To Boycott or not to boycott?

One of my favourite events every autumn is the Göteborg Book Fair in Western Sweden. It’s the biggest cultural event in Scandinavia and one I’ve been looking forward to every year since I first attended it when I was twelve.

Some controversy arose last year when it was revealed that the far-right magazine Nya Tider was going to be allowed to participate in the event. This so-called newspaper is notoriously bigoted and is on a mission to paint Sweden as a country falling to pieces because of immigrants and changing norms, such as a greater acceptance of LGBTQ people.

As a response to this many participants and visitors decided to boycott the Fair. Last year I couldn’t attend so the question of whether or not to go wasn’t one I had to make. But this year I will be able to and Nya Tider is still going to be there.

My first instinct was that I didn’t want to set my foot anywhere near where this garbage of a magazine would be exhibiting. I thought about it some more and realised that might be exactly what they want. After all, isn’t a society without trans and gay people exactly one of the things Nya Tider is fighting for? In their eyes, I am among the undesirable and the Fair will only be made better by people like me not attending.

I don’t claim that either boycotting or not boycotting is the right answer. In the end of the day, people have to follow their own conscious and do what they feel is right.

But personally, I feel more than ever that I need to go. The far-right has doubled down their propaganda in later years and made their way into places they would have never been tolerated before. That’s why I want to never back down and keep reminding them that I and all other people they have marked as enemies have as much a right to be here and as much a right to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

This year especially I feel an urgent need to stand up against these destructive forces. Apart from Nya Tider being allowed into the Fair, the city as given permission to the neo-nazi organisation Nordic Resistance Movement to parade through Gothenburg during the event. To give you an idea of how insane this is consider that beside being openly and shamelessly Nazi, this organisation is also responsible for actual terrorist attacks. Just last year they set off a bomb in the very city they will now be allowed to march through!

That’s why apart from going to the Fair and buying as many books as I can that Nya Tider wished didn’t exist (queer books, books by people of colour etc.), I will also attend on Friday the 29th a protest against Nazism.

If Nazis and other far-right extremists think they can scare their opponents into silence, they are terribly mistaken. We aren’t going to go down without a fight. Just bring it on.

Advertisements

A World Tour of Books: The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna (Finland)

From the country of Finland comes this humorous and charming story about a man and his hare.

Vatanen is a bored journalist who leads a passionless life in the country’s capital. One day, while he’s out on an assignment, the car he’s riding in hits a baby hare. The animal survives but has an injured paw. Suddenly gripped with compassion for the poor creature, Vatanen decides to save its life.

He leaves everything behind, including his job and his wife, and travels across Finland with his new companion. They get into many comical situations and meet many interesting characters, including a hungry raven, an angry bear and a conspiracy theorist who believes the president has been replaced by a look-alike.

 

Hare
The Swedish translation of  The Year of the Hare

 
The Year of the Hare a feel-good book. It’s going to make you smile, laugh and maybe even pause and wonder about your own life. Vatanen’s escape from the stress of modern civilization might make you feel jealous and urge you to search for your own adventure from the drudgery of everyday life.

This 1975 book by one of Finland’s most popular authors has been translated into 18 different languages and has been adapted twice into movies, including a 2006 French film featuring Christophe Lambert.

It’s a beautiful story about the special bound between a man and his hare and has touched many hearts far beyond Finland.

10 months on T, life changes and robot penises of the future

It’s now 10 months and 1 week since I started taking testosterone and here’s what’s happened since my last update:

Body and facial hair: Steadily increasing. I’ve started to get my first chest hairs and I’m shaving my face every 2-3 days. Unfortunately, I’ve only got patchy facial hair on the underside of my chin so I can’t grow any moustache or beard worth the name yet.

Skin: A bit more acne but nothing like I feared would happen. Could be because I have a good anti-acne facial cleanser I use twice a day.

Muscle mass: No difference that I can see. But then I also don’t work out much so that’s probably why.

Voice: Getting darker and darker. Definitely got that pubescent boy voice now.

Hunger: Not much of a difference. Other guys told me I would be hungry all the time on T but that hasn’t happened.

Sex drive: Definitely stronger but nothing too distracting.

Energy levels and mental changes: My energy levels increased around the time I went from half a sachet to a sachet of Testogel a day. But if I remember correctly it was also around that time I started taking a higher dosage of ADHD meds so that could be why. Or maybe a mixture of both.

