Snowpiercer? Snowthanks.

imageSo Mira and I decided we were going to watch Snowpiercer the other night, as it looked somewhat interesting and had gotten decent reviews.

*****Warning: Spoiler Alert*****

Well, that was 2 hours and 6 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Okay, so it wasn’t all that bad. By the end of the movie I was cheering each time someone died. Didn’t matter what team they played for…

Honestly, the entire concept of the movie seemed to be something out of the imagination of a five year old. A train, powered by a ‘Divine Engine’ (I’ll talk more about that later) that drives around the world, with a bunch of people on it – like ‘Speed’ meets ‘The Neverending Story’. I think a classmate of mine wrote a similar story in 1st grade.

The movie raised a lot of questions, the most prominent one being, “What the hell am I watching?” That question may never be answered. However, I do want to discuss the following, which occur in the movie in no particular order:

We see Mason, who is some figurehead representing Mr. Wilford, speaking to the occupants of the back cars of the train. I noticed her teeth were really horrible. Then, at another point, we see her remove the top teeth (the most nasty ones) as a top set of dentures. Later, as Mason is leading the group through the nicer cars, we see they have a dental office. So why the hell does Mason have such shitty teeth?? Why, if she runs so much of the train, doesn’t she get the damned things fixed? It’s not like she’s going anywhere…

And let’s talk about Curtis for a moment, yeah? The people in the back of the train clearly don’t have access to showers and proper methods of personal hygiene, so why does he cover his nose up when he goes and meets the guy hiding under the…whatever that stuff is…to get the Kronole? By the looks of everyone on the train, I somehow doubt the place smelled like Bath and Body Works.

I’m also clearly convinced that Claude (the woman who gets nailed in the head with a shoe) and the guy who looks like Rush Limbaugh and Steven Segal’s lovechild are robots. I mean, why not? You’ve got a train that runs on what we assume is either the quashed hopes of the occupants of the rear cars or the negative energy generated by the bad acting, so why not throw a few robots in the mix. Those bastards just wouldn’t die. Mira seems to think they’re vampires, however. Again, that’s plausible.

Why is there a clarvoyant? Was it really necessary for Yona to be clarvoyant? As if they weren’t robbing enough parts from other movies. I felt like I was watching the cutting room floor rejects of The Hunger Games (one of the parents should have stepped up as a Tribute, clearly), Silent Hill (I was waiting for the rebels to realize the masked men in plastic trashbags with axes only responded to light), Waterworld (just put an eyepatch over Mr. Wilford), and Ice Age (although I honestly wanted to see that polar bear pull out a Coke and offer it to the two kids). I think if Yona really were a clarvoyant, however, she would have sensed how horrible this movie really was and jumped off the train.

Although I was rather fond of the zombie ravers in the one train car, but I could’t quite understand why the scene with them attacking was necessary. Hearing their angry shouts as the group ran through (“I’ll kill you man. Hey, give that back.”) added much needed comic relief, though.

Could someone please explain to me, also, why there was a train car full of half naked people wearing Ugs and Eskimo coats? Or was that purely to make the fact that the two kids at the end had clothing warm enough to brave the Polar Vortex make sense?

And who decided that a giant block of Kronole (which is essentially C4 explosive) wasn’t overkill when blowing the gate open? I don’t think it would have mattered when they opened the gate, with that much explosive they were bound to annihilate all of the train’s ‘humanity’.

If anyone saw a glimmer of hope at the end of the movie (other than the glimmer of hope that either everyone died or that there wouldn’t be a sequel) please let me know now so I can unfriend you on Facebook. Seriously, a seventeen year old crackhead, excuse me, Kronolehead and a five year old are supposed to be able to survive the arctic with a probably very hungry polar bear roaming around? I bet that bear took one look at those kids and thought, Daddy’s gonna eat good tonight!

I have to say, it was very fortunate there was a zombie raver the size of that five year old, so he had something warm to wear.

