. She gathers it up, spins it into shimmering strands, and from the strands she weaves a visible dream. A dream of shifting colors and flowing shapes, of light and substance. Of pale shadows and strong sparks.

A dream of Good and Evil. Of how our smallest choices can make huge differences. Of the warmth and courage of the human heart.

This is a Dreamweaver, and these are some of her Dreams.

The End – Or perhaps The Beginning

If you want to read the first one now, instead of waiting for a month for it, you can support me on Patreon.

There will be another story posted here tomorrow; it’s the next Kip Andrews. Those are written in a totally different style than the fairytales, like the Dreamweaver’s stories. You might like it better, or you might not. I’d love to hear one way or the other.

Finally, for people from Second Life, the mesh for the hammock that I showed yesterday is finished!

hammock for Second Life, work in progress, with no textures
The finished mesh for the hammock.

I still need to make all the textures, the LODs, bring it into SL, and assign animations and script it so the hammock will swing. So yeah, next week, at the earliest.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow!


Picture – a shot I took in a glassblower’s booth at the Michigan Renaissance Festival in Holly, MI. I wish I knew whose work it was, but sadly I didn’t keep a note of it. (If you know, please tell me!)

News – Second Life, Writing, and More!

Sorry for vanishing like that! I got sick, and the medicine the doctor put me on made it really hard to focus or do much of anything. But I’m better now!

I have been trying to get some stuff done while I was gone. First off, I got a citronella candle out for Second Life.

Citronella Candle for Second Life
Citronella Candle for Second Life

I’m pretty pleased with it. Like the res of my candles and lamps, it works (either Local Lights or Fulbright.) I don’t really see the point of a light that doesn’t light!

It’s also color changing; there’s a script to change the color of the candle or the bucket, although since it’s copy/mod you can also just change it all manually, if you prefer.

If you would like to know more about it, you can see it in the SL Marketplace.

Café Stool for Second Life
Café Stool for Second Life

I also released a stool to go with the café table and chairs. That was week before last, but I had a story that I blogged that day, so I was going to wait to talk about this, and then I got sick.

It has 12 sit poses, is also copy/mod, and you can find out all about it in The Marketplace as well.

Speaking about SL, there are only two weeks left of The Arcade. As always, when it’s over you’ll be able to keep playing my machine on Livingtree; but you won’t be able to get the special Rewards for playing the machine 50 times ever again. So if you want those, you only have a couple of weeks to get them!

There won’t be a new item out in Second Life this weekend, because the thing I’m working on right now is going to take me longer than that to finish. I think it’ll be worth the wait though.

Test Render - Hammock for SL in Progress
Test Render – Hammock for SL in Progress

It will come in three parts; the hammock itself (I still need to make the pillows but they’re coming,) the stand, and the shade canopy.

That’s so the hammock can swing. Swinging in the hammock is important! It also will mean that if you have trees, you don’t need to use the stand. And if you don’t want the canopy, you can save the LI and not have it.

It will probably wind up tweaked a bit from what you see in the picture, and it needs textures and things, of course. It is, after all, a work in progress. But I thought you might like to see what I’m cooking up.

On the writing front, I’m in the process of editing a book about Wicca that I wrote nearly 10 years ago now, but then Life happened and I forgot to do anything with it. Michael reminded me about it, so now it will see the light of day!

It’s for people who aren’t necessarily interested in joining the religion at all, but who want to know something about it because they have friends, neighbors, or clients that are Wiccan.

With any luck, that will be available in the next month or so.

The next Kip Andrews story will be published here on my blog on Saturday. I hope you like it.

If you liked the last one (Stormy Weather) I’d really appreciate it if you could review it on Amazon. If you want to read it again, you can read it for free if you happen to subscribe to KindleUnlimited. Otherwise, the book is only 99¢.

If you want to read my stories early, you can join my Patreon. I would really appreciate your support.

I’m also starting to work on the redesign of the site, in my copious free time. (Haha.) Since there’s not a whole lot of free time, it might be a while before you can see it, but I’m working on it.

So, that’s what I’m up to at the moment!

Thanks for reading, and if you have a question, comment or suggestion, please let me know.

June Arcade!

The June 2016 round of The Arcade in Second Life is open!

This round, I have a pressed wood dollhouse, complete with all the furnishings!

All the prizes!
All the prizes!

The furniture all comes in at under 1LI per piece. The dollhouse itself is 2 LI (because it has a working door, and all those windows have real glass – or perhaps it’s plastic – in them.)

All the furniture is very detailed, and some of it, like the kitchen table and chairs, is designed to be easy to tint whatever color you like! There’s even a dollhouse to go inside the dollhouse.

The dollhouse itself is carefully textured to show all the parts of the rooms that aren’t removable furniture; things like posters on the walls, a kitty clock in the kitchen, fireplaces, and kitchen cabinets. The outside has a richly landscaped texture, like a real pressed wood or metal dollhouse.

