I got called a Social Justice Warrior, and not in a good way

Content warning: transgender issues, bathroom rights, possibly unpopular opinions.
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Hello readers, as we wrap up 2019, I thought I’d write a short post (I can’t make long stories short, but I’ll try) about a series of unfortunate events that had taken place over the last twenty-four hours. While I won’t detail the exact nature of the events or reveal people’s names and genders to protect the privacy of those involved, and thus not risking libel, slander, or defammation of character, I will just write out some of my beliefs to set things straight.
As y’all probably know, I am pretty active in social justice causes, particularly relating to disability and LGBTQ2SIA+ rights. I am working hard to publish my debut novel which features a transgender person and an autistic person in a Latine family. Somebody told me that someone with a disability in a Hispanic family is often swept under the rug. I think saying that is a great eyecatcher when pitching or querying publishers and agents. I wrote these things out of the belief that we need more books about experiences of disability within marginalised communities. Also, I am really thankful that someone was able to articulate the circumstances so well that it inspired me to retitle my autobiography. It’ll now be called, Finding my Voice: A Memoir. before, it was just called My Autobiography, which is a pretty darn boring title, if you ask me. I wrote it in 2013 when I was at the transitional programme at the request of my former vision teacher. I think he wanted to show things about me to some people he was reaching out to after he had won his litigation against his employer.
Back in July of this year, on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1969 moon-landing, someone showed me a recording made by Neil Armstrong. I have actually been ramping up to this by watching the realtime player on Apollo XI’s web site. It was actually during the time that I was at the second Catalyst retreat when I was sent a Whatsapp message, so I played it. Actually, now that I think about it, I think this person and I had a conversation about that before they sent me the message. Anyway, I told this person that I although I liked the recording, I wish Neil Armstrong had used a more inclusive phrase to refer to everyone equally. That’s why I was delighted when I got an E-mail by Pete Buttigiege saying One giant leap for humanity. He articulated very well what I was getting at. I thought about how the recording could be edited. We could splice out the word hue from Houston, take an instance of the word man, and find an instance of the word ity or nity, and then concatenate those phonemes together. Researchers did something like this recently to deliver JFK’s unspoken speech. I don’t know what Neil would say instead of saying One small step for man. Maybe One small step for ME?
Anyway, I have been a little impatient and irritable towards this person, but I think this has been brewing for quite some time due to an unrelated thing, so my message to them might have sounded a little harsher than it was meant to be. Anyway, this person doesn’t have the intellectual capacity for their age, and their perception and reasoning were so flawed that, when they later relayed the situation to one of their friends, that person’s perception of me became largely skewed, and it led them to jump to conclusions about me and saying that I was a selfish and demanding person. Interestingly, this person isn’t probably aware how demanding they could be as well. It may have been because I might’ve accidentally triggered a flashback of a previous experience they’ve had with me or someone else. I noticed some hypocracy on their part because they said that they supported Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, and they had no problems with my being transgender, although they were unsympathetic to my gender dysphoria, and they helped me come up with ways to help my brother, so it really didn’t make sense why they would be making such a big deal out of what a friend told them about me. I also didn’t like it how they talked about me behind my back, but when I threatened to take action against them, my other friend advised me not to because they most likely did it out of fear, and they needed somebody to vent. I felt extremely vindictive towards them when I found out that they had relayed that argument, plus another one, to their friend and only made them believe their version of the story.
So, a month later, after asking if I could be part of a Whatsapp group this person was in, I learned that their friend had developed a strong dislike for me because I was an SJW. I did the best I could to defend myself against these accusations, and I even forwarded some of the messages to my other friend to advise both me and the other person. I know some people won’t often give you the time of day to be put into the crossfire between two or more opposing parties and try to act as the go-between and remain diplomatic, so I am really thankful that so far, they kept standing up for me, for things often happened because my intentions were misunderstood a few times. One of the opposing parties even asked the other person to urge this person to ditch me, but it didn’t work, which I’ll explain later.
We have this norm in our transgender community choir, Transpose. It says Assume best intentions. It simply means that if you say or do something you think or feels right, but other people might not agree with it, or it gets construed in a totally different manner and leads to an undesired outcome you weren’t expecting, rather than argue about it and putting you on the spot, assume that you meant well because everyone has their own experiences and walks of life having multiple narratives, and then try to edify you so that you can try and articulate what you were saying or doing better.
Also, our choir recently started mingling with non-trans-choirs, so our director made a speech about what pronouns are, how to use them, when to practice them, and why they’re important. They also referred us to this web site to get more information, including how to use gender inclusive language.
The most important thing about using someone’s correct pronouns is that it should never be based on assumption of how someone presents. Their presentation may be a byproduct of design, or it may be due to circumstances, but that is in no way an excuse to assume that they like being called this pronoun or that pronoun. Using someone’s correct pronouns honours and affirms the person you are talking to and about, even if they’re not around. Here’s a good example of this. A couple days ago, I was having a conversation with someone who is blind and who ended up misgendering someone at a store by saying, ‘Thank you, sir’, and only using the person’s voice to cue them. That person pointed to their name tag, but since they couldn’t see it until someone had pointed it out, they were totally flustered. The person in question was probably not allowed to verbally contradict the customer, since the customer is always right. That brought up some rampant transphobic comments and a heated debate about how transgender people ought to conform to societal expectations of what is more male-like, more female-like, etc. Someone said that they went into a women’s bathroom, and they heard someone walk in, go standing up, which makes a different sound, and probably engaged in a deep vocal hygiene which made that person feel very uncomfortable. While I understood their concerns, I, as a transgender person myself, refuse to use the bathroom that does not match my gender identity. At the same time, I don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable by using a bathroom that I want to use, but for which my expression or functions don’t match what is expected. I said, in reply to that person, that some transgender people can’t afford to get all the medical procedures needed to pass, but there were some basic things that could be done to pass more reasonably, like shaving, sitting down, and talking in a higher voice. That person responded by saying that it wasn’t very nice for me to define how transgender people should conform, especially since not all of them choose to go through all those medical procedures even if they could afford it. So, it wasn’t just about whether they could help how they functioned. However, my reason for saying this was because I didn’t want more transgender people getting hurt by transphobic cisgender people. Besides, many trans and nonbinary people want to eschew from traditional gender roles, but there are still a few that actually want to do everything they can to look, feel, and sound the way they were meant to be. So, who is to blame, society for not wanting to accept and accommodate trans-people, or is it the trans-people’s fault for not making enough of an effort to pass? Is it a little bit of both, neither, or something else? And, even though we have more single-person and family bathrooms, many of them remain locked to deter illegal activity, so this can be problematic if you have to constantly request the business to unlock if for you every time. This is especially true for places that have men’s and women’s bathrooms in addition to that, and I wish I didn’t have to explain myself every time about why I only chose to use the gender neutral bathrooms that they always kept locked.
In 2016, I was on Facebook, and we were arguing about why nonbinary gender markers should be recognised. I told them that I was transgender, and that I preferred they-them pronouns. Someone asked, Why don’t you just transition to female instead of having to go through all this trouble? While I do relate more with a female gender, I also recognise that because of my gender presentation, people may feel uncomfortable calling someone who doesn’t look female enough she. So, that’s why I always give folx the option to use they pronouns instead, if that would make them feel more comfortable. Believe me, I would do anything I could to fully transition, but as long as I’m living in the current unsupportive environment, I can’t fully transition yet.
Sex segregation has always been prominent despite successful attempts at ending other types of segregation. So, when I use the bathroom, I put a sign covering up the men and women signs that has all gender written on it. Or I will simply use a gender-neutral bathroom, if one exists. It is definitely a ligitimate concern that women are seeking protection from so-called transvestites and cross-dressers who may potentially be rapists, and I don’t blame them for that. So, what can be done so that we can find a middle ground?
Anyway, I recently published one of my books on Smashwords and KDP, which includes both paperback and Kindle editions. It is about what it is like to go on a plane for the first time, written from a blind and hard-of-hearing person’s point of view. It’ll also be available on ACX, Bookshare, and Learning Ally soon. I’m not sure about BARD, though. When I told the person who I’ve talked to before, they thought I was starting to shove social justice down their throat again, and the situation quickly escalated to its zenith. Then, through certain means which I will not detail here, I learned that the person’s friend has judged me unfairly and falsely concluded that I was like all SJWs and said that words like he, male, man, were pretty much bad words in SJW culture. Some of them even replaced words that naturally began with those prefixes with female versions of those words. For example, if you said history, they would replace the his part with hers to make herstory. Others replaced the word dic with tit.
They thought that although actual social justice and equality causes back then were important to stop black people from being lynched, and why laws exist against discriminating against people with disabilities, today’s SJWs are often viewed as victims or heroic fighters for causes that have already been dealt with, so they make up reasons for why things are sexist, genderist, racist, etc when they’re not. Well, I could just as well turn that around and say that today’s anti-SJWs make up reasons for why something isn’t racist, genderist, sexist, etc. when it really is. However, I don’t have too much of a say on racism since I view everything scientifically. And, as such, I prefer to think of them as ancestry or lineage and separate that from cultural identity or place of national origin.
They said that SJWs often viewed white men as being a sin. This person accused me of being tyrannical about how people talked, like why we said things such as oh man, oh boy, oh brother, ladies and gentleman, etc. I mean, yes, I do get offended by using male-default terms and gender-exclusive language, but it doesn’t necessarily mean what this person thinks it means. I also do my best to avoid wirds with gendered connotations, like actors and actresses. Of course, they couldn’t help thinking that because they didn’t know my backstory.
I don’t believe in replacing every single gendered word with neutral ones unless the word itself connoted that only a certain group of people did it. For example, I don’t like the term man-made, manpower, or unmanned, unless you were specifically referring to men who did those things. Similarly, some terms like handiman and marksmanship etc. are occupational titles traditionally done by males. I’m not trying to erase the existence of masculinity, but I’m simply wanting us to use more gender-neutral words when referring to people whom we do not know or are unsure of. For example, if you were talking about how there was a lot of activity done by men, then saying man-made is fine. But if you don’t know who was behind it, then it would be better to say human-made. I have started replacing things like royal noble titles with portmanteaus such as quing, princet, etc. Some people prefer to use generic terms such as monarch, ruler, and heir, though.

