kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
I note with mild amusement, however, that I have in fact now trained myself to respond automatically to misgendering from strangers trying to sell me things on the street.

Read more... )
kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
I wish there were some productive way for me to communicate to humans at large that, if they see a lone wheelchair user Out And About, prior to approaching them they should ask themselves Two Simple Questions:

(1) Would the question I'm about to ask be kinda weird and intrusive if the wheelchair weren't present?
(2) Would I ask it anyway?

This enables people to e.g. stop and offer me a sympathetic cigarette because I'm clearly having stunningly obvious hysterics by the side of the river and have been for some time, while actively militating against... pulling their car into a lane they'd never normally be in, stopping, leaning over the empty seat to open the passenger-side door, and asking me if I'm okay.



kaberett: a dalek stands at the foot of a flight of stairs, thinking "fuck." (dalek)
I react to being described as "in" a wheelchair (as opposed to using a wheelchair) by snarling, and I've just (in response to a Sociological Images article The NYC subway to a person in a wheelchair) worked out some more of the why.

There's part the first, which is that it's inherently passive terminology that obfuscates or elides my agency. But the thing I've just noticed, the actual big deal, is that it makes it sound as though me being in a wheelchair is a permanent and unalterable state, and that in turn contributes to the idea that if I can stand or walk at all I shouldn't be using one, and that by using one I'm faking -- in a wheelchair precludes the possibility of being out of it. I'm pretty sure this framing contributes directly to strangers' horror if I stand up to reach something on a high shelf in a supermarket, or get up to carry my chair down a flight of stairs rather than taking a sloped half-mile detour, or what have you.

(There's other issues - who's surprised? - with that SocImages article, including the part where actually level and step-free access is important to all sorts of people. It's genuinely very important not to conflate "accessible" with "level access", or to conflate "level access" with "wheelchair accessible"; the former erases a very great many disabilities, and the latter assumes that all you need is flat surfaces and doesn't stop to think about whether aisles are wide enough or there's space set aside for wheelchair users to sit, or what have you. ... but there we go.)
kaberett: Clyde the tortoise from Elementary, crawling across a map, with a red tape cross on his back. (elementary-emergency-clyde)
So. That MetaFilter thread on emotional labour (currently at a whisker over 1500 comments, and I've read all of them). It's kind of an overwhelming job and I've spent most of the past few days reading it; ergo I am taking it upon myself to excerpt for you the comments I particularly adored against the eventuality that you don't actually feel up to reading the whole thing.

On describing this kind of discussion as "venting", and the dismissiveness thereof:
I think the thing that irks me about calling it venting is the implication that it won't change anything, which tacitly states that nothing NEEDS changing. Steam just builds up and needs to be let it off the system every now and then, nothing to see here.

+6 )
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
Two irritations, first of all: Read more... )

