I tend to avoid making rather personal posts on a regular basis, but this is different – I almost had a severe case of road rage just twenty (or so) minutes ago.

Now, for the record – and I really cannot stress this enough – I do not have “anger issues” in that sense. I used to have a bit of a “control problem,” where I’d fly off the handle pretty quickly if something got me very irritated very quickly. Used to. Not anymore. Okay? Okay.


Anyway, here’s why:

Driving home from dropping off my brother, I was waiting at a traffic light to turn left. Meanwhile, cars were turning the left the other way and thus driving past me. Most are your average Main Line insecurity-mobiles – white Mercedes-Benz GL-class, white Lexus GX-class, white Cadillac ESV, and so on. One was actually dark red, though, and it was a Nissan Armada (which is, of course, just a boxier Lexus GX-class made by a different Japanese carmaker). On the front was a plate that nearly caused the episode of road rage in question.

A standard-enough 6×12″ (~15×30 cm) plate, I guess, but around the border were those insidious “autism awareness” puzzle pieces – and the slogan was easily ten times worse.

“Solve the Puzzle.”

Fuck you.

Seriously, fuck you. 

Fuck your wealthy, entitled lifestyle, fuck your 13 miles-to-the-gallon, fuck your insecurity, fuck your need to appear “caring” or “compassionate,” and most of all, fuck your willful ignorance.

Just…fuck you. Fuck off. Leave us alone, and fuck off.

Stick to what you know – be a trophy wife, be a “philanthropist,” be on the board of trustees of your child’s $45k/yr private school for all I care.

Just fucking STOP pretending to know what autism is.

Fuck. Off.

You aren’t a psychologist. You aren’t a psychiatrist. You aren’t a neuroscientist. You probably aren’t any kind of scientist.

Hell, if you were, you’d know that autism is anything but a “puzzle.”

Scenario: Let’s say you’re a pretentious and wealthy person, born with a silver spoon in your mouth (and possibly another up your arse, if you’re into that), and instilled with all the grace and refinement of your average White Knight™and/or Social Justice Warrior™.

Now, consider the scientifically proven fact that autism spectrum disorders (ASDs, for the sake of simplicity) are directly related to certain genetic deletions that can be observed in utero.

Obviously not all cases of autism are caused by such deletions, and – as the above-referenced article mentions – nor do these deletions necessarily indicate or preclude a diagnosis.

By this incredibly fucked-up logic, you may as well also join the (ideally non-existent) causes searching for a “cure” for Down Syndrome, Tay-Sachs, Sickle-Cell Anemia, Cystic Fibrosis, and even colour-blindness.

All are caused by genetic deletions and are observable in utero. If you think there’s a possibility of “curing” any of these, do the world a favour and take some actual fucking science classes.

We don’t need scientifically-illiterate people trying to “help” us. If we thought that was a decent idea, we’d go talk to Congress.

A decade or so ago, we hardly even had this sort of “awareness” movement looking for a “cure” – oh, you didn’t know GATTACA was fiction? Aw, poor sheltered baby. 😉

Must be nice in upper-class America. I hear you don’t even pay taxes! I mean, I don’t believe that because I don’t worship Chief Drone Captain Obama as a god, but y’know…I’ve heard.

Um. Anyway…

I am not a fucking puzzle. I will no longer tolerate this form of patronising and overtly discriminatory (read: ableist) treatment that has become so pervasive in our supposedly-enlightened culture and society.

I have had enough.

If you truly believe I’m less than human because my brain doesn’t work quite like yours, that’s fine – as long as you’re open to having that absurd viewpoint challenged. If not, you’re no better than your average Catholic, and that’s pretty fucking bad.

I’ll be the first to say that my brain doesn’t function the same way yours does (unless you have AS too, in which case it probably does, and thanks for reading my blog by the way). Believe me, this has been my life as long as I can accurately remember – I was never like other boys at school, and (surprise!) it’s not just because I liked other boys at school.

The point is that we aren’t totally fucking clueless as to why autism is a thing. We have science, you know. Granted, the “Awareness” movement hasn’t historically been a fan of science, but then again, most of the socially-regressive white-saviour benevolently-intolerant contingent are willfully ignorant of any advance that challenges their perceptions. Hence 9/11 “truthers,” anti-vaxxers, and flat-earthers exist.

This is the world in which we live – rife with science-deniers and (even worse) those who would sooner legislate ignorance than broaden their own knowledge.

I hope the far-right is happy.

— JB

If you have any of those stupid fucking “puzzle-piece” stickers, magnets, license plates, or anything in your possession – especially on your car – please do the entire ASD community a huge favour and throw them the fuck away. Thank you.

Why you can’t “find me on Facebook”

For the last forty-eight hours, I have been unreachable via Facebook. This is intentional.

Depending on how you’re actually getting to my Facebook profile – specifically, the URL – you may be seeing “Oops, this content is unavailable,” which is a generic error page displayed when Facebook’s backend thinks you’ve clicked an expired link or a link to content that’s since been deleted, or you may be getting a simple pop-up like this:


At this point, I’d usually say something along the lines of “long story short…” but in this case, I can’t.

It’s not a long story at all. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account. I created it 20 March 2007 and deactivated it 18 September 2015. That’s over eight years of constant social media presence. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly a third of my life. 

Well, shit.

Social media is great. It keeps us together, keeps us in touch, lets us know who’s doing what, whenever, wherever – and, naturally, therein lies the problem.

Who is this “us?”

At the time I deactivated my account, I had 724 Facebook friends. I’ve kept track over the past few months, but regretfully haven’t actually plotted data points to create a graph – that would have been an excellent idea, considering I meticulously keep track of all sorts of other data in my everyday life. Oops. Oh well.

