[Dream Diary] A house of weirdness

Hello everyone~!

This post is going to be a bit strange. Rather than talking about my emotions, goals, or life events like I usually do, I thought that today I could talk a bit about a dream I had. I mean, I know that dream analysis isn’t really a thing, (Sorry to break it to you, Freud), but I also feel like my dreams sometimes leave me with thought provoking questions to answer during awake times, or with emotions that resonate through my awake time experiences. This is what happened with the last dream that I had, so I thought that I would share.

[Image] A man sleeping on a bed, facing the camera, hugging a blue cow plushie

My teddy is bigger than his!

This morning started out like any other, my cat jumped onto the bed and circled me a few times. She then stuck her face next to mine, as if to smell my nose, before gently licking some random area of exposed skin to wake me up. As is usually the case, I checked the time to find it was still over an hour until I needed to feed her. So, I promptly returned to bed, trying to rest off the last bit of tiredness I was experiencing (it so didn’t work). This is the dream that I had during that time, or, at least, what I can remember of it:

My mother and father had just moved into a new house together. The house was on this beautiful lot, built into the side of a hill. There was a lot of trees, a fair amount of green space, and what looked like the makings of a garden patch. In the front of the house, there was a door that would lead you to the main floor. But, in the back, there were glass double doors that led directly from the basement into the back garden.

[Image] An approximation of the house being described

Like this, only without the cars… Ugh.. cars

In the basement, there was a full kitchen, a large bathroom, and a dining area. Everything looked very well put together and the house appeared clean, presentable, and polished. The kitchen featured tiled counter tops and a big stainless sink, the bathroom had a glass enclosed shower, and the dining area had a glass table, much like a patio table my family had while I was growing up. Looking out the back doors, you could see to the quiet street between the houses and to the bottom of another hill across the way. Overall, the house was beautiful and the lot was even more so.

Yet, not everything was as it appeared. Throughout the dream, little things kept going wrong. It was never anything creepy or scary, but every now and then something would just break. It started with the kitchen sink, which, for some reason, had one of its taps on backwards. Though I figured that out while I was attempting to use the thing, I didn’t really consider it to be a big deal or anything to worry about. However, when the spout fell off after I had just finished filling the sink to its brim, my mind changed. To make matters worse, with the spout falling off, the sink decided to start a new flow of water. Even though I had made sure that both the taps were off, water just kept pouring into the sink, and eventually I just had to pull the plug at the bottom in hopes that it wouldn’t overflow.

So, now with the sink out of commission, I turned my attention to the shower. After attempting to turn it on a couple of different ways, it was clear that the shower was having none of it. So, I gave up on it and just figured that I could use the hose in the garden, but before I left the house to do that, my father stopped me. Sitting at the table in the dining area smoking a cigarette, my father called me over to sit beside him. Once I had done so we started into a conversation, or at least it felt like we did. Though I can’t remember anything that was said between us, he asked me to pass him something from my side of the table. As pushed a wire stand closer to my father, I noticed that one of its legs was catching on something. Figuring it was the hole in the center of the table (the hole for an outdoor parasol), I took a closer look. It wasn’t that, however. Instead, the table had somehow been cracked and a different hole, one of a strange jagged shape, had caught the leg of the wire stand.

It was at this point that I woke up. While I don’t know whether it was this final absurdity that pushed me back to consciousness or whether it was actually my cat deciding it was time for kisses again, I was left thinking about the weirdness of this dream and its premise in reality. For the most part, the dream was absurd enough that it could be just dismissed. However, one main part of it stuck out as something that I should think more on, and that was the idea of my parents living together again.

You see, my parents separated years ago due to my father’s card-carrying membership in the abusive asshat club. While they still live only blocks from each other, the separation has been good for them. But recently, my mother’s health has started to falter again. Her diabetes has largely taken out her kidneys, and now she is stuck pushing through near constant dialysis. As anybody who has had a family member go through this process knows, dialysis steals a lot of time and even more energy. Considering that my mother already runs low on both, mostly due to her physical disabilities, this process has hit my mother really hard.

Thankfully however, my father has been there for her. He usually is when she gets sick, but this time, she might not be getting better anytime soon. In fact, it is possible that she may never get better at all. With her health failing and her time and energy being stolen away, I can see the benefits to my mother having my father around to help her around the house. However, I also know what my parents are like and just how unhealthy their relationship has been. Seeing both sides of this, I don’t know how I would feel if my parents decided to move in together again, and I don’t know how I would handle it. However, considering the situation as it presents itself, I guess I should give more time to figuring that out.

