ask Callie again!
its been about 8 weeks since we did one of these, so we’re doing another! if you want to ask questions for the next one, hit me up at callie [at] queersplaining.com
love you friends!
Callie: [00:00:00] Shouts out to Eli and Troythulu, fantastic name, for becoming new patrons this week. Thank you, friends. Love you lots. My name is Callie Wright and this is Queersplaining. It is time for another mailbag episode. I said I was going to start doing these every eight weeks or so. And it’s been about eight weeks.
Got some great questions this week. So let’s go ahead and dive in. The first question is about apologies. A friend recently said something really hurtful to me. They apologized and I think they mean it, but I’m still really hurt. Part of me feels like I should accept the apology and move on. But part of me doesn’t want to. Does it make me a bad person to not want to immediately accept the apology and move on?
No, my friend, it does not make you a bad person. If someone hurts you, you and only you get to decide how to proceed. You don’t have to forgive and you don’t have to accept the apology. Part of the process of being and doing better is truly understanding the hurt you’ve caused, right. And understanding the hurt you’ve caused.
That needs to mean you understand you aren’t owed forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift someone else can choose to give you. It’s a precious gift and no one is entitled to it. No one. Sometimes when you hurt someone, they’re not going to be able to trust you again. For me part of the price of admission is understanding that asking forgiveness is not a guarantee of it, and a willingness to learn to do and be better, even if you don’t get that forgiveness.
I’ve unintentionally hurt my friends before by being accidentally racist or abelist, I’m infinitely grateful for the grace and patience my friends showed me in those moments and I’m understanding of the people who chose not to show me grace and patience in those moments.
That’s their right. And even though I’ve grown and learned a lot over the last few years, there are some people who are probably not going to come around to trusting me. It sucks and I hate it, but those are my consequences to deal with. And your friend needs to understand that you deserve to ask for time and space if you want it.
You deserve to sever the relationship, if that’s what you want. You can forgive and forget and move on if you want that or anything in between. The point is the decision is yours to make, and you’re not a bad person. Whatever you choose to do.
Next up is a question about kids. My youngest child came out as nonbinary last year. I’m fully supportive yet because they’re not out to everyone. I tend to get their pronouns wrong. How can I get better and let them know I’m not trying to be an asshole? Well, the first thing is to, of course have the conversation, right? Just let them know what’s up, but the next part is practice. I’ve always been naturally good at switching up my language.
Like I never cussed in front of my parents or grandma without meaning to as a kid. And I know that’s not a skill everyone has. So first I’d ask. What’s your kid wants, this is a thing I often run into with folks in my life. Right. I’ve had lots of people come out to me before they come out to the rest of the world.
They’ve even happened at work a few times at my old day job. And it was hard like knowing that someone’s correct pronouns where she, her and hearing everyone else say he, but that person’s experience is not about me or my discomfort, right? My priority is to keep that person safe. And so in those moments, I just ask what that person wants.
Do you want me to avoid pronouns around people you’re not out to? Are you okay with the wrong pronouns so you don’t get outed before you’re ready? Do you want me to have that conversation with other people on your behalf? And then practice, right? Whatever your kids says, they want practice before you meet up with grandma before you meet up with uncle, whatever.
Think about it, practice the words that you’re going to say and drill it into your head, do the work. Okay. And then you can take your kids lead. And if they’re the one leading the process, I think there’s no way they won’t feel loved and supported.
I have a possibly naive question, but if somewhere say a group is called a women only blank, does that appear exclusionary to trans women?
Okay. This is hard because trans folks are often used to being in spaces where a group’s definition of woman or man excludes them. Right. So, yeah, I always wonder if a space is trans inclusive if it says women only for example, but I also cringe really hard when it says something like women and trans women or women and women identified people because that of course implies trans women aren’t exactly women.
My favorite iteration of this is saying something like a space for women. And in parentheses you can say, yes, this includes trans women, a phrase seeing more and more is, marginalized genders. And I, I kinda dig that because frankly it gets at the core of what many gendered spaces are trying to do in just getting away from men.
How do you cope with estrangement from one’s family of origin and the answer needs to be more nuanced than find chosen family. I agree that finding chosen family is great, but chosen family doesn’t take away the unique pain of family estrangement. You know, I feel this. Like sometimes I find the chosen family thing to be kind of dismissive.