And as Mira pointed out, here was this train, this self-sustaining ecosystem, hurtling around the world, running on this supposedly divine engine, not needing any source of fuel, but when parts broke down they were only replacable by child labor?  Again, no answer for this.

It really felt like everyone gave up halfway through the movie and did a few lines of coke (or Kronole?) and tried rewriting the script. Like the fact that Mr. Wilford was such a prophet he saw the horrible demise with the use of CW7 (which Mira also pointed out was a television station that played reruns of really crappy sitcoms) that he built this train, makes me wonder if he was the one who created the CW7 in the first place. If so, then he created the largest, most complicated system of oppression I’ve ever seen.

Though, the pregnant lady with the Uzi was a nice touch.

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, don’t. Unless you have to choose between a root canal and this movie. Even then, you’re more likely to get something out of the root canal than by watching Snowpiercer. Truth be told, no one ever even explains why the name of the movie is Snowpiercer, which really sounds like it could be the title of a bad porn.

If you have already seen this movie, I’m sorry. If you liked this movie, I’m going to have to ask that you not talk to me for a little while until I can figure out how to look at you without asking, “What the actual fuck?”

I might have to write more movie reviews. It makes up for the crummy experiences.

Oppressor or Activist? Turns out, I’ve been both…and more.

I am an oppressor. I am an accomplice. I am an ally. I am an activist.

I have kept silent while others have made jokes about someone’s weight. I’ve felt my blood boil as someone made a racist remark, or said something derogatory about the trans community, but I kept my mouth shut.

Why? The reasons are endless – maybe some part of me thought it was true, or I didn’t feel like getting into an argument that day, or I knew if I spoke up, it wouldn’t do any good. The reasons don’t matter, though.resist_oppression_communism_will_prevail_india_revolution_operation_green_hunt_cpimaoist

Sometimes someone will make a comment about the weight of someone we both know, making a joke or some off-handed remark, I laugh along with them, while I should have, could have, said something, not in defense of their object of fun, but in response to the inappropriateness of the comment. Instead, I commented as well, not wanting to seem “weird” or “awkward” by going against the norm.

I am an oppressor.

black-tape-mouth-shut-no-speaking-700x45_660If I’m at work, where the majority of my co-workers are heterosexual and all of them, save me, are cisgender, I keep my mouth shut about many things. I haven’t officially come out at work, and so when I talk about being trans, or the trans community, I speak in hushed tones, not making eye contact, keeping my head down, as if the words I’m saying are something I should be ashamed of. When people use the word ‘tranny’, I cringe internally, but respond with “Yeah, I don’t see the big deal…” My silence is as dangerous as the loud voices of the bigots and discriminators.

I am an accomplice.

I am not proud of these situations. Because I should have stepped in and said it was wrong. I should have made it abundantly clear that their attitudes and opinions were their own to have, and solely their own to have. I didn’t. And I regret that.tumblr_m5ixrhNjhD1rpy84ao1_500

I went with Mira to a Lady Parts Justice rally. I was there to support her, but now because of the inspiring acts of the women that spoke and performed, I’ve been inspired, and I really want to speak at the next rally, to the importance of allies in the fight against the patriarchy telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  Because if we do not stand alongside women, if we do not stop the regulation over their bodies by men who claim to know what’s best but essentially just want to dominate and put women “in their place”, then we all are subject to the repercussions of such a loss.

I am an ally.

During the last lame duck session in Michigan, there was a movement to change the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA for short), to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. There was another splinter group that thought it best to only include sexual orientation, and come back to revise the law later to encompass gender identity and expression. Years ago, I would have totally been all for the ‘half a pizza’ argument.

activistNot anymore, and not just because I’m now a part of the LGBT that has historically ended up without any slice of pizza, but because it’s simply wrong. And because of this, I went to a few ELCRA rallies, I went to TDOR (Transgender Day of Remembrance), and I want to speak out against the injustices faced by the trans community, a community I am a part of, and one that I fully embrace.

I am an activist.