Verbosity about Depression

[Image] A drawn pit with the words

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been struggling a lot with feelings of uselessness and hopelessness again. I know that I have blogged here about feelings like this in the past, so I won’t go into a huge amount of detail about the history of my depression or anxiety. Suffice it to say, however, that it has been clear to me for quite a long time that I have an anxiety disorder (possibly multiple, actually) and that I usually sit just outside a diagnosis of depression.

Lately, however, these patterns have started to shift. Now, possibly more than ever before, I feel that I have slipped into the realm of long-term depression. My ability to get out of bed in the morning (something that I have long prided myself on) has started to falter. My motivation to do anything more complicated than watching YouTube or Netflix has dropped off completely. And, the willingness to take the steps necessary to prevent further emotional decline has totally escaped me.

Over these last weeks, it has been a struggle to cook, a fight to clean, and a war to take care of myself. As a result, my emotions started to spiral. Watching my inaction as my emotions slowly took over, I felt even worse about my abilities and even less capable of changing their course.

Put simply, it’s been bad.

Why has this been happening?

[Image] A black and white spiral staircase spirals down as far as the eye can see.

Yep, this is what has been happening.

Well, when it comes to the long-term changes that I have been experiencing, the best answer that I can give is that I don’t know. It could be a result of something as far back as my move two years ago (from Southwestern, Ontario to Saskatchewan), or it could be something far more recent. Either way, I just don’t know why my long-term mood trend has been slipping and I don’t think that I ever will.

However, the triggers that have been experiencing over the last couple weeks are clear as day, even looking back through the fog.

The first trigger that comes to mind for me is the election that I am currently taking part in. Not usually being a people person, I didn’t run for election during the main election period. However, when there was a call for a by-election to fill a vacant seat in the student government, I thought it would be a good chance to help out my fellow students, help out my friends on the executive (who were elected in the main election), and to improve my CV all in one fell swoop. Little did I know that there were going to be three other people angling to do the same exact thing.

Nevertheless, I prepared ahead of time. I started to make alliances across campus in key locations (so I thought) to help make the best run for the position I could. I talked to my friends in the student government and I made moves to show my commitment to the student body… and then politics came into play. The executive was forced into neutrality and the competition started to split my contacts. Everything started to fall apart.

Faced with my campaign crumbling under my feet (or so I think) hopelessness and uselessness started to slip in. Then to make matters worse, my social anxiety started to act up as I realized that this campaign, which started about helping the student body and playing politics, quickly turned into a popularity contest, a situation I have little hope of winning.

It wrecked me.

But before that, there was another trigger. As I was starting to prepare for the election, something big went down on campus: More than 50 cars were broken into and things were stolen. With this happening at the residence of my University, I felt obligated to help in some way. When I got there, I found out that most of the people living in the residence nearest the attack, and those most affected, were International students, usually living with their children and partners.

As a group, we did marvellously. Within 12 hours of the town hall meeting, 8 of us drafted a letter to the President of the University and addressed the media. Throughout this process I was inspired and energetic. I was excited to help out in the ways that I was, and doing everything I could for the cause. Then I started to crash. Coming from the energetic peak of excitement, I began to realize that what I was doing (both in the group involved with the letter writing and in school more generally) was nothing compared to those around me. At the same time that I felt like I was struggling to get my work done, these students were balancing work, school, family, and so much more.

So, after watching the work that they all put into this effort, I was left feeling overprivileged, guilty, and spoiled. I figured, if they could force themselves through their situations to balance their family, schoolwork, and job, I could manage the little that was on my plate. I figured that all I needed to do was to push through it and make it happen.

As anyone with depression/anxiety knows, simply pushing through it doesn’t usually work. When my actions started to slip back towards my normal way of life, I was faced with that fact, and because of it, I was left feeling broken, useless, and so very unworthy of anything good.

So, what’s my burden?

Realistically speaking though, neither of these triggers are unfamiliar situations for me. It is not abnormal for me to be hit in the face with my own social ineptitude, nor is it strange for me to be confronted with people that seem to do so much more than I can with so much less than I have.

Alone, these triggers are nothing more than mild inconveniences, and rarely would they result in anything more than a day of intense thinking and, maybe, some occasional pouting. However, lately triggers such as these have been kicking up something far bigger that lies just below the surface. Recently, triggers such as these have been reminding me of all the things that I want, all the things that I need, all the things that I don’t have, and all the work required to get them.