I can say, however, that the number was significantly higher even just a month or two ago (in the 760 range). What happened? Did I go through my friend list and delete all the people I didn’t really know, with whom I didn’t keep in touch, about whom I frankly don’t give a damn?

Nope. In fact, I’ve never “un-friended” or “blocked” anybody. Ever. I let the other party make that call, should they choose to. And, apparently, the “other parties” have been more than willing to block or “un-friend” me fairly consistently.

Now, obviously, I don’t give a fuck. If they’re petty enough to think “un-friending” or even blocking me is somehow “making a statement,” then they’re no friends of mine regardless. No, my real problem is with the aftermath of some, uh…encounters.

I’ve been targeted, slandered, harassed, “cyber-bullied,” whatever you wanna call it, on multiple occasions, and certainly not just via Facebook. At some point, though, even a disabled queer autistic kid with PTSD needs to grow the fuck up and accept that this is how the world is today. I can’t fight them, but I can make them stop – sometimes permanently.

I’ll give ample warnings. Of course, nobody ever listens. Why should they? If they can say whatever the hell they want online, well, so can I! Short of “I’ll fire-bomb your fucking house at 555 Elm Street, Townsville, PA*,” there’s a whole load of cryptic semi-threatening stuff I can say, completely legally, to a potential stalker or anybody who poses a threat to me via the internet.

Now, for (hopefully) obvious reasons, I can’t say stuff like “I know where you live.” Even if it’s true, and that information was obtained through totally legal, publicly-accessible systems (such as Google – seriously), it’s still mighty fucking suspicious. The fact is, though, you’re never anonymous online. I tried that whole “anonymity” thing a long while ago. Obscuring one’s identity is actually really difficult, and (more importantly) in many cases, motive. For whatever. Think about it.

I’m not stupid, so I don’t sink to that level. If somebody harasses me online, such as the debacle with my ex’s cronies and bodyguards or fuckbuddies or whatever the fuck last June – yes I curse a lot, so sue me – I fight back.

Again, I’m not stupid. I’m certainly not going to call the police, because that’s possibly the dumbest thing I could do. Plus, what police? Call the ones here in Affluent Suburbia, PA? They’d just laugh at me like the last time (when they attacked me and left me to die – not the topic at hand, though).

So…what, call the ones in Millville, NJ, the city to which I’ve traced the harassing messages? Even if I gave them the street address (which I approximated within 100 metres), the make and model of the device used (a smartphone, the make and model of which I knew exactly), the make, model, year, and plates of the car the offender drives (a piece of crap 2011 sedan, all of which I also know exactly), and of course the IP address (which I obviously knew, seeing as that’s never hidden from a site administrator, derp) used to obtain this information (except the car – that I knew because I have a good memory and was threatened in person to begin with)…they would not have done anything.

Nobody takes cyber-threats seriouslyespecially when it’s a “male” accusing a “female” of abuse, and subsequently her male “friend(s)” of harassment.

In short, nobody believes a “male” can be abused.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have therapists and doctors who do not think this way, and have been more than willing to help me cope with the trauma I’ve endured throughout my life.

Most of that trauma, of course, has been self-inflicted, internalised, what have you – for example, I was never, ever “abused” by my parents in any way, yet took everything they said to heart and practically beat myself into submission over it. I think they’ve stopped blaming themselves by now – about time, too. I was a failure then, and I’m still pretty much a failure now. At least now we know it’s not entirely my own doing. Small comfort, right? 😛

So, then – why deactivate my Facebook? Well then.

See, here’s the thing. I don’t trust myself. It’s not other people. It’s not what they say or do. Other people are shitty. We know that. In fact, in many cases, we damn near take it for granted!

Fact is, I don’t trust myself not to say things I won’t ultimately regret. There’s a good reason, I’m sure, for having lost so many “Facebook friends” in a relatively short amount of time.

I know there are people who hate what I have to say about religion. Tough shit. You don’t like my presentation of facts? Well, why the fuck are you my friend?

I know there are people who hate what I have to say about gender and sexuality. Tough shit. Again – don’t like my presentation of facts? Well, why the fuck are you my friend?

definitely know there are people who despise my posts about science and technology, especially medicine. In this case, I have no desire to associate, even indirectly, with that kind of person. I hope they all die, and considering their absurd resistance to modern advances in medicine (see: Munchausen’s by Proxy, or better yet, Special Snowflake Syndrome**) that’s not a terribly unrealistic or even particularly “offensive” statement.

You know what we call people historically suspicious of advances in medical treatment? Dead.

Finally, I’m well aware that Facebook is very much like prison. You sit around and waste time, all the time. You write on walls, and your words and actions are plotted on a timeline – whether you know it or not. Your profile picture is always viewable by anybody, anywhere – again, whether you know it or not.

That’s an ancient meme (presumably as old as Facebook itself, or at the very least, the Facebook opened to the public on 26 September 2006), but I believe it still applies.

Of course, I’m not one of those “Big Brother” conspiracy nut jobs. I don’t think Facebook is “evil,” nor do I think they’re “spying on me.” Get over yourselves. Nothing you and I do or say online could possibly be of interest to the government, let alone a multi-billion-dollar corporation. I’m not important. You’re not important. We don’t matter, and we never will.

Unless, of course, you’re a powerful authority figure, an officer in the Armed Forces, a wealthy businessperson with serious Wall Street and/or Washington sway. In that case, yes, Facebook and others probably care a whole lot about what you’re doing online, so please, get off my silly blog and get back to work.

I am still on Twitter, but that’s about it. I don’t exactly have a small digital footprint, nor, admittedly, would I ever really want to.

I’m just sick of Facebook. I’m sick of the trouble that starts there and I’m sick of how it ends. I’m sick of the relationships it creates and even sicker of those it destroys.

