Archive for the ‘ dragons and such ’ Category

being an “impossible” thing

One might wonder what use “opening up possibilities” finally is, but no one who has understood what it is to live in a social world as what is “impossible,” illegible, unrealizable, unreal, and illegitimate is likely to pose that question.

Judith Butler, Gender Trouble, 1999 preface

i only very rarely mark things in books, but this small note struck me as supremely significant. when i came across this quote i was only just beginning to examine gender issues in an academic setting, and still presenting as male most of the time. it obviously chimed with my experiences growing up trans in the eighties and nineties, and has formalised my approach to what i find permissible (anything which doesn’t close possibilities for others, and actually a lot which does, as long as some form of balance is maintained) and what narratives of the self i consider legitimate (pretty much any which doesn’t depend on abusing others).

when donna haraway talks about “monsters” i have taken her to mean the same kind of beings: those of us who are impossible, who cannot be. it is important to create spaces where we can be, where we can construct more or less coherent identities, where we are possible. that is the way by which we can change from being monsters to being people. it is equally important that we create spaces where other socially impossible things can become visible and real: as long as we don’t believe abuse to be possible we cannot see it, and cannot see the real monsters living amidst us.

the term “monster” has become even more central to my life now. my daily life is populated by vampires and ghouls, therians and otherkin. i myself identify as a dragon, and as the weeks and months go by i feel my link to the human species, to which this body i inhabit belongs, growing ever more tenuous. most of the world considers us monsters, for them we cannot exist, and they consider us delusional or sick. but slowly, bit by bit, we are carving spaces where we can be ourselves, where we can become real. we are very slowly becoming people instead of being monsters.

i started of realising that my gender wasn’t defined by my anatomy. i am now at the point where i understand that my identity is not defined by my body.

addendum: i wrote this first for another blog, after thinking about the opening quote for a bit. and while writing i realised that this chimes well with what Laycock says about the development of the vampire milieu: it has created a space where “impossible” people (i.e. people who have a need to drink blood or drain psi) can construct a legitimate identity and narrative in which their lives make sense. before the vampire milieu had developed to a form where a non-monstrous vampire was feasible only very few would have been able to use this identity.

i think one function we donors perform, whether consciously or not, is to make the vampire less monstrous to him or herself. it is not that long ago that sangs needed to look in the bdsm scene to find donors, who were at least partly still victims. many psi-vamps still feed in a predatory manner and don’t have donors. but each time that a donor freely and gladly gives of themselves to their vampire they are transforming the vampire into something a little less monstrous.

shifting

here’s a new subject, after having been away from here for some time. i’ve not been in the mood for writing about vampires and donoring.

as some of you who know me already know, i am therian (i’ll find a few links about the concept soon). therian is short for therianthrope, i.e. an animal (greek: therios) in a human (greek: anthropos) body. most of the time i function as a normal human. but often i feel my other body, or at least i feel sensations which would correspond to my animal body. amongst therians we call that a phantom-shift, possibly in allusion to phantom-limbs experienced by amputees. every so often i experience a mental shift; i lose a large part of my capacity for human thoughts and feelings, which are replaced by the very different feelings and thoughts which belong to my theriotype (the type of animal i am). sometimes these are fleeting moments, sometimes they last longer; sometimes they are shallow and i might barely be aware of being shifted, at other times they’re so deep that hardly any vestiges of human-ness remain. the worst shifts i’ve experienced have left me incapable of any kind of human interaction – not even basic speech – for hours.

when reading this you might think that this sounds pretty cool. i and others like me get to experience what it’s like to be something other than human. we’re almost like were-wolves and other such shape-shifters. but it’s really not that fun. on one level it’s very frustrating; imagine waking up every day and finding yourself in the “wrong” body, imagine being able to feel your huge wings, to feel the wind playing in them, but still not being able to jump from the roof of a building. even walking upright on two legs can be terribly frustrating when your senses tell you that you ought to be sprinting on four legs.

it gets worse. shifts can be very pleasant and self-affirming experiences. but rather more often they hit you out of the blue, often in situations where you really don’t want to shift (in the middle of a conversation, while out doing the shopping…). they take you over completely, tear you out of whatever you were doing, throw you into this other world. very often you’ll need to excuse yourself, or you’ll upset the people you were with. there’s very few people outside of the therian community you can even talk to about it, let alone seek understanding from. yet you need those people, because shifting can be very demanding both emotionally and intellectually.

and i haven’t even talked about the physical effects. i’m not talking about physical shifts – pretty much all sane members of the community agree that they are impossible (we all dream about what if they actually were possible). but when i experience a phantom shift, my body tenses up; it tries to move and behave in a way to conform to how the mind it hosts believes it should. this happens even more strongly when phantom and mental shifts happen together. i get massively sore shoulders from trying to support my wings, my fingers curl into rigid claws which make it difficult to manipulate even simple objects (try typing with your fingers locked into claw-shape) which are painful on the joints and lead to cramps in the arms.

