Dear Ms. Transphobic Ciswoman

This is a post that came up on my Facebook feed. I blocked out the original poster's name and profile picture to protect her privacy.

This is a screenshot of a shared post that came up on my Facebook feed. I do not know the original poster, only the person who shared the post. I blocked out the original poster’s name and profile picture to protect her privacy.

Dear Ms. Transphobic Ciswoman,

I’ve seen what you had to say about Caitlyn Jenner, and as a fellow ciswoman I found your statement highly insulting. You see, Ms. TC, there is more to being a woman than making catty comments and feeling a false sense of superiority. Compassion and understanding are traits we parents should begin teaching our young children at an early age.

As a woman with diagnosed polycystic ovarian syndrome, I can tell you that I have never woken up with searing cramps. Am I less of a woman than you?

You will never know what it is like to wake up almost every day with the crippling body dysphoria that so many transgender people experience, and yet (those of them who have not been fired for simply being brave enough to show their true selves) must still go off to work or school as though everything is fine.

As an American ciswoman with an interest in social equality, I can tell you that you are dead wrong when you say that a transwoman will never know what it is like to have her car break down on the side of the road, and when a couple of men stop to help, her prayer is that their intentions are good because there is no way on Earth she has the ability to physically overpower all of them. Outnumbered is outnumbered, Ms. TC. Even a cisman could be overpowered in such a situation. And the fact is that transgender people are “1.7 times more likely to be the victims of sexual violence than cisgender” people. That means that Caitlyn Jenner is nearly twice as likely as you are to become a victim of sexual violence.

It is extremely classless of you to remind transwomen such as Ms. Jenner that however much they may long to have a child, they will never be able to experience the joy of pregnancy or childbirth. Not to mention all of the ciswomen who cannot get pregnant, or choose not to. Are any of them less of a woman than you?

Believe it or not, many transwomen take hormones, because they were not as lucky as you were to be born with the correct ones. So many of them do in fact know what it is like at the age of fifty to be walking down the streets of Phoenix and pop into an ice cream shop only to be gripped by their fourth hot flash of the day. They just also have to deal with people like you staring at them while they are gripped by that hot flash.

To say that “identifying as a woman” means sharing all the same experiences with all women is ludicrous. A transwoman identifies as a woman because being a woman is part of her identity. She does not have to be you to be a woman.

No, Ms. TC, there is more to being a human being than sharing every experience with every other human being. Lesson #1 for all true human beings is this: treat each other with respect. Being assigned female at birth is not what makes you a woman. A real woman is one who knows, deep down, however she does or does not express it, despite the ignorant and bigoted comments, and even with curvy and natural ciswomen out to get her, that she is a woman. Hear her roar. Those of us who love her see her real beauty and find her far more valuable than rubies or diamonds.

Ms. TC, you are ignorant of transgender issues, but you are right about one thing: Ms. Jenner is privileged. So privileged that she can even spend her massive amounts of money to change her outward appearance. This is not something that most women (trans or cis) around the globe are able to do. True, most women in our world don’t even have access to a high school education. Fortunately, education, socioeconomic status, and country of origin have nothing to do with a person’s true gender. Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, and so are all the women in our world who cannot afford surgery or hormones. And so are all the women in our world who cannot even afford to be honest about who they truly are.

They are no less women than you.

Caitlyn Jenner is not an anomaly. She is not the only transwoman in this world. This post is not even about her. This post is about all the transwomen you may have hurt with your commentary, for all the transwomen who have been hurt by other statements like yours. Because it is ignorance such as yours that contributes to transgender people being three times more likely than cisgender people to experience police violence, nine times more likely than the national average to attempt suicide, and “21 times more likely to be murdered while walking down the streets of America than a solider in the Iraqi combat zone.”

So, Ms. Transphobic Ciswoman, I find your claim that Ms. Jenner has somehow insulted you to be disingenuous, uneducated, and – honestly – quite offensive.

We are LGBT-riffic!

 

Resources:

Rutherford-Morrison, Lara. (2015). 5 Shocking Facts About Transgender Suicide and Violence That You Need to Know. Bustle.

Ten Eyck, Meg. Shocking Stats That Show Trans* Violence is an Epidemic. Posture.

What is this “free time” of which you speak?

You’d think that being unemployed would come with oodles of free time.