It is important to recognise appropriation vs appreciation, and that as long as you are educated and are aware of the history of the words you use, along with being mindful about respecting people who those terms are originated by, then you are fine.

Another thing they said about SJW cults is that they have their own motto, The future is female. Imagine the outcry that would follow if people said The future is male. Ugh! I can’t stand hardcore feminism. It annoys me that people try and act like the lives of women and black people are more important than other peoples’. I mean, it’s important, yes, but it’s not more important. There is a difference. No one is above the law. That’s why I believe in the All lives matter movement. Still, police brutality has always been a problem since slavery was outlawed, and if someone were to tell me that all lives don’t matter until black lives matter first, then I would be inclined to support that. We need to still hold those accountable for killing unarmed B/black people, and we also need to acknowledge the struggles, pain, and suffering that B/black people go through on a daily basis. Ignoring that in favour of umbrella peace statements would imply that you don’t care about them, which would actually cause more harm than good. It’s like the concept of two wrongs don’t make a right.
So, is it really social justice, or is it a sophisticated form of social vengeance? I remember a friend telling me back in 2015 that they almost couldn’t get through reading an article in English class written by a feminist. They said that feminists only did things to help white women, so it took another movement of black women to get them to care about them, as well. Anyway, both groups essentially said the same thing, that they thought all men were evil, and that they wanted all men to die. That’s why I believe in egalitarianism, equalism, or neutralism. These terms are much better than masculism and feminism.
Somebody said,

From my experience from working women and under female management, women DO NOT make good leaders. From my observations, women WILL do whatever it takes to get to the top without actually doing any real work, including sleeping with their male colleagues. *I don’t know about those who are lesbians or whatever.* Many women can be just as aggressive, even more so than men. As a woman, you have to dress well, make yourself up to the nines, show off them curves, if you hav them to show off, as well as some cleavage. Yes? No. Not me. I am a hard worker, a ‘plain Jane’ warts and all type. What you see is what you get. I am a little more than overweight, which is commensurate with my age. My glasses and outfits say how I feel. And I do not care. I am big enough and ugly enough to know that face will not fit in many companies because I am not glamorous. I am attractive enough but not attractive enough to others. But again, I do not care. I would never be a leader in any given situation due to my honesty, frankness and temperament. I am vocal, too. The binary ‘in power’ do not like that. But I do not care. The gender binary will always compete against each other, and both of them will use dangerous tactics to get to where they want to be. Men will indeed use their dicks; women, their breasts. *So, a transgender, intersex, or nonbinary person who has both a dick and breasts? Where do they fit in?* Where leaders are concerned it takes a real human being – male, female, or two-spirit or whatever – to genuinely hav what it takes, to obtain the respect, love and trust of the people, rather than use and spit people out once they are done with them. Transgender folks should have the right to take hormones, and parents should not gender their child based on the genitalia they saw on the ultrasound. They should be supportive, not vindictive or unaccepting.

