My First two Skydiving Adventures

Today, I am going to be sharing with you what might be one of the most exciting events in my whole life, and I hope that this will inspire you to follow in my stead. I will be comparing two of my greatest sky-diving adventures, and hopefully this will help you decide which one you like best.
I got to go on two tandem sky-dive jumps, and to prove them, I have two official certificates stating that I did my jumps with a certified instructor. No one can deny the fact that I did it! On Saturday, August ninth, 2014, I went to do my first sky-dive, and on Monday, September eighth, I went to do my second jump. I was not able to record my first experience, except for what happened on the ground because when the instructor put on my harness and tightens the straps, they patted my pockets to make sure I had nothing on my person. I told the instructor that I wanted to record myself in free fall, but he said that it was something I would not be able to get on tape because of the United States Parachuting Association’s policy, which stated that I could only carry stuff with me after my two hundredth jump. I was also not able to afford in buying a video package as well. On my second jump, however, I was a lot cleverer. I found a sneaky way to have my iPod touch recording while I was in free-fall, and no one knew I recorded everything until long after I had left. I was also able to have my instructor use a GoPro helmet camera to record everything on video. Most drop zones have either a hand-cam or third-person option, but since I wanted to record every possible moment along with my recording, I opted for the former. The classroom at the Sky-diving Sports and Adventures over in Estacada we used was quite small, kind of like the size of a waiting room or sitting room. The one in Molalla was a little bit bigger, and the whole building with the manifest area was quite spacious as well.
On the first day that would change my life forever, we left the park where the retreat was being held at around nine twenty-five pacific daylight time, and we drove up to the Sky-Diving Sports and Adventures in Eagle Creek, Oregon, which is owned by Ralf, chief pilot and owner of the business. I went with two other blind people, all of whom were first timers like myself. Still, I was really glad I had two months’ notice about what the experience would be like, even though there were a few differences which I will describe as I go through my experiences in order. In short, there were five of us in the car. Three blind people and one visually impaired staff member and our driver. We came to a stop in the gravel parking lot, then we climbed out and walked to a picnic table. The day was nice and clear, which was perfect for a jump with no wind, save for a cool breeze from the
North-North-East.
One of the employees came and told us that every year, there was someone who usually wanted to take a video, and they explained about how these videos were a way to record their experiences. Only one person opted to pay ninety-eight dollars for a video package while the rest of us just recorded it. I did bring my own pocket camera, and I asked one of the staffers if they could film me doing my landing, so in a way, I was partially filmed, although it would have been nicer if I had gotten everything.
After the staff person processed the payment for the person who wanted to take the video, he brought us an application for all of us to fill out. Each person was to fill out the forms one at a time, instead of at the same time, which meant that the process took nearly an hour, plus an additional ten to fifteen minutes for the person to read the waiver aloud. Since it was quite lengthy, we all had to listen in because he was only going to read it once. The next person got to fill out the form, and soon, it was my turn. The form asked for my name, age, date of birth, weight, address and other contact information, including emergency contact information.
This is where I knew the waivers were different. Here, they asked if I suffered from any medical ailments, and one of them was hearing loss or impairment. Over in Molalla, they did not ask me about any medical ailments or anything of that sort. I wonder why that was? I was afraid that if I said yes to the question regarding my hearing, it would prevent me from sky-diving, but they assured me that it was only meant as a way to let them know in advance so that I would be able to hear them, and they would be able to hear me. They also asked me if I was on any medications as well, and then I had to sign three different pages. I asked if it was possible for them to provide a copy of the waiver in a PDF form so they could send it out to prospective jumpers. They thought it to be an excellent idea, and they said that they would consider and look into it further.
The way the waivers were set up in Molalla, as I soon found out, was very different. Since Sky-Dive Oregon is a pretty busy place, they set up iPad stands in the middle of the waiting area so people could use SmartWaiver to fill out, check about forty different boxes, and sign the waver in a speedy and efficient manner. The bad news was that I was not informed about this, nor was my friend aware of it either. Had we known that they were going to use iPads, I would have asked them to reserve a space for me to use an iPad that was not enclosed in a tamper-proof case. The result was that I spent nearly half an hour just trying to get it to work, and after a lot of patience I finally managed to sign the waiver with Voiceover enabled within about an hour. Fortunately, it was getting very windy, so we had to reschedule. Normally this would have been unfortunate, but because of how long it took for me to figure out how to sign the waiver with the iPad, it was a good thing that I had plenty of time. To prevent future incidents like this, I am hoping to contact the manufacturer of these iPad stands and ask if they can build cases with key holes so they could press the home button with the crank of a key, or open a headphone compartment, etc. This is simply policy standard to prevent people from using apps that would be on the iPad and to make sure people can only use them to sign the waivers.
After all our applications were processed back in Estacada, our instructor came and talked to us, introducing himself individually. He informed us that he had worked with blind people from either the Oregon School for the blind, or from the Portland Commission for the Blind. He told us that he would be guiding us inside a small building which would be where he would teach us how we were to exit the aircraft, which was a Cessna-182, and how we were going to land. There, we would also put on our jump suits and wind breaker hats, which looked almost like a helmet, except that it was made entirely of leather.
Over at Sky-dive, I was given an envelope that I would hand to my instructor so he could get paid, and I was led to another room in the building. When I got there, I took a seat near a wall, and the instructor started talking to us immediately. According to the web site, it stated that only students who were jumping could attend the class, yet when I went with my friend, he could attend the class with me, even though they weren’t jumping. Maybe this was an exception. I would be putting my jump suit and harness in the loading area, which was further out on the other side of the complex. The aircraft I jumped out of was a Cessna-208.
Over in Eagle Creek, before he started the class, our instructor asked us if we all had any questions, which he would answer as he taught us what to do. I asked about the rodeo sky-dive, where a person flipped three times as they fell out of the plane, and they would be falling head-first. I also asked if there were several methods to get out of the aircraft, depending on what kind it was. He could not answer my question about how free fall was interpreted by the brain, so I was left to experience that on my own for me to describe. He told us that the amount of time we were going to free fall would vary on how much we weighed. Since I was the lightest, it would take me longer to reach the designated altitude where the main parachute would be deployed. On this particular drop zone, the altitude where we would be falling at was anywhere between ten thousand and eleven thousand feet, so our free fall would be between thirty to forty-five seconds. Our instructor told us that we would be falling for about a mile, and then we would parachute for about five to seven minutes for another mile.
Over at Sky-dive, the altitude that I would be jumping would be anywhere between thirteen to thirteen thousand five hundred feet, or eighteen thousand feet if I requested that option. I will also state here that either the weight of me and my instructor was more than I thought, or something else, but my fall was no more than thirty-six seconds from that altitude when they said that I would be falling for sixty seconds. To confirm this, I listened to the recording and timed my fall.
After our instructor answered all our questions back in Eagle Creek, he waited for another person to come back. Whilst waiting, he asked us if we had anything in our pockets or anything else that might fall out. I had no choice but to hand over my iPod to another staff member, who would hold it for me until I did my jump. I must have forgotten to mute my iPod’s Voiceover speech, for my instructor heard it talking, which is what prompted him to check my pockets. One of the guys was worried that his glass eyes would fall out, and I was concerned that my hearing aids would fall out as well. The instructor took the first person down to the creeper, which was basically a platform on wheels that is generally used to look at the underside of vehicles. When it was my turn, he led me to the low table, and I climbed up on it. He showed me the position we would be falling, and he told me to stay in that position so we would not end up falling head-first. When we left the aircraft, our left knee would be on the floor of the plane and our right foot would be on the platform outside of the plane. When we entered free fall, we would have to arch our head and back backwards as hard as we could, and if we needed help, he would put his left hand on our forehead to signal that we needed to keep going back. Likewise, our heels would be on his butt, and if he needed us to go further, he would put his right hand on our knee to tell us to keep it there. Then he demonstrated this by getting on top of me and showing me how to cross my arms over my chest which he called the safety position. You do this both when you leave the aircraft and when you land. After that, I went back to my chair, and then the next person went to the creeper, and soon, our instructor had us practise our landing position by having our feet out in front of us as far as we could hold them, with our knees bent at a twenty or thirty-degree angle. We did this while sitting in chairs.
Over at Sky-dive, the training was very similar, with the only difference being that we would be sitting down as if we were on a kerb, and we would simply lean forward and slide out of the plane. The other difference that I noticed was that my second instructor had me stretch out my arms during free fall when he tapped me three times on my right shoulder. I wonder why he had me do this, but my instructor did not have me do it on my first jump? It could have been the fact that I had more experience, or that the equipment they were using was slightly different. My friend was worried that I would lose my hearing aids, but I reassured them that I already did my first jump, so I knew what I was doing. As proof, I showed them how the wind breaker hid them out of sight.
When we got into our jump suits back in Eagle Creek, we got our wind breakers, and when I put them on, they completely covered my hearing aids so well that there would be no danger of them falling out. The instructor asked me if I had glass eyes, and I told him that I had real eyes, which was a good thing. The goggles were attached to a string on the back of our hats, and we were to put it over our eyes and tighten the elastic strap on either side to secure it. The instructor helped me with the chin strap because it seemed to be tangled. After we were all set, he got the order of the people in our group who were going to be jumping with him. I was the last one to jump, so I had to wait for nearly an hour and a half before I finally got moving. Before we got into our harnesses, however, our instructor took us outside to where the plane was anchored to the ground via ropes. He opened the door so that we could explore how we would get in and out of the plane. The door was set up in an interesting fashion. Imagine feeling the bottom side of the plane’s fuselage curving as it went down to the belly of the plane. Close to that was a place where a person could lock and unlock the door. They would pull on the crack that was underneath, then they would keep pulling the door towards them and then they would end up pushing it up, like the trunk of a car. This was because its hinges were located towards the top where the right wing was located. Almost all sky-dive planes are high-winged, because the carriage hangs below the wings. To get in, I had to put one of my feet on top of the platform that was located above the right rear wheel, and then I crawled onto the floor of the plane. The instructor told me that I would be seated behind the pilot’s seat. I ended up riding backwards both times. Then we got out of the plane and he led us back inside, where our instructor proceeded in putting us inside our harnesses. When I got mine on, I wanted to tie it up myself since I already had experience putting on three other harnesses in the last few days of the camp, but because sky-diving was essentially a vital and extreme sport, only the instructor was allowed to tie the harness for me. I think a person would have to be certified to handle their own harness.
Over at sky-dive Oregon, I learnt a few new things I never heard about before. For instance, I was told to never, ever, ever reach behind me while getting ready to jump, because if I pulled on the wrong handle, my instructor and I would be history. He also told us that he would ask us several times if we were ready, and if we said no, then we would not be refunded. Once I proceeded with the training, I was taken to the back of the classroom, and I was given the stuff to put on. The jump suit I put on was a lot different from the ones we used in Eagle Creek, and I had to take off my shoes to get them on. That was one thing I did not have to do on my first sky-dive. The place kind of felt as if I was indoors and outdoors at the same time; it was very strange. Since this was a bigger plane, and because jumping out of it would be easier, I was not required to use the plane to practise getting in and out. To confirm my suspicion, I asked my instructor if it was true that only the latter was allowed to handle the harness, and he answered me in the affirmative, and he said that I would have to take accelerated free-fall training to learn about handling my own harness. One thing I also learnt about from my instructor was how to stay calm when the reserve parachute was being deployed. He told us to always keep our hands in our safety position no matter what we felt, saw, heard, etc.