Better things:
  1. Vienna Teng. Still on a kick. Lots of Antebellum (title) and Recessional (I want to search for her in the offhand remarks; who are you, a stranger in the shell of a lover? dark curtains drawn by the passage of time...) at the moment. (Also quietly but consistently, Blue Caravan: my true love is a man that I haven't seen in years/he said go where you have to, for I belong to you/until my dying day; so like a fool blue caravan/I believed him and I walked away...)
  2. I got my act together to phone Student Finance England back. I mostly didn't explode in a shower of anxiety, though I did end up slightly snappishly saying "if you're going to use my name all the time, call me Alex", but I think that given that she was, well, using it every other sentence; and I had introduced myself as Alex at the beginning of the call... I did also end up interrupting some, but that was because she was reading off a hideously unclear script that wasn't really relevant. Apparently they really do want me to send them duplicate copies of the letters detailing my endometriosis that they already have, because sending them the exact same copies will mean that I've still got the incurable condition I had at undergrad that I might otherwise have got better from...? Anyway, this is turning into a rant, but the point is, I Did The Thing.
  3. I continue to enjoy the Toby Daye books.
  4. Guiltknitting is on the home stretch - last block of colour, final bit of beading, then finishing.
  5. I have in the oven more of the puttanesca pasta bake, which is brilliant because it means that I am sorted for meals for the rest of the mass spec run.
  6. Supervisor and lab manager concurred it wasn't my fault that the mass spec was playing up (and with any luck it'll behave itself over night so I can start getting data tomorrow).
  7. I have successfully bought the tupperware my supervisor instructed me to, and additionally replenished our stocks of Sainsbury's Basics Italian Hard Cheese and Osem parev chicken-style stock powder.
  8. I have a microwaveable waterproof soup pot thing that has a steam release vent. Realisation of the morning: I can prep hot chocolate in it and microwave it once I'm at work. WINNING HERE.
  9. I tricked myself into rendering the kitchen semi-habitable while dinner was cooking, hurrah, including some long-overdue breadpet-management. (On the downside my hands are still recovering from some insect bites - even with antihistamines in my system I react quite impressively - and are consequently Not Best Pleased with me for the washing-up. No, I can't wear gloves, they're almost all latex and I refuse to use disposables.)
  10. ... yeah, actually, I'm really pleased with myself about work stuff - productive conversation with my supervisor in which I requested a meeting to discuss two different areas of the literature in addition to talking about conference wossnames and my 21-month assessment. Maybe if I'm feeling really enthusiastic I'll have an outline of the talk to bring with to said meeting. It is really nice feeling semi-competent.

(oh, oh let me be your Augustine)
kaberett: photograph of the Moon taken from the northern hemisphere by GH Revera (moon)
(today I made it a little under 10 metres from my front door before I first got catcalled)

(I walked past an SWP stand on my way into work)

(I am very, very mad, in that I'm compulsively vocalising in public and not managing to stop myself)

(I am wearing the haemetite-and-lava necklace. Wearing iron is protection, sure, but much more than that: if I know myself to be monstrous, if I know myself to be non-human, and still I can wear this - it reminds me I am strong)
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Content note for "real names" bullshit.

There is someone I have known for about a year. She's been working at a different site due to lack of lab space; she moved here last week and has been assigned a desk behind mine.

Half an hour ago she asked me if I was coming down to beers. "Maybe, I've got some labwork to do," I said. She looked over my shoulder at the paperwork spread across my desk.

"Oh!" she said. "Your name's not Alex!"

... whereupon I realised the uppermost page just happened to have my full name on it. My full name, about which I'd been feeling gently pleased ten minutes earlier.

"Um, yes it is," I said, covering my first two names with one hand and pointing to the "Alex" with the other. In desperation, I gave her a string of examples of other people I know who use their second or third names. "Oh," she said, "I suppose I do know someone who's really called [name] but uses Ash."

... yeah. Her having-been-gone-for-half-an-hour later, I am rapidly hitting the point of "relaxed enough again to actually cry at my desk."

kaberett: Sketch of a "colourless, hamsterish"  animal having a paddy. (anxiety creature)
"Stemettes" is an absolutely terrible term to use for female undergraduates in STEM fields. No. Wow. Inarticulate fury.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
I applied for a disabled person's railcard, as "Mx Alex B[]", for the obvious reasons. I gave my gender as male because they forced a binary choice and it's a different kind of wrong (and one I'm more willing to tolerate).

There was a silent failure, which I found out about only because I did some serious chasing to check up on progress.

The silent failure was because my proof of eligibility is in the form of a letter from the DWP, who refuse to address me as anything other than "Ms E[] KA B[]". Apparently also including a scan of my passport won't do the trick. Apparently I must apply with "the correct details". Apparently they won't print the railcard as Alex rather than E[] if I apply with the "correct" details.

I am too fucking tired for this.