What are these women comparing their idea of a glamourous image to? Obviously, women are measuring themselves up to something within the fashion industry. Humans come in all forms, shapes, and sizes. We need masculine, feminine, and neutral energy to run a society like this. That’s why Native Americans and Eastern cultures favoured two-spirit people because they saw all sides of the world, not just one side.
Anyhow, this person wondered if my being in social justice causes has made me disenchanted, like I have been brainwashed in some way, like how cults do using coersive power. I don’t think so, especially since I have pretty good reasons for doing what I do.
The problem is that each social justice movement is selfish in a way that only rewards the people in it and only focuses on them in the current moment rather than devise a plan to help future generations. In my case, though, I’m just helping those who are non-binary because it is a ligitimate concern. I believe that they should be fully integrated in all aspects of society, and that also means respecting their language. The percent of nonbinary people having jobs is extremely low. I mean, can you imagine someone walking in, looking like a man, but wearing a skirt and a bra, and talking in a high voice?
This is the truth. I do not hate men. I hate men who think females and non-binary people are worthless. I’m actually advocating for Pete Buttigiege, because even if we didn’t elect a female president by 2020, at least he’d be a lot more caring and sympathetic about females, being gay himself. Still, people are like, Oh, you shouldn’t vote for him just because he’s gay.
I know I said at one point that we should start a Female President Now campaign, which would be like the Deaf President Now campaign of 1987, but that was before I learned about Pete. Maybe what needs to happen is that we need more minorities to become president, such as those who are Hispanic or Latine, female, or even blind. I don’t believe in suppressing free speech unless it was really legitimate. Free speech does have it consequences. That’s why there are laws against hate crimes, as well, but unfortunately, I don’t think there aren’t any for people who make verbal and ableist, transphobic, racist, etc harassments towards someone. And yes, it’s true that I do hate people who disagree with me, but only if they disagree with me disrespectfully. If we simply agreed to disagree, then I wouldn’t hate them because they were still being respectful and supportive of my opinion.
I guess the reason SJWs have gained such a bad reputation was because of the whole thing with Brie Larson and Hiliary Clinton, and how the media kept forcing political correctness down people’s throats 24/7. They probably dislike me for being involved with social justice, but my reasons for being in it are different from the ones they despise. In fact, one of my former friends was previously involved in a justice choir until they were told that, because they were blind, it would be a burden or liability for them to keep transporting them to and from rehearsals every week. The problem is that so many justice choirs say that they want diversity, but somehow disability and blindness are not exactly in their agenda, so that would actually make them look hypocritical. They don’t practise what they preach. They think it would be too expensive to transcribe everything to Braille and do all of these access needs for just one person who may or may not be proven worthy of adding usefulness to the choir. Our choir was fortunate to utilise a spreadsheet that we could all use to offer mutual aid and give each other rides and stuff to rehearsals and other events because that allows us to build community.
Here’s a question I asked on Quora. I thought the person’s answer sort of explained the reason for why this person probably disliked me so much. They have been misguided and misled by hearsay information, and probably because of past experience. Some of them told me that they didn’t bother watching the news because of all the bullshit that went on.
Also, the other reason I am very passionate about social justice is because, as a blind and hard-of-hearing person, I’ve found that you can often get support if you have one disability or the other, but not both. That’s why I said in my author biography that intersectionality is important. If you’ve read my posts about what my brother and I have gone through because of our father and mother, and what lengths I’ve gone to advocate for him, then it’ll probably show that I’m a great person. If I didn’t care about social justice, I probably wouldn’t have helped my brother as much as I had. If the people who bully me and criticise me for the stupidest things (like not advocating or speaking up for myself) knew my past, I’ll bet you they would’ve had thought twice about doing that. And, while I don’t wish this upon anyone, if that had happened to anybody, and they were D/deaf-blind and in a Spanish-speaking family, I don’t know how they would have learnt social customs.
So anyway, this friend of mine has been extremely helpful. They were able to plead my case and use that as a basis to explain why they still remained my friend even after all that had happened. I need more friends who feel that mediation and arbitration come easily to them. I wish more people knew how to use peer counselling. We often hear about taking care of yourself in the transgender community, but we often get so lost in it that we forget that we also need community care as well. I once asked, what can a professional counsellor, psychologist, therapist, etc do that a friend cannot do? Friends often mean well but often give you their unwise piece of advice. Of course, it would be unethical to require professionals to go through those experiences to relate, but it would at least help knowing from the patient’s perspective what they were going through.
So anyway, I recently read some books by Marilyn Reynolds in which one of the featured classes is Peer Communications. They say that the best way to communicate is to avoid saying things like You always or you never. No put-downs, and use I statements whenever possible. So, if you have to talk to someone and do it in a way that won’t fuel the fire to make it worse, then make it seem as though you are an ally to that person, so that the information you’ll be providing would be more tolerable. Then you can explain what you want afterword. The important thing is to emphasise things that’ll make the person feel so bad that they’ll realise that they’ve been being unfair and unsympathetic because they didn’t know about the circumstances. Like for instance, it is true that I never fought back when my brother bit me more than one time. I mostly struggled to run away from him. So, whenever he bumps into me, I quickly run away from him to avoid that happening to me. So, they are basically hurting a defenseless person, but I hate to think myself as one, because I’m constantly fighting to find my voice. My personality sort of fits that of Cinderella, who did not gripe. You can actually read about this on Broad Blogs.
So yeah, in the end, I don’t know if I’ll get back together or not, especially since I’ve been friends with this person since 2010. We did have a similar issue back in 2014, and we didn’t speak for almost two years, but we reconnected again. Deep down, I will always care about this person, because I have always stood up for them when no one else would. I don’t think they thought about that when they made the hasty decision to ditch me. I know that I have helped out this person quite a lot, even when they had been taking advantage of me many times and often not giving me things in return, but I did the best I could at the time. So, knowing that I won’t be their friend for a second time will leave me with a guilt so profound that I don’t know if I’ll ever get over. For the rest of my life, I’ll keep thinking about how I haven’t tried hard enough to explain my intentions. Maybe I should think about how I don’t have to worry about their constant haranguing, or the repetitive things they said and did on a daily basis. They told my friend that they just couldn’t be my friend anymore because we were just too different, and that we clashed on a lot of things. I somewhat agreed with them about that, but we also had common interests, and I tried to use that to leverage some of their excentricities so that they would stop pestering me into doing things I didn’t feel like doing. Still, they made me promise to be friends forever, but they thought it was perfectly fine to end the friendship. I don’t think that was very ethical.
However, I learned of something that might make me feel a little better. I heard long ago that sometimes doing a secret good deed to help someone might make you feel better, and it makes the person feel better, even if they didn’t know who was behind it, but knowing that it got good results is enough to be greatly rewarding. So, if my friend and I agree to do something, I’ll probably donate a small amount to begin with, because I don’t want this person to have a miserable life.
Anyhow, I hope y’all understand now where I’m coming from. I look forward to getting my memoir published!

Resolutions

Well, it’s that time of the year again. The weather is getting colder, the holiday season has officially started, and the time for reconciliation is more important than ever as we approach a new decade.
I thought I’d finish what one of my friends was trying to post on here regarding finding your identity, and making people respect that, not only for moral or ethical reasons, but also on a legal one, as well. I have had a bit of issues with this, but not nearly as much, at least not yet, anyway.
First of all, I believe that we have grown accustomed to naming and giving our kids an identity based on what their personality or physique reminds of of. No doubt we do the same with our pets. We automatically give them names that will remain with them for life, or until, if it is a human, or a pet who is smart enough to know that they like a different name and refuse to come to you when you call them by that name, they would have an opportunity to redefine their identity later.
Also, I want to emphasise that nobody here asked to be brught into this world. That’s why it is important that we not disown them or make their lives harder just for being themselves. Our parents brought us here, and their parents brought our parents here, and so on and so forth. How many people have said to themselves or others, I never wanted to be here? I’m sure we’ve been down that road. I know I have. That’s why I wrote my testimony.
I never asked to be brought into the world. I never asked to be born with a condition that would cost me my eyesight, and later, most of my hearing. I never asked to be put into conditions I have no control over now. I never asked to be dealt these cards. But, thanks to how things turned out, and thanks to the direction my life had taken, I am still living at home with an older brother who has fought for control of self-determination, and several legal battles to attend. I could’ve gone to college when I was just out of high school, but nobody told me things I was going to come across until it was too late. But, because I am being civily disobedient, I refuse to do anything with school until the situation has been remedied.
However, there are some things I will not change about myself. I am proud of having discovered who I am, who I should’ve been born as, how I should’ve been addressed all my life, and what things I should’ve had a long time ago. The only problem is that a lot of people assume that I wasn’t born that way, I just chose to be that way and put on this persona that isn’t really me, that I am just pretending. No, I am not pretending at all. This is the true, real me. I had to grow up and grow into a new body, mind and spirit. Is it called coming out of the cupboard? Is it like coming out of one’s shell? Maybe it’s more about coming into something, finding your true name. Have you heard of people who rechristen their crafts to improve their luck? That’s how it is for me. I rechristened myself. I gave myself the identity that was so erroneously shoved onto me by what my parents thought was appropriate for me at the time. I got rid of the identity that was associated with negative memories and had trauma and abuse attached to it. I can’t say that I grew out of it, though, because it would imply that I liked it, but I decided later that it wasn’t for me.
However, when people look at me, they don’t see the real me. They see someone who they automatically perceive to be masculine. That is not how I want to be perceived, but I can’t help the way I look. And, while I cannot see how I look, I would imagine that it would look as if I were seeing a stranger in a Photograph. Tom Henrik. Someone told me, long ago, I was broken and it stuck. Strong Enough by Bobby Joe Valentine.
I have been asked by people in the LGBTQIA+ community why, if I don’t like being called male pronouns, do I not transition to a female binary gender? Well, I chose to legally recognise my gender as nonbinary because I think it is easier for me to look androgynous. If I could look more female, I would do it in a heartbeat. But, this is what I have to work with. That’s why, more than ever, I want these groundbreaking procedures to reach clinical trials by the 2020’s. We don’t have to be defined by anybody else. Fractal, by Kim Boekbinder.
So, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, and it’s one I have to swallow almost every day. What can I do to reduce the potency of this pill? What switches would I need to flick so that I wouldn’t have to deal with this any more? What can I do if I find somebody who says to me, I don’t care what your birth certificate, court order, ID, etc says. I’ve made up my mind and you can’t change it. I’ll call you by whatever I feel like calling you. That hasn’t happened to me yet, but I still wonder….
I heard that in some places, you can get your birth certificate changed at the administrative level without having to go to court and potentially publishing your name change in the newspaper or anywhere else. The only thing you would’ve needed was a doctor’s note or a note from a sworn health authority that affirmed your gender identity. Quite a few states are starting to legally recognise third gender markers, but the federal government is not yet one of them. But, that’s one of the things I like about the professional world. When you change your name, they will go back and update everything and make it look as if you were always that name. This doesn’t happen everywhere. For example, baptism registries will still have your old name. If you were written about in the media (good or bad) those will still have your old name. The sad news is that they have no legal obligation for them to update it.
Unfortunately, I was told that there may be certain entities that will not accept a birth certificate as proof of name change. I mean, you could say, Well, who can argue the validity of the certificate? You can’t argue with a doctor. Similarly, you can’t argue with a lawyer or judge, especially if they have PH.Ds. It is official as it gets. However, I was lucky in that Oregon has amended a statute that wouldn’t require you to go to a hearing or publish the name change in the newspaper. All I needed to do was attest that I was going through surgical, hormonal, or other treatment for the purposes of affirming gender identity. That resulted in the judge ordering that my old name be replaced with my new legal name… the name I’ve always wanted and should’ve had, as well as legally recognising me as gender nonbinary. The judge also ordered the court records to be sealed, so that nobody could access them. Not everybody was so lucky. There is a judge here in Oregon who is refusing to issue gender nonbinary markers, of which several amici curiae briefs have been prepared by Basic Rights Oregon and American Civil Liberties Union.
Anyway, I have thought hard about what I should do now that I have a key to unlock many locks. Could I use it in a situation where someone insists on Deadnaming or misgendering me? I found this Quora post to be pretty interesting. My therapist said that I should not jump to the big things, but rather, think on a micro-level scale first before going to the macro-level. For example, should I sue someone just because they called me sir or man? Why not see if they are willing to listen and be trained accordingly?
Because of my hearing loss, I have a greater tendency to sound more masculine when I talk on the phone, but sometimes I am called madamme and I always feel warm and fuzzy when they do. Of course, it’s hard to do that in person, unless the person I was talking to was completely blind. This actually happened to me a few months ago when I went to a retreat. Someone addressed me as lady, girl, and possibly something else, and oh my gosh! How I loved it when they did!!!
I would like to detail two situations, both good and bad, in which I was able to redirect the conversation. In the first situation, I went to accompany the majority of the of a group participants to an activity, and I met somebody there who remembered me from my O&M days. Of course, I didn’t know anything about them. So, when they asked me what my name was, I gave them my new, legal name. Sometime later, they asked me if I knew Deadname. I was, like, huh? Did I hear you aright? I asked them to repeat the question. I said that I didn’t know anyone with that name. They were, like, ‘Oh, well, he was in your group, too.’ I felt so happy when that person couldn’t associate me with that name.
A few days later, my mum and I went somewhere. One thing to note, however, was that I have estranged from certain family members and relatives. I do not want them to know about my legal name change until after I had moved out, and I am a long distance away from them. Therefore, when we went to this place, she had informed the staff what my name was. Only, of course, she didn’t know that I had legally changed it. Instead she gave them my Deadname. So, when I got home and saw the E-mails I have requested, they all bore my old legal name. So, I wrote back and attached the court order to prove to them that I no longer used that name.
Oh, and one more situation that I didn’t remember until now: I have had a bit of a problem changing my name with Experian and CreditKarma because I have been getting correspondences from them under my old name. So, I called my LegalShield provider firm and told them the situation. They were able to write up a letter, and we heard back from them, and they sent me a new credit report with my new legal name on it.
Now, it’s a matter of fact before I need to let other people know. For instance, if my mother writes a will, she may use my old legal name. But I think it should be okay if I still have a copy of the court order and birth certificate that show my old and new legal name.