After everyone was set to jump back at Sky-dive Sports and Adventures, the first of the trio was led outside while the rest of us sat down in lounge chairs, still inside the waiting area to avoid excessive heat exposure. I dozed off for nearly an hour, and then I heard one of the staffers report that our first member was coming down. When they came back to the room after they landed, we all applauded and congratulated them and asked them how it went. Then the next member of our group went with the instructor. Both times, I thought I heard him say, ‘Do you want to jump? Do not answer right away. Think about it for a moment, because this is really important.’ That is when I asked him just to make sure I heard correctly if he always asked his clients if they were absolutely sure they wanted to jump, once before they got on the plane, once while they were on the plane, and once before they were about to leave the aircraft. The instructor would also tell them that they were not being pressured to jump, as it would be their choice. You see, the reason they would ask you is so they can give you your money back, or at least some of it. If you said ‘yes’ the first time, but then you said ‘no’ the second or third time, then you would not get your money back. I could not hear what he said, but it sounded like he only asked certain people. I will not go into detail about the waiting process, suffice it to say that a few of the employees handed us water or soda to drink while we waited.
Over at Sky-dive Oregon, there was no waiting, and I was able to do my jump immediately after the class, which lasted about twenty minutes, so it began half an hour before the actual time that the class was scheduled to start. I left the complex at around fifteen hundred something, and I walked over to the boarding area. There I was informed that we would wait for our plane, which would taxi to the space for us to get on, then I would climb a metal ladder that had about six rums. I could estimate that the plane was about three or so feet above the ground. The plane’s engine was still running as people started to get on it.
Back at Sky-dive Sports and Adventures, after the first person was out of the harness and jump suit and the second person left, we all headed out to eat. However, since I was soon to leave, I had to wait until after my jump to eat for two reasons. I could get nauseated, and if I threw up, it could blind the person going below me and this would be bad. Second, because I would not have time to finish my lunch. After we were outside for a few minutes, I started to feel light-headed, so I went inside, and the others followed me. I sat back down and dozed for another half hour. After a short while the second person came down, and then our instructor went to refresh himself, then he filled out a few things before he told me that we were all set. Everyone wished me good luck, and I took my instructor’s elbow and we walked down to the aircraft. I also got to feel his container, which was like a big backpack that weighed five pounds. I asked him what he meant by the fact that when we left the aeroplane, we would fall at a rate of a hundred seventy miles an hour, but that he would pull out a drogue parachute, which would slow us down to a hundred twenty miles an hour for Belly to Earth orientation. He said that because when we left the aircraft, we would experience higher than terminal velocity, which would put a lot of strain on both our bodies and on the parachute. It could eventually be lethal because travelling at one seventy would rip our main canopy to bits and cause us to faint due to the excessive amount of G’s, so the drogue and or pilot chutes would be deployed immediately upon exit. The pilot parachute would also aid the instructor in deploying the main parachute as well. The next thing I asked my instructor was what people did when they fell, because it is obvious that when we lose our balance on Earth, we would instinctively reach out our hands and arms to grab onto something. To inhibit this reaction, he told me to grab onto the straps of my harness as hard as I could while having my arms crossed. ‘This way,’ he said, ‘if you feel like you need to grab onto something, just hold on as tightly as you can and let me do the work.’ By that he meant that I should relax, because I would have a lot of adrenaline rushing through my system, though hopefully not a fatal dose, or one that would cause me to be paralysed. He assured me that he has not lost anybody yet.
Back at Sky-dive Oregon, I told my instructor about my first jump, and I also took note in his demeanour. From what I noticed, my first instructor was more of a no-nonsense person, which made sense because people who did extreme things always made sure to do everything right, and they would not like any irrelevancies. My second instructor was more easy-going, which is what I like best.
Over at Sky-dive Sports and Adventures, we did one last check in which we practised getting in and out of the plane, since the previous time we did it altogether, and therefore we did not have a lot of time for individualised practice. We went inside so he could show me where I would be sitting, which was on the floor of the plane with my legs crossed, and my instructor would be facing me, sort of sideways on the left wall of the plane. In other words, I was facing the tail of the plane, and the door was on the right side of the plane, which was to my left. We got out so that the pilot could climb in and fill out his logbook, and then he told us to climb back in. We had to wait for two more people who were diving solo, for I was the only one doing a tandem jump.
Over at Sky-dive Oregon, I could hear the plane approaching the boarding area, and it reminded me of a jet and a propeller plane combined in one. This is because the regular planes have an engine that drives the propeller through a piston, while the ones here use a fan that is driven by a turbine. As such, you have speeds going well over six thousand revolutions per minute. Once the plane was parked, I was taken over to the line. As I got closer, I could smell the fumes of the jet fuel, which, for some reason, reminded me of diesel. When I approached the ladder, I started feeling the wind from the propeller, and I told my guide of that fact, and she told me I was safe. The propeller, which was to my left, was spinning at fifty cycles per second, or three thousand revolutions per minute. The ladder was tilted at a forty-five-degree angle, so I went in as if I was crawling onto the plane. The door was located on the left side of the plane towards the back. When I went inside, I turned around until I was facing the door, and I was dragged towards the right side, where I saw a long bench that was parallel to the wall. It felt like one of those kneelers you find underneath church pews, and it was that high above the floor. I sat down in front of my instructor, and then he hooked me up to a set of seatbelts that were fitted onto my harness. I was also riding backwards. For the first time, I noticed how loose the top of my harness was, but I will get to that in a moment.
Back in Estacada, one of the skydivers asked me where I was from, and if I was excited to do my first jump. I told them that I was very pumped up, and I was hardly feeling nervous at all. I soon realised why it took so long for people to get up into the air. There was a lot of waiting once I got to the aircraft, so that they could make sure that everything was working properly. I asked what it was like to land in one of those things, and the pilot told me that I did not want to land in them, but that I should jump out of them instead. After we got seated, the pilot had a few words with the instructor and the other people inside, and then he shouted, ‘clear prop!’ This basically meant that he was warning everyone, such as sleeping vagrants and small children and their pets to step out of the plane’s propellers so that they would not get hit by them. One last thing I asked my instructor was how I would not be hitting the platform of the plane and the wheel as we dived out of the door. He said that he was going to call out, ‘ready, set, go!’ Then he would push off the step so hard that it would propel us into the air, and we would still be moving forward because of the plane’s momentum. This is called forward throw. He also showed me where I would be attached to his harness. It turns out that they can vary, but they are usually between three and five. In this case, there were four, although there could have been a rip cord, just in case I felt like my instructor was being unresponsive, although I am sure he had an automatic activation device to back us up. This would cause the reserve parachute to open right away. There were two hooks on the shoulders, and two more down by the waist.
After the pilot made sure no one was standing in front of the plane, he turned on the engine, and we started taxiing down the gravel pathway towards the runway. Once he had located and back taxied on the small airstrip to get as much space as possible, he turned around to line up with the runway. The sound of the plane’s engine sounded like I was inside one of those antique cars, or inside a motorboat. When he told us that we were clear for take-off, he throttled the engine up to two thousand revolutions per minute, and, because I was good with perfect pitch, I did some calculations in my head. The propeller blades made an audible sound as they sliced through the air, and this number was thirty cycles per second. I multiplied that by sixty and got the end-result. The pitch of the engine itself was around one hundred twenty-eight hertz. One thing I forgot to mention was that the Cessna-182 was equipped with air conditioning, which was immediately activated when the pilot turned on the engine. It felt strange riding backwards during the taxi and take-off, but it was lots of fun. It felt sort of like when I was taking off in one of those Boeing airliners, with the difference being that the engine sounded like a leaf blower and the amount of time needed to take off was a lot shorter. Since this was a small plane, it did not take as long to get into the air, which was about five to ten seconds. Flying in one of these was about the same as in a commercial jet. The only time I experienced a sensation of moving, albeit forward, backwards, or sideways was when there were bits of rough spots. I could also feel the wind rushing through a small crack near the pilot’s seat on my right. I assumed that this could have been an emergency exit, or it could have also been the pilot’s own door. One thing was for sure, these Cessna aircraft have been modified for easier jumping. This meant that everyone on board was required to wear a parachute. I should also mention that the inside smelt like it was recently filled with aeroplane fuel, which had the same smell of gasoline they use to fuel lawn mowers. It was rather hard to talk above the plane’s engine, so whenever I asked my instructor a question, I had to repeat myself, and if he had something to tell me, he would use hand signals if it were a number-based response, otherwise he would just speak right into my ear. He told me that we were going to let the first person get out first, and then it would be our turn. At around eight thousand feet, he would have me turn around towards the front of the plane, and then he would have me scoot towards him so that he could hook me up to his harness.
The climb itself took about fifteen to twenty minutes, and we were climbing at a very shallow angle, so I could not really feel it unless the pilot either dropped or ascended quickly. This number is measured in feet per minute, and the speed is usually in nautical miles. Also, the way we turned was quite interesting. Sometimes I would feel the plane tilt to one side and then straighten out again. We pretty much ascended in a spiral-like fashion. From the outer perspective, it was hard to know what the plane was doing because of the Doppler effect. After we got to the designated altitude, I had to equallise the pressure in my ears, and my instructor asked me if I could still breathe. I asked him if I could still breathe during free fall, and he assured me that it was not at all like going under water. He also told me that the air was still good up here.
Once everyone was settled comfortably on the two benches over in Molalla, which, by the way, were covered with a thin cushion, the pilot taxied down towards the runway, then he turned around to back-taxi. After that, my instructor told me that we were getting ready to take off. He also explained to me that he would unhook the seatbelt at around fifteen hundred feet, and he would start to attach the lower part of my harness. Once we got to eight thousand feet, he would finish attaching the upper part of my harness. The seatbelts were being used just in case we were to crash on the ground. Soon, the pilot opened the throttle, and we were off. The time it took for us to be airborne was a lot shorter than I had ever imagined, but it made sense because it was a very powerful aircraft, with its propeller spinning at six thousand three hundred revolutions per minute, or one hundred five Hertz. It sounded as if I were in a miniature Boeing seven forty-seven, along with the sound of one of those electric lawn mowers. The climb also took very little time, especially since we were going to a higher altitude than the one, I did in Eagle Creek. It took us about nine to ten minutes to get to the designated altitude.