But I’m finding that having more time at home does not mean having more time to do with as I please. In fact, it means having less time. Because now I’m spending eight hours every day taking care of my toddler, and what used to be my “free” time, when I could write and do laundry and maybe squeeze in a shower, has now become my apply-for-jobs-online time.

And that’s on the good days. You know, the days when there are any new jobs at all for me to send applications to.

Anyway. I just wanted to check in and let my readers know that I have not fallen off the face of the Earth.

I’m hoping to summon the time and energy to write an actual post in the near(ish) future. Thanks for bearing with me.

“Tahoe’s Moon” Synopsis

In the weeks leading up to NaNoWriMo 2014, I did a lot of research and pre-writing. But one thing I did not do was write a synopsis, despite the fact that I am aware of how beneficial it can be to write a novel’s synopsis before writing the novel itself.

Well, I’m still not quite done with Tahoe’s Moon, so I’m going to write its synopsis now, before the finished novel has too many details rattling around in my brain. Better late than never, right?

 

Tahoe Shailaja Kapoor is not a werewolf.

strength of the pack
Okay yeah, she and her family do change into wolves fairly frequently. And no, they never spend a night under the Full Moon without running through the woods on four furry legs. But they are not werewolves. Tahoe and her family are Santaan Raksha – the descendants of Mukta, who was adopted by wolves in India centuries ago. And Tahoe loves nothing more than the freedom she feels when racing through the mountain forest in her true form as a wolf.

Unfortunately, Tahoe’s boyfriend Jonathan fails to see the beauty of being Santaan, and her parents don’t exactly appreciate the fact that Tahoe revealed their secret without the approval of the Bherdiyon ka Jhund, the wolf pack. Tahoe finds herself torn not just between her boyfriend and her parents, but between the two conflicting sides of her own identity: human and wolf.

But making amends is the least of her worries when a student is found dead on Tahoe’s college campus, and her best friend starts to show the same mysterious symptoms the other student had before being killed. It turns out, Mukta left some unfinished business with a tiger who believed himself to be king of the jungle.Jungle Book

Now he’s returned to take revenge on Mukta’s descendants, and he’s leaving a trail of dead bodies on his way to them. 

 

 

 
 

Even though I’ve only written maybe three-quarters of the novel so far, I already have a few too many details distracting me from writing an overarching synopsis. But I think this is a good place to start. I’ll probably edit it plenty from here on!

In the meantime, what do you think?

If you’re a reader (as everyone should be), does the story sound intriguing? Original? Entertaining? What kinds of expectations would you have for this novel? And, most importantly, do you want to read it?

If you’re a writer, what difficulties have you come across when writing a synopsis? Do you tend to write a synopsis before or after writing a novel?

From “Mom of the Group” to Real-Life Mom

Everything changes when you have a baby.

People have been telling me this for years, and for the most part I believed them. But I also thought, I know who I am. In a way, I have always been a mother. My friends used to call me “the mom of the group,” because I’m the kind of person who put a blanket over my friend when I found her sleeping on her couch. I’m the kind of person who tells my friends to call me if they need a sober ride, even in the middle of the night. I’m the kind of person who cried when I dropped off my sisters at elementary school shortly after getting my driver’s license. Even though I knew my mom had been dropping them off for years, and they were more than capable of walking twenty feet by themselves to get into the school.

Still, being “the mom of the group” is different from being a mom.

No matter how focused you used to be on the needs of the people around you, it cannot compare to the focus you have on the needs of your child. You know your child’s needs before they do – literally, because a baby does not yet have the cognitive ability to recognize or understand when they need something.

You have an invisible tether to your child, so that no matter how far away you may be, you feel their presence. You know when your child wakes up from their nap, even before there’s an audible noise on the baby monitor.

Your entire perspective of the world shifts. You see the world through your child’s eyes. Birds and squirrels used to just be part of the scenery, but now they are magical creatures whose graceful movements cause you to smile.

Your own mother becomes more human. This is what she went through? These are the kinds of thoughts that went through her head? The way I feel about my baby – this unbreakable, inexplicable bond – this is how she felt about me?

(Here’s a little insight to my main character in Finding ‘Ohana: Cinnamin is figuring out motherhood. Is she a mother, even though she did not give birth to her son? How can she be a mother without a role model, without her own mother in her life? How could Cinnamin’s mother abandon her, if she felt the same way for Cinnamin as Cinnamin feels for her son?)