Basically, because I’ve worked so hard on this name change, I call it a transition more than anything because this represented a sort of self discovery and me finding out who I really was, rather than something a small amount of closed-minded people said that what they refer me as is what they think I am and what they think I should be.
That’s how little and how unfavourably and how disconnected I was to that name. I didn’t feel like me. Of course, when I filled out the paperwork, I had to give a more compelling reason because I knew that just saying I didn’t like it, while it may or might not have been sufficient, to me to just simply say I didn’t like it as a reason wasn’t good enough in terms of effort. I’m sure most judges would accept ‘because I just don’t like it’ as a reason, but I wanted the judge to have some sympathy for me as far as the fact that, in most states, in order to change your name, you need to publish your intentions in a newspaper. Being forced to publish that in the newspaper would’ve jeopardised my safety, as I would’ve had to give them so much personal information, it’s unreal. All digressing aside, I’m glad I’m part of a protected group. I used the fact that we still live in a world where it’s still unsafe to be LGBT, and the judge basically waived all fees, waived my requirement to publish my name change and even sealed my case after it was all done, and after a while those case documents get destroyed.
With me, though, I don’t think I have much a case to sue anyone for disrespecting my name choice because, although I’m LGBT (being that I’m gay) I’m” not trans or gender queer or non binary so I can’t really use that as a cause of action, as I went from one name to another for the same gender.
But I digress. I was this 15 or 16 year old who wrote songs about coming out in my own identity, but I didn’t even know what the hell it meant to have an identity, let alone what it meant to come into my own! Now I see what it really means to have an identity and to come into your own. I look at it like this, and this may make me very unpopular in the LGBT community, maybe even hated, but why should I come out of the closet? It seems so inauthentic and like I’m drawing too much attention to myself. The way I see it, if someone asks me, ‘Am I out?’ we should just say, ‘Out? Out of where? I’m in, I came into my own.’ What do I need to come out from under, and why should I come out of a closet I never knew I was even supposed to be in in the first place!

F.C. So, Show me love on this living planet. Emma’s Revolution and Hundred Waters.
Those are some snippets of stuff one of my friends had written. Basically, no matter whether you are transgender, gender nonbinary, or gender nonconforming, or even someone who is not in the LGBTQIA+ community, you would still be going through a transition. I think the word transition should not only be used to refer to people who change from one gender identity to another, but to anyone who changes any aspect of their life in a significant way.
Therefore, if and when I have children, I will try to give them gender-neutral identities and refer to them as my child, and have them call me by portmanteaus of parent, mother, father, mum, dad, aunt, aunkle, niece, nephew, etc. Or, I can just have them call me by my first name, or an entirely made-up name or something in a different language. When they’re old enough to the point they start talking, I’ll have an initial conversation about whether they like their identity. I’ll have this conversation with them periodically at each milestone they complete. I want them to realise that they can’t rely on me to define who they are. They need to live their lives for themselves. I’ll be like, ‘Do you like your name? Do you like being called these pronouns?’ If they say yes, that’s great. If they say no, then we’ll have a discusson on how we can address the problem, so that they won’t have to go through what I, and so many others, had to go through.
So, together we’ll shout it out like a bird set free. Sia. Though the world may be cold and bitter, and we may be delicate and bruised, we will neither be destroyed nor our roots be pulled. Witch Hazel by Tom Gala. And believe me, We’re all scared. We must learn to help one another through these times and do whatever we can to uplift one another.
So, Now that I’ve about covered nearly all my past history since the last time I’ve posted in 2014 to 2019, I wanted to talk a little more about some of the mysteries of the brain based on some new experiences I’ve had and information I’ve gathered. Starting in the new year, I will talk about some interesting things that might bring us closer to winning a long-fought war.

Testimony, How I Learned to Play This Wonderful Anthem

Hello once again!
I am sorry for not having posted here in a while, but I recently had one of my computers break, so I am borrowing one in the meantime until I can get a new one.

Before we go on,

Let’s take a sneak peek at what we’ll be discussing in the next paragraph.

I know!

I was pretty surprised when I first heard about this song that has become my GLBTQIA+ anthem back in 2014. If I had known how to watch Glee on my computer, I would have also probably been surprised to learn that its third season finale coincided with my 2012 high school graduation. This piece was released in March, so three months before that. Fortunately, some folx who wanted to preserve the TV shows that were recently taken down from the Blind Mice Movie Vault decided to start a new site called the Audio Vault.