I have no desire to keep in touch with people who really wouldn’t give a shit if I dropped dead, and realistically, the last forty-eight hours kind of proves my point.

this is obviously not real, but for legal reasons I am obliged to point out this address is completely fake, made-up, imaginary, all that jazz. Go ahead, put it into Google Maps or something. You can even try Bing, provided you are a Reptilian or practice Wicca. Satisfied? Good, now get off my back. 🙂

** not officially recognised by the NIH or APA as a legitimate psychological condition with significant diagnostic validity…yet.

On Baltimore

People have asked me why I have yet to comment on the ongoing events in Baltimore, MD. My assumption is that these people are referring to my fairly well-documented resentment for (local) law enforcement following several incidents of mistreatment.


Skin colour notwithstanding, I have indeed been targeted, marginalised, and abused by those whose wages, comprised in no small part of my own tax dollars, are paid in return for a sworn oath to “protect and serve.”
The fact of the matter is this: I have exactly zero bullet wounds; although I am deathly terrified of aggressive dogs, those responsible were not let out of the patrol car; although I rarely venture out unarmed, nobody would assume this based on my appearance alone.


I have never been pulled over whilst driving an expensive luxury car, despite the fact I could never afford it myself. I’ve never been followed around whilst shopping – no matter what for; I’ve never been stopped for an unconstitutional random search of my person or vehicle (or both).


Indeed, I’ve been the victim of such a “guilty until possibly proven innocent, if we care enough” mindset only once, two years ago. An incident which scarred me for life, to be sure, but what else are the pigs – a term reserved for those whose power goes straight to their heads – meant to do on a Sunday afternoon, in a town that’s 98,6% white, besides confront, intimidate, belittle, ridicule, and abuse a young male committing the grievous offense of wearing a black hoodie and sunglasses in the middle of January, with the sun at its brightest and a temperature of 15F (about -9C), walking around the neighborhood – in which he’d lived for fifteen years – as he had been thrice-daily for the previous three months?


It ought to be fairly obvious, at this point, why I have yet to make any sort of comment on Baltimore, Freddie Gray, riots, or systemic black oppression.



If not, I shall attempt to elucidate further yet…



I am what people generally consider to be “white.” This is an ethnic term, a form of identification rather than identity. I identify as queer, non-binary, disabled, and neuro-atypical (among other things), but I don’t like the term “white.” I am indeed quite pale. I am of primarily Saxon descent (Niedersachsen – Oldenburg, Kirschhatten, to be specific), with a bit of Irish as well.



You’ll find this holds true for a surprising percentage of the population of my home state of Pennsylvania, as well as a large amount of my ancestors’ home state of Wisconsin.



Being primarily of German descent, there is a multitude of words and phrases I should (and most certainly do) avoid using in any context. If my Israeli friends want to crack Jew jokes, go ahead (I guess? they’re not terribly funny), but I’d never dare to repeat them. It’s the same fundamental concept.



This is why I have yet to comment on Baltimore – in any context. For one thing, I do not feel it is my place. Additionally, I feel as though the reason people have asked me for commentary and/or opinions is based exclusively on the fact I was abused by my local law enforcement agency two years ago (and by another last year, although I do not ever wish to discuss that in any public forum).



Just so we’re clear, these are perfectly legitimate reasons for me to be upset, but they do not qualify me to speak out against the pervasive, racially-charged, systematic police brutality plaguing this country and its inhabitants. That is why I haven’t said anything until right now.



Not because I’m “white,” but rather because my experiences simply do not (and, in many ways, cannot) afford me the same level of insight regarding the struggles of my more melanin-rich fellow human beings.




I will leave it up to you, the reader, to judge whether my experiences would be different should I have resided in an area with a significantly higher minority population.



Your answer ultimately reflects the gravity of the situation and the extent of the cultural and societal gap we must bridge in order to progress as a Nation and indeed as a species.



-JFB 28 April 2015

Condemnant quod non intellegunt

What normally comes to mind when somebody addresses you, but prefaces whatever they’re about to say with “sorry if this might seem a little weird” or “you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to,” or both?

Lots of things, I’m sure. First you assume it’s likely a personal question. Then your guilty conscience plays up as well. Finally, just to get in on all the mind-racing action, your deepest secrets barge into the forefront of your memory, begging to remain in the safe dark corners of your mind forever and ever amen.

A bit of advice – stop at the first one. Breath. Relax. Usually, the reason someone would preface a question like that, myself included, is an inability to think of the proper phrasing to use. Everybody wants to be tactful, respectful, and ultimately not a complete douche, but sometimes the first two seem harder to accomplish. Usually, once the question is out in the air, lingering heavily between their face and yours, it suddenly seems much more benign, and though it all happens in a split second, the other party is likely to feel somewhat sheepish about all their worrying.

So, here I return from my rambling digression to the anecdote at hand. This happened to me last night, as it has countless times before (apparently I’m some kind of complex enigma), but instead of a friend, classmate, or random anonymous internet user, the question came from my youngest brother.

I have two brothers. The oldest is 18, and the other just turned 15 about a month ago. To put it in perspective, I was a freshman in college at 18 (my brother is about “a year behind” because his birthday’s in autumn) and at 15 I was just kinda dicking around on the internet and RuneScape, running a clan (which I’ve done now for nearly eight years), and being your average undiagnosed teenage boy. But 15 is also an important milestone for me because it was around that age I began to come out to myself, and eventually to my mom and the rest of my family, my peers, and so on and so forth.

So as if starting with “you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to” wasn’t enough, his phrasing of the question was indeed rather odd – to an outside observer, that is. The exchange went like this:

“Are you still…gay?”


“So…what was all that with dating [a guy] for so long? Like…what are you actually?”