At ten thousand feet over at Sky-diving Sports and Adventures, the pilot opened the door, something I wondered how that was done, and I felt the cold rush of the wind hitting me. I could hear the sound of the wind, which sounded as if I was in a car with the window opened. If you mix that with the sound of a leaf blower, you would get the same sound. Then I felt the plane jerk to the right, which was an indication that our first jumper had pushed off the platform and was now in free fall. The pilot closed the door, and then we went back to the other side of the drop zone, my instructor told me not to put my right foot forward until he told me to do so. After a few minutes of my kneeling down on the floor, my instructor pushed me forward towards the door, and then he told me to put my right foot forward just as the pilot opened the door. I started feeling the wind blowing across my face, and then my instructor had me locate the little platform. Once I had firmly planted my right foot on it, he made sure I felt where his foot was, which was to the right of my foot. Our left knees were still on the plane. We leaned forward so that we were now partially outside of the plane. By this time, I already had my hands across my chest, so there was nothing else for me to do except to listen for when he gave the signal that would tell me that we were ready. At this moment, I felt relaxed, a little apprehensive, but still very relaxed. This was because I fully trusted my instructor and I knew he has done it thousands of times already.
Halfway into the flight back in Molalla, my instructor asked me how I was doing, and if I was ready to jump. This was also when I asked him if the top of my harness was tight enough, because I could tell that it was loose. He told me not to worry, that it was tight, and I trusted him. Soon, I found out why. After he told me to lean back on his chest so he could attach me more easily, he told me to lean forward as hard as I could. That is when I realised that he had tightened the top part of my harness by finishing the attachment process. Once we reached thirteen thousand feet, the pilot decreased the plane’s engine speed, and then he opened the door. I was sitting behind a fellow skydiver, so I had plenty of time to explore the container that was atop his back. I started to feel how cold the wind was, and I could also hear the people as they left the aircraft. My instructor asked me one more time if I was ready to sky-dive, and I told him that I was. He started pushing me forward on the bench as the number of people grew less, and soon I was on the floor. My instructor told me to put both of my feet out in front of me, and soon my legs were out in the open, and he continued to push me forward until the rest of my legs were dangling off the side of the plane.
Back in Eagle Creek, my instructor called out ‘ready, set, go!’ He pushed us off the platform, and I felt myself roll forward slightly, then to the left, so that I was now on my left side. My instructor stabilised us, and then we were falling. The sensation of falling was not like the kind I was expecting. It is not like when we fall in a dream, because that sensation is usually a heavy sinking feeling. You would, however, get this heavy falling sensation if you fell from a stationary aircraft, such as a helicopter or a hot air balloon. The air resistance gave me a cushion, and it was also sort of a reference point that gave me a sense of weight and direction in space. This was how I knew that I was falling with my stomach down. When I screamed, a cheer-like shout of joy, I could hear it resonate inside my head, and then I said, ‘I love it! I really, really love it!’ It was a good thing I was wearing my wind breaker, because it muffled the sound quality of the rushing wind a great deal. Again, it sounded as if I were riding in a car, except for the engine’s sound. I could feel a stinging in my nose as I breathed in the air during the fall. Since I was falling so fast, and because I wore two layers of clothing, I could not focus on how cold the wind was. Also, it felt like I was travelling at fifty or sixty miles an hour, not a hundred twenty.
My instructor back at Sky-dive Oregon gave no warning. He simply pushed us forward until we slid out of the plane, and I was met with a second or two of feeling weightless as he kept leaning us forward. I could not remember the sensation of tilting forward, but all the sudden, I was on my stomach plummeting towards Earth. At first, I let go of my harness, but I quickly decided against it. Soon my instructor tapped me on the shoulder, and I put my arms out in front of me on either side. I decided to talk into the camera, but the wind was very loud, plus it was also hard to breathe during the fall, mainly because we were so high above the earth, so my voice was never recorded even though one could see my lips moving. Also, it appeared that I was recovering from a cold, so the thin air made my nose run, and it also made my right ear feel as if I had an itch inside. A few hours later, I was aware of some inflammation in my left ear, which subsided in a few days. One thing I definitely noticed was that I did not roll at all, but I knew when I was spinning left or right as we were falling.
I did not keep track of how much time had passed back at Sky-diving Sports and Adventures, although at one point I heard a snap, like a metal clasp being shut, and then I was whipped into a standing position. I felt myself bounce for a little bit, and then I felt weightless for a few seconds as the parachute started slowing us down to about seventeen miles an hour. It was important that the parachute deployed correctly, because if we suddenly slowed down to seventeen miles an hour, it could hurt us and or damage the equipment. Since I had my knees folded during the fall, the force of the parachute pulling us in an upright position was so strong I did not even feel my feet move downward. It was as if one second, I had my heels on my instructor’s butt, and the next second, I was standing on his feet.
We started talking, and I could hear the rustling of the sheets as the wind was blowing it along. I asked him if blind people could sky-dive solo, and he said that he met a few blind people who has done it with an audible altimeter and a two-way radio. I asked if there were ones that vibrated for people who were deaf-blind, and he said that there could be, but they were probably not approved by the United States yet. I forgot to ask him how blind people knew where to steer if they could not see. This could probably be from the instructors on the ground communicating to the person via walkie-talkie. At one point, I felt myself being tugged upward as if a spring was pulling me, and I soon realised this was because my instructor was pulling one part of the parachute so that it gave us a feeling of weightlessness. This allowed him to turn more easily rather than just spinning. Also, we had a great sensation of moving forward because the wind was pushing us back, and I could hear the low, quiet
rumble of the wind as it rushed past us. He also pulled on both wings to slow us down, which made us feel as if we were going up and then down. For a few minutes, he told me that it was okay for me to let go of my harness so I could experience what it was like to soar like an eagle. It was very exciting, knowing that I was not attached to anything except a huge pile of sheets which I felt when we landed.
Over at Sky-dive Oregon, I felt a slight jolt as the main canopy was activated. I immediately put my arms in the safety position, and then I said, ‘We did it!’ I asked my instructor a few times if I was allowed to steer the controls, but he either did not hear me or chose not to respond. He told me that he was going to loosen the two attachments down at the waist so it would be easier for him to manage the parachute’s controls. I leaned back to get a better feel for how the gliding sensation felt, and I also wanted to look up at the sky as I was being filmed.
Back in Eagle Creek, my instructor told me to put my hands in my safety position, and then he told me to put my feet out, just like we practised, and I asked him if we were going to land hard. He said that we were not, since we would be gliding forward and hitting the ground at the same time. I would be landing on my butt while he would be landing on his knees. After I felt the ground hit my butt, the small parachute collapsed, and for a few seconds, I thought it was the main parachute, but they told me that they were kidding. They let me feel the huge pile of nylon. ‘Aw, does that feel nice? That is what saved ya!’ That was one of the staff members of the park who told me.
At sky-dive Oregon, my instructor had me put my feet up in the landing position a few seconds after he deployed the main canopy for practice, and I must have thought we were getting ready to land, or he told me to relax. When he told me that we were going to land, I put out my feet and bent my knees, just like we practised. Since my instructor was very tall, the landing was very different. We came in nearly in a standing position, so as soon as I hit the ground, I could stand up right away, and I took off my gear. I exclaimed how funny the landing was, and, at the instructor’s request, I also gave him a thumbs up for the camera. Both my guide and the instructor were surprised that I did everything correctly. I guess they were expecting somebody to mess up or something, but no, I did everything right! He asked me if it was just as good as my last one, and I told him that there were just a few differences.
Back in Estacada, my instructor detached the two of us, and I quickly got out of my harness and jump suit, along with the goggles and hat. The staff person who had my camera told me that he was able to get it all on video. After I was out of my suit, I shook hands with my instructor, and I thanked him for everything. He told me that he could autograph my shirt once I bought it. One thing I should note, the way they processed the videos was a little bit more primitive, for they had to put it all on a DVD, which they would mail to you within seven days.
At sky-dive Oregon, my instructor shook my hand, and my guide took me back inside the loading area to take off my jump suit. Once I got out of it, I was taken back to the classroom where I met my instructor, who handed me my first jump certificate along with a bumper sticker, and he told me he would be back with an SD card for me to take home. My friend, whom I invited to come along with me on the trip, congratulated me on my second jump, and I promised him that I would tell him all about it.
My final thoughts on these experiences: Since I could not record myself on the first sky-dive, I was able to create a replicated version of what skydiving sounded like based on sounds that were already in existence. All I had to do was make sure those sounds match the ones I had in my memory, which was easy for me to do because of my perfect pitch. I had no trouble recording my second jump, and for that, I am very grateful.
The instructor never asked me if I really wanted to jump on my first sky-dive, and I told people about this fact. Some of my friends told me that he probably knew that I was extremely self-motivated to learn about skydiving. There were probably a certain number of people who do not want to learn about it. They simply want to get the experience. One person thought that maybe I did not hear the instructor when he asked me that question, but that sounded illogical because if I did not hear him, I would not have answered him, and this would have been a question that required a response, so he would have had to repeat himself until I understood him. Maybe the first instructor asked me a similar question, such as what my second instructor said, which might have been why I was not expecting the same question that I was told by my friend. Such things can be, do you want to sky-dive, or, are you ready to sky-dive? You get the gist.
The reason I was hardly nervous on both jumps was thanks to a meditation class taught by a former teacher and a friend of mine who was at the camp. He hosted a stress and anxiety-reduction mindfulness workshop four days before my first jump, and a month before my second. I learnt how to fully relax and calm my nerves by releasing oxytocin, slow down my heart and breathing rate, etc. Skydiving or going on a wild amusement ride can be moderately stressful, but it has shown to increase oxytocin, though. I meditated a lot, and the fact that I did it so many times was the reason I hardly felt nervous, and it allowed me to trust my instructors fully. Also, the fact that I knew exactly what to expect was a major contributing factor. This is because people fear the unknown when they have no idea what to expect, regardless of their motivation and will. All in all, I think this would be something I would be doing for quite a while, and I might start preparing to do high altitude low-opening jumps in the future.
When I showed people this transcript, many people told me that I had written it as if what happened to me happened yesterday, which led them to think I was able to remember everything so well. I told them that it all depended on several things. Since skydiving was something that I was extremely passionate about, it helped me relive the memory over and over, looking at every detail, the way you do when you watch a moving picture several times. Another thing that helped me was research. For example, I did not know what the instructor meant by a drogue parachute. When he said it, it sounded like he had said a robe parachute. I went on-line to look it up, but I did not find anything on the internet about it. One day, as I was reading about skydiving in general, I came across the same word, and I took note of its spelling. If I forgot something, reading about it on-line would cause those memories to come flooding back. Also, our brains can remember images more easily than words, even for blind people. I imagined feeling the plane’s texture, from the outside in, and this allowed me to remember the words the instructor and the other people said. Of course, there is a lot of speculation that blind people can remember words better than their sighted peers, but it is not always true. So, this is what allowed me to associate things more easily, and I recommend that people do this more often.
regarding the iPad issue I experienced, I went over to http://www.iPadenclosures.com/ to see what kind of kiosk cases they made. It really surprised me that they had something that was supposed to be accessible to everybody, but current measures or policies prevented them from making that accommodation, or at least, finding workarounds. I was thinking of having them buy several iPads and making room for quiet environments so that people who were blind and or hard-of-hearing would be able to hear and or use a Braille display along with Voiceover to read what was on the screen. I also recommended that they include an accessibility section on their web site to let other people know ahead of time with the information they would need before they got there to avoid scrambling at the last minute.
Many people who are afraid to jump are frightened by the idea and not by the experience itself. That is why it helps to know in advance what a person would be getting into, though I was told that some people do not want to know because it would ruin the surprise for them. Still, I am going to be sharing this to anyone who might be interested, and I hope you can share it with anyone you think might like this as well.