I thought I’d write about how challenging it was for me to get one of the pieces I really love into some kind of accessible format because I had no way of obtaining it except as a PDF file that needed to be recognised, or a hardcopy document that needed to be scanned using a flat-bed scanner or camera. Alternatively, I could’ve sent or mailed them to someone who knew how to work with them, as I’ll discuss below. Of course, if the file was already in music XML or .mid, then there would be nothing else to do but open it in an accessible music composition software, like MuseScore, something that you can take with you on the go or a text-based programme like LilyPond or Braille Music Editor2, which is somewhat outdated, but it is based off the LilyPond engine. MIDI files can be opened in sequencers and digital audio workstations.
Fortunately, there are resources available to you, besides the ones I listed above, to help you whether you are blind or sighted, abled or disabled, etc, for you to make sheet music and music-learning in general accessible to everyone.
Although you would most likely need to hire a Braille music transcriber when a softcopy of the music is not available, or if it is in a PDF file that would require a labour-intensive process to recognise, it can take a while depending on how much of it needs to be transcribed for you to get it back, and whether it is within your budget in the first place. Transcriptionists generally do their work by hand, usually with some programme like Braille2000 or Duxbury, and some people are opting to use automated software, like Goodfeel by Dancing Dots. This is a suite of applications which was recently updated with some new features. It allows anyone who does not know anything about Braille music to scan, edit, and emboss the scores automatically. It can also open music XML files, too. The nice thing about it is that since it is automated, there is less room for typographical error, as is usually common in manual transcription. See the whole thing in action by watching this video.

A newer version of the Sharp Eye music-scanning and recognition programme, called PhotoScore and NotateMe Ultimate from Neuratron can also import multi-page PDF files. However, no OMR programme is one hundred percent accurate, so visual assistance is always going to be required to correct the scannos.
A few months ago, though, I called in on a service for the blind called Aira, and I asked around until I found an agent who happened to know how to read sheet music, and, using remote access, they were able to correct some of the errors in the file. The process took a lot longer than I would’ve liked, but it proved one thing… it is possible to do such a thing. If only more agents were knowledgeable about using the software, the process could’ve gone more smoothly, and I wouldn’t have wasted so many minutes.
The National Library Service’s Braille and Audio Reading Download programme has a pretty broad selection of Braille music scores that can be downloaded, read on a Braille display, or embossed. Additionally, the Library of Congress hosts a myriad of audio instructional materials from Bill Brown, for playing various instruments. Bill Irwin has contributed more than three hundred hours of verbal instructions for learning to play piano and organ, and understanding modern harmony.
Click here to view a list of current certified music Braille transcribers. If you’d like to become certified, click here to learn how.
If you’ve decided to pursue this, you’ll probably want to download this manual from the National Library Service to help you study.


Before you hear this song,

I must warn you that it contains triggering content that would raise many red flags, which would make any chorus hesitate to add to a list of songs to perform.
I thought I’d go into detail about how exactly I was introduced to this masterpiece.

To begin with,

I’ve been involved with music for a very long time. When I was seven or eight, my mother enrolled me in a Spanish choir as part of my church. In sixth grade, other than the required music class in school, I finally got to take part in a band. Oh yeah. Speaking of required music, when we were learning how to play a plastic recorder, the music teacher wrote a simple score up on the whiteboard, and people around me were playing Mary Had a Little Lamb in the key of G. The only difference was that we played, B, A, G, A, B, B, B, A, A, A, B, B, B, instead of B, D, D. When my turn came, I played through the piece clearly, quickly, and effortlessly, without stumbling, and when I finished, everybody clapped and applauded. I wondered why people were applauding for me when no one else did for the other students. One of them told me, when I later asked about it, that it was because they thought it was amazing how I could simply hear the notes and copy them right off the bat without even seeing them. I was, like, okay….?
Anyhow, I couldn’t be in band during middle school because they couldn’t find any way to accommodate me. However, I was able to join band in my eleventh grade year of high school when I finally learned how music notation worked in general, and that, in turn, allowed me to learn music Braille more easily. So, in my final year of school, I got to play in the pep band, and I got to march in the homecoming parade. I wonder how things would’ve worked if I had been in an orchestra, and they had used this system? Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be introduced for almost seven years into the future.
I first started coming out as transgender shortly after leaving the transitional programme in Vancouver, Washington in June of 2013. It started with a dream of me getting my brain transplanted into a female’s body while the person’s brain was transplanted into my body, so that there was this swap in between. I also imagined that both my vision and hearing were fully functional, but at the same time, I felt sorry for the person who now had my hearing and vision loss to deal with.
Then, in late August of 2013, thanks to the Q Centre staff for giving me the resources to visit SMYRC (pronounced smirk), I made some new friends, partook of a few drag shows, and joined Pride Project, a programme here in Washington County. Anyhow, they wanted to invite a few groups to perform at their fifteenth anniversary party held on Friday, 27 December 2013, and one of the groups they invited was the PDX GSA Youth Chorus, now known as Bridging Voices. I really wanted to learn more about them, so I asked for more information, and, while I was volunteering at the Children’s Club of North America, which is what I call it instead of the Boys and girls Club, I went to one of their rehearsals on Sunday, 8 December.
I got to play an electric organ there while I waited for the session to start. I remember that day being cold and rainy, and I had posted one of my articles on my blog earlier that morning about mental illnesses and NAMI. Gosh, how I remember those moments… the pizza we ate downstairs, feeling as though I would doze off if I didn’t will myself awake, and finally sleeping on the way home in the cab with the raindrops gently falling around me.
I didn’t return to the chorus until after New Year’s 2014, and I started learning some new songs shortly thereafter. However, I was very dysphoric about my somewhat masculine voice that I didn’t feel comfortable singing. So, I resorted to using my musical instruments to accompany the chorus members. By coincidence, I happened to learn about the castrati, and how important they were during the medieval and renaissance eras. They were also called eunuchs, and they developed very unusual vocal ranges and characteristics because of how big and tall they became. I then got to read a book called Choirboy by Charlie Jane Anders.
Some time in February, I got a blanket E-mail with a call to singers to solo audition for a chance to sing with the Philadelphia and Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. That song was called Testimony, although the name held no significance to me whatsoever at the time. I remember going to Rehearsal on Sunday, the 23rd of February, and, since my paratransit service brought me several minutes early, I got to play on the organ for a little bit. I was sort of obsessed with playing Pomp and Circumstance or Land of Hope and Glory. Anyway, the chorus manager told me that they were going to finish recording a video, so I watched the proceedings without much interest. Then, after everyone had come up from eating pizza and lavender ice cream, (or maybe that was in January) I heard the piano accompanist playing some weird chords and the artistic director guiding some people to harmonise with it. Then I heard some words… /eep me ‘way… kee/ me ‘way… tay ee ay… and so on. I heard two low voices singing, starting with a perfect fourth. Eb3- Ab3, F3-Bb4, Gb3-Bb3, Ab3-Bb3. I had no idea what they were doing. Then I heard the same thing, but the two higher voices were now Db4-Bb3, Gb4-Db4, F4-Db4, and Eb4-Db4. Finally, they combined all those four voices and I heard this really pretty but mournful chord progression.
In case you don’t know what those numbers mean, you can learn more about what scientific pitch notation is by reading this Wikipedia article.
Then, I learned that we were going to sing some new songs like Fallen Angel and something about Wings, by David York, who is a local composer here in Portland, so his music won’t be anywhere on-line. I never got to listen to the ninety-second through one hundred something measure of Fallen Angel, and I really want to hear it!
However, I couldn’t get those plaintive notes out of my head, and I just had to know from what part of which song it came from, if it really was part of a song. So, I composed an E-mail to the artistic director, and, having corrected me on the lyrics, I learned that keep me away was really take me away. Those words came from a piece called Testimony, written by Stephen Swarts, broadway musical composer. If you are having trouble accessing the previously linked webpage, click here for a cached version of this site.
You are probably thinking that the song hit me hard when I first listened to it. But, on the contrary, it did not…. at least not yet, anyway. I went to watch the chorus perform at Call Auditorium, which is on the Reed College campus.
I was busily posting stuff about laser hair removal and electrolysis, and about my classes at the commission for the blind during that time. To celebrate the end of our first season, we got to sing with the Portland Lesbian Choir on Sunday, the 22nd of June 2014. My favourite songs from that day were Give Us Hope by Jim Papolis and Mae Frances by Bernice Johnson. I happened to run into an old acquaintance I had just met two years before when I was at the summer work experience programme. One of the things I really loved about the practice tracks PLC had was that they were recorded and rendered into stems using a digital audio workstation. That made it easy for me to hear each part and listen to the lyrics and melody or harmony at the same time. Some of them had accompaniment, some of them didn’t, and some had both. Bridging Voices came back in session when they sang at the Portland sQuare on Sunday 14 September.
It wasn’t until nine months later, around Christmas time, that the song really hit me hard. It was just taking its time to build up inside me, I fancy. I kept listening to this song in my head, playing various lines of it, in different keys, especially the first half of it, and that is when I sat down and wrote that deep and depressing post I just put on my blog this year. I wrote it because I had gotten in a huge fight with one of my family members, and I didn’t know what else to do and who to talk to.