Well…here it gets complicated. I wasn’t about to lie, obviously, so I initially said I wasn’t really sure – it sounds like a cop-out but if the truth’s not good enough, go away – but decided I could elaborate a bit. It was easier for me to say I was gay than to try and explain what I actually felt. Historically, I’ve always found some women attractive and some men attractive, but there’s always been something not-so-traditional about them. I hate traditional ideas of both female and male beauty – especially tall, hairless, expressionless men with bulging muscles who look to be chiseled out of some shiny constantly-wet by-product of clandestine government experiments in the synthesis of adamantium.

“So you’re bi, or…? I mean it doesn’t matter, I’m just curious.”

Yeah, I guess. I tend to say “pansexual,” because I don’t really care about dividing and classifying people into two – and only two – groups. In my mind, that’s not how bisexuality actually works, but it’s all too often the way it’s perceived, especially in the queer and trans communities.

I don’t need to spend so much time and energy thinking about or trying to put people into little pre-labelled boxes and only considering my attraction to them if they fit just so. That seems kinda…wrong. I mean, I do (for instance) prefer to call a trans man a “man” rather than something that isn’t simply “man,” simply because it’s a) what they want and b) what they are. Your brain says man? Okay. Mine does too, sometimes. 🙂

By that token, there are only “two” possibilities to be attracted to – men and women – with trans people falling into the category with which they identify. But not all trans people want to “fit in” like that. I know a bunch of them, and while they certainly don’t make it obvious on the outside, they all talk about it pretty openly with people they trust. So that right there sets them apart. I didn’t have to go through anything as tough as the transitioning process to be seen as a male, and they did/do (as the case may be).

What I have to admit surprised me the most, though, is the direction of the conversation. I jokingly asked if he thought he was bisexual as well, fully expecting him to say no, but that wasn’t the end of the topic. In fact, he mentioned that one of his friends is pansexual and “he gets a lot of crap from people about that.” I asked what he meant – as in, do they say things like “pick one” or “you’re just greedy” and so on, and he said that yes, it’s stuff like that.

This kid’s apparently not getting bullied terribly, at least not physically (which is always a relief to know) but is certainly witnessing the age-old phenomenon with which this particular essay shares a name. It’s Latin, and it translates quite literally to “they condemn because they do not understand.” It’s a phrase I used as a signature on the official RuneScape forums for many years, including when I was an official moderator. It’s among my most seriously considered potential first tattoos. But most importantly, it’s a reminder of how I justified coming out – first to myself, then gradually to others as I saw fit – when I felt confident in either their ability to understand or my ability to help them do so.

However, achieving the level of understanding necessary for compassionate acceptance is a difficult task for people who simply cannot relate to the individual’s particular situation. It’s usually not because the willingness to learn and accept isn’t there, but rather because at this age, everything is new and trendy and popular. Everything is a way to get attention, and nobody wants to be outdone. It’s a sad failing of our educational system and an equally upsetting failure on the part of parents everywhere that even an individual’s own developing (and highly impressionable) identity is seen as fair game for constant unwanted and ultimately hurtful scrutiny.

The only person allowed to question your identity is you.

Granted, it’s hella nice to have people along the way to help you out. I’ve been questioning this and that about myself in some way pretty much constantly since I was about 13, which is when the brain tentatively begins to make its first brave forays into the uncharted realms of critical thinking , divergent reasoning, and logical abstraction. But the final verdict rests with you, and you alone. While it’s always nice to find people who really truly relate to you, the fact of the matter is that nobody else necessarily has to understand you. They were perfectly content with their lives until you just had to come along and rock the boat, throw a wrench in the mix, add another variable, or whatever you wanna call it.

Well…that’s not entirely true.

What is true is that truly understanding somebody is not a key requisite for accepting them. Case in point, a la my earlier digression: trans people. I’ll never truly understand how they think and feel. I can’t. I’m not trans. My brain works differently on too many levels to count. But I understand what they go through. I understand why they act in certain ways in situation A, but not ever situation B. I understand what they communicate, directly and indirectly, in their quest for acceptance. In other words…I know that feel, bro.

I was quoting a damn meme. But in my defense, I am part of a fraternity, so I’ve had my fair share of “bro talks” – essentially supportive, well-intended, morally uplifting advice communicated with or without the aid of a social lubricant.

What drives this home for me is also the fact that took a little while to actually dawn on me in the first place. This pansexual friend of my brother is presumably 14 or 15, meaning he’s Form IV, much earlier than I had any idea what to call myself or my peers had enough familiarity with the vocabulary for me to be sure they’d even get it to begin with. Oh and also, this kid goes to the same school I attended. Both of my brothers do as well.

My alma mater happens to be a “small, non-sectarian, all-boys private college preperatory school,” according to their Mission Statement (and reality). It’s expensive and prestigious and very, very highly regarded in most circles with an idea of how private schools function and what makes them stand out. I graduated in 2010, almost four years ago now, and I can’t say I had the best time while I was a student there.

For one, I wasn’t a great student. I struggled with all sorts of learning disabilities and other crap that prevented me from performing to the fullest of my potential. Most I’ve since overcome or at least learned to address. Some still bother me (see: using the alphabet to do complicated math, which is meant to be made of numbers for fuck sake), but my biggest problems were all social. Those issues persisted into my even more tumultuous college years, where they mutated into emotional shortcomings stemming from AS and general crippling anxiety, insomnia, and an inability to talk to people I found attractive. Mostly the last one. But at prep school, it was my sexuality. That I came out at all is still kinda stunning to me, although nowadays telling people is no sweat at all unless they’re religious or in a position of authority.

Being surrounded by a hyper-masculine atmosphere for so long is actually something I tend to credit as kick-starting my gender identity questioning,. In fact, as I humorously remarked to my brother, being surrounded by exclusively boys for thirteen years may have actually lessened my attraction to males, or at the very least helped me figure out my (very very picky) preferences regarding them. I don’t do sports, and I don’t do people who do sports. Personal preference. Those exist.