To make this all a little bit less abstract, consider another recent trigger:

Earlier this week, I was in the middle of cooking something for a potluck gathering that I had planned for a few members of the kink communities. While doing so, I started to think about how I don’t actually cook very often anymore and why that is. Immediately, I started thinking about my partner and the fact that I really dislike cooking meals for one. Confronted, once again, with the reality that my wife is still thousands of miles away after 10 years of us being together, my emotions started to sink. My mind drifted from one topic to the next, picking up depressing realisations like a katamari rolling downhill.

[Image] The Prince pushing a katamari over a rainbow.

Now you know what a katamari is.

I saw something run across my kitchen counter and I freaked out, thinking that it was some sort of nasty pest. (It was just a spider…) Suddenly I remembered about the squash that’s been sitting out forever waiting to be used, the beats that have gone off in my cupboard, and the litter tray I hadn’t cleaned in far too long. Then, I started feeling like a bad pet owner. I felt like I was neglecting or abusing my cat, and I felt like I would be just as bad at being a parent. Then I was back to my partner again, thinking about how she doesn’t really want to be a parent and how I don’t know how (or if) we would be able to make my dreams of parenthood a reality.

A quick look at the clock, and I was stressing over time. Not that I was cutting it too close with the cooking, but instead I started thinking about all the events that I have agreed to go to over the next week. I started freaking out about the commitments I have made and panicking over my desire to get a job. And then I was onto money. I always feel like I’m spending far too much and making far too little. Then my mind drifted to the funding that I receive from the school, how that is running out, and how I have no plan for what is going to happen when it does.

By the time that I was done cooking, I felt like my world had crashed and burned. I didn’t feel like going to the event anymore, nor did I feel like anything else. I wanted to curl up in a ball, melt away from my troubles, and hide from the world.

This is what has been happening to me recently. It would start with something small, a trigger that, by itself, would be largely inconsequential, then things would spiral. One thought would lead to another and everything would begin to look bleak, meaningless, and stressful. It wouldn’t be the fault of the situation or anything that I was doing; it would just conjure up the stress that has been lying dormant and smack me over the head with each and every unmet desire, wish, and need that I currently have.

Needless to say, this way of living isn’t what one would call super healthy. I’m well aware of this. In fact, I assure you that knowing just how unhealthy this is has factored into at least one of my depressive spirals over the last couple weeks.

[Image] The words

The way out

So, I want to get better. But how do I do that?

Once again, when it comes to the long-term changes that I have been experiencing, the answer is simply that I don’t know. There is no one correct way out of feelings like these nor is there any signage to ensure that I am on the right path in the first place. Likely, it is probably best for me to seek professional help from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician. Between now and then, however, I think the best that I can hope for is to take a stab at it myself and see how it works out.

Of course, I realise that changing too much at once could throw me back into the very same depression spiral that I am trying to escape. Hopefully, by taking a few small steps, rather than trying to change everything at once, I can limit this risk and maximize my probability of success. Either way however, inaction isn’t really an option. Doing nothing simply allows this unhealthy depression to continue unobstructed and seems, at least at the moment, to be the most damaging of possible outcomes.

So, what am I doing?

Well, first off, I’m blogging here again. Writing about my life has always been something of a catharsis for me. It allows me to sort through my thoughts, attend to what is relevant, and communicate it all to those I care about. That said, I am not going to make any promises about how often I will be writing, about what, or where (or even if) it will be published. So, while this is infinitely better than ignoring the blog, I wouldn’t get your hopes up for a bunch of new content just yet.

Second, as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With this in mind, I’ve decided make a few changes that, I hope, will prevent depressive spirals moving forward. One of these changes is simply making sure that my apartment is (mostly) clean, organized, and presentable. While mess is rarely the trigger that starts me down a depression spiral, it often features quite prominently in the first 2-3 steps. So, hopefully by removing this stressor, I can stop the depression spiral before it gets any further.

Third, I’m changing my sleep schedule (… again). You see, for the last month or so, I have been trying to force myself onto a sleep schedule that my body doesn’t like, and I mean a sleep schedule that my body really, REALLY doesn’t like… I have been trying to get up early in the morning and get to bed before midnight. In doing this, I have been hoping to get more time to spend with my partner while leaving enough time for an entire work day. However, it didn’t really work. Worse, I think that it was just adding stress to the massive amount that I already had.