ETA I am sending them a slightly intemperate e-mail full of documentation that I am who I say I am, and that my name is what I say it is. I used the words "please consider this e-mail a formal complaint", and also "from a security viewpoint ... your position is indefensible". I do not expect it to effect change, but I do at least feel a bit better.
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
At the moment I'm talking a fair bit with [personal profile] quartzpebble about how disorienting and terrifying executive dysfunction can be. We've both been offered PhD places at prestigious institutions, we're clearly both capable of doing very good work within the context of the academy, and yet some days we not only can't even begin but we can't reliably sleep schedule or feed ourselves. Finding diagnoses that explain it - ways that other people have spotted patterns that match our behaviour, that mean it's not an individualised problem of laziness or whatever - is an immensely big deal, and nonetheless I just keep on coming back to Onsind when they sing I only wish that I could find a way to accurately describe the effect that this has on me.

Internalised ableism, I suspect, is playing a role here; to large extent I've learned that feelings of shocked betrayal aren't a terribly useful response to one of my legs refusing to bear weight, and that neuropathy affecting my lower limb function isn't actually a moral failing on my part. I can even do this about obvious depression-related symptoms. But just the executive dysfunction...? Not so much.

I have no idea how to make this work with my job. I love doing my PhD and I love being in academia and I'm very, very scared about the extent to which being an independent PhD student, "not needing hand-holding" (or, less disparagingly, "being self-directed"), is valued -- because of all the ways in which I can't be self-directed.

Which brings us on to the stranger on the bus a month or two ago who decided that the wheelchair-using young lady was appropriate cripspiration and started telling me about how amazing it was I was leaving my house, etc etc, along with cheerfully recounting for me the story about how her father always said that "can't" is spelled w-o-n-t.

Over and over again (I only wish...) I come back to "can't" and "won't", to the difference between "this is not a thing I am capable of" (and, again, I find this easier to handle in terms of physical impairments) and "I am not willing to make the necessary trade-offs to do this thing", to learning to trust myself in setting and defending those boundaries, to being able to believe that just because I can pay a price doesn't mean I must. "Won't" is allowed. "Won't" is permitted. This thing, too, I may have.
kaberett: a dalek stands at the foot of a flight of stairs, thinking "fuck." (dalek)
I have been out of the house barely an hour. In that time:
  1. I have been reminded that the type of bus that serves the route I generally use to get into work is REALLY badly set up in terms of wheelchair access - if there are people in the seats opposite the wheelchair bay, the only way to get in (and I have a light, readily manoueverable chair!) is to reverse extremely cautiously round the awkward grab rail while they tuck their feet right in.

  2. Fucking smokers at the top of the ramp that is my one sensible entrance into my building by the fucking doors with the fucking no smoking sign in addition to the fact that it's simply fucking outright illegal to smoke there. Normally I cope better; as it is I've already had one exposure this week (That One Gent seriously needs to either do the thing he keeps saying he will and quit OR at minimum sodding tell me if he has smoked in the 24 hours prior to seeing me so I don't have to find out by developing uncontrollable coughing fits + sensitisation lasting days) and as such I was kind of rude, to the tune of "I have a significant cigarette smoke allergy and this is my one sensible route into the building; it would be great if you would comply with the law and not smoke near doors." ("Sorry," he said, "but there's all these schoolchildren," gesturing to the side of the steps where people usually congregate to smoke illegally. "AND AN ENTIRE REST OF THE ROAD," I said, with sweeping gesture behind me.)

  3. The fucking lift into my fucking building is fucking broken afuckinggain and nobody bothered to fucking e-mail me about it. I would care less apart from the fact that my alternate route involves retracing steps past at least one awkward sodding door, followed by a bunch of doors that you have to PULL UPHILL to open having RELEASED THE CATCH WITH YOUR CARD.


In conclusion: set everything on fire, ESPECIALLY SMOKERS. Yes, it will lead to a brief increase in the problem, but it will also be a temporary increase. When I rule the world, the penalty for smoking in public space will in fact be instant immolation. </astonishingly grouchy>
kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
(2) from the Head of Department to the entire department, approximately "please don't use electronic devices during talks/seminars, because we've had some complaints about it from speakers; make notes by hand instead, please, but also get back to me if you've any feedback and we'll discuss it in the staff meeting on [date]."