But the fact I still decided to come out in such an environment isn’t actually all that shocking. People do it all the time. I was consoled by several important things to note:

  • The school has a diversity group that explicitly includes sexual orientation and gender in its description. It’s mostly minority kids talking about race issues (“can people please stop thinking I play basketball?!”) but they’ll jump to queer equality issues just as readily.
  • The school is not affiliated with any religious organizations.
  • A sizable percentage of the teachers were young, energetic, and just generally really pleasant people. The ones who weren’t young were typically just as pleasant, but in a kind of wizened, “respect my intellect and I’ll help nurture yours” way.
  • Regardless of personality, a large and visible majority of the faculty are very liberal.
  • I wouldn’t be the first or the only queer kid there, but I’d be the first in my year to really “come out” to everyone in no uncertain terms, and I have to admit that sounded kinda alluring.

But the courage to come out as pansexual at age 14 or 15? The fact he is so far along in his self-discovery? Coming out as a minority sexuality within the queer minority itself while surrounded by predominantly straight young men? That all boggles my mind. This kid’s got a level of confidence I certainly lacked at that age (not to mention understanding of his own identity, cemented or not). The fact he felt safe coming out at all speaks for itself. That’s a huge step forward for any all-male institution for far too many reasons to list.

Just knowing that gives me hope and even a sense that maybe all of the activism and advocacy and lots of talking that I did in my last couple years there, including bringing my boyfriend to one of the diversity meetings and running a school-wide survey on the current state of gay acceptance, among other things…maybe all of that, coupled with the fact I was not the only one in my year to come out, nor were we the last year to boast out queer students, has had a profound and lasting effect on the atmosphere and culture itself. The understanding and acceptance gets passed down. The current Form VI (of which my other brother is a part) were not yet in the Upper School when I graduated. The entire population has changed since my time there only four years ago, and yet the legacy is still there.

Could it be something as simple as “oh yeah, his older brother likes guys so don’t make gay jokes” when younger kids see my brother? Maybe it’s more than that – maybe there are kids who are well-liked and accomplished in one thing or another (at this school it’s actually considered cool to be smart so long as you’re not an arrogant twat about it) and are queer as well. People think twice when they realize “well shit, beyond that, we’re not all that different!”

After all, at a small, single-sex private school, you end up closing ranks as you progress through the years together. By the time you graduate, you can probably tick off at least three facts about each and every one of your classmates, and the temptation to be a smart-ass about it has long since given way to some higher form of intellectual and social maturity.

Does that mean people likely remember me as “the bisexual kid?” I’d certainly imagine it comes to mind fairly quickly, but then again, so does my hair – it’s just as distinctive a characteristic, after all, and frankly people cared more about that than my sexuality!

At the end of the day, I suppose the message is something like this: If you find yourself part of an academic community, a social circle, or any situation at all where you are invited and encouraged to “be yourself,” the best course of action is to accept that invitation whole-heartedly and feed off that encouragement until your confidence does the rest for you.

Perhaps this is my elaborate and drawn-out way of saying “it gets better,” but it’s so much deeper than that. Growing up is challenging, dealing with life is challenging, being an adult is challenging…but being true to yourself only gets easier as you go.

I can promise you that much. I leave you now with a brighter, future-oriented revision of what became a sort of motto to me in my early teenage years:

Condemnant quod nunc non intellegunt, sed non intellegent perperam sempiternum.

How to Conform to Non-Conformity, or The Rise of Progressive Conformism

The context for this particular essay is simple confusion as to why Facebook, despite having recently introduced the ability to select from 50 different gender identities, was still giving me only the options for “male” or “female” I saw (and still see) no “custom” option.

For a horrifying moment, I thought the whole thing was a cruel and unusual hoax, but NPR (that hallmark of reliable media, lolz) ran an article from the perspective of the Facebook staff member that definitely tells me it’s a real thing that I’m just not seeing anywhere. The comments on that article are…saddening, to say the least. Remember that NPR’s audience is primarily far-left social progressives and economic authoritarians, so the fact there’s so much insensitivity present is…unfortunate, to say the least.

Ignorance, well, that’s to be expected. The principles of idealism that comprise a significant portion of both the foundation and keystone of no-holds-barred progressivism* have an unusual tendency to promote horribly misinformed perceptions of what it really means to be “different.”

It’s interesting, though, to note that Facebook’s decision to expand the options for “gender” selection to 50, while agreeably a step in the right direction, is still rather a slap in the face to those at the forefront of the multitude of equality, awareness, and visibility movements. This whole “identity” topic wasn’t even around a decade or two ago, nor were at least half of the words used in and around the general movement so much as in our vocabulary.

The issue of sexuality and gender identities having definitions (or, as the case may be, limited or no definition) in a public space has become relevant in a fervent, almost aggressive manner in a very short amount of time.

It’s a legitimate concern of mine that the great speed at which the gender identity visibility movement(s) is/are progressing and moving – or forcing themselves – well into the public eye is the biggest obstacle to its/their success. To even people who are educated and open-minded, it can seem from a distance that we’re clamoring to “express ourselves” in as many different ways as possible from “everyone else.”

I remember a time when “LGBT” was good enough. Then they added Q. Then, as we added more letters, we began simply telling people to just use the word “queer” for fuck sake because pretty soon we’re just gonna recite the alphabet and plus, what if you aren’t sure? We can’t have two Qs (queer and questioning) in the acronym. That’s just absurd. If you’re questioning, you might not be queer, but you’re definitely not “like everybody else.” And that’s fine.

I miss being able to simply agree that gender identity is fluid, the the very concept of “gender” at all is a social construct that exists independently of biological factors, but on that topic I’m afraid I can progress no further, as even I, with my extensive science background, am apparently incredibly misinformed to the point of what I once considered scientific knowledge being instead no more than “elementary school bullshit.”