Finally, I’m starting on a vitamin regimen.  Before you ask, no, this doesn’t mean that I believe all of that hogwash about how the right vitamins and minerals can solve any problem. In fact, I don’t think that vitamins going to do much to fix my mental health woes. However, I do know that my diet is not healthy at the moment. I survive mostly on processed foods and quick vegetarian meals. As such, I realize that this doesn’t give me all the vitamins that I need, nor does it do wonders for my waistline. But, I also know that some vitamin deficiencies (such as Vitamin D, folic acid, and Vitamin B12) have been shown to be associated with depression and anxiety. Hopefully, while I wait for my referral to a psychiatrist to go through, adding more of these vitamins to my diet will help to lessen my depression and weaken my near constant feelings of panic.

While I realize that these changes don’t guarantee that I am going to be able to break the cycle of depression I have been stuck in for a while, I do hope that simply doing something about my depression will help to lessen its grip on my life. If that is all that I accomplish in making this series of changes, I think I would rule the experiment a success. However, I guess we are just going to have to wait and see. Until then, here’s hoping.

On feelings of home

On the way home from the play party last weekend, Kaywinnet mentioned that she was really looking forward to getting home. In fact, she seemed to very much longing for it. To me, this seems really weird; not because I think she shouldn’t feel this way, but rather because I never have.

You see, despite the fact that I have lived in a quite a few different places over the years, I have yet to actually consider any place I lived home. In fact, when I was growing up in the city that I was born in, I lived with this constant feeling that I wanted, or needed, to get out, as quickly as I could. Maybe it was because of some family issues that I was having or maybe it was the extreme lack of culture that the city suffers from, but either way, I just felt like I need to leave the city.

So, the first chance that I got, I got the hell out of there. I decided that I would go to a different city, and even a different country, for University and then live my life from there. However, just over a year later, I found myself forced back into the city where I was born, and managed to get myself stuck there for the remainder of University.

So, when that was over, I decided to leave the city again. This time I took a position as a Master’s student at a University in the middle of flyover country, Canada, where I am living currently. It has been almost two years that I have been living here now, and for the most part, the city is a pleasant change of pace from the one in which I grew up. There is a culture here that makes the city feel as though it is actually alive. The city has enough green space that you can lose yourself in it without needing to resort to heading out to the country. It has a pattern to streets and the city layout that makes sense (for the most part) and is really easy to understand. But yet, I still feel as though I don’t really have a connection to it.

It feels as though I am just passing through.

Maybe I am expecting too much. Maybe the feeling that I assume that other people have around their home is something deeper and more meaningful than it is. Maybe I just haven’t been in one place long enough to actually develop these feelings within myself. Or maybe I am just one of those people that constantly feels a drive for the road.

Whatever the reason, I guess that I am not all that bothered by it, really. This isn’t something that makes me lose sleep at night. Rather, I just wonder what it feels like feel like you are home somewhere.

Perhaps I’ll know eventually.

Understanding drop, headspace, and how to cope

N.B. Last weekend, Kaywinnet and I attended a party outside of our local area. Considering that we are from an area of Canada that is somewhat short on towns and cities large enough to sustain such parties, this was something of a special occasion. Additionally, this party marked the first of which I attended with a romantic interest. So, over the next little while I hope to talk about this experience in more detail, but for today, I thought that I would talk about some of the emotions that I had after the party was over.

[Image] A clothed man cuddling and holding a naked woman

For those of us who have at least some experience with kinky play and/or BDSM dynamics, the idea of sub-drop or top-drop shouldn’t be a new one. However, just in case, here is a definition:

Drop is an emotional drop that happens after a scene due, in part, to changes in endorphins, adrenaline levels, and/or stress levels. This drop could immediately follow the end of scene or be delayed, sometimes by several days. When this drop happens to a submissive person, it is often called sub-drop, although other types of drop exist.

For me, drop comes in many different types, sizes, and flavours. Dropping emotionally is not something that is limited to kink situation or restricted to the times after play. For me, dropping is more about exiting one headspace and moving into another than it is about a particular role or scene that I was engaged in. This means that I can experience an emotional drop after leading a workshop, because leading workshops puts me in a particular type of headspace.

But, what is headspace?

[Image] A person bound and chained inside a silhouette of a head

This is what headspace feels like some times, not than this is bad ;)

For me, headspace is a mental construct that I build when I am engaged in something that consumes a lot of mental energy. While this could mean that a particularly intense role, scene, or activity might create this headspace, it doesn’t necessarily have to be, and this is where it gets complicated.