Dear Prospective VR Counsellor

Thank you for choosing to work with me on starting my new endeavour as a potential business entrepreneur. There are some things I would like to share with you, so that we can all be on the same page. I apologise in advance for the length of this letter, but I think it is well worth the read. I also apologise for the number of links in this letter, but I think these are great resources I found for what I would like to do moving forward. I realise that most of this will be going into political territory, and there’s no doubt that the workplace mandates political neutrality, but I would at least like to tell you my story and the reasons things turned out the way they did. Also, if you do not have experience working with people from marginalised communities or other backgrounds, or if you don’t have the knowledge and expertise for developing a business plan for a mission-oriented individual, then I ask that my case be transferred to someone who is more knowledgeable on these topics. Alternatively, you can go here to learn more.

I decided to reopen my case following a long series of unfortunate events. Given that I closed my case with the Commission for the Blind in early 2017, I thought I could find a different provider and start from scratch. As I soon found out, though, a case must be opened with the commission if you are legally blind because they use specialised funding to specifically address the blindness population that is generally not available to the regular voc rehab agencies. They offered to set up a joint case to address my other disabilities, though. It seemed absurd that they considered blind people to be completely separate rather than putting us on a spectrum along with the other folx with disabilities (mental health included). I could’ve also requested to work with a certified psychiatric rehabilitation counsellor during the time I was in therapy for the experience I had in 2016.

I am also submitting a court order with my new legal name, and with your permission, I would like to remove old and outdated information from your records.

 

I already had some work experience since 2010. Out of the belief that I needed more independence training, I was asked to attend a ten-month programme in Vancouver to further explore my options and attend college at the counsellor’s request in 2012–this after I discovered what I really wanted to do and how I could share my talents with the world. I enjoyed the programme and made lots of new discoveries. Then I found out that it was very difficult for me to implement my system when I was living with people who either didn’t know how to be independent or who were sighted. I was also taught independent living skills with the assumption that I could still hear with my hearing aids. They tried to accommodate my hearing loss, but since they were primarily blindness-oriented, it was pretty difficult. That’s why I’m glad I later learned about Helen Keller National Centre.
Subsequently, I found my passion for piano tuning, but I was advised to wait to determine whether my hearing loss was going to worsen because as it was at the time, I did pretty well, but there was no guarantee that it would continue to remain the same, which was why I became obsessed in genetic engineering and stem cell research, as I didn’t like the idea of having mechanical devices implanted in my head.

I did not know that there was something lurking in a dark corner and waiting to jump out at me when I had made the turn. In November of 2012, I attempted to apply for Financial Aid, but I was informed that, because I was coercively assigned male at birth (CAMAB), I had to register for the Selective Service in case there was ever a draft. I did not consider myself to be transgender just yet until a few weeks after I completed the programme in June. In fact, at the end of the programme, one of my favourite staff members bade me farewell, but when they addressed me using gendered terms, I automatically flinched without even thinking about it, and they must’ve seen it, for they immediately corrected themselves and resorted to using gender-neutral terms. This was before I fully realised that I was transgender. To this day, I am still amazed at how I had reacted without even thinking about it, and yet the memory is still very clear in my mind.

I started objecting to this whole Selective Service thing from day 1, though, and to this day I continue to object. I was told numerous times that nobody would be able to draft me because of my disabilities even if I identified as male, but unfortunately, you still must register to get those benefits. I found this out when my mother tried to get my brother financial aid, as well. There are also repercussions for knowingly lying about your gender. Given that this is an old issue, I could not get the media and legal organisations interested in pursuing this issue further. It is too bad that nobody wants to address these issues given that a lot of transgender and nonbinary people are making headlines today. I should not have to register if I did not identify as male unless they Required everybody to sign up, regardless of biological sex or gender identity, the way they do with jury duty. In fact, the supreme court delivered an opinion on 15 June 2020, stating that LGBTQIA+ employees should be protected at the federal level from discrimination. I would rather have this policy abolished altogether, though.

I started a petition to address these issues, though given the political climate, I doubt anything will come of it, so this is where the folks from Basic Rights Oregon, who are advocating for me, come in. I recently graduated from a leadership development programme called Catalyst, because my hope was to start a project to address these issues. I have vowed to remain civilly disobedient and boycotting Financial Aid, and I entreat anyone who identifies as transgender, gender nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming or whatever, to do this as well if they believe that the 103-year-old policy is giving cisgender males preferential treatment, and everybody else unfair and unequal access to education. Now, I am not opposed to going to college. I have nothing against that whatsoever. I would gladly go back if it were not for the whole Selective Service issue. And there are other ways to get stipends and scholarships or grants depending on what the goals are, and how they can be achieved. There are funding sources for marginalised folks and underserved populations. There is also the option of studying in another country, as well. For that, I would suggest checking out Mobility International USA. They have resources for joining the Job or Peace Corps. Most of them require college degrees, but a few of them might let you join with lived experience and references. In fact, I was asked how I was going to compete in the market and convince people to choose me over someone who has years of academic background and training to specialise in a specific field. They told me that having lots of lived experience and being self-taught may not be enough to be fully competitive. Still, if my target audience is primarily serving underserved groups, they may be more open to folx who don’t have that kind of background as long as you are deemed competent. Besides, my vocational interests are more progressive than what most voc rehab databases have at their disposals, so that might probably account for something.

You can take my word for it that I am smart and intelligent, but evidently that is not enough for many things in any developed country. Fortunately, there are still lots of ways to be successful without ever going to college. Also, here are some freelance jobs requiring no degree or experience. People say that you need a job, but you cannot get a job without experience, which sort of sounds backwards, since a job is supposed to help you build that experience.