Like, obviously that’s a thing to do, but like you said, it doesn’t erase the pain we feel when we lose those relationships, I still hurt over losing my grandma. It was the right thing. I don’t regret it, but it still hurts and I’m not here for anyone telling me that I need to just get over it because she sucks anyways, which is like, so often what we hear, right?
And of course, everyone deals with grief in different ways. And that is what we’re talking about. Right. We’re talking about grief. So first, like I’m a huge advocate of therapy. If you have access to it. I know not everyone does. It can be hard to find a therapist you click with, but when you do — God, it’s a total game changer.
My therapist is amazing, but I think the first step probably is to learn, to sit in those feelings. A little bit and my experience, I’m a lot better off when I acknowledge feelings like that. Instead of trying to get rid of them, instead of trying to distract myself or try to like pull myself out of that moment, I just kind of sit with them.
I have a friend that moved pretty close to the neighborhood I grew up in and I’ve taken that friend to medical appointments a few times the last few months. And so it always brings back some memories, right? Their house is like a mile away from the house I grew up in and my instinct is to run away. The only family of mine that still live there are the two members of my family I’m totally estranged from, right. So there’s a special kind of weight there because the only thing left for me is pain in that town right aside from my one friend that lives there. And I feel it almost every time I’m in that neighborhood. But last time I dropped my friend off at their house, I decided to confront that a little bit.
I took a drive around my old neighborhood. I drove past my aunt’s house and my grandma’s house. I thought about the good times I had at both places. And I let myself be sad. I played sad, nostalgic music. I cried a little bit and I was able to take a deep breath and drive home.
I think our instinct with that kind of grief is often to try to move out of it or past it as quickly as possible. Right. And I’m not sure that’s healthy. The hard answer is like, I’m not sure that pain ever goes away. Like it’s been five years or so since I’ve talked to my grandma and it still hurts, even though I think it’s the right thing.
And I think the best we can do for ourselves is to allow ourselves to experience and sit with that grief and allow it to work itself out. I’d love to be able to excise that feeling right. But I’m not sure it’s possible. I think like a lot of things, the best we can hope for is to deal with it when it comes. And the sort of acceptance that I’ve been talking about has really been game changing for me.
Next question is about queer and trans folks dealing with isolation near the end of life. What do we do when we have no children or family? Who’s going to care for us? What are ways people are thinking ahead about this? And you’re getting a little ahead of me friend. I’m actually planning an episode about this, not sure when it’s happening, but it’s coming, but it’s a great question. When I was staying with a friend a few years ago, we were having late night wine talks and she actually brought this up to me and proposed an idea that I really liked.
And the concept is basically like adult adoption. Right. We create a framework where you’d have a trusted friend, family member or someone else. You trust who legally agreed to take care of the things a next of kin traditionally would, and that would solve some of the paperwork problems, right? Because you could do that under existing systems with stacks upon stacks of paperwork, but you also brought up the idea of care.
And obviously that’s a problem a lot of people face. But queer and trans folks are disproportionately affected. And I think that just comes back to the idea that we really need Medicare for all or something like that. We, as a society need to collectively decide that caring for each other, especially vulnerable folks is our collective responsibility absent that I don’t know if there’s a solid solution or if there is, I’m not aware of it.
And I don’t like that answer, but after thinking a lot, that’s kind of where I came to.
I consider myself completely a gender. I am a non-gendered person who happens to have a female body. What is it like to have a gender? Well, I pushed back a little bit on the idea that there is a body that is inherently female, but I know what you mean.
Probably assigned female at birth, but this is a great question. And the honest answer is — I’ve thought a lot about this and I just fucking have no idea. And this is part of the reason that I’ve stuck with non-binary as a term, I know that I don’t fit into the gender binary, but I don’t know if I’ve heard a word that describes in a positive sense, how I feel about my gender except to say that very little binary, gendered language feels good to me. I still like being called Celes’s wife, the word wife feels good to me for some reason. But basically any other feminine coded language either is like kind of uncomfortable or outright gross. And it’s along the same lines of the reason I usually call myself queer instead of any more specific identity word.
And part of me bristles at the idea of feeling like I need to pick a word for what I am. Right. But I also live in a world where, what I am, isn’t the norm, and we need language to describe that. So I’m cool adopting a word and identity that set me apart from what’s considered the norm, but I don’t really feel comfortable being more specific than that.
So to be honest, I’m not actually sure I have a gender once I really started thinking about what gender means. I realized I can’t meaningfully describe it outside the really backward ideas our society has taught me about it. Because I have to function in the society. I do have to figure out how I relate to the norms, but I also recognize the norms aren’t reality, and I don’t have to conform to them. And I don’t want to, so I guess this, this is a question I’m still working on answering myself.