I spend the vast majority of my time dwelling upon issues of neurodiversity and ableism, both of which are as serious as any other social issue that affects the fundamental civil liberties and human rights (and dignity) afforded people. No one would dare call me out for ignorance of the widespread and encouraged discrimination facing those with prevailing developmental disabilities. No one would dare accuse me of having no idea what it’s like to have emotional stability issues or learning disabilities or even a speech impediment, because I’ve lived it. 

So…why does it seem okay to accuse me of being so far-removed from the gender-binary-nonconformist visibility and awareness movement? Is it this thing i apparently have called “cis-passing privilege?” That’s nice and all, and I appreciate the constant guilt-trips (joke, I have major guilt issues as-is), but reminding me I can “pass” as a “man” is (to me) the rough equivalent of saying “why don’t you just act like/look like/be a man?”

I know it’s seldom (not never, but seldom) meant that way, but I would never think of telling a genderqueer person to “just call yourself trans – it’s much easier to understand.” Because they’re not trans. They’re not trans-anything. If anything, they’re transcendent with regards to gender (see what I did there?) and attempting to understand their identity in terms of what with which you are already familiar is, while instinctive, ultimately ineffective.

Part of me wants to give up and just accept that it’s okay for people to choose whatever label they want for themselves – provided they’re a fan of labeling themselves, that is. I never have been, with myself or others. It’s also not okay to say people have to label themselves, that they simply must identify as something.

We humans have no obligation to justify either the state or nature of our existence to each other. 

No, that does not mean it’s okay to say your gender is “Klingon.” Klingon is a fucking species (not a race – they’re not human) and at that, need I remind you, fictional. It’s also not okay to say you identify as a tree. You don’t. You can’t. The simple fact that you are communicating an assertion of your own sentience effectively nullifies any and all potential for you to be innately part of a completely different kingdom of life.

That, and it’s also insulting to people whose identities are complicated and difficult to describe or explain, but that ought to go without saying.

For the record, I am still very much questioning my own identity. The initial crises are well in the past, but I’m far from feeling comfortable with myself. Please remember this is the case with a significant number of gender-binary-nonconforming people, and that the best way to be supportive is to not try and “help” us “figure things out” – unless, of course, you have had similar experiences in your own life. Solidarity is always appropriate and welcomed.

*no, “progressivism” is not, strictly speaking, a real word. It’s also not inaccurate, as the grammatically-correct “progressiveness” refers to an abstract quality, not a school of thought.

JFB 13 Feb 2014

Woes of White Shirts and Family Homes

I have to wear a white button-down shirt to work. White. It must be white. That’s all. Long-sleeve, short-sleeve, one pocket, two pockets, no pockets, whatever, doesn’t matter. It just has to fit me, have buttons, and be white. Every man who’s ever had even a remote association with the workforce owns at least one such shirt. Most women do too, but their shirts are cut differently and the buttons are on the wrong other side! 🙂

So why is it so fucking hard to understand that these shirts must be washed? They are WHITE. They get DIRTY. Factor in that I am a gross and sweaty pig at temperatures over 21C (70°F) and…yeah. Pigs are, in fact, very clean. They wash themselves to get rid of their sweat and other stuff that makes mammals dirty.

Humans do so as well, but we have an extra step because the majority of time, we have an extra outer layer or two between us and nature’s cruel and twisted assault of various specimens of utter filth. Fashioned from any number or combination of a multitude of fibres and/or synthetic materials, these protective outer layers are referred to in common parlance as clothes, and collectively as an abstract entity – clothing.

We have a Maytag washer and dryer manufactured in 1991 at the latest. This means, of course, that we have had to replace a grand total of one part between the two in what coincidentally happens to be my lifetime, and that part was a rubber belt the washer uses to control the spin cycle – considered a wearable part under normal usage by any reasonable standard, and thus subject to replacement over the lifetime of the appliance itself. Just like how you ought to replace the serpentine belt in your car every three to five years – actually, they’re exactly the same thing, only the one for the washer is shorter!

So that’s fantastic. No telling how energy-efficient they are, but the washer (for example) is shockingly good on water usage, and is only several minutes slower than today’s fancy washers with their glass windows and LCD screens and shit. By that token, it uses much less electricity and has fewer parts to break…!

BUT here’s the thing. Though these two massive white steel beasts must meet the often-demanding needs of a family of six, only one person is allowed, by decree, to actually facilitate their daily operation – my father.

I wanted one of my white shirts washed several weeks ago. Foolishly, I put it in with the rest of the family’s laundry, and not until today did I finally uncover it, after being told that “if you put it down [the laundry chute], I washed it and I guess your mother didn’t fold it / give it back to you,” and after tearing apart my room and all the clean laundry everywhere looking for it. I found it in a pile of white garments on the floor of our laundry room, which also happens to be our “mudroom,” and as such frequently finds its floors covered with any amount of mud, dirt, leaves, water, or snow. Its floor is also where urine- and (thankfully rarely) shit-stained white hospital towels are tossed after being used to clean up after our nearly-two-year-old, very expensive, and definitively un-trainable inbred purebred dog. There was my favorite white button-down shirt, the one that fits me like a glove, the one that’s so comfortable, the stain-proof one…lying on the floor, underfoot, covered in dust, dirt, and debris from other dirty laundry, scuffed by dirty, careless shoes over countless weeks of neglect, and – worst of all – surrounded by other clothing in similar states, easily ten times dirtier than when they were brought to be washed in the first place, a decision likely made by their wearers at least a week and a half ago at least. As to why there was such a pile of filthy originally-white garments and such in the first place…the answer is simple, yet maddeningly illogical.

There weren’t (or still aren’t) “enough” whites to “do a full load” of laundry.