I’ve been trying to make it as an aspiring or emerging author (with five manuscripts under my belt and counting–through self and traditional publishing), freelance writer, blogger, ceramic artist, baker, musician (DJ and sound tech), authorised dealer, or even a breeder.

As I learnt throughout most of my life, though, a lot of people stressed the importance of getting employment. That means working for someone else instead of suggesting that you could theoretically take employment into your own hands and work for yourself, on your terms. When I asked around, I learnt that many voc rehab places view entrepreneurship as a dirty word because it’s often a waste of government money to support you on something that is likely to not get off the ground, and that it doesn’t guarantee verification that you were working. This is because starting and running a business can be extremely debilitating, and funds can be misused or abused at any time. Similarly, it seemed to me that voc rehab agencies only supported knowledge and intelligence-based careers rather than those that involved crafting or arts. You hardly hear about blind performing artists going to Hollywood because they often say that it is a burden or liability to support all their accommodations. Recently, the Helen Keller National Centre posted an article about the first DeafBlind actor being featured in a film. They also told me that a lot of blind people, of which 70 percent are unemployed, do not have the needed capital or creditworthiness to start their business. I do not know if this number is higher, lower, or the same for blind people with intersecting characteristics, either in the United States or anywhere else. But there are grants you can apply for, like this one, this one, and this one. Once a year, OSU hosts a Funding Blitz webinar to teach you how you can increase your chances of getting the funding you need for whatever purpose you have in mind. They even have a section that focuses on funding for women, minority, and underserved entrepreneurs. As someone from Basic Rights Oregon put it, if there’s no seat at the table, then you build your own table and chair. This is especially true for creative people. The Holland Codes certainly didn’t lie when it told me that I was investigative, artistic, and conventional.

It also seems from what I’ve observed that people wanted you to work at a job site instead of suggesting that you could work from home, as well, but there’s nothing wrong with that. With the whole COVID19 outbreak, it is pretty much the only option right now, anyway. Maybe it is because they wanted you to build good mobility and punctuality skills, build experience with writing a resume, wearing good clothes to an interview, etc., all or most of which would otherwise be lost or remain undeveloped if working at home or running a business. You still have to look professional when conducting video informational interviews and other things. By the way, since I cannot afford to buy clothes, I was referred by Goodwill Job Connections to visit Dress for Success, which I’ve found to be very inclusive. Plus, getting a job has the lowest risk and highest reward, whereas entrepreneurship requires you to put in a lot of risk and hope for a high return. That’s why feasibility studies exist. Apart from that, many voc rehab agencies won’t support a business that is going to be perceived as a hobby, which is why a lot of clients are almost always told that their goals are not realistic. They want something that can be reasonably called a career… something you can make a reasonable living off of.

I was once asked if I would be opposed to working for someone, and I said that I would not, as long as the business met my values, particularly when it came to serving queer trans-people of colour with disabilities. I am open to working with someone who is willing to support and accommodate me with all my access needs and other characteristics. I am good at writing and editing, speaking English and Spanish fluently (I am a better writer in English), crowdsourcing and building connections, organising information, and writing about technical topics based on research. I have also been in a cohort as of 2013 that explores reproductive medicine, and I have been curious about how to advance my understanding of this to help with my own research as a transgender person. I also love to teach one-on-one about various topics, like Braille and music, amateur radio, or teaching English or Spanish. I could be a technology instructor, Braille proofreader, translator or interpreter, specifically focusing on gender affirmation and inclusion that most blind people ignore. I could also work in a music store or somewhere in the amusement ride industry because I have always loved riding various thrill-seeking attractions. And I am also willing to try working as a caregiver or a preteen babysitter if I can find resources on how that can be done for someone who is completely blind and severely hard-of-hearing.

One of my teachers of the Visually Impaired got me signed up with LegalShield. They look like a typical multi-level marketing company or pyramid scheme, and they are often notorious for selling low-quality products or illegitimate services. However, I found their services to be very satisfactory, and I have been able to resolve legal disputes at the administrative level, so I make it noticeably clear when selling memberships how to use those services. Also, many blind people are often sold on the idea that they should treat these opportunities as being their only source of income instead of adding to what they are already doing. This is because MLM opportunities in general are being offered as the one-size fits all solution for a chronically underemployed community. In most cases, it is just a form of earning side income.

When I told people about my talents and interests, a few of them offered to donate their used equipment if they had no further use for it. I am thinking of asking churches and other organisations about building my pro audio or ceramics gear based on donations or finding some in a pawn shop. This after I have taken some audio fundamental and music composition courses online, and a ceramics class at the local cultural arts centre last year. I am also a member of the Able Artist Foundation, CommTech USA, and a few other places.

Another thing I’ve noticed about job-seeking was that not only did a lot of people emphasise how important it was to get a job, but that you should pursue mainstream jobs as well, rather than suggesting that you could technically get a job pertaining to the minority of which you belong. I guess it all depends on your level of comfort. Somehow, this might seem like we are reinforcing the stereotype that blind people can only get blindness-related jobs and stuff, but what about when someone has intersecting characteristics that also marginalises them as well? How many employers are ready to hire someone who is totally blind, severely hard-of-hearing, a person of colour, legally non-binary, comes from an impoverished family, and with no college degree? And at the same time, what if they have mental health issues like anxiety, panic disorder, and PTSD? By the way, it is not being transgender or nonbinary that is the barrier. It is the way people are being treated for their perceived gender expression contrary to how they identify that is the barrier. So, some people may choose to avoid these barriers altogether. It doesn’t mean that they are cowards, but rather, they are building their own path and finding a way to cross those barriers by cutting right through it.
Also, the sad truth is that no matter how much we enforce the ADA and Rehabilitation acts, which is already difficult to do because of lack of evidence, people can, and will, discriminate just because we are blind. I’ve heard people with other disabilities discriminating against blind people, which sounds ironic because you would expect them to be more sympathetic towards us, but internalised ableism can happen at any time.

It is not about the leadership, It is about the way our country views visual impairments, and other disabilities. We are considered Third World citizens, and anything that they have to do out-of-the-way to accommodate us is absolutely out of the question. If they can do it with reasonably low cost, limited resources, and people, it will probably get done. If they have to put any major funding behind it, or hire people to write code, it is not happening.

It would probably take a massive widespread change for them to start caring about us, like a respiratory virus that can cause irreversable blindness or hearing loss. So, in some cases, a pandemic can change things for the better that we may not have otherwise done before.
Some blind people have also started leveraging this new victory in favour of LGBTQIA+ people having equal employment opportunities without realising that blind people, including those with multiple disabilities, are in a much different plane than those in the LGBTQIA+ community, at least in a fundamental way. Changing your sex, gender, or sexual orientation should have no effect on how well you do your work. with disability, this argument equal ability falls apart because you need reasonable accommodations to be made so that you can do the work as well as anyone else.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know there are several blind and DeafBlind people out there with really great jobs or businesses, have had access to great education, etc, but those people probably had a great support system comprised of family members, relatives, and various entities that helped them navigate the able-bodied world. The reality is that most of us lack this type of support, though I am sure that we can find it if we find people who really believe in what we have to offer the world.

In 2016, I came out to my former VR counsellor, and they agreed to change my name, although they could not change my gender yet. Some of the staff, especially those from the older generation, continued misgendering me, though. Then I got sick, unfortunately, following a trip to Arizona because of the excessive heat, and I spent almost a year and a half recovering from the aftermath. I could not commit to VR anymore, so I had to close my case in 2017 so I could work on getting better. At the same time, I got into a major family emergency that lasted a long time. So, I’ve gotten used to this whole physical distancing thing, because I had already lived through it once.

There is barely any support in Oregon for folks who are deaf-blind. There is a lot of support if you have one disability or the other, but not both. Anyway, there has been several attempts to implement a support service provider system to assist deaf-blind individuals like they already have over in Seattle and provide case management, but all efforts have been in vain. I had to miss out on various recreational and leisurely activities because I could not get the support needed like I could when I was younger. My mother usually provided this support, but she always needed to ensure that my older brother (who has a significant developmental disability in addition to his blindness and hearing loss) was being looked after first. As I got older, I found that my mother did not have time for me anymore because of the countless number of errands she had to run every time the caregiver came, which is currently once or twice a week. Update: we are expected to have a caregiver come five days a week, which should hopefully be more than enough. Soon, we may talk about hiring an awake overnight provider so that my brother will not make messes in the kitchen every night. A professional behaviour consultant will probably help us with that once he’s been seen by a Housecall Provider doctor to make sure there are no underlying health conditions that could be contributing to his behaviours. I relaunched my GoFundMe campaign to try to get him more support from HKNC, and you can find that here.

I am also afraid of having anything to do with my life as a transgender person compromised because my mother does not know anything about it, as she and other family members are not supportive and accepting. Before you read on, I am going to be straight up blunt. I’m not going to give out any names unless it were in the best interest of the public good, but it seemed like there were two kinds of people who worked with disabled individuals: those who are genuinely caring, and those who were flat-out controlling and infantilising. These latter individuals are what I have clashes and misunderstandings with. An author actually talked about it in his book, White Coat, White Cane: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Blind Physician, by David Hartman. I can understand that they only wanted me to thrive, so they did it in ways that were probably not favourable for me. These are the individuals who manipulated or talked folks into doing things they probably were not ready for. They most likely put them in one of their pigeonholes and made it hard for them to get out of. Young and new adults might as well be coerced into going to college, but maybe it is because they also feed on people’s fears and ignorance about what their rights are.

I actually had to file a grievance against someone for releasing information about me and unprofessionally expressing a negative opinion behind my back to my mother, whom I trusted, but since it was hearsay, I was not a witness to the incident and therefore wasn’t able to escalate the issue further.