The Arcade has a new “thing” this round; if you play the machine more than 50 times, you’ll get a special Reward. It’s only available for this one month. It’s no-transfer, so you won’t be able to buy them anywhere, and we have all agreed not ever to sell them anywhere else.

My Reward is a mailbox and lamppost for the dollhouse.

Working Rewards
Working Rewards

The lamppost lights up, of course, and you can also change the color of the light, make it auto (on at dusk, off at dawn) and all the other things you can do with my lights.

The mailbox has a toggle. The first time you touch it, the flag goes up. The next time, the flag goes down, and the door opens so you can see the tiny little pieces of mail. The third time, the door closes, and it’s back where you started.

As always, I’m pretty excited about The Arcade. There’s a lot of really good stuff in it! You can see all of it (not just mine) at The Arcade June 2016 Shopping Guide.

If you’re an SL Resident, it’s a lot of fun, and a great way to get amazing stuff for very few Lindens!

See you there!

Stormy Weather on Amazon

I got Stormy Weather made into a Kindle book yesterday, and today it’s up for sale on Amazon!

I really should have researched the title before I used it. I had no idea how many other books were also called “Stormy Weather” although I certainly should have. It’s not like it would have been hard to do. Oh well, too late now! It’ll be easier when it’s just the name of the first story in the collected Kip Andrews book. (It’s a very short read – only 13 print pages, so it’s perfect for reading during break.)

If you’re a member of KindleUnlimited you can read it for free. If not, I’m afraid it’ll cost 99¢. Amazon won’t accept a lower price.

I’d like to thank everyone who read it here, and encouraged me. If you liked it, and you can leave a review, that would be great! Good reviews really help.


If you’d like to read any of the 3 stories that are still here, while they’re still free, you can find links to them below.

Beauty and the Beast Retold

A Little Bird Told Me – A Grandnana Story

May Eve

I have a Patreon Page

As planned, I’ve bitten the proverbial bullet, and posted a page on Patreon.

If you’re enjoying my stories, it would be great if you could help support me by becoming one of my Patrons.

In case you’re not familiar with Patreon, it allows people who enjoy the work of various artists to give them donations in support of that work. It’s one of the reasons why many creative people no longer have to have a “day job” and can, instead, use their time to make the wonderful things that people enjoy.

In my case, if you choose to support me, Patreon will bill you once a month, for whatever amount you have pledged.

You can pledge as little as a dollar, because every bit helps. If you do, you’ll be able to interact with me on the special Patreon member page, and you’ll also be able to read the stories the day before I post them here.

If you can pledge $3 or more, you’ll be able to read the story that will be posted on June 4 right now! (It’s another Grandnana one.) You’ll always get the stories 2 weeks early, as my thanks.

For $5 a month or more, you’ll get the Kip Andrews story scheduled for June 18 right away. You’ll always be able to read all the stories a month early.

If you can pledge $15 or more, I’ll be posting some of the backstory for longer stories that won’t ever be posted here. Things like the world building for Kip’s home, which is also the setting for the novel I’m working on. (world building, the way I do it is geography, currency, form or government, technology, fashion, and a whole lot more. The background that the stories are woven from.)

For $25 a month or more, you’ll also get to see what I’ve written each day. I’ll post it, as raw and terrible as it comes out, at the end of the day. (Most days. Some days I don’t write anything, because of Reasons.) Whatever it is will probably change some before it’s printed. It might change beyond recognition, and I might just dump the entire project. It’s also going to be short stories some days, and a couple thousand words from a novel other days. It’ll vary, and it’ll be raw, but that’s the fun of it! I usually don’t show that to anyone but my husband, but if you’re willing to support me at this level, I’m willing to let you look. (You don’t have to read it, if you’d rather not.) You’ll even be able to leave me comments on it!

For $50 a month or more, I’ll put your name in a special Acknowledgements section, on any finished novels or collections of short stories. You’ll also get all the things above, or course.

For $100 a month or more, first, are you sure? That’s a lot of money. I deeply appreciate it, though. So very much that I’ll use your name in one of the stories. If you’d rather not have your name in a book, I’ll use whatever name you like, as long as I like it too. (Sorry, you can’t name a character Evil McEvilface and have me use it. Unless I decide to write a piece of farce, and you never know!)

So that’s that. The stories are up, and ready to be read this minute. There’s not a video intro (yet) but all my prospective Patrons are readers, so you’re not afraid to read, right?

The rewards and goals are on the right side, when you go to the page. I really hope that you decide to become one of my Patrons; but if you don’t, I fully understand. The short stories will continue to be posted here, every other Saturday, as usual.

Thanks!

Transgender Bathroom Panic

Unless you’ve been hiding under your bed clothes for the last couple of months – and I don’t blame you a bit if you have, we’re a fair way beyond “crazy” at this point – you know that we’re in the middle of a Bathroom War in the US just now.

It’s been framed as a conflict between the “common sense” rule of keeping men out of women’s private spaces, and the “dangerous” practice of allowing them free access.