By that logic, there never will be. Here’s someone who consistently guilt-trips me into “contributing” to the family with various (often unnecessary) chores because I live under his roof and eat food he buys and, even if I do my own laundry (which he hates), am still using his water that he pays for…here he is, quite literally not contributing to the family either.

I rarely get so emotional in my anger. When I am angry, I usually just yell because something set me off really, really badly. But my passionate anger is different, borne from deep-seated resentment and feelings I rarely express for fear of being targeted to my very core and, if defeated, forever subject to being less-than-equal. This was nearly one of those times. He’s not home, of course, but I (literally) threw a fit, hitting the wall so hard I knocked some paint off of it, all the while feeling completely and utterly at my wit’s end, furiously frustrated by my heretofore consistent complete lack of power and my mother’s confusingly infuriating responses of “what do you want me to say?” or “what can I do, really?”

All this over a shirt. A shirt. To me, in my situation, it is a lot more than a shirt…it is representative of the sum of the daily struggles which drain me of all energy and motivation, which cause me to feel what can only be described as dread when it comes time for me to drive home from anywhere else, which make my house anything but a home for me, and why I feel more like an irrelevant and exploitable prisoner than a real, thinking, feeling person.

It’s Official.

This also began as a wall post, but it should probably be longer and better-formatted, so now it’s a blog post as well. 🙂

I got officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome today, in addition to GAD and ADHD-NOS, as well as dysthymia, a term I’ve not even heard before. The description fits, though. My parents and I were pleased to see the evaluation noted I exhibit many fewer physiological signs of depression than I said I used to, probably because I now have a job and a girlfriend and (soon) a car.

I’m 21 and left college in December because I just cannot handle it, and I have no plans to go back. I was failing anyway, oops. But I get the impression I’m not all that different from lots of Aspies in that I may not be good in an academic environment, but my intelligence scores are well above average. I work as a computer repair technician and logistics/customer service kinda deal for a major retail chain, and have gotten nothing but praise and even thank-yous after only three months working here! It’s satisfying to have finally found something I’m good at, but goodness it’s stressful. I’m not about to invoke the ADA in getting them to exempt me from being customer-facing, since I’m technically not supposed to be anyway, but that’s not a big deal.

I’m just wondering about a lot of stuff, since despite having lived with AS all my life, I find I’m actually a little out-of-touch with the “Aspie experience,” or what you will.

I wonder where I’ll go from here. I don’t feel as though anything has changed, at all, since really nothing has changed, but I can’t help feeling like I’m somehow going to be treated differently from now on. Perhaps better. We’ll see.

Aspie McAsperger Goes to Work

What follows actually began as a comment on the Facebook page Asperger’s Awareness Community, but as you can see, quickly spiraled and rambled into, uh, this. So I wrote/talked too much. What else is new?

I work for Geek Squad, which is good because I am a computer technician and have been my last two or three jobs (one was a summer stint, dunno if you’d count that). I’ve never been fired or even really “written up,” but I have a bit of a tardiness problem. Pretty sure that’s traffic and not AS, though. But if it’s ok, I hope you have time for a little story…

I am extraordinarily lucky to have very understanding co-workers and a laid-back boss. All that matters is that customers are satisfied, profit is good (and exists), and we are following 100% of the rules. It’s a very structured and detail-oriented (but not unbearably strict) work environment, which I really like, and also happen to prefer.

But the only reason my co-workers even KNOW I have AS is because I had a complete emotional meltdown one day after a very rude woman said something to her wife with clear intentions of me hearing; essentially implying I didn’t know what I was doing because I’m an Aspie. For the record, they were demanding (not asking) that I do something we don’t actually do, so I said I can’t open up their computer without charging for labor. It took til I went back to the area customers don’t see and sat down for the panic to set in, and worst of all, my shift was only halfway over.

Instead of being confused or unsympathetic, my co-workers who noticed were actually very understanding, telling me their own retail horror stories and experiences that helped them be more thick-skinned. My boss is Jamaican, complete with long dreadlocks, and told me the Jamaican philosophy is “you can say whatever you want to me, but if you touch me, we got a problem.” He also told me about a girl who worked here years ago who was also very timid and easily upset at first, but is now in the Navy.

For the record, I’m pretty young; I’m actually only 20 (21 in a week!!) and my co-workers are all around 30 with one exception. My youngest co-worker is my age and also happens to be a friend of mine I knew before I worked here. His best friend is an Aspie, so he not only knows all about it but also can tell me what to avoid here!

Now everybody is very sensitive to my triggers. I hope it doesn’t get to be too much, since I’m actually pretty bold and daring sometimes. For instance, I have no problem whatsoever dealing with customers who are polite and respectful. Problem is we don’t get many of those. Your guess is as good as mine.

Normally, I’m in the back hiding from customers! Not really, though…I do shipping and logistical stuff, and also call and/or e-mail people when their device(s) are fixed in-store or come back from the service center. Oh and I work on Macs and whatever other computers are back there. I’m technically a “dual-zone agent”. Luckily, shipping is a great thing for someone like me. It’s predictable, it’s repetitive in just the right way, and it’s satisfying because it’s important and I know I’m making things run more smoothly. If our turnaround time goes down, then our district manager is happy and Corporate is happy, which makes us happy because we stop being told our numbers “aren’t bad, really, but they could be better.”

I dropped out of college because I couldn’t handle it in any way, social or academic and anything in between. I was terrified I’d be unemployable because of EVERYTHING wrong with me (did I mention speech impediment, stutter, extreme anxiety and panic disorder, clinical depression, and ADHD? oops now I did) but it turns out I just need to do something I enjoy without having to deal with people, ideally ever.