All of this has cost me financially, and as a result, I am currently battling a decision that was made by Social Security about two years ago. I invite you to read my brief, which is in the previous post. After you read it, I think you will understand where I am coming from, and why I will ultimately need your support. Sufficient to say here that it involves housing issues, and I am looking into applying for housing grants, like this and this, to settle the debt. Some of these services ask you to pay for them, though. I was able to get a church to pay one month worth of rent.

One of the folx from BRO told me about a programme called PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-support), but I did not know that there was a catch to it. It will only work if I were getting income that would significantly reduce my SSI. The PASS Cadre then referred me to another programme called Ticket to Work. I would argue that getting grants, if I qualified for them, would count as income, so a PASS would therefore be valid. I said before that churches and organisations may be able to donate equipment, but I think some of them may also provide financial assistance, as well. At least, that was one of my friends’ suggestions, but I could not get anywhere with that.

Also, when someone recommended that I apply for Section Eight Housing, which is run by Housing Urban Development, I objected to the way they collected and used certain demographic information. I discovered that not only do they have a long waiting list, but they also require you to only select male or female on the application. I asked myself, What business is it of theirs to know what sex or gender I am? Furthermore, when I got my court order, birth certificate, and ID that all declare that I am legally non-binary, there was going to be a legal mismatch between the two systems. So, I decided to boycott Section Eight as well. I heard that Oregon is working to provide state-funded inclusive housing, but I do not know much about that. The supreme court should’ve ruled in favour of adding gender nonbinary options at the same time they ruled in favour of same-sex marriage. Hopefully, with this new landmark ruling, we’ll be getting closer to achieving that goal.

Anyhow, I think it is time for me to close out this letter, and I hope now you know where I’m coming from, and how we can work together so I can start over anew and get the life I deserve to live, not based on what someone thinks my life should be. If I return to VR, I would like to work on my terms instead of theirs.

I lost nearly four years of what could have been an enjoyable experience, but I was not able to get relief during the time that I was suffering. I tried alleging mental and emotional distress, negligence, loss of enjoyment of life, and possibly a few other things against the organisation that was responsible for the trip to Arizona, but according to my attorney, I didn’t have enough evidence to file a claim. Somebody also told me that given how small that organisation was, they likely would not have money to settle the judgement, although I could have filed a wage garnish as an alternative. Given all the things I have gone through, I think I and my family should be set for life.

Please take some time to go over the information, and feel free to ask me any questions.

Respectfully yours,

Heavenly Harmony

She/they

To Sue or Not to Sue?

Plan to Sue Social Security for an Alleged Overpayment

 
 

Heavenly Harmony V. Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul, Commissioner

Room 617, Altmeyer Building

6401 Security Boulevard

Baltimore, MD 21235-6401

Social Security Administration Office of General Counsel – Seattle, WA701 Fifth Avenue Suite 2900, M/S 901Seattle, WA 98104

(206) 615-2684

Oregon District Court – Portland, OR

Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse

1000 Southwest Third Avenue

Portland, OR 97204-2802

503-326-8008

Processing fee is $400. May be able to grant waiver, which will be deducted from benefits if awarded, along with attorney fees if the Social Security Administration authorises it.

 

I am submitting this brief, which contains some elements used in my April 12th, 2019 hearing at the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO), as well as supplemental testimony submitted to the appeals council in November 2019. I will address any discrepancies in the ALJ’s decision, and why the council’s denial to review the case was erroneous. The chief officer for the council mentioned in their letter that the judge’s decision can only be overturned by special rules, especially if a civil action is not filed within 60 days. My concern is that the federal court judge will not examine any new evidence past the date of the hearing transcript. Under federal law, one cannot sue the Social Security Administration directly. Therefore, the commissioner named above will be known as the defendant in the case.

Also, I am concerned that, due to lack of communication within a reasonable timeframe, plus not being well trained on working with blind individuals, my attorney, who was referred to by my LegalShield provider lawfirm, has not done an effective job at representing my case, and I ended up filing a complaint with the Oregon State Bar. As of March of 2020, he called my excuse of ‘poor communication’ ‘completely subjective and utterly preposterous.’ He commended me for being an outstanding witness in my hearing compared to other witnesses he has represented, though.


Here is how a civil action against SSA is initiated: An initial brief must be sent to open a case, then the summons must be served to the commissioner through the office of general council. Upon acknowledgement of the summons, an opening brief is sent by the plaintiff, followed by a response brief from the opposition. Finally, the plaintiff will have one chance to reply to the response before the judge decides. The process generally takes about twelve to eighteen months to complete.

 

In most of 2015 through 2016, I have been consistent in keeping up with my payments to my mother, who is the head of the household and who only speaks Spanish, for rent, but things started going downhill after I got back from a trip in July of 2016. I live in a household with one other disabled person, who is my brother, and a single mother, who has been divorced since 2005.

The reason I stopped paying my mother $200 for rent beginning in August 2016 was because I paid for air fare to an event that took place a few months later, which then turned into months of severe medical hardship. I will not go into detail here, as there are plenty of exhibits and posts covering the matter. Suffice it to say that there were two stages of why I have not been able to keep up with my payments during the time. The first was due to unexpected medical and transportation expenses, and later, it was due to a misunderstanding. However, in February 2017, I managed to pay my mother two hundred dollars for rent. This may have to be calculated when I present the new evidence, assuming that I can still submit it. Basically, my mother was concerned for my health and did not require me to pay her until I felt better, and I have paid off my medical bills. At the same time, she was demanding that I pay her every month. She was basically trying to milk an emaciated cow.

 

The administrative law judge begins the letter with, ‘You will not have the right to a federal court review.’ Despite this, though, I do not think that anyone at the administrative level has the power to say what your rights are. It may have been an error on the judge’s part for concluding that a federal district court judge might also conclude that the evidence was consistent for why the case was denied at the previous three stages of the appeals process that they simply followed all laws, rules and regulations. He probably did not want me to spend $400 and have my case dismissed without prejudice. Therefore, it is extremely important that we submit a motion to allow new evidence to be considered. This may include a subpoena to be delivered to my mother in person. It must call for her to either testify at an oral argument hearing or submit copies of the new evidence directly since she is not willing to do it on her own. Otherwise, I can deliver the evidence myself.

 

On page three of the judge’s decision, as well as in the original notice dated 26 April, the Social Security Administration indicated that they had been counting the overpayment since November 2016 based on information they collected from my mother in a routine eligibility case review. But, in another exhibit, my mother signed a sworn statement, which reads in part, I hereby certify that Deadname used to pay $200 a month. In August 2016, however, Deadname stopped paying. This was based on a phone conversation she had with an SSA caseworker in early April of 2018. In the recording or transcript, my attorney is heard asking me, ‘Do you agree with your mother’s sworn statement?’ My response to that question was yes. However, in light of having someone else look at the case, I strongly disagree with this statement now. In response to my complaint, my attorney showed great dislike towards the supposed non-lawyer for critiquing his work and telling me what I should do legally and has asked the bar to determine the identity of this non-lawyer to inform them about the bars against practising law without a valid licence. As a consumer, I have every right to seek advice from whomever I want, and my friends are entitled to think whatever they want, but unless they are attorneys, they should always say, That doesn’t sound right. You might want to bring this up with an attorney.

Also, I cannot find any explanation for why the Social Security Administration did not count August, September, or October as being overpaid since both notices clearly said November 2016, contrary to the sworn statements.

 

An SSA caseworker called me on Friday, 17 February 2017 for a routine case review, and, during that call, I told him that I wanted to get a secured credit card, and I asked him if that was going to be an issue for them since the card would be giving me more money. The caseworker reassured me and said something to the effect of, ‘Credit cards are things you have to pay for, so we don’t really need to know about them.’ Based on that statement, I assumed that I did not need to pay my mother since I was then being obligated to pay my credit cards every month.

Note: prior to being notified on 26 April 2018 of the overpayment, no one from Social Security told me outright (either in phone or in writing) that I still had rental obligations, so my mother’s telling me to pay her could be regarded as Hearsay. It is my understanding that some government entities have a standard which articulates that there may be physical, mental, educational, linguistic, or other barriers for not knowing about a code of federal regulation, public law, etc., although one could reasonably argue that ignorance was no excuse. Still, if I had been living on my own, and if I were struggling to pay my rent because of all the medical stuff I was going through, I could have gotten assistance to ensure that I would continue to have a roof over my head. The problem is that I was not able to get this type of assistance because I do not have a formal lease with my mother. Still, I should have had every right to borrow money from her. In fact, this article from Social Security explains that a loan can take on the form of cash, food, or shelter. This is only true if I agree to pay it off at a later date, which I plan to do.
Instead, she told them that she was not charging me rent, but later, she is still demanding that I pay her when I cannot. Bottom line is that my mother had forgiven me to pay rent when she should have loaned that money during the time that I was paying all those bills.

 

I was able to close almost all my debt in early 2018, so, beginning in April, I withdrew two hundred dollars in cash, which came from a credit account, and I handed it to my mother. I was initially going to pay her three hundred dollars a month, as I had said on my 5 March 2018 interview with Social Security, but my mother told me that I did not have to pay her that much. I thought I could pay her back for the time I could not pay her by adding $100 to the $200, but I never ended up paying her the extra amount. I also paid my mother in May of 2018.

 

When I learned that my benefits were being threatened, I doubled my efforts to find ways to save money, get grants, etc. I even set up a mutual funds account with Edward Jones so I would have something to fall back on just in case. At the rate I was going, though, I could only deposit around twenty-five to fifty dollars a month at a time. My mutual funds officially opened in October. Then, as the evidence has shown, I called Money Management International, which is a debt management programme certified by the National FOUNDATION FOR Credit Counselling in July of 2018, and I asked whether I should consider filing bankruptcy, but the counsellor suggested that I begin a debt management plan instead. So, as of December 2019, I have successfully completed that plan and no longer have any debt obligations. As part of the agreement, all my accounts had to be closed, but they were able to lower the minimum payment as well, and it also came at a high price (which you’ll see more of below). I wouldn’t have been able to do this, save for some things I’ve sold in some garage sales last year, combined with the money I’ve saved in my mutual funds, and things I have pawned, I was able to pay off a large amount of debt in a short amount of time.