I play all of these roles at varying times. When I identified as a lesbian and I fought for equality – I was an activist for the L and G, and an oppressor to the T. The B wasn’t even a concern, because in my head, they were simply confused. That has all obviously changed, for the better. I don’t want to ever play the role of the oppressor, and I think it’s even worse to play the role of the accomplice. Having the knowledge I do from my brilliant and insightful girlfriend, Mira, and my other activist friends, I’m learning when to recognize oppressive behaviors and attitudes in which I act as an accomplice.

Self awareness is just as important as self confidence. Being aware of my actions and words is just as important as saying them in the first place. I’m still going to screw up. But I will be aware of my missteps, and I will not silence my voice. If I am not empowering, I am oppressing, and I am contributing to the reason why equality has not yet been achieved.

If I don’t use the power I have from the privileges I have to raise up both the marginalized groups I belong to and those I do not belong to, then I am failing not only as an ally, but as an activist.

Everyone has some kind of privilege. It may not be obvious at first, but you know that saying – “There’s always someone worse off than you” – it’s true, and those who are “worse off” are most likely part of a marginalized group you do not belong to. If you have a place to live – then you can be an ally for the homeless, and use your privilege of stability of a roof over your head to help advocate for housing the homeless and providing them with an opportunity to achieve the same level of safety and stability you have.

If you are cisgender, you can ally yourself with the trans community, and use the power of being cisgender (and yes, you do have power, because you have privilege) in circles to support the trans community when the trans community is not represented.

I’m working on being an ally. I want to be a better ally. I feel I have the tools and the knowledge and the support to be a better ally.

Because it’s not always about my story.

How about you?

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Realizing My Role Models

I’ve written about wanting to be that rock that creates ripples in water. I’ve pointed out the fact that there aren’t a lot of visible trans men in role model positions, or at least are not readily accessible via media without already knowing who you’re looking for or sifting through Google results.

I’ve also written about my struggles with my lack of dysphoria, and how I didn’t think I was trans, because I wasn’t miserable, despite the nagging voice in my head trying to convince me otherwise.

Mira, my partner (who has her own, wonderful blog) asked me who my role models were. I stumbled, I fumbled for words. I responded with,

“I don’t really have any.”

and then I wondered why. Which led me down a path of reflection, and so in this blog post, I want to thank the men who have been in my life, and whether they realized it or not, have taught me some incredibly valuable lessons on both manhood and acceptance.

First, I want to thank my friend Erik, a wonderful guy with a wonderful wife and a wonderful son (who will also grow up into a wonderful guy because of his father). Erik is the living definition of an ally. He has taught me what it means to be an ally. His words in support of who I am makes me less fearful that I’ll be rejected by manhood as I transition.

He’s living in Denmark now, navigating a new plane of existence. But when he was here, he threw a couple of “Man Parties.” And no, they were not misogynistic guyfests. In fact, it was more about the craft beer than talking about women. I remember him sending me a message on Facebook, saying he didn’t want to be a jerk the first time around, but that he thought I was one of the coolest people around and he wanted me to come to the second party. Maybe he saw something there that I hadn’t seen yet, because at that time I was still identifying as a butch lesbian, but regardless, the message touched me and still brings tears to my eyes.

Erik is unconditional in his friendship, and in his support. I’d see so many times when he would comment on an LGBT story, stating his anger over the injustice done to a community that he was not a part of, but allied himself with. Erik, you were my first “bro”, and I thank you for showing me that I can be a man without attaching all that baggage to the word. And thank you for simply accepting me as I am, without making me define myself to you.

Next, is my friend Brian. I met Brian several years ago. He welcomed me into his house and quite honestly, into his family. I work with his wife, and she’s just as amazing as he is. Brian has shown me that you can love with emotion, and it’s okay. He and his wife are madly, endlessly in love, and because of them, I know what love is supposed to look like, and I’ve found that. Brian has always seen me as me, and has even threatened to smack me upside the head when I’ve made a ridiculously dumb decision. He’s been somewhat of a father figure to me, showing me that love and emotion are okay in manhood.