I actually was (and most of the time, am) terrified of phones ringing. I’m not sure if it’s the prospect of having to talk to people, or if it’s literally the sound itself, but I really don’t like it. I jump and/or flinch and my heart skips a beat and I totally lose focus on whatever I was doing. Not good. Lately I’ve been getting better, though. I can call people with almost no issues now! I still stutter, probably, and I’m terrible at answering questions quickly and confidently, but then again I’m not particularly good at doing anything confidently…

I do shipping, I do logistics, I take preventative measures to help stop the store from losing money (I’ve saved us about $1000 in expenses thus far, but it’s hard to describe how and why because unless you work for Best Buy you might not get it) and I call people. I also do data backups, fix Macs, and work on the units in for software repair (virus removals and the like). Basically anything that goes on in the back, I cover! I’m obviously not the only one (though this weekend I was!) but I am technically THE shipping/receiving person and lately have gotten very efficient and expedient! Oh also, as an Aspie I have a great head for numbers (explains the consistent Fs in math, no?) and so remembering a service order number like 982302582…and three others simultaneously…is not hard. I can associate the number with the name of the person, I can pull out paperwork (or file it away) with ease, and I keep things super organized. My boss especially appreciates the organizing, since one of the first things he said to me on my first day of work was “I’m really OCD.” Or “I’m really anal.” Seriously. All the boxes have to be stacked a certain way, with the tape lined up just so, and they must be stacked perfectly, one on top of another. And the stapler should always be right HERE and the phone must be HERE and so on and so forth. I know his meticulous organization seems excessive to some people, but it’s totally normal to me! XD

If I can’t find the damn packing tape, it irks me…it’s like people stealing my stuff…except not really, but kind of actually though.

But I can’t deal with customers. Oh goodness no. Please, anything but customer service.

The only way my job could be better is if I had my very own office with a door I could close (but not lock, because that’s kind of rude) and a phone that could make outgoing calls ONLY (is there such a thing?!) but that’s not happening because it’s a silly idea and Best Buy isn’t quite laid out like that…nice thought though…

Sine Wave Reality

Sometimes, I wish it was even remotely acceptable to say “Sorry, my autism is acting up.”

See, that’s not really a thing. At all. It doesn’t flare up or die down, it doesn’t spread to other body parts, and it certainly doesn’t go into remission. It’s just always there.

But I view Asperger’s Syndrome, as well as autism and ASDs in general, as subtractive conditions, as opposed to additive ones. Granted, “additive conditions” are more commonly referred to as “beneficial genetic mutations” or simply “evolutionary traits.” It stands to reason, though, that a kid with polydactyly who has a fully formed and functional “extra pinky” on each hand might be able to do things on piano or violin or guitar that most people cannot. But most conditions, especially those on the autism spectrum, do not add tangible benefits so much as they subtract from what is generally accepted to be neuro-typical brain function.

Indeed, most (possibly all) currently diagnosable mental conditions are subtractive in nature. After all, you’re likely not to notice something is there until it’s missing. Did you wake up this morning and think “wow, I feel healthy?” Probably not, but if you were in fact ill, you’d almost certainly think “wow, I feel like shit.”

Asperger’s Syndrome, or AS, like everything the general public doesn’t understand one bit, manifests itself differently in every person* who has it. Some are very withdrawn (my friend Ivan**) while others make extra effort to live behind a hugely extroverted, often larger-than-life façade in attempts to “blend in” (this girl I knew in college).

In my case, it comes and goes. Some days, it’s more noticeable than others. Since AS is like a non-removable filter for emotions right before they are displayed, the degree to which mine is apparent is influenced by the same kinds of things that generally impact or affect all peoples’ moods:

  • amount of sleep I got / have been getting recently
  • hunger
  • hydration
  • stuff I’m worrying about
  • how people treat me
  • proximity of cat(s)

So pretty much, if I have a decent amount of energy, I’ll be able to make it pretty far.

It took my boss and co-workers nearly two months to learn I have autism, although they found out (from me) by accident when I had an emotional breakdown after an extremely rude lesbian couple said “this Aspie doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Context: I had told them that I can’t simply unscrew their laptop and remove the battery in a consultation (because that is labor, and a consultation is free). They were demanding from the moment they walked in (“Can you help us? Please fix this. It’s our only computer and it’s extremely important!”) but right off the bat I knew I didn’t owe them jack shit. Extremely important? Only computer? No warranty, coverage, or support plan to speak of?! Fuck off and go learn how to set a better example for your two young children so that people will be more willing to let queers adopt legally.

Other times, nothing fazes me at all. Sure, things anger me, but surprisingly little upsets me. You can call me a bunch of gay slurs, but I won’t have a breakdown. I’ll get more and more angry, which is admittedly a problem in itself, but I’m not actually gay, so go fuck yourself. But everybody has something they’re sensitive about. It’s not necessarily something immutable about their identity, either. Obviously, you should never use the “n” word around a black person anybody, but I’ve known plenty of blacks who joked about not being able to see them at night unless they smile and stuff like that. I worked with a guy once who was confined to a wheelchair for some sort of physical developmental defect, and he made “cripple” jokes fairly often, probably because he found our sometimes visible discomfort very amusing. I’d probably do the same thing, to be honest…

But you should never, ever make light of something about which the person is very upset or depressed. If your black friend is worried about being harshly profiled, the correct response is not “haha let’s see what they think if I’m also wearing a dark hoodie and sweats!” A Marine who lost his leg(s) in Afghanistan is not a good choice for Lt. Dan jokes. And so on.

But it’s a double-edged sword. If my AS were not as visible as it happens to be at times, people might not even believe I have it, as was the case with a longtime friend of mine when I told her. And on the flip side, when I do feel a bit more encumbered than usual, I seem to notice more and more instances of people simply not being sensitive to my various triggers.

It’s a sine wave, and I’ll explain what the hell I mean by that sometime in the future.

* I object to the use of the term “patient” in this context. It’s not an illness or a disease!

** Referenced with permission! Ivan will soon write his own blog detailing his own unique experiences.