I have a few things to say about that.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I’m cis-gendered, which means the doctor happened to be right when he assigned the gender on my birth certificate. I also have a lot of trans friends. And no, I’m not going to tell you who, because all but one are deeply closeted. That one is Gwendolyn Ann Smith. I will tell you that I count 3 trans women, including Gwen, among my closest friends and I know dozens of others.

So.

This whole thing, from where I stand, is actually about two separate issues.

One is safety in public restrooms. Let’s get that out of the way.

It’s a real problem, and it should have been addressed years and years ago. Women, girls, and little boys are at risk of assault when they use public facilities. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen, and it happens because bathrooms are tucked away for privacy. There’s little chance an attacker will be caught. That’s the real reason that women go to the restroom in clumps; there is safety in numbers. The only thing this has to do with trans people is that they are at far higher risk than non-trans people. There are zero cases of trans people being the aggressor.

You want some links? Have 3, chosen totally at random. A 16 year old girl died in Delaware after being beaten in a bathroom. A 15 year old girl was raped in a bathroom. A 23 year old woman was raped in a Manhattan bar.

  • Note that none of these cases involved anyone who was trans.
  • Note that in none of the cases did the man don a wig and dress to commit his crime.
  • Note that laws that do, or do not, allow trans people to use a bathroom where they are comfortable – or at least, less uncomfortable – have no bearing at all here.

It’s not about trans people.

It’s easy to fix.

We need to put public bathrooms in high traffic areas. The toilets need to be in actual little rooms with lockable doors (not stalls that people can peep over, crawl under, or peer through the cracks of.) There should be a “panic button” on the wall for people who need help, because that happens; especially with senior citizens or people with disabilities. The sinks should be out in the open, where they can be seen by everyone.

If we did that, then it would be safe for everyone to take care of bodily functions.

Since the toilets would be completely private, there wouldn’t be any need to have any kind of gender anything. No one would be able to loiter unseen, because they would be clearly visible to everyone.

But all of this isn’t about any of that, is it? If it was, there wouldn’t be so many untested rape kits in North Carolina.

This is about the right of transgender and gender-non conforming people to exist at all.

The people screaming about the sanctity of their bathrooms are really fighting for a binary world. For a world in which things are black and white, male or female, yes or no. They are fighting for absolutes.

People like binaries. It makes choices clear and easy. It’s the lazy way to deal with differences. You are either one or the other. Us or them. Liberal or Conservative. Girl or Boy.

The problem is that nature doesn’t do binary at all. Not in anything. Between day and night, there’s always twilight. We only know when Winter becomes Spring because of the artificial conceit of a calendar; there’s no clear demarcation in the weather. Heck, we can’t even really draw a line between animal and vegetable!

In real life, all the lines blur. There are always liminal spaces that aren’t exactly one or the other, but have some characteristics of both.

This is true of everything, including human biological sex.

Trans people, far from being “unnatural” are proof positive that humans are part of the natural world.

I’m not going to go into all the stuff that happens, between chromosomes, hormones in utero, and embryonic development that causes a baby to be born with enough differentiation for the attending doctor to assign a gender. Suffice it to say it’s not nearly as clear cut as you learned in biology class. Sex chromosomes don’t always come in pairs. Things like Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome cause people who are genetically male (46XY) to have female sexual characteristics at birth. Women with XY genes have even give birth.

So it’s not surprising that people can have outward sexual characteristics from one gender, while knowing that they really belong to the opposite one. Or people who are uncomfortable being assigned to either box.

We don’t really know what causes internal gender identity, although we might be learning.

We do know, however, that Gender Dysphoria is a real thing. It doesn’t go away. It feels horrible. It can kill, if it’s not treated.

So what it comes down to is this; do we accept people’s own reports of their lived experiences, or not?

If we do, then we have to agree that someone who knows to the bottom of her soul that she’s female is female, whether or not she has a penis. Someone who identifies as male, is male, even if he happens to have a vagina.

If not, of course, then you insist that you are omnipotent; you know what other people are feeling and thinking better than they do themselves. How that assumption of god-like powers can not be considered blasphemy is beyond me, but I digress.

Because here’s the thing.

Trans people are people.

Like everyone else, they should be treated with respect, kindness, and honor. Everyone should be, no matter what.

At the beginning of this post, I said I know a bunch of trans people. The most important thing about them?

Being trans isn’t the most important thing about them.

They are artists, writers, computer programmers, health workers, teachers. They have rich or complex relationships with their parents, siblings, children, and friends. They have different things they like or dislike. They are all avid science fiction readers, like nearly everyone else I know. They are all the things that everyone else is, and it’s those things that make us friends.

The only reason to care about someone’s gender is so you know how to treat them.

If you are treating people differently based on their gender, that’s a problem I think you should address.

In other words, let’s go for true gender equality, and stop worrying about the gender of other people.


Picture Attribution; the transgender flag: harvey milk plaza, castro, san francisco (2012) by torbakhopper Used under a Creative Commons 2Generic License. Slightly cropped and resized.