In 2015, I resolved to do whatever I could to find a way to learn that song. I couldn’t easily transcribe everything by listening because of my hearing loss, but at least I could get a general sense of what the piano and voices were doing. So, I started on my search for a way that I could learn it. I first tried to print the music and scan it, but this hardly worked out, so I requested a refund, which was approved. Finally, I contacted Stephen Swarts agent, and they provided me with a PDF copy, which I could scan directly. I used Sharp Eye at the time. Somehow, a problem many music OCR programmes have is that they don’t seem to recognise tied notes very well. Sometimes it recognises them, and sometimes it doesn’t. In the latter case, the notes would just sound like two separate notes. I had trouble scanning the multi-paged PDF file because I was using Sharp Eye at the time, which could only recognise one page at a time, and it could not extract the other pages in it. However, I was finally able to find a workaround, but it required me to convert it to a bunch of Tiff files using a different music recognition programme.
By using a MIDI sequencer called Quick Windows Sequencer, I was able to edit the accompaniment track in the MIDI file based on my best educated guess. This was in mid to late March of 2015, when I was getting ready to take my first on-line classes through Portland Community College. I was forewarned by some people that I should be careful how I took on this approach, because it is generally illegal to reproduce or redistribute such material unless it was for personal use, but I did a bit of research and found that there is an act of Congress called 17 U.S.C. 121, which permits organisations to distribute things in alternate formats for exclusive use by people with print disabilities and other reading barriers for a free or reduced cost, unless they were paying out of pocket to have it transcribed.
In May of 2015, I managed to locate a Braille transcriber, and we arranged to have my piece transcribed. I sent them a copy of the PDF file via E-mail, and then I waited, with some occasional notes sent to me by the transcriber about how I wanted it formatted, etc. Then, just as classes were finishing up for spring term in mid June, I got a wonderful surprise. The file was transcribed at last! Now I’d see how all the voices were arranged, and I’d be able to make any correctons to the accompaniment! I was so elated that I didn’t know where to start. I even deprived myself of sleep a little and was so tired that I almost didn’t eat my supper. I had to pay ninety-six dollars for the transcription because they charged four dollars per page, and there were twenty-four pages overall. I think I got the vocal score first, and then I got the piano score shortly thereafter.
since I memorised computer Braille, I was able to read the file using my screen reader’s speech output to convert the characters to Braille and write them out on my Perkins Braille writer because I didn’t have a working Braille display at the time. So, if the file said, [email protected] I’d know that the underscore and at signs were a dot four-five-six and dot four respectively, and all the others were their corresponding Braille characters.
Well, even before I got this Braille piece transcribed, I attempted to play this piece on the piano and almost succeeded in playing measures one through twelve. After editing the MIDI file, I tried to play measures twenty-one through twenty-nine. I asked the music director of Bridging voices at one point if they knew of any techniques to play really large chord voicings when one had small or medium hand spans, and they suggested that I arpeggiate or roll the chord upwards. So, that is what I did.

Note

This is my own perception of how well I identified with all of the piece, but I heard that there are some generations of people in the LGBTQIA+ community who feel that the song was too whiny, or it’s not all about getting better in or after high school, etc. It’s really hard to think about how a song might impact you if you’ve never gone through what another person has, and sometimes we think it would prove futile to post inspirational quotes and messages because there is a lot of hypocracy. One person even asked me why the song didn’t sound more dissonant in the beginning. To me, I thought it was pleasantly dissonant, because it was dissonant in a beautiful way. I know many of these songs are good for what they are, and that’s probably why these kinds of songs are created in the first place… to combat hate.

Back to Sunday, 15 February 2015, I had made arrangements to attend a Time to Thrive conference that was being hosted in Portland, then I went over to Portland Piano Company, and then later to an event where I got to meet several CHATpdx participants and allumni. CHAT stands for Curving HIV and AIDS Transmission. It was a cohort that trained youth to become better peer educators called sexperts.
So, I went back to Portland Piano Company later in August to look for the biggest concert grand piano I could find and play as much as I could of Testimony. I then went to the Q Centre and played a bit of it there; I think it was a week later.
One thing I forgot to mention was that once I memorised the lyrics and had all the notes corrected in the MIDI file, I imported the MIDI file into a programme called Vocaloid Editor, and then, having installed some voices, I put in the lyrics tied to each note. In this way, I made a pretty good rendition of this piece.

In early September, I decided to look for a stereo microphone so that I could try and reproduce the same sound as recorded in Skywalker Sound. I didn’t know that they had used a Bluthner grand piano, or that they had wide-spaced microphones until some time in April 2016.
I ended up buying an Olympus ME51s, and then a Yeti Blue stereo USB microphone. This last one I took with me back to Portland Piano Company, and I placed the mike in one of the spaces between the holes of the resonance chamber since the lid of the grand piano was propped on these massive beams. I brought my Braille sheet music with me and played some sections at a time. I played this on a Fazioli nine-foot concert grand, by the way. Then, after getting home, I edited the file in a single track editor called Studio Recorder and got rid of the excessive pauses and deleted the notes that weren’t supposed to be there. I cut, copied, mixed, faded, and did a couple of other things to make it sound as though I were playing it through non-stop. It ended up sounding like nothing I had in mind. Instead, it sounded as though I were in a small studio room or something.

On a side note,

I joined the Rose City Wind Symphony, formerly known as the Portland Gay Symphonic Band. I had a bit of a hard time advocating for my specific accommodations, but I was able to convince the librarian to write up a digital version of the sheet music and send it to me in different formats. Although I wasn’t able to play October, by Eric Whitacre, in the fall concert, I was able to play an arrangement of In the Bleak Mid Winter at the third annual Christmas holiday concert in the Legacy Emmanuel Hospital’s atrium. By the way, I’ve always been curious as to how conductors used gestures to communicate to the players or singers. Not being able to see that, but instead hearing them count, snap their fingers, or anything of the sort is not enough, particularly in a performance setting. It would be helpful to familiarise myself with the different forms of conducting. Besides, what if I were in a situation where the choir or a cappella group immediately began singing, and there was no accompaniment to let me know ahead of time, and my part came in right on the beat without warning? There’d be no way for me to know when to start save for an audible and or tactile cue. Also, what if there was a section that needed to be repeated for a predetermined time? How would I know when it is time to stop the repeat and proceed to the next section? I’m sure some of these can be figured out in advance.

