Puzzled

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.

Cool.

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.

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