To which I have replied:

(1) sure, but be aware that I have a very tiny amount of specialisation in this area so will probably rip if to shreds; and
(2) ... you do realise this is actually an accessibility issue, right?
kaberett: A series of phrases commonly used in academic papers, accompanied by humourous "translations". (science!)
Oh, goodness. Mostly, so far, that absolutely everything is dependent on lab and group and supervisor, because: every single interaction I've had with my supervisor, from the very first, has been absolutely stunning, including the best accessibility statement I've ever met. I'm supported, we tell jokes, I'm taught effectively and promptly, I'm told what I need to improve in clear and immediate terms, and things I'm doing correctly are flagged up specifically as reinforcement. My head of group gives us cheerfully drunken speeches about how, as a group, we're not like Wall Street, and this is a good thing; is prone to spending half an hour over dinner lecturing me on a general theme of Nazis Are Bad; and has informed me that if I bring cake to group meetings I'll get given money for ingredients for same in advance, out of the kitty, no need to faff about with expenses claims.

In group meetings we negotiate about who's going to be using what when, we collapse in helpless giggles over the state of the lab and the instruments, we talk about how our work's going and who should be doing what when. It's supportive and charming and friendly and kind, and it's great.


The irrelevant, self-contradictory, obligatory plagiarism course. The incompetent Disability Advisory Service. The LGBT soc organised as a social rather than welfare entity (with no trans rep). The endless paperwork relating to Existing While Disabled. The getting-outed-as-trans-on-my-first-day. The Grad School and obligatory Personal Effectiveness courses and all the bullshit that entails. The glacial rate at which getting me 24-hour access to my building is progressing. The Nice White Ladies getting their racism everywhere.

In short: I cannot even begin to imagine how I'd cope if it weren't for the fact that both supervisor and group are amazing.

One of my supervisors from first year undergrad saw the announcement I made on facebook about having received an offer from Imperial, and he politely but firmly requested that he get a chance to talk to me on the phone. He proceeded to spend an entire lunchbreak talking to me about systemic problems at Imperial and the sexism his then-partner was mired in; and he relaxed the moment I told him my supervisor was female. (And my group is, at all levels, a pretty representative breakdown, genderwise.)

So it boils down more or less to this: I'm having a fantastic time when I'm allowed to Just Get On With Science; I love my lab; I'm really enjoying teaching, for all that I facepalm repeatedly about how what I've done so far could be handled much, much better; and it only starts to drag at me when I start interacting with people significantly outside my fairly insular research group and I have to deal with paperwork, which appears to have been uniformly designed to be as obstructionist as possible, never mind misc other -isms.

And them's me thoughts, etc etc etc!
kaberett: a dalek stands at the foot of a flight of stairs, thinking "fuck." (dalek)
People who literally yank a door out of my hands as I'm partway through it. I know they are trying to be useful and to that extent I am appreciative, but that's overlain by intense exasperation. Because! I am an active chair user and by the point I've got a door open and my other hand on my wheel, I'm planning to use the precise positioning of the door and the positioning of my hand on it to provide momentum critical to my steering. Dragging the door out of my hand undermines my agency and my competence; it disrupts my ability to be competent; and to add on insult I am expected to be grateful.

Social model of disability, y'all.
kaberett: Sketch of a "colourless, hamsterish"  animal having a paddy. (anxiety creature)
Read more... )

This is what it is like, or what it is like in words.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (swiss army gender)

This here is a screenshot of the Contact Us form of an estate agent I was contemplating arranging a viewing with.

Title (sorry, "Salutation") is not an obligatory field; however, there is no blank option. The choices are, in the order listed on the website:
Mr & Mrs
Mr & Miss
Dr & Mrs

I-- I don't even know where to start.


kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

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