Brian has shown me that I can be a man without showing that machismo. That manhood can be full of understanding and love and family without compromising masculinity. Thank you, Brian, for showing me that manhood can be defined by subtle masculinity and strong love. Thank you for showing me that emotions don’t take away from, but add to, the definition of a man.

To my friend Greg. I know we only met a while ago and even then it was for a handful of hours, but in those hours you taught me a lot. You taught me that standing behind the woman you love doesn’t make you less of a man, but rather, lifts both of you to a place of understanding and respect. You showed me that being a male feminist is actually a thing, and that you don’t have to emasculate yourself to do so. You showed me that being an ally does not mean you speak for others, but with them, and never louder than them. You taught me that respect for women is something that comes naturally, and is not only the right way, but the only way to love.

To Jessie, a fellow trans man – thank you for showing me what strength in character is. And thank you for showing me that compromising who you are is never an option. I look forward to this journey with you, and I’m really proud to know you. Same goes for you, Nico. You were my first trans “bro”, and hold a special place of friendship with me. You’ve helped to show me that struggles can be overcome. You’ve also helped me to look for the good in everyone, regardless of any biases or preconceptions I weigh myself down with.

These are the men in my life. Some have been there for a fleeting moment, others for years. But you all have taught me that a man, by his own virtue, can define his own manhood. And because of you, I am molding my own definition of manhood – one that will hopefully, eventually, negate the baggage that comes with the concept.

So in answer to Mira’s question – it turns out I do have role models. None of them grace the big screen, or have won Nobel Peace prizes. But when I look at how I want to model my life as a trans man, these are the men I turn to.

And on the flip-side, something else I’ve learned, mostly through the help of Mira – is that not all of my role models must be male. It’s not a requirement that men should only have male role models. Having female role models is not only not going to reduce my ability to call myself a man, but it’s something that is necessary, as men are not the only creatures with qualities I want to model.

So, to Laura, you welcomed me in as family, and you’ve taught me that mansplaining is wrong. Always. You’ve taught me how to stand up for myself in subtle ways that leave a lasting impact. You’ve taught me that in the end, if I’m not happy, then I need to change something. You’ve let me know that it’s been okay to screw up and make stupid decisions, and you’ve told me “I told you so.” in ways that didn’t make me feel lesser, but respected. Thank you for never making me feel ridiculous or useless.

To Paige, for navigating your way in a male dominated industry, and becoming a force to be reckoned with. I have the utmost respect for you because you taught me that women can go toe-to-toe with men, and be absolutely awesome while doing so. You have shown me strength and grace. You have shown me acceptance. You have shown me that it’s perfectly okay not to lay down and take the bullshit that the world can throw at you simply because some aspect of society has tried to define your role as a woman as such.

To my new friend, Amy. You’ve shown me what internal strength is. I’ve only gotten to talk to you a handful of times, and always in a censored fashion (which needs to change, soon, btw), but in those conversations, your ability to completely accept what’s happening and deal with the punches as you navigate your day has taught me patience. Your innate ability to know what to say, despite your fear of offending, is immeasurable, and you’ve taught me to open my ears and eyes to others around me and listen to what they are saying without adding my own biases.

And finally, to Mira. My love, my life. You have taught me strength, perseverance, and grace. You have taught me that it’s okay to be happy without regret. You’ve taught me that I am capable of change, and you have taught me that unconditional love is not only real, but completely attainable. You have given me knowledge and shown me what respect truly means. Watching you navigate this world and hearing you speak and captivate an audience, a crowd, or a small group of people – it is not only an honor, but something I aspire to do. You have taught me that I can be who I am, and I can do so without apology.

These are my role models. Men and women from all walks of life, cisgender, heterosexual, transgender, with different backgrounds and experiences. And it feels really, really good to have this realization, that I do have role models, and that they all are helping me (whether they know it or not) to become the person I am. The person I’m supposed to be. My journey of self-discovery is one I may have to go alone at times, but with these people as my role models, I’ll never really “be” alone.

And because of all of this, I can be that rock in the water.