Many people in the kinky communities understand, at least intellectually, what sub space is: a submissive headspace that allows a submissive to drift or float or withdraw or hide or whatever during a scene. For me, there are multiple such submissive headspaces that are all triggered by different things. Nipple play, for example, is particularly good and getting me in the mood for intense pain, such as biting and thudding pain play, and leads me to feeling floaty. However, intense, deep control, usually of the Total Power Exchange (TPE) variety causes a more drifty, peaceful headspace.

Similarly, other submissive headspaces exist around feelings of being little or childish (i.e., ageplay) and around feelings of being submissively playful and puppyish (i.e., puppy play). When I am in a more dominant role, headspace (and subsequently, drop) isn’t as much of an issue for me; though, I have found that I am susceptible to a top-like headspace when I being particularly controlling. Finally, other headspaces exist for me outside of kinky play. These headspaces exist mostly around things that I find intellectually strenuous or mentally involving. Some, but not all, have elements of stress, anxiety, and/or performance. These headspaces include the aforementioned workshop/teaching headspace, the socializing/public headspace, and the professional/performative headspace.

What do drops look like?

As I mentioned above, dropping emotionally is more about moving out of a headspace than it is about anything else. Because of this, most of my drops look very similar and they almost all involve the same three elements: intense negative emotions, lethargy, and existential crisis.

While I am sure that you have some idea of what I am talking about after list those three elements, let me give you an example. Last weekend, I got played with quite a bit. Kaywinnet enjoyed tormenting me, biting me, spanking me, and much more. It was a lovely experience, and once it ended… I didn’t drop. Instead, I stayed pretty stable until Kaywinnet and I got back to the city and I was dropped off at home. Then, the existential crisis hit. I started questioning everything in my life. Why do I want the things that I want (kinky and otherwise)? Am I truly happy with my partners? Did I pick the right degree path? And so on.

Considering that this type of questioning is basically a daily occurrence for me, I didn’t give it much thought. I dealt with it, as I usually do, and I went to bed. The next morning, WAM! I woke up feeling awful. If I had to assign a number from 1 to 10 to my mood, it would have been no higher than a 3. But it wasn’t like a feeling of being depressed. Instead, it was more like all the wind was let out of my sail, like I was expecting to feel amazing, but instead I was feeling normal… and wow was that a letdown.

But, I tried not to let that stop me, I tried to push through and get on with my day. Yeah… That didn’t happen. Instead, the process of getting out of bed took more almost 3 hours, and I couldn’t even manage to eat. I was just feeling rough the entire day, and for a while into the next one. I swung between needing to cry and curl up to feeling mostly fine and back again, all while feeling like all my energy had left me and dealing with big questions about the meaning of my life.

And, this is what normally happens.

How to deal with it?

The short answer is: I don’t. From everything that I have tried, I have yet to find anything that works better than nothing at all. Fighting the emotions that arise from dropping emotionally never works for me. Doing so only serves to make the process of dropping longer, more stressful, and less predictable than it would otherwise be. So, instead, I try to just let the emotions happen, and deal with the emotions as they come up. This means that all the same rules for emotions apply, having someone to cuddle with, talk to, and whine at, particularly someone that I trust implicitly and I know will be able to handle my existential ramblings, helps a great deal. Assuming that this is possible, the emotions usually pass quickly and about as easily as emotions do, and then I can get back something resembling normal (i.e., panicky, anxious, stressed, and having one existential crisis a day =P)

Misgendering and Cisgender Empathy

N.B.: A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how I am currently involved in something of an activist training camp at the moment. In that post, I talked about how I was feeling really tense after being told, yet again, that I talk too much for my own good. Well, now I have more news from that group, and this time it is something a bit better.

Yesterday during our weekly meeting, I was in the role of being the super busy person that was jumping from task to task. While everyone was filing into the meeting, I heard that my mother had fallen again and that Patience wasn’t feeling well. Considering that I had out of the house all day and didn’t have the chance to manage these situations earlier, I took the time to check-in and make sure that everything was alright. With Patience particularly, I wanted to make sure that she knew that she was really important to me as I have been somewhat absent lately. So, even though the group was starting with their introductions, I took the time to make sure that she wasn’t in critical need.

