Aria’s Prison Blog #2: Being Trans in Federal Prison

No one dislikes the government more than I do (although some may equal my disgust with the institution), but even so it would be silly and unfair to accuse the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) of being anti-trans, in exactly the same way that it would be absurd to accuse the rain of malice because it erodes the hills. The water does not hold enmity toward the dirt; the rain only does what it does, and there are simply effects to that. In actuality, the treatment of the BOP in regard to trans people is both a stark contrast and an alarming analog to the conversion therapy camps that were more common in the 90s; by holding none of the enmity and sharing none of the intentions of the “pray the gay away” camps, the BOP is more subtle in its erasure of trans identity, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Just as the rain does not try to destroy the hillside, and is merely a result of weather patterns much greater in scope than a mound of dirt, so is the assault on transgener identity only an effect of a larger phenomenon: a widespread tendency to glance at a newborn’s genitals and map out large sections of their life for them, and then becoming irate and hostile at the suggest that an infant’s gentials may not be the best way of grouping adults into relationships, friend circles, or prisons.

It is simple, when a patient complains of a cough, for a doctor to prescribe some cough syrup, but nearly no doctor would do this, because it is myopic and narrow to treat a sympton rather than the underlying illness that causes the symptom. By treating only the cough, a doctor could easily miss the pneumonia, lung cancer, or asthma that is causing the patient to cough. Similarly, there is a Buddhist story where the Buddha is traveling with students when one of them is shot by an arrow, and begs the Buddha to pursue the attacker, so they might be held to account. The Enlightened One responds that he could do that, or he could remove the arrow and dress the wound, but he obviously could not do both. Similarly, shaking our fists angrily at the torrents or clouds that produce them has a tremendous opportunity cost and is a waste of emotional energy; instead, we could devote our time and efforts to halting the erosion, and then preventing it from recurring.

The issue at hand is not that the BOP maliciously denies transgender healthcare, because it doesn’t; the BOP fails to provide adequate care to transgender inmates, but it is because the society behind the prison industrial complex routinely fails the transgender population, largely due to apathy, although there is occasionally malice shown to these people who declare themselves to fall into the cracks of the social construct of gender, which, in the estimation of the bigoted, is sufficient for “everyone else,” and thus must work for all. It is the equivalent of telling a person who is cold to remove their coat because the speaker isn’t chilly, so how could anyone else be?

Even under the best of circumstances, being transgender is difficult. Transgender people already know in their hearts that they will never be indistinguishable from a cisgender person, but there are plenty of people who enjoy reminding trans people of that anyway, to say nothing of the myriad of minor, incidental, and accidental ways in which this is made clear to a trans person. No one ever said, “I’m going to make my life easier by dressing as the opposite sex,” because, despite bigoted claims to the contrary, such a monumental step serves only to make one’s life more challenging, at least for the foreseeable future, when it is less readily apparent that a person is trans at all.

Everyone has struggles, though, and it would be inaccurate to suggest that this is unique to trans people, or that the hardships of a trans person are unduly difficult. Rather than somehow being “worse” than the challenges other people faced, the tragedy of the trans plight lies in how utterly and easily preventable–and harmlessly so!–the difficulties are. In prison or larger society, it brings no risk or hurdles to anyone else for a person of any characteristics to present themselves as they need to in order to look in a mirror and be reasonably happy with the reflection.

The existence of transgender people, without a doubt, creates challenges for society that it is not equipped to handle, but putting trans women into a men’s prison and trans men into a women’s prison should be regarded at least as catastrophic to the involved people as placing trans men into a men’s prison and trans women into a women’s prison is regarded by those who have run out of real problems to deal with and so instead spend their time seeking trivialities about which they can be upset.

For more than a month, I have been waiting on basic items, not necessarily to reaffirm or bolster my identity as much to simply maintain it against the unrelenting, subtle forces that exist within a men’s prison to oppress, deny, and erase all non-masculine traits, with men’s prison obviously being the peaks of testosterone and toxic masculinit: emotions are not expressed, oether than anger. Imagine trying to maintain femininity in an environment entirely ruled by testosterone, much less attempting to enhance one’s feminine side such that behavior more closely matches the interior. Even if I had every resources that I’ve collected over the last decade in my life as a trans woman, simply existing as myself would be a challenge; with those resources denied me by policy, and with the meager substitutes taking now more than a month to reach me, the task is utterly impossible.