When I was a kid, people told me, “You’ll understand when you have kids.” Well, I’m an empathetic person. I thought I already understood.

I was so wrong.

Because no matter how you try, you cannot put motherhood into words. Some things just have to be experienced.

1.2

Liberty & Justice for ALL

It’s official: anyone can legally marry the person they love, in any of the fifty states of America.

Today is truly a day to celebrate.

My husband & I at what I like to call the rainbow hot spring. No filter, no editing.

No filter, no editing.

We happen to be at Yellowstone National Park today, so we celebrated by seeing rainbow-colored hot springs.

20150626_160242

Our guide book describes this hot spring, specifically from this vantage point, as a giant blue eye crying colorful tears.

Today, they were rainbow tears of joy.

Why I am Shaving my Head

When I was in second grade, my best friend and I used to spend every Saturday at an indoor ice skating rink. Her mom bought us hot chocolate and let us play the crane game that promised a winner every time, and we skated in circles around and around and around the ice for hours.

One Saturday, I arrived with my hair in a braid, so that I could skate without my long, looong hair getting in my face.

fan art by RadissonClaire on DeviantArt

fan art by RadissonClaire on DeviantArt

(How hipster is that? I braided my hair to go ice skating about twenty years before Elsa made it cool!)

My friend said that when we got separated on the ice, she always found me quickly by looking for my mane of wavy hair – and she demanded that I undo the braid immediately.

Fast forward a decade or so. I’m sitting for a caricature and the artist asks me to turn my head so he can see my hair in its ponytail. He makes an involuntary exclamation when I turn and he sees just how long my hair extends from the hair tie.

My tennis coach used to call me “Muppet Head” because I went through a phase when I let my hair go free and it flew around my face as I ran across the court.

People knew me by my long hair.

But the weekend before my high school graduation, I cut off twelve inches to donate.

It was terrifying. (How could I hide my fat face if I didn’t have long hair?) And liberating – because my face did not look as grotesquely fat as I’d been worried it would.

I’ve donated my hair a few times since then, alternating between looong hair and short bobs for years. But next week, I’m going to do something even more extreme.

I’m going to shave my head.

As can probably be expected, people’s reactions of finding this out have been exaggerated versions of their same reactions to me telling them when I was going to cut twelve inches of my hair. They are shocked, appalled even, and they want to know why.

So here I am, telling you why I am shaving my head.

1) To raise awareness of and funds for researching and curing childhood cancers.

This is the big reason. I’m shaving my head as a virtual St. Baldrick’s event. Part of this is asking for donations and pledges on my bald head that will go toward researching and curing childhood cancers. Every three minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer, yet childhood cancers often do not receive the funding needed for research. This is why organizations like St. Baldrick’s exist – to conquer childhood cancers once and for all.

FB event

I can’t imagine what I would do if my child were diagnosed with cancer. That’s something no parent should have to face.

2) To support and stand in solidarity with kids who have cancer.

We live in a society where it is extremely difficult to not have hair. And it’s especially hard to be different when you’re a kid. It’s a natural part of development to separate things into categories, and that leads to certain categories being more stigmatized than others. But the more of us who challenge our society’s beauty norms, the easier it will be for the kids who have no choice but to challenge those norms.

3) To donate my hair so more kids who choose to can wear wigs.

Part of the reason I’m shaving my head is similar to the reason why I donate blood whenever I can. As young (broke) parents, my husband and I don’t have a lot of time or money to donate. My hair is something I can give. I’m donating to Locks of Love, which makes wigs for children who face hair loss for a number of reasons. Because kids are still growing, they need new wigs more frequently than adults. So there is always a need for kid-sized wigs. I like to think my hair will help some little kid regain a confidence they might have lost.

4) For me.

Okay, full disclosure: I’m not shaving my head as a purely selfless act for the sake of the children.

It first occurred to me to shave my head when my son reached that phase when all he wanted to do was yank my hair right out. And being bald has the added bonus of keeping cool, which is important when you live in a desert.

But more than that, I’m actually going bald because of, not despite, the way it looks.

Gender norms in our society are rigid. Men can rock a shaved head, but not a dress. Women can wear pants, but heaven forbid they should leave the house without makeup on.