The mental changes are what have changed my life the most, even more so than the physical ones. I have way more of a drive to do and achieve things. My confidence is like it’s never been before, I’m more self-reliant and don’t obsess over what people think of me anymore. Pre-T, I never thought I would one day be so mentally stabile and happy.

While we’re on the topic of change: a big one might be coming my way soon. On the 24th I have an appointment at the gender clinic to get this certificate I need to change my legal gender. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. Finally, I’ll be able to live as just another guy, without having to out myself every time I need to show my ID. It will also allow me to start looking for a new job without worrying about whether my new boss will continually misgender me like my current one is.

The form I will have to fill also asks if I want any bottom surgery, which isn’t allowed until you have legally changed sex. I definitely want a hysterectomy and an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes) but other than that I like what I have and plan on keeping it.

Although, sometimes I think maybe I should have a simple phalloplasty without urethra lengthening or vaginectomy. I like men and gay men like dick so I think it would help me find someone.

Now a lot of people would say: “But it shouldn’t matter! True love is unconditional!”

To that I say: Balderdash. Sexual attraction and romantic love are just about the two most conditional and discriminatory things in the universe. Not that they shouldn’t be.

But I don’t think I want a penis so bad that I’ll be willing to put myself through having phalloplasty. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future. Right now I’m hoping more on advances in the development of prosthetics. Scientists have already created synthetic skin you can feel like it was your own so it isn’t inconceivable that a few years from now there could realistic looking penile prostethics you can feel like it was a part of your body.

When it happens I will definitely get myself one and I WILL name it RoboCock, because how could I not?

Another great change that has happened is that I finally had an appointment at the endocrinologist, so I will no longer need to pay lots of money to get hormones prescribed in another country. I will also switch from Testogel to injections so I won’t have to worry about making sure not to sweat, cross-contamination and all the other hassle that comes with the gel.

I’ll probably write another update around the 7th of November, when I’ll be one year on T.

 

My predictions for The Last Jedi

A while back I had a short Twitter thread about what I believe is going to happen in the next movie of the Star Wars saga:


I thought I’d write a post to expand on my theory.

In the previous movies, the Force is presented as having two sides: the light one and the dark one.
The light side of the Force is followed by the Jedi Order. They are all about complete self-denial and abnegation and focusing entirely on the well-being of others. These beliefs are taken quite to the extreme, to the point where any type of attachment and loving one person more than another is seen as an offense. Romantic relationships are strictly forbidden and the to-be Jedis are taken as children from their families and kept from ever seeing them again.

As a cult survivor, this has always disturbed me about the Jedi. I grew up in a religion where healthy self-interest and personal attachments are considered sinful and threats to the goals of the group. I’ve experienced first-hand what it does to you and how it destroys families and communities.

This is why in my eyes, the Jedi are not as good and loving as they think they are.

But the Sith aren’t so great either. They take things to the other extreme and are focused on nothing but self-interest and personal passions, often to the point of bringing on their own end.

So, both the “light” and “dark” sides of the Force are destructive in their own ways when followed dogmatically. There has to be a way between being an egotistic tool and self-denial to the point of near self-eradication.

To find this balance, one can turn to the teaching of the ancient Je’daii, as they are presented in The Star Wars Legends. The Je’daii were the predecessors to the Jedi order but unlike them they believed both sides of the Force were necessary to keep balance within oneself and in society. Kind of like Taoists believe yin and yang must be in interaction for things to not fall into chaos.

What we know is that after Return of The Jedi, Luke Skywalker founded a new Jedi Order. But just like the previous order, it was destroyed by an apprentice who joined the dark side. Perhaps driven into its arms by the dogmatic demands of the Jedi?
Many Star Wars fans were upset when they heard Luke say “the Jedi must end” in the trailer to the up-coming movie. Not me, though. When I heard Rey’s words “light, darkness, a balance” followed by Luke saying “it’s so much bigger”, my thoughts immediately went to the Je’daii Order and their belief that the Force is far too great to be categorized in two completely opposite categories. 

Personally, I can’t wait to see both the Sith and the Jedi come to an end and be replaced by something better. That is assuming my theory is right. To find out if it is I guess we’ll just have to wait till December, when the movie finally comes out.