This shouldn’t be taken as necessarily the fault of the BOP, just as rain is not really to blame for the erosion of soil; rather, that it is this way is a reflection of social values. Though society increasingly recognizes the rights and needs of transgender individuals, the government always lags behind, and then always fails to actually meet the needs that are recognized–someone with a malignant growth will have to wait months to have it addressed, because the prison industrial complex is not equipped to act with grace and compassion. Given that this is the case, perhaps our first goal should be to not have the largest prison population on the planet, and, in so doing, we would lessen the hardship unnecessarily placed on all people, transgender or not, and that could only ever be a positive thing for us all.

Sexualizing Children & Drag Queens

There’s been so much said about drag queens, trans people, and children, and I don’t really want to detract from any of that. I’ll start with a short video of Free Talk Live’s Tiktok, where a former co-host got really upset about the drag queen thing.

@freetalklive

Free Talk Live’s Ian and Aria have a discussion with Conan about #Drag and dragqueens, and why anyone cares what other people do. #fyp #foryourpage #lgbtqūüŹ≥ÔłŹ‚ÄćūüĆą #lgbtq

‚ô¨ original sound – Free Talk Live

Watching that episode, it repeatedly becomes clear that Conan doesn’t have any idea what happens at drag shows, nor is he interested in learning about what happens at drag shows. He has imagined the Worst Possible Thing happening, and he pretends that is what happens at drag shows, and then he becomes upset about it. This is not uncommon. From what I can tell, it is what most conservative people are doing in regard to drag shows, as no amount of telling them that drag shows aren’t inherently sexual gets through to them.

Drag shows and movies have a lot in common. There are¬†definitely¬†some highly sexualized movies, such as “I Spit On Your Grave” and “Jennifer’s Body.” There’s also that movie where Sharon Stone flashed the audience with her crotch, and the movie “The 40 Year Old Virgin” has a plot that is¬†entirely¬†about sex and getting laid. However, the existence of these “adult movies” that are highly sexualized obviously doesn’t mean that movies are inherently sexual, and it would be absurd to make such an argument. Just because¬†Jennifer’s Body¬†exists doesn’t mean that¬†The Brave Little Toaster¬†is inherently sexual, and everyone knows this except Brother Jebediah, the most prudish of all Amish people.

Earlier today, I was tagged in a video on Twitter featuring the child drag queen pictured here, with the person who tagged me saying that I’m always asking for evidence of sexualized children, so there it was. While it’s a bit weird to think of this grown adult going around and searching the Internet for sexualized children, the video, of course, was posted to Twitter by LibsOfTikTok. For those who are unaware, LibsofTikTok scours the Internet for sexualized images and videos of children, and then posts them to Twitter. For some reason, this isn’t viewed as obsessive, crazy, and tremendously fucked up. Instead, there are about¬†two million people¬†following this, presumably to see the vast collection of softcore child pornography that they have put together. At least, that is what they allege is going on here. I’m not convinced this stuff is sexualized, and that’s the point of today’s article.¬†However, if it is true that these pictures and videos are inherently sexual, then what we have here are 2 million people who shouldn’t be allowed within 500 feet of a school.

The teen pictured here isn’t wearing a particularly revealing outfit. During spring and summer, it is routine to see people of all ages wearing significantly less clothing than that, and, of course, there are child and teenage cheerleaders who¬†deliberately make it a point¬†to wear more revealing clothing than this. For that matter, the dancing wasn’t especially provocative either. The most revealing part of the outfit was the back, which had a few strings stretching across it, but I must have missed the memo where society decided that backs were sexy.

Different people are aroused by different things, though. There are plenty of people out there who can masturbate to pictures of feet, so what I call the “Can I masturbate to this?” test isn’t foolproof, but, as a general rule, one can find out if something is “sexualized” by asking the question of whether one can masturbate to it. James Joyce wrote many letters about how turned on he was by farts, but no rational person will suggest that farts are inherently sexual, just as no rational person would suggest that all movies are inherently sexual.