 

According to the judge’s order, a claimant is eligible to receive SSI, pursuant to 20 CFR. 116.1100, if access to income or other resources are limited. Income is counted on a per-month basis. The more income one has, the less one’s benefits will be. Pursuant to 20 CFR. 416.232, if an individual’s countable income and or resources do not exceed a certain limit, they will have no effect on the individual’s benefits. Later down the page, the judge cites several codes of federal regulations that further detail how income is counted, how it affects a person’s eligibility for SSI, and what is counted as income or resources.

The judge also articulated that in-kind income is counted even though it is not monetary. In-kind income is food or shelter, or something that can be used to meet one’s needs. However, 20 CFR. 416.1130 states that an individual is not receiving in-kind income if said individual is paying the amount equals the market value. The later codes, 20 CFR 416.1131 and 20 CFR 416.1140 explain how in-kind support and maintenance is calculated. This last part is what makes it entirely illogical, as I will outline below.

On pages three and four, the judge has concluded that, based on the hearing and evidence submitted, there was no reason to decide in my favour. The Social Security Administration determined that if I had been receiving help from my mother, then I was no longer eligible to receive the full amount, and that they would take that away from me.

However, upon new developments of the case, one of my former teachers of the visually impaired, who I’ve spoken to in October 2019, and who is not an attorney, although they had connections to attorneys because of their own legal issues, suggested that if an individual is not able to pay rent for any reason, then one must either borrow money from somebody else, or get evicted. ‘Since my mother did not evict me, it means that she is still expecting me to pay back the money that I owe. So, by willingly telling the Social Security Administration that I had not been paying rent, it meant that she made the situation worse for her because she is ultimately getting less money from me each month. Therefore, I think that if she have had legal representation, the attorney would’ve advised her not to sign whatever Social Security had sent her, but rather, instead sign a different sworn statement saying something like, I hereby certify that Deadname is on loan for the amount of $3,800 for the time period of August 2016 through March 2018, and there would’ve been a different outcome to the case. The Social Security Administration would have requested evidence of a loan or rental agreement and proof that I would indeed pay her back. The problem is that there are not many attorneys who are fluent in Spanish, and interpreters are not always available. In response to my complaint where I said that I felt like we had not made a strong enough argument, my attorney said that he could not have seen any way to win except perhaps by outright lying under oath.

When I told my attorney about my new argument, he said that it obviously put the judge’s decision in conflict with SSI benefits, but it made sense in the same way. The judge articulated that SSA cannot or should not impose a repayment plan that would undermine the intent of the system. They are only using this as an excuse to take back the money they are calling overpaid simply because of a sworn statement signed by my mother when she needs that money more than they do. Still, he agreed that although my case might as well be entirely hopeless, the decision made against me was still basically offensive to a larger sense of decency. For that reason alone, he invited me to submit a supplemental testimony, which did no good because it did not change the underlying facts of the case or raise any new issues of law. He said that he submitted my supplemental testimony electronically, but I got no notice of this, and it wasn’t included in the exhibits provided by the Appeals Council, so I had no way of knowing whether it was received or reviewed.

 

So, when I got the letter of adverse action from Social Security on 26 April 2018, I immediately faxed it to my LegalShield provider firm, which I have had since 2012, thanks to my former teacher. The attorney who was assigned to my file asked me why my mother would do such a thing. I told her that she was probably afraid of committing fraud. She then said this: Doesn’t she know how to be sophisticated? I did not know what the attorney meant by that, but there would be a time when I wish I knew. My mother, not knowing how much this would hurt me financially, was very intimidated by Social Security’s strict policies that she thought what she did was right. Therefore, I am not blaming her for what she did, but I hope that this will be a lesson that we can all learn from. My attorney could have taken a chance to make this a high profile or landmark case. It only takes one person to change the rules, and my mother could’ve just kept her mouth shut.

 

Thus, I am proposing to settle the debt with my mother by using forgivable loans or rental assistance grants, so that I can put this behind me and move on with my life. I am also actively working to reestablish my credit history after I closed all my accounts before legally changing my name. This has made it virtually impossible for me to get the needed loan or credit to pay back my mother right away because I lost almost two years of historical information that would’ve helped me attain a good loan offer, but I want to get the satisfaction of turning the tables on Social Security for subsequently making my life worse by providing them with the new evidence. I have spent a little over six months disputing with the credit bureaus (with help from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) to get them to migrate and merge my reports together. I might have to work with a loan officer or credit analyst. The good news is that I got approved for an unsecured credit card with a very low credit limit, so hopefully within a year, I’ll have proven myself to be creditworthy again to get the needed amount to pay back the rent.

Also, considering some historic events that started in early March, the world is currently experiencing a pandemic of the Corona Virus Disease of 2019 (COVID19.) This has consequently shifted the entire social, political, educational, economic, and any other imaginable landscape in a new direction. As such, local, state, and federal governments, and various nonprofit organisations, have started issuing stimulus packages and economic impact relief payments to eligible recipients while they continue to practise physical distancing and self-quarantine. Another thing my attorney said in his response to my complaint was that although he agreed that my case was grossly unfair given the extent of my disability, American society has always been grossly unfair, and he’s had several clients die while waiting for their hearings. For this reason, I feel that the novel corona virus is Karma’s way of punishing our society for bearing ill will towards its weakest members because the United States has always acted like a spoiled brat. Congress has even proposed a rent and mortgage forgiveness act, which I hope passes. This would make my and anyone else’s life easier during these trying times. Still, because my brother and I are adult dependents, we were not eligible to receive the stimulus cheque, so I called my senator’s office to talk to them about it.

If I were still a kid, or if my mother had legal custody of me as an adult, she would have every right to withhold any amount of money to take care of me, and I would have no control over it. If I had a job, or if my business was successful, and I was making lots of money, that’s another thing. But since neither is the case, I shouldn’t be forced to give up what little money I have and still try to make ends meet. And because I’m not paying utilities in addition to the rent, my SNAP benefits are below what most individuals living on Section Eight would get. My mother could have gotten a better job, gotten a degree, and have been able to provide me with the best things in life. In fact, there is a special needs trust which articulates that disabled people are entitled to have as much right (no more, no less) as anyone else, to experience life’s luxuries and basic needs for the purpose of maintaining good self-esteem. That’s why I look forward to the day when one or both of my parents retire so that my brother and I can get Disabled Adult Child Programme benefits. I will then invest in an ABLE (Achieve a Better Life Experience) or a IDA (individual development account).

Following the letter that I received from the Social Security Appeals Council’s denial of the case on Friday, 29 November 2019, I believe that my attorney was not able to submit my new argument in time. I also wonder how something so obvious was so easy for him to miss that he failed to see it. According to the complaint, he said that at the beginning of the consultation, he hesitated to take on my case because the chance of prevailing was virtually impossible to achieve. He only agreed to do it as a favour for the public good I.E. pro-bono. This is the main reason attorneys almost never take on overpayment cases because they almost never win.

 

In conclusion, I ask that the district judge require the Social Security Administration to return:

  1. The total amount collected for overpayment equalling approximately $1,196 as of December 2019.
  2. Redetermine the market value and return approximately $2,680.

These figures should amount to $3,876.

 

Given all the circumstances of my severe medical and financial hardship, and all the evidence in this case detailing those incidents, as well as how much time and energy I’ve spent to challenge the decision and the fact that we are now all in this together because of the pandemic, I am asking for the federal district court’s review of the administrative law judge’s decision, as well as the denial of the council’s review, so that my benefits can be restored to their original state, and that my mother is paid for the time that I should’ve been paying her. I also think my attorney deserves some compensation for his time, as well.

The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935 to prevent abject poverty, and, by continuing to steal money from me each month because of a mistake, the Social Security Administration is also stealing money from my mother, as well, so it would defeat that purpose. My attorney even said that ‘stealing money from a blind person because of a mistake’ was strong language, but he hoped that by saying that, it would have influenced whoever was reading my supplemental testimony.

Furthermore, it would be against equity and good conscience to continue withholding any amount of overpayment because I depend on my benefits for food, clothing, transportation, and other necessities. I know that it is their money, and that they technically have every right to withhold any amount that they feel is negotiable, but it is only because of what evidence they have. Therefore, I personally believe that my mother deserves the money more than Social Security does because it would have helped her with the bills and other things. I will eventually be filing a plan to achieve self-support, as well.

Regardless as to whether I can get this decision overturned, I may report to the media, especially to someone who works on matters of consumer advocacy based on advice my friend has given me, who is big on journalism concerning financial affairs and rights protection. I was forewarned by some people (who are not attorneys) that I could get in trouble for doing so, but I think not, because I will be exercising my first amendment right to freedom of speech and freedom of press, the freedom to assemble, and the right to petition congress, which I will no doubt do if I cannot get anywhere through the administrative or legal system. Also, I would technically not be libeling or slandering the Social Security Administration, for I would be presenting evidence that would err any of the opposition’s rebuttals. Their answer would have to be, ‘No comment.’ It will make them look bad in the media that it will hopefully lead to an internal review of their policies, and that is what I will need to win. Plus, I believe that there are some whistleblower laws enacted by Congress, which prevents any entities from retaliating against you for exposing them. I also believe that if I share my story with one person, and if that one person were credible, then most people would be more likely to listen to that one person because of their credibility. Another thing that might count against me is that because a lot of this was taking place before I legally changed my name, all the evidence is currently listed under my Deadname. As someone who has undergone several traumatic experiences, I want to have nothing to do with this name, in public or otherwise, but unfortunately, it cannot be changed because it would degrade the value of the evidence. So, before I allow the media to publish my story, I will make sure they address me by my correct name and pronouns, and also blot out any documents containing my old name and pronouns on my terms, not theirs. Likewise, I have asked the bar to refrain from publishing my complaint, or at least removing any references to my Deadname.