if i could be just human or just dragon it would certainly be easier. yet this is what i and most other therians have to deal with. sometimes it leads us to being a bit agressive about who and what we are when we’re questionned or the reality of our experience is put into doubt. because frankly it’s a pain in the ass. yet it is what i am, what we are. so we deal with it.

p.s. no, it’s not always as terrible as i describe. sometimes being therian is pretty awesome. but i’ve just come out of a very unpleasant mental and phantom shift, and that’s my current feelings.

spotting vampires

two days ago i was in town, waiting for people who didn’t show up, and watching everybody else. when all of a sudden my senses screamed “vampire”. i found the person easily, a woman, straight black hair just below her shoulders, about 5’8 or so, looked about 30 but honestly could also have been 50, metallic blue dress, two or three people almost visibly tethered to her. they went to get drinks, and then i lost sight of them.

i have two thoughts about the incident. the first is that this would be the second vampire i’ve spotted. it shouldn’t really be surprising; as much as there are vampires and donors who don’t know any others, there are people who know two or three vampires in their offline life. these are not people living in a scene or particular setting either, some of them are just kids going to school, where your choice of people to meet and hang around with is limited by outside constraints.

you could make an argument that many teens are just wannabes or posers, just as similar arguments are made by grown-up people (trans or cis) about all the trans-kids which are popping up these days. but whether that is true or not (personally i believe there are some wannabes, but that there’s many more trans-people and vamps than the older generations imagine) there ought to be a minimum number of vamps around town, enough that one ought to encounter them every so often.

the other thought is more tricky: how the heck do i know that she’s a vampire? the first one i spotted was fairly obvious, because i sensed her feeding on me. this one, it was really just my senses poking me saying look there, look there, she’s a vamp, seriously, LOOK! there is no real foundation of knowledge permitting me to identify a vampire, there is no vampire look or style, nothing really allowing me to “know”. yet instinctively i know it.

i do not trust that kind of knowledge. i do not trust things which i “know” without having a reason for them. it makes me distinctly uneasy. yet when i talk about and explore my draconicity it is this kind of knowledge which brings me further, it is stuff i just know, without rhyme or reason. my best writing about being a dragon is that which just comes out, without any thought. even more pertinent, because deeply rooted in what we almost all agree on as reality, is my being a girl. there is absolutely no way to “know” that it is what i am, and from time to time i still get powerful thoughts of “what the heck are you doing?!” yet with all the steps i have already taken towards becoming and being a girl, and with all the good this has already brought to me, i cannot but accept that this instinctive knowledge i’ve had all my life is true.

so i’m in a bit of a bind. do i trust my instinctive knowledge? do i go with the flow, with the risk of losing touch with reality? do i remain critical, with the risk of missing really important stuff? i guess that with the vampires, time will tell. i’m going to meet more of them with time, and i’ll learn if my instinctual recognition works or not. and with all the rest, i think i don’t have any answers right now.

i spotted a vampire

i had quite the day yesterday. took part in the pride for the first time (lots of beautiful people). did a workshop with the off-pride (the real activists) on body communication for trans/queer people. saw the Bloodsucking Zombies from Outer Space (BZFOS) in concert (and got nicely bruised and hurt in the mosh-pit). watched a queer burlesque & drag show. partied the night away. got home around 9:30 am.

any of those would have made for a good day, getting them all together was almost too much. i must say that the zombies greatly overshadowed any of the rest, it’s a shame none of my friends wanted to come along. or perhaps it was better like that, this way it was my thing and mine alone.

none of that actually has anything to do with vampires, which is why i’m not writing more about them. but at the party after the burlesque i spotted a vampire.

i doubt most people would have spotted her. she wasn’t dressed extravagantly, at an event where lots of people were dressed wildly. she wasn’t behaving strangely either. i noticed when i started shifting to my dragonform, and in that state i could feel the strange pull of somebody feeding. i was quite easily able to trace the energy back to the vamp, who was quietly feeding from the crowd. at that point i severed the link, and hardened my defenses.

at about that point a friend came up and asked if i was okay (i was concentrating and my hands had curled to claws), and i allowed my focus to shift. after all i was at a party. she didn’t try to feed on me anymore.

i saw her several times more during the party, and saw her hanging out with some gothy people who even in that crowd stood out with goth dress, brandings and scarifications. i overheard them at the bar speaking english and italian (the local language would have been german). i didn’t get any sign that she noticed me at all, and didn’t approach her either. i’ve already got enough vamps in my life, after all. though i wouldn’t have minded talking with her.

anyway, that’s how i spotted my first vamp out of the internet.