This raises the question, then, of what is sexualization? What is sexualized, if the image of the teen above is not sexualized? The answer, believe it or not, is that nothing outside of sex itself is actually sexualized. Even if the drag queen above was completely naked, it wouldn’t automatically be sexualized.

Pavlov’s Dog

“Pavlov’s Dog” is a phrase referring to an experiment conducted in the 19th century where a man rang a bell before he fed a dog. It didn’t take very long before the simple act of ringing the bell would excite the dog and cause the dog to salivate hungrily. The dog had come to associate the ringing bell with eating. This is a phenomenon called¬†conditioning, and it’s extremely useful today for training dogs and for countless other purposes. I carry treats around constantly to reward my dog for good behavior, because psychology has shown that rewarding good behavior is a more effective way of training than rewarding bad behavior, and it is consistency in this that causes her to be very well-behaved.

While we may not like to think of ourselves as easily trained, the simple truth is that we¬†are¬†easily trained. In my early 20s, a friend of mine bought a new vehicle that dinged incessantly if the car was in gear and the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. In time, to make the annoyance go away, the friend began putting on his seatbelt as soon as he sat down in his vehicle. Within a very short time, my friend had been trained to put on his seatbelt.

Little things like this are happening all the time to us, and most of the time it goes unnoticed, but governments around the world and shadowy, evil corporations are spending untold amounts of time and money figuring out exactly how to train us to be exactly what they want us to be. That, however, isn’t the purpose today’s article, so let’s return to the subject of nudity.

As I said, the teen could be completely naked and it wouldn’t be¬†inherently¬†sexual. Just as Pavlov’s dog was conditioned to associate the ringing bell with food, so have humans come to associate nudity with sex. Because everyone is clothed all the time, we have created a mystique around nudity, such that any nudity at all is exhilarating and feels forbidden to look at. This is why young kids are so excited when they stumble on their parents’ porn stash–even though they are too young to feel sexual arousal, they are looking at something that has been forbidden to them, and for that reason alone they like it.

As we get older, though, we begin to associate nudity with sex. We look at naked people when we masturbate. We get naked in order to masturbate. With few exceptions like showering, the only time we see naked people in person is when we’re about to have sex with them. Of course, orgasms cause the release of all sorts of fun chemicals that act as rewards to our brains, and we come to associate nudity with the pleasure of those chemicals.

Emotional Responsibility

With all this being the case, a person’s sexual arousal in response to a video of a person dancing is that person’s own responsibility. This is true of all emotions. Emotions are¬†internal reactions¬†to external stimuli, and no one has the power to make anyone feel anything. I don’t have the power to make someone angry; only they have that power.

Now, they may be reckless with that power. Indeed, most people are. Most people allow themselves to be readily and easily manipulated by giving strangers power over their emotions, but frivolously allowing other people to control my emotions is, again, my choice, even if it is a choice I’m making without realizing it. You can do whatever you want to try to elicit an angry response from me, but I and I alone have the power to make myself angry. This is true of all emotions. You can’t make me angry, sad, aroused, or happy. Only I can do these things. You have the same control over your emotions. No one can make you angry, sad, aroused, happy, or anything else¬†unless¬†you give them that power over you.

And if you give people the power to control your emotions, then you give people the power to control¬†you. Control yourself and control your emotions. Don’t let other people control you. You alone determine how you feel in reaction to things. Just because you’re aroused doesn’t mean the video is sexualized.

A Letter to Free Stater State Reps

Hi! I’m writing about HB-619 and the effects it could have on trans people in the state of New Hampshire, children who are struggling to understand their identity, and, perhaps most importantly, the impact voting for this bill could have on any attempts to appeal to people outside of the “straight white Christian” demographic. I think you’ll agree that variety is the spice of life, and I have yet to meet any libertarian who thinks my presence in the liberty community has been detrimental; there are many trans people out there like myself, regardless of what NY Post and viral videos of people screaming at random Gamestop employees would have you believe.

Chance are pretty good that you know me. I can’t say that for certain, because I’m sending this to every free stater state rep that I can find, and I am generally awful with names. That said, I do remember many of you, and I hope that you remember me–and I sincerely hope that you’ll do me a favor and listen honestly to what I have to say on the subject of kids and transgenderism.