Next is a thought experiment from my friend, Toni. Here’s a question I have pondered. I’ve thought about it more from a racial perspective, but the same argument easily applies to any other marginalized group.
Would the creation of a separate nation state for African-Americans be a radical, empowering, liberating achievement. If we could have a land to ourselves free from white supremacist dominion. Would this be a good thing? I think it would not. We might be free from the oppressive forces of white supremacy, but that’s hardly the only oppressive sociopolitical force and existence.
If the idea is to splinter off into a subgroup. So as to get away from oppressive force, what happens in this Black utopia when sexism rears its head? Cis sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism. Does the society keep splintering off? This is hypothetical because I honestly don’t think creating a separate nation state is realistic, but I know such an idea has support.
And I wonder how much thought has gone and to it, because if Black people decide enough with white people and racism, what’s to stop Black women from saying enough of Black men and sexism with that framework in mind. What are your thoughts about the queer community hypothetically doing something similar? Me, I would have the exact same reservations.
Yeah. Toni my thinking is very much aligned with yours. Like I’ve had so many bad experiences with other queer and trans people. I’m not sure just being around other queer and trans folks all the time would be any meaningful solution. There are plenty of racist classist, misogynists and so on, in the trans community, and really we’d have every reason to expect to still experience queerphobia and transphobia in a world like that.
There’s so many lesbian TERFs, so many binary trans folks who don’t accept non-binary identities. So much of the, not queer enough, not trans enough attitude exists, no matter which way you slice it. I’ve said before that, like, My roller derby team is a more welcoming environment than I felt in many trans specific spaces.
Right. It was a trans support group where someone told me I should shave closer. That same support group was where I was told I wasn’t being patient enough with my grandma when she was being really hurtful toward me. So yeah, I’m with you, you know, along the lines of queer and trans identity, there’s just so much gatekeeping even within our communities. I’m not sure it would be less exhausting than the world we live in now.
And the last question is the question that I just, I’m going to be honest and say, I cried when I read this question and I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it’s a wonderful question, which is why I saved it for last. My dear friend, Randy wants to know what do you wish people were more curious about?
And the answer is a lot of things, right? things maybe even having nothing to do with queer and trans identity. I just wish some people were more curious about the world in general. Yeah. but in the context of the show and the context of, of who I am and who Randy is, the first thing that comes to mind for me is trans joy, right?
So many of the narratives about us in the discourse are about our misery. And it’s definitely important to talk about the ways trans folks are hurt and marginalized in society, but like that sometimes that feels like that’s all people want to talk about. And I wish people were as interested in our joy as they are our pain.
I want to hear more stories about gender euphoria. So much of my life personally has been defined by the pain that I felt from being trans. But I also define it by the joy that I felt as I figured out things and found love and support. There’s. Definitely a part of me that internalized the idea that trans bodies are inherently weird.
Setting aside for the moment that bodies are just weird in general, of course. I’d love to hear talk outside the trans community about how wonderful it is and how powerful it is when we’re able to take control of our bodies, whether it’s in how we decorate our bodies and hormones, surgery, whatever.
That’s a feeling of power and affirmation that I don’t hear near enough talk about outside of the trans community. How fucking rad is it that you can put on a patch, give yourself a shot or take some pills. And all of a sudden you grow boobs or your voice is lower. Your psychological wellbeing improves, your relationships get better.
That is the raddest shit in the world. When I do interviews or have conversations with people. So many of the questions come back to me telling people about my pain. And like I said, I think that is important to talk about too, but I really, really wish people were more curious about our joy too.
I want to thank you for listening, friend. If you have burning questions, you can shoot them to firstname.lastname@example.org and you might hear me answer them in the next mailbag episode, if you want to help keep this thing going and help me and Celes and Wedge keep the lights on, please consider heading to patreon.com/queersplaining and making a per episode donation to help support the show.
Anything helps. You can also give the show a shout out on your social media. That’s a big help too. Before I go, I want you to know that if you’re lost, you’re hurting, you’re scared. If you feel like no one cares and no one understands you need to know there’s a community out here that loves you and cares for you knows that you’re capable of amazing things and that you are worthy of love.
If you’re struggling, please, don’t be afraid to reach out. Till next time, friend, my name is Callie Wright and this is Queersplaining.