Gender is fluid, so that’s how we should view it. Some days I’ll have makeup and giant earrings to balance out my bald head, but some days I won’t. And I’ll still be beautiful. Just like you are beautiful, regardless of your clothes, hair and makeup and jewelry or lack thereof, manicured or chewed-to-nubs nails, or style preference in general.

I have written here about my difficulty with depression and I’ve written short stories about my battle with body image. The two are not always linked, but in my case they often are. There have been dark times in my life when my hair was the only part of my appearance that I appreciated. In fact, there were years when I hated my body (and by extension, myself) and tried to hide behind my hair.

Shaving my head is my way of showing myself that I am beautiful, even if that beauty is not within the “conventional” definition of the term. And it’s my way of showing myself that, no matter what I look like, I am worthy of self love.

So even though it’s scary, and even though people keep telling me I’ll regret it, I am going to shave my head. And I’m going to love myself while doing it.

Selling Your Skills (writing skills, that is – nothing illegal)

If you’re a writer, Authors Publish is a helpful resource. If you “like” their Facebook page, subscribe to their free magazine, or just poke around on their website when the mood suits you, you’ll find writing advice and reviews of publishing companies, among other things related to writing and publishing.

One of my favorite articles I’ve found through the Authors Publish Facebook page is a list of three ways to promote your writing by Emily Harstone. It begins with a quote by John Green: “Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”

This is exactly why marketing can be so difficult for writers, myself included. We tend to not be the kinds of people who enjoy putting ourselves out there.

But self-marketing is necessary, especially now in the digital age. Publishers are not likely to spend much money (if any at all) on marketing a new author, so they need to know they’re signing a writer who can build their own reader fanbase.

Harstone’s first two suggestions for writers to market themselves is via a blog and a Facebook page. I’ve got those two down! (Well, at least I’ve got them. And I’m determined to do better about posting frequently.)

The third is to have a business card. This is an idea I’ve toyed with in the past, but haven’t gotten around to actually following through with yet. That’s about to change!

I went to a writer’s convention last summer and met a few authors who were passing out business cards and – drum roll, please – bookmarks. What a genius idea for a writer to have a “business card” that is actually a bookmark! It’s functional, and therefore less likely to be thrown away. It ensures that the writer’s info is going out to someone who does in fact enjoy reading, and it keeps the writer fresh in the reader’s mind.

However, one particular author (who shall remain nameless) should have thought his through a bit more. One side of this author’s bookmark includes a synopsis of the book and how to purchase it, while the other side gives a short bio on the author. Here’s the synopsis:

“When a research scientist is found dead at the Lab, the head of security begins to investigate. Dr. [character name] of [fictional company name] has many secrets that could jeopardize his relationship with government benefactors he desperately needs.”

Is Dr. [character name] the dead research scientist? If so, why does it matter if his relationship with government benefactors is jeopardized? He’s dead. I don’t think he cares much about the state of his relationships.

Or is the character the head of security? If this is the case, why is he a “Dr”?

Could the “secrets” possibly be even a little more intriguing?

Could the desperation possibly be even a little more specific?

Basically, this synopsis is just too vague and confusing to be interesting.

Here’s the author bio:

“[Author] has been writing stories since he was thirteen years old. He grew up, watching television…”

I’m going to stop my critique right here, because this is where I decided that I truly did not care one bit to find this author online and read his work.

Why do people seem to think punctuation is unimportant? I mean, when I see a misplaced comma in a text message, it’s a pet peeve. But when I see it on a bookmark that is supposed to be convincing me that someone is a good writer? No. There’s no reason this should not have been caught and fixed before all those bookmarks were printed out.

That comma should not be there. As it is, the fragment “he grew up” should be able to stand alone as its own sentence. And I think it’s safe to say that we all know that this person grew up, as he includes a photo of himself in which he has graying hair.

The moral of my story is this: proofread! You are selling your writing skills, so you’d better be certain your writing skills are at their best on any marketing material you produce.

That said, can you spot any errors on my bookmark? Please let me know now, before I print a whole bunch of them!

author bio on the front of my bookmark/business card

author bio & web addresses on the front of my bookmark/business card

"Finding 'Ohana" excerpt on the back of my bookmark/business card

excerpt from the first chapter of Finding ‘Ohana on the back of my bookmark/business card