Once I re-joined the group, I took a moment to orient myself and then went on with the business of attending to the meeting. Since the topic was facilitation training, the conversations that took place became very Meta very quickly. For example, for one of the activities, the present instructed us to describe how we would facilitate a particular meeting. Then, he turned it around so that we described how we facilitated our own drafting of this description and applying that to session that was currently going on. Meaning, we ended up talking facilitating a meeting that we were having about facilitation while being the participant doing exercises on facilitation… ( @_@ ) Needless to say, this really Meta approach to offering facilitation training set the atmosphere in the room somewhere between super confusing and super awkward.

[Image] A child looking very confused

Literally our faces during the session.
Image by: Mindy Gerecke

To make matters worse, a short while into this weird, awkward, and confusing session, the facilitator ended up using the wrong pronoun for me in front of the rest of the group. When this happened, I stopped, assessed, and decided just to let it go. The session continued on as normal, but afterwards it was mentioned that the energy in the room was really weird and kind of tense.

For a couple of the people in the group, at least some of the awkwardness of the evening started when the presenter misgendered me. Being that the room was almost completely comprised of cisgender people, this was a novel experience for me. Amongst trans* friends, discussions about how we want others to deal with someone misgendering us are common; However, cisgender people rarely notice or care about such things. So, I tried to explain, but I think that I only made things more confusing than they were beforehand.

You see, dealing with someone using the wrong pronoun is something of a complicated matter. It isn’t simply something you can set a rule for and expect things to work out: There are contextual factors at play. Since I having been dealing with situations like this ever since I came out nearly 9 years ago now, I have a nature feeling for these contextual cues.

For example, in this situation I realized that I missed the introductions section of the evening. In doing so, I missed the part of the session that we typically use to identify our preferred pronouns. This means that, not only does the presenter not know my preferred pronouns, I don’t know theirs or their general awareness of the importance of pronouns. And this second part is the one that particular poignant to me in this situation. Some cisgender people don’t take pronouns seriously, they figure that they are an artifact of progressive spaces and movements, but that they don’t really mean anything meaningful. Usually, this manifests as the cisgender person replying to the question of pronoun preferences with something like: “Any pronouns” or “I don’t care what you call me.”

In responding in this way, the person in question acts to reify the privilege that they have by subtly suggesting to the room that they don’t think anyone would accidently refer to them with a pronoun incongruent with their gender. People like this pronoun misuse really hard. This is because if they can’t understand the power that pronouns have (in the English language), then they can’t respond or respect a challenge about their use of them, and this is exactly what was responding in this way shows, a fundamental misunderstanding of what pronouns are and what their power is.

So, knowing that I didn’t have this information, I figured that challenging the presenter (i.e., the person with the most power, or perceived power, in the room) may not go over well. But at the same time, I was concerned that by challenging the presenter, I would trigger some sort of defensiveness within them and/or distract them from the topic that they were talking about at the time. In this way, I worry that pulling the conversation to a discussion of pronouns would limit the learning that my peers were experiencing in that space. So, once again, I decided not to say anything.

Instead, I chose to hang back and allow the conversation to continue on mostly unabated. But, that isn’t to say that I wasn’t wounded by this interaction. And during the discussion that we were having afterward, a couple of my peers said that they had noticed this. They mentioned that I looked as though I had been winded and that I started to act a bit distracted after that point. To me, this isn’t really a surprise. I mean, being misgendered like this hurt. When this happens, it is hard not to worry that I somehow performing my gender incorrectly or doing something that I shouldn’t be. So, rather than attending to the topic at hand for the next few minutes, I was last in my head thinking about my voice, the ways that I was moving, and my manner of dress.

But returning to the question at hand: What does this mean for my cisgender peers? Should they have spoken up to defend my pronoun choices, or should they have just remained quiet?

Well, in a situation where I am not present, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem. If they feel willing and able to address a misused pronoun when I am not part of the conversation, I have no problem with them doing so. However, with me being present in the conversation, there was really no way that challenging the presenter on my behalf would have gone over well. Since I had already chosen not to challenge the presenter myself, a challenge from one of my peers would completely overridden my autonomy on the issue and risk triggering the problems that I listed above.

So, what is there for an ally or friend to do?

Well, during the discussion after the fact, one my peers suggested, what I thought was, the best possible solution: to lead by example. In this, my peers, rather than obviously challenging the presenter on his pronoun mistake, would just make sure to use the correct pronoun as they discussed what I was saying. This subtly challenges the presenter while respecting both my gender identity and my decision making capabilities which, considering how often the identities and autonomy of trans* people are respected, is a radical act in and of itself.