In November of 2015, I attempted to sing all the parts of Testimony, and while that was somewhat successful, I didn’t really like how it came out in the end. I also made sure to add a little bit of information about this song in my debut novel, The Change of Tomorrow, although I’ll have to send in a request for permission if I want to publish a line or two of lyrics.
I didn’t really do much with the song in 2016, but I did get to talk to someone about it when I went to Denver, Colorado for the #GALA2016 Chorus festival. I also dropped off a Braille hardcopy for one of my blind friends who lives there, and who hosted me for the week I was staying.
On my way home, I met up with some folx who were members of the Portland Lesbian Choir, and I asked them about possibly singing with them in the fall. However, I realised that my bowling games were going to conflict since they always rehearsed on Wednesday evenings, and the games weren’t over until sixteen hundred pacific. In 2017, I asked again about possibly singing with them, and, when I told them that I was trans, one of the board members told me that there was a new choir being started called Transpose… great double entendre, right? Well, I went to their first open rehearsal in mid March, but I soon discovered that I was lacking so many accommodations for me to fully participate. So, I wrote up an E-mail, making some suggestions of what could be done to make the chorus more accessible if it weren’t going to be much of a burden on them as the Americans with Disabilities Act stated. The great thing about this community choir is that they do not use gendered language such as soprano, alto, tenor, bass, etc. They use non-binary language such as voice1-4… melody or lead, harmony, descant, foundation, etc. Any of these parts can be split within a single staff or have more than one staff. Some parts are written in treble clef, but they encourage us to sing an octave below it. They also modify any words of a song to make it inclusive to everyone. Additionally, they treat it like a musical playground (especially for the community choir) because they don’t want anyone to feel like they are restricted to only sing the voice part that they chose at the beginning of the term. They recognise that some people may feel comfortable singing one voice part for a few songs, but maybe a different voice part for another. So, you are basically allowed to switch voice parts any time during or in between rehearsals. I was actually the one who suggested that. With their a cappella group, though, they usually assign voice parts, much like a regular choir or band. They are pretty mindful of what voice ranges people prefer to sing, though.

Going back to September 2016, I attended this church retreat hosted by the Archdiocese of Portland, called the Office of People with Disabilities in Turner, Oregon, where I got to play all the way through measure eighty-eight of the piece without the words. Of course, it was a Catholic retreat, but I was hoping that, at some level, since I didn’t have the courage to come right out and tell them the truth, that by playing this song, someone might be apt to recognise it and see me in a different light. I think it almost did, or maybe it was a coincidence because of my hair and voice, but a guy actually said to me, ‘If you were a girl, I’d marry you.’ Oh how I wish that were true! if only….
A few days later, I went back to the school in Vancouver, and I recorded myself playing it again, still hoping to find that same quality I heard in the original recording. I later went back to try a different piano in a different auditorium in April of 2017. I even purchased a copy of the Bluthner Piano a year before, but I didn’t like how inaccessible the interface was at the time, so I was refunded for it.
Anyway, I discovered some really interesting things In December 2016 and October of 2017.
The first was a harmonic noise generator. You can adjust the brightness or darkness to make it sound as you please. I built a stack of chords that were in Testimony and made sort of a pad-like effect that could be used for meditation.
Then, in October of 2017, I was playing around with manipulating various Windows sounds, and I was able to make a folder, which I call the mix, containing multiple copies of a ding sound. If you’ve used Windows 2000, you’ll know what this sound sounds like. I used this same programme made by the American Printing House for the Blind, and I put together the accompaniment backing track for Testimony. I didn’t know that you could simply record a sample of it, edit it, and then make a sound font out of it. I mean, I vaguely knew about such things, but it wasn’t until I later started studying the courses by CAVI this year that I finally learned about it.
And finally, I played this song to an acquaintance I had met at a TransgenderDay of Rememberance and Resilience vigil on Monday, 20 November 2017.

Also, if you came across a post that was password-protected, it was only meant to keep wanderers from accidentally stumbling upon it, for it contains extremely triggering content. That post can be found here. To get in, use the password pride2019 because it was posted at the time we have been celebrating fifty years of pride.


Take a journey through Testimony

*sighs* Wow! That was a lot of information to read right there, wasn’t it? Well, I’m super glad I finally got to share this experience with you, because now it’s time for me to ask you a favour to my prospective ensemble director(s). First, let’s see what these folx have to say about what they thought and liked about Testimony.

Okay, what’s next?

So you’ve read through my novel… congratulations! 😁 Now it’s time for me to ask you to do something for me. If I am going to take part in your chorus, band, orchestra, ensemble, etc, do you think you would have what it takes to make sure I can fully participate? Not just for me, obviously, but for anybody else who might need it thereafter? Of course, I am willing to contribute a helping hand, whether it be monetary or not, to help you be more successful and welcoming to all.

First, my hearing loss.

  • It would be helpful to have a microphone system set up so I can hear the artistic director talking directly into my hearing devices or headphones.
  • It would be helpful to have written lyrics of whatever song we are doing, including solo lines, if applicable.
  • Have people speak the words in rhythm in time to the beat before adding pitches to them.
  • Sit as close as is permissible to the piano or other instrument, if applicable with it on my right side, for that is my better ear.
  • Be in a space that does not have too much reverberation, though this is usually mitigated by using the microphone system.
  • If someone who is far from me says or asks something of significance, it would be helpful to have that information relayed to me verbatim if the microphone cannot be passed around for any reason.

For my blindness.

  • Provide all sheet music in Braille and or electronic format, such as .xml or .mid.
  • Alternatively, create comprehensive sung practice tracks that everyone can benefit from, especially as they’re useful for folx who may have missed one or more rehearsals.
  • Play voice parts on piano or similar instrument individually, then together. This is especially helpful for folx who decide that music-reading is not for them.
  • Send all communications and materials, including lyrics (if applicable), in electronic format that I can interact with using my screen reader and or Braille display.
  • Have access to ride-sharing services and support such as Uber or Lyft, or use an accessible spreadsheet so people can request and offer rides for rehearsals each week.
  • Have a check-in buddy system so that folx can check in with each other and make sure they got home okay.
  • Know the logistics of the place, i.e. time and location
    well in advance, as well as a basic orientation of the space.
  • Make sure the platform where practice tracks are being hosted is accessible with screen readers, like Google Drive or Chorus Connection.

Now for both my blindness and hearing loss.

Remember that intersectionality matters.

  • It would be greatly appreciated if someone were available to be my support service provider, a person who can provide visual and environmental cues, and guide me from place to place.
  • Optionally, have someone transcribe whatever is being said in the event that I am not able to hear for any reason, like using this device.
  • If the assistive listening device stops working, or is not available, keep in mind that it will be much harder for me to learn new material, so avoid teaching anything new.
  • When you need to ask me a question or inform me of something, it would be helpful to address me and identify yourself by saying something like, This is Jay speaking… and then say whatever you want to say.
  • If your chorus is doing any correography, or anything unusual, it would be helpful to know how to do that in advance.

This list of accommodation needs is subject to change at any time, so keep checking in periodically.

A note on microphones and assistive listening devices:

If more than one hard-of-hearing person is going to be using your services, you may want to check out some vendors that can provide you with one microphone and multiple receivers. A good option I recommend is William’s Sound. Some of them allow you to connect it to the soundboard that is connected to the public address system, so that anybody with the receiver can tune in and hear exactly what is being said. This works well in concert settings.
You don’t necessarily need to be in Oregon to use this resource, but this place also has a great selection of items available for short-term rent, layaway, rent-to-own, or immediate purchase. Members who are D/deaf-blind may qualify for telecommunications-related accommodations through something called the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Programme (NDEDP) provided by I Can Connect. Although many of these things are considered only for telecommunications, some of these can be used for face-to-face communication, as well.
Also, I may connect my microphone system directly to a device used to record rehearsals. If folx have any problems with that, please let me know, and I’ll find a different thing. The recordings are for personal use only.
NOTE: Because of the recent corona virus pandemic, rehearsals are being held virtually. Please check to ensure that people with assistive technology will be able to use it with little to no problems.

A note on making practice tracks:

I believe that having a comprehensive folder of practice tracks should contain a full mix of all the parts sung by a person and or by a MIDI instrument (with and without accompaniment), followed by each of the individual parts, also with and without accompaniment, if applicable, and with the following attributes.