I saw Jeremy Kauffman on Twitter today say that he would never call it “gender affirmation therapy” and that he would instead call it only “genital mutilation.” Jeremy is my friend, and I hope he takes my response into consideration, but this is precisely the level of ignorance that we are dealing with on this subject–almost no one who isn’t trans themselves even knows what “gender affirmation therapy” even¬†is. They conjure in their imagination horrible images of ten year old children being convinced by the school that they are trans, and having their penises mutilated into vaginas and countless other terrible things.

That stuff isn’t happening.

It is widely accepted in the medical and psychological communities that Sexual Reassignment Surgery / Gender Affirmation¬†Surgery¬†(note: not gender affirmation¬†therapy) is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18. In fact, medical professionals routinely point out that only by “going through puberty naturally, as a male” can a person even have sufficient… “material…” to work with when going through sexual reassignment surgery.

Instead, the common practice for people between the ages of 10 and 17 who suffer from Gender Identity Disorder (formerly known as Gender Dysphoria) is to put them on GnRH agonists–puberty blockers. Please listen to me here. I know what I’m talking about, and you¬†know¬†I’m not a leftist motivated to lie to you so that I can corrupt your children or whatever. I’m just trying to help you understand the issue and understand what is¬†actually¬†happening, rather than taking extravagant headlines from tabloids and Fox News and assuming they are actually accurate.

Gender Affirmation¬†Therapy¬†(again, not¬†surgery) consists of a wide variety of things. Most importantly, it is a¬†therapeutical¬†measure meant to make a person more comfortable with their own body. Gender Affirmation Therapy, at ages 10 to 17, typically consists of referring to the person by the pronouns and name they prefer. That simple, basic act is what constitutes the bulk of gender affirmation therapy. By using the pronouns of the gender they prefer, you are¬†affirming¬†their gender–hence its name.

One step on the transition is certainly sexual reassignment surgery, or gender affirmation surgery. Gender Affirmation Surgery is just the latest, most politically-correct way of referring to “bottom surgery.” We all know what this means, and I won’t go into details, but¬†no one is doing this on people under the age of 18. Here’s a quote directly from Boston Children’s Hospital on the subject:

All genital surgeries are only performed on patients age 18 and older.

No one in the United States is performing this surgery on people under the age of 18. So let’s make that our Square One. Let’s make that the basis on which all of our other arguments are built. There it is, right there, from one of the premier hospitals in the United States, that this is not happening to people under the age of 18. This fear you have that children are getting sex changes is¬†completely¬†unfounded and as unfounded as the Satanic Panic of the late 90s that led to the wrongful incarceration of the West Memphis Three. Unfounded, baseless, and wild speculation about what horrible things¬†could¬†happen was the very same thing offered to us when people sought to justify the Covid-19 lockdowns and forced mask-wearing. We didn’t accept unfounded, baseless, and wild speculation about stuff that was not happening then, and we should not accept it now. Reject these wild claims as nonsensical, baseless, click-bait bullshit meant to get a reaction from people on social media, and not anything that is actually happening in the real world.

Since we have established that nothing like this is happening to minors in the first place, did libertarians not spend the last 2 and a half years loudly proclaiming, “My body, my choice!” and denouncing the Democrats as hypocrites for (rightly) applying this saying to abortions and then refusing to apply it to vaccines and masking? Did we as libertarians not insist that our medical histories and medical conditions were between ourselves and our doctors, not between ourselves and the government, or between ourselves and Wal-Mart employees acting as agencies of the government?

We are supposed to be the rational party; we are supposed to be the consistent ones, and I urge you to be consistent today: my body, my choice.

In regard to schools and what schools are teaching–abolish the worthless things. Pull your children out of the public school system if you don’t support what they are being taught, but banning this subject or that subject is not doing anyone any favors. The School Choice and voucher program was the correct approach, and I would implore you to continue seeking remedies that are compatible with a free market of voluntary interactions. Do not now turn to the state to force your ways onto others. Given that this has already been demonstrated to not be about sexual reassignment surgery for minors (which no one is doing anyway), the way forward is clear.

So I urge you: strike this down loudly and clearly as nonsensical, fearmongering propaganda.