  • Alone: only your part is heard.
  • Dominant: all parts but your own are turned down, making your part prominent in the mix.
  • Missing: All but your part is present, requiring you to sing your part along with it to fill in the blank.

So, for example, a file name for Give Us Hope with accompaniment might be something like Give_Us_Hope_-_voice1alone_accompaniment.wav
A file with your missing voice3 part and without accompaniment would be named something like Give_Us_Hope_-_voice3missing.wav
Also, I imagine that making audio practice tracks for musical instruments would be extremely difficult, so I would therefore suggest that you make a digital version of the full score, or just the part I am going to play. I can easily mute and or solo tracks using my sequencer.
The problem with making such practice tracks, however, according to what one of the past directors told me, is that it would require intensive amount of time in a recording studio and some time for the actual mixdown, plus not to mention that a lot of choruses lack the budget necessary to support rehearsals at this level, even though these inclusive means for learning music efficiently most likely represents best practices in the long run.
Also, I am thinking of auditioning for a smaller vocal ensemble, and I wanted to know how steep the learning curve was. I got some good responses from experienced singers, and one assured me that if I do exactly as I had outlined, I should be ready for any ensemble, auditioned or not. It’s because of audiation. It is the auditory equivalent of imagination.
Here are some tips for making a good audition experience for someone with no sight and difficulty hearing.

  • Have an open rehearsal or orientation before auditions that allows people to be familiar with how the group rehearses each week and discuss member expectations.
  • Allow some extra time for folx who cannot read sheet music to learn an excerpt from a piece for vocal blending purposes using the same technique for learning music outlined above.

And for part assignments in general, I would prefer to be with one or two other singers for cuing purposes. So, one person to my left, and another on my right.

I am sure that with continued education about disability awareness in all modalities, we’ll be able to make music groups and spaces accessible to everyone.

To find more resources for music access, you may want to check out

Thank you for reading, and I am looking forward to being an active participant of your group for years to come! 😍

My very first MRI Scan

So, I wanted to talk about my first experience getting an MRI of my brain since I promised I’d follow up to those two posts I wrote about what happened to me. I would like to encourage you to visit this web site to better understand how these work. Also, I really enjoyed watching their videos, plus they recorded other experiments as well.
Anyhow, my ear, nose and throat doctor, whom I have seen since I was seven, back when he used the Rinne and Weber test using a 256-Hz and a 512-Hz tuning fork, saw me for the first time in six years. Also, when I was nine, he inserted a drainage tube in my left ear to try and clear up the fluid from my chronic otitis media. Then I was referred to see him back in 2010 because there was a significant decrease in my hearing, both in my left and right ears. I hadn’t seen him since then, but after what I went through back in 2016, I got to see him three more times. He agreed to do an MRI, as well as prescribe me some anti-anxiety medicine and send me to physiotherapy.
So, on Friday, 23 December 2016, I was given the order for my first MRI scan, which was to take place no more than half a mile away from where I was being seen. In fact, I was able to get an appointment very quickly. I also learned that the code most insurance companies used to identify an MRI scan was 7551 or 7552. I was really excited to get my first MRI scan, not only because I’ve read so much about it, but because I was taking one step closer to being able to 3D print a model of my brain, skull, and facial features.
I made arrangements to be picked up by my medical transportation provider on Tuesday morning, and we headed out to the medical plaza, which is similar to the main hospital, but it was more for out-patient use. My driver had a hard time locating the building because they went to one that was closed. So, I called them up, and we were able to get redirected to the right one. After stepping inside, I walked over to the registration desk where I took a seat as I filled out paperwork and handed over my insurance card. They got everything ready for me, and then, after about five minutes, I was guided up stairs to the third floor. They handed in my paperwork to the receptionist up there, and the same person led me to a row of chairs. After about ten minutes, the technologist (the same one I had spoken to on the phone when confirming my appointment) summoned me to the hallway where the imaging rooms were located. After making a stop at the restroom at my request, I swallowed one Percocet tablet I had gotten for wisdom teeth extractions, drank lots of water, and then I accompanied him to another room. There I found a locker where I could stash my belongings. I told him that I might not be able to hear him once my hearing aids were out. This is why I wish they utilised headsets like on a plane or helicopter. Later, I learned that their headsets were built like stethoscopes, meaning that they utilised air tubes. Anyhow, after everything was put away, I took my cane, since it was only aluminium, and the guy said it was not going to be attracted to the magnet. So we walked for about ten or so feet into the magnet room. We had to pass through two doors. The second door reminded me more of a soundproof booth. Still, it was a small tiled room with a table about a foot off the ground. After I got settled on the table, which felt like an arch to fit your back, like one of those changing tables, the technologist put a leg pillow to make my legs more comfortable and slightly elevated. Then he lifted the entire bed, but not before I tried feeling for the giant tube. He told me that it was located near the ceiling. So he elevated the bed to around five feet, and then he slid the bed back into the machine. I felt the sides of the tube, and it felt very smooth and cool to the touch. The entrance was like going into the bell of a French horn. The table was small enough to fit through the bottom of this opening. I imagine the coils are wrapped around the smallest part of the bell. If you stuck the insides of two French horn bells together, then I believe that is how it will feel, and what might cause the magnetic field to be generated around the bore. Oh wait! He also attached this headpiece that surrounded my head. It felt like bars were surrounding my face, but I could not feel them. Then he gave me some headphones, and a bulbous-like call button. Then he slid me into the tube and left the room and probably went next door to the control chamber. He tried talking to me through the intercom speaker, but I could not really make out what he said, but it sounded like, ‘still as a statue.’ Then I heard the low hum, knock, knock, knock, and then a whir as the machine was trying to find the best frequency to resonate with my body. That also included making low resolution images. This is called MR tuning. Once it has been tuned, it starts to work. Because I had headphones on, I could only hear the bass sounds of the machine. I could feel the side of the tube and the headpiece vibrate against my headphones. The pill I had taken before was already starting to make me feel more relaxed. After about twenty minutes, I was slid back out, and some gadolinium was slowly injected into my vein using a winged infusion set. Then the test continued for another ten minutes. After that test I was all done. He slid me out once more, removed the headpiece, headphones, and blanket, and then lowered me back to the ground. After I had my hearing aids put in, I was made aware of a hump, wump, hump, wump, hump, wump, hump, wump sound. I asked the technologist what it was, and he told me that it was the helium circulation system, keeping the coils from losing their conductivity.
A few weeks later, I ordered a Lyft to pick up the CD with my images in a DCM (diCom) format. Fortunately, I had gotten in touch with the biology instructor at Portland Community College, so I arranged to have those files sent. the first successful 3D print was made in early April 2017, which just consisted of my brain. I was hoping to send in my scan to an on-line library of other scans, similar to Thingiverse, but I haven’t found the right time to do it. We used a Tiertime Desktop Mini 3D printer.
So, there you go, my entire MRI and 3D-printing experience. And, let me finish this by saying that although I never had an MRI in my life until now, I thought I had invented the concept in my novel of my character lying on a bed, going to sleep and waking up, only to find that they were confined to a dark cocoon. And if that were not bad enough, they were six feet above the ground! So I was surprised to discover that this concept already existed. The MRI images the blood inside the brain, not the brain tissue itself. This is why a brain biopsy is still necessary, at least until we find some means of performing a stereotactic ultrasound.
Finally, I encourage you to look into getting a copy of your scans and have them 3D printed so you can study them. Perhaps we could have you work towards becoming a surgeon with blindness or other challenge contributing to the medical diagnostic imaging field! You could also help advance the bioengineering field by submitting models of your skin, skeleton, and other organs for use in various applications, like the cosmetic and reconstructive departments, too!

Check out these links for more information.

San Antonio Plastic Surgery

Get ready for some cuteness!


If you are assigned male at birth, click here to see how your face might look by submitting your picture.
Here’s a more in-depth explanation on how MRI and FMRI differ.
Enjoy!