Despite others telling me to just let it go, I refuse to put it at rest until something is done about it. I personally feel this is a battle worth fighting for, even if it takes a lifetime to do it. Or I could just drop the ball for now and just pay my mother $300 and have SSA pay me the full amount minus the minimum sum needed to collect on the overpayment even though my mother would be the one losing the money. Then I will come back to it a year later when I have built up to the required amount in credit. It will sort of be like a form of psychological warfare. The good news is that there are no statutes of limitations, so I can take as much time as I need to accomplish this.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

CORONAVIRUS: Thirty-one Days of Solitary Confinement

Well, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. Considering the medical issues I’ve had in 2016, or maybe before that, I’ve gotten used to not going to lots of places. I usually got sick from various things because I went to school. But since I mostly worked from home and hardly interacted with people outside after I graduated, I didn’t get sick as often. I didn’t know much about immunity back then, so I was pretty surprised to find that I wasn’t getting sick as often. I usually got sick in between September through October, then December through February, and again from April through June. Some people were excellent at avoiding germs, and they’ve been able to get perfect attendance as a result. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them.
When I got sick in late 2016, though, I had to withdraw myself from society for a while and limit most of my outings except for my essential needs. That didn’t end until nearly two years later. I started going to mental health therapy beginning July 2017, and it ended one year later, in July of 2018. I had my house fitted with a central air conditioner attached to the furnace so I could get housewide relief because the year before, I could only get roomwide relief. When we got our new air conditioner, I sold the old one I got in 2015 on eBay along with a few other things. In late December, though, I got sick twice because I went out a lot, and then I got TMJ on my right side. It looked like 2019 was going to be a great year going forward, and for a while, it was. That’s how I was introduced to Catalyst, and because I was still in debt, I basically had to sell and pawn a lot of things, which I’ve been able to do thanks to NextDoor, as well as going to my local pawn shop. I also got set up with a mutual funds account with Edward Jones in May of 2018, so I used that to accumulate as much money as I could. Combined that with a few things I sold at a garage sale, I was finally able to close out all my debts in early November of that year. Unfortunately, because I closed my accounts, and because I legally changed my name, I consequently lost almost all my credit history that I’ve worked so hard to build.
I previously joined a gender-affirming choir in March of 2017, but when I wasn’t able to get them to accommodate my needs, I left. I tried again a year later, but the story was the same. When I met the current director at one of the Catalyst retreats in 2019, though, I told them about my frustrations in getting these accessibility measures put in place so that I could fully participate. They agreed to try again, and this time, it worked out well. So, when we held our winter term concert in January, almost all of us were oblivious that an epidemic was raging in most of China and a few other places.
I’ve stopped watching the news for a while, so I didn’t know anything about what was happening outside of my local area. It wasn’t until early March that I heard that Pope Francis had contracted Coronavirus, which was why he had to cancel an event, and from that day on, it quickly expanded at an alarming rate. Germs can multiply fifty million times faster than humans can reproduce.
I was in tenth grade when we had the swine flu outbreak of 2009, and I was taking classes at the local training centre for the blind during the Ebola Virus epidemic of Africa. The world previously encountered a Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, and at the time, there were only about one billion five hundred million humans roaming the planet. Almost nobody was immune to that particular strain of the virus. Whenever a new germ emerges, it is usually called a novel germ. With the #COVID19 (pronounced coh-vid) outbreak, we are seeing a repeat of what happened back then, but not with the last pandemic of 2009. Why? I’ve wondered that too, and for a while I didn’t find the answer. But through a lot of poking around on the web, as well as using what I’ve gathered in the past, I’ve concluded that the reason we continued going to school and leading a normal life was because although the Swine Flu was slightly different from the Spanish Flu in the sense of there being more than one strain of the flu, there were enough people who already built up tolerance to it. If a traveller had just arrived from a country that is ravaged by MMR or MMRV, they might infect children who have not yet been vaccinated. But fortunately, there will not be an outbreak because the majority of the people living there will have immunity to it. That is what community or herd immunity is. This is a good thing because certain people are not eligible for vaccines, but they will still get some protection when the pathogen is contained. I wonder if people who led a hermit lifestyle could avoid getting sick altogether. Then of course, you wouldn’t be immune to anything if you had to stop leading that lifestyle. We have to protect those who have compromised immune systems. This is how diseases are almost entirely eliminated or eradicated, although not completely wiped out. The chain reaction largely depends on the speed of transmission, which is based on how contageous it is. The more frequent, the more vaccines are needed. We can use formulas and models to predict the vaccination proportion within a given population. So, what makes it a lot more stealthier than some of the other viruses? Well, it’s the incubation period. That means that if you were around somebody that had it and who coughed or sneezed frequently, and you inhaled those viral particles into your body, then those particles will immediately start looking for a cell that will allow it to proliferate rapidly. In other words, infect it. That process can take a while in which time the person who has it is completely unaware that they have it, so when they cough or sneeze, they can spread the virus and not know it. When the virus has infected enough cels, the immune system will immediately see that something is wrong, so it will quickly launch an attack to destroy the virus. After the person recovers from it, they would’ve developed enough antibodies to fight off future exposure. So, why are certain viruses like HIV not transmissible like the flu, and why are there no vaccines for it? And why can our pets not get common colds, but they can get the flu from us? Usually, the immune system is strong enough to attack viruses and bacteria. HIV is one of those viruses that attacks the immune system itself, so it makes it weaker, which makes the virus stronger. The virus doesn’t infect cells in the respiratory tract, so it cannot be transmitted through airborne pathogens. It can be transmitted through internal body fluids, though, which is why there is a lot of stigma about who is likely to get it and why. But this stigma is usually based on ignorance and stupidity. Stigma occurs when people, because of fear of disease and death, lack of knowledge about how germs spread, a need to blame another human being, and general overall gossip that spread rumours and myth, people end up spreading misinformation. This leads to discrimination towards an identifiable group of people, place, or nation. To combat this, many social media apps are previewing or flagging your posts for deletion to ensure that you are using the correct terms (COVID19 and Coronavirus), and that you are always referencing the World Health Organisation and your country’s health authority’s guidance, and that you are also linking a source to back up your claims.
An example of how viruses cannot become a transmission vector between species is Feline Leukaemia, which is not to be confused with human leukaemia. Those viruses need a special cell or genetic material that is only found in cats. Since humans don’t have those cells, the virus is harmless to us. Likewise, our pets cannot get the common cold, which is actually a type of corona virus. So, it’s possible that if you do get infected, you might get a feeling of malaise. I actually think I got infected, but the symptoms were so mild that it went away in four days. Anyhow, if we got the H1M1 Influenza virus, we can transmit it to our pets, and they can become infected.
It is believed that viruses originate from three possible mechanisms such as

  • Genetic elements joining together, gaining ability to move between cells
  • Previously free-living paracytic organisms, or
  • A precursor to life as we know it.
  • Because of how quickly livestock (and maybe even deadstock) is evolving, it’s very likely that new strains of viruses will develop as well, so the chance of another novel pandemic might increase unless strategic measures are set in place.
    Everyone in the scientific and medical communities are scrambling to come up with several prototypes to combat the novel disease, and one of them involves using plasma from recovered blood donors. The idea is that if we can infuse antibodies into people who are already fighting the virus, those antibodies will bind to the person’s immune system and help them fight it more quickly. It could also help those who have never been exposed to it. Still, this is only a stopgap until a better solution is found since people are apt to get sick a second time despite it being an interim measure. This area of testing is called serology, but it is only effective after somebody has fully recovered from the virus. Correction: it doesn’t test for who has already recovered from the virus. It tests for who is at risk for contracting it.
    This brings us to the next question. I hope we will soon develop vaccines that you can inhale directly for those who are afraid of needles. I certainly do not like the idea of having a long, thin swab shoved through your nose almost to the back of your throat to test for COVID19 while you are awake. Why is that the only way to test it? Isn’t there another way? If the virus is easily aerosolised when someone coughs, sneezes, talks, sings, etc, then it would be simple to have someone do that in a special test tube and then let it sit in a special reagent to preserve its structure until it could be sent to a biotechnology lab to be multiplied into long strands.
    I once said on my Facebook post that I thought the recent bans on public gatherings and closing of non-essential businesses was a conspiracy to cover up something huge, like preventing voters from going to the primaries and caucuses, or to stop the presidential debates from occurring, leading up to the election. It would make a clear path for Trump to win again. In fact, there’s only one democrat left. Some people told me that it was because if we let everyone become infected, we would quickly overwhelm the limited supply of medical resources in a short amount of time. Still, I didn’t know why people were panicking over a small virus that wasn’t supposed to cause severe enough symptoms anyway. I mean, if it were a virus that could kill you, like HIV, and if it were a mutant form of HIV that could be transmitted through airborne pathogens, or if it were a virus that changed our behaviour or thought processes, or something more drastic, then I’d be worried. But none of that was happening. Still, all this panic has caused people to hoard all of their essential needs that I came up with a possible solution to criminalise hoarding. We would need a state or federal anti-hoarding order of essential goods and permit drug and law enforcement personnel (wearing personal protective equipment) to check to see who is hoarding these things and then launch a raid to confiscate all but the number of needed items proportional to the number of people living in the household. These confiscated items would go to people who are not genuinely hoarding these items to give them needed access. This might scare people even more, but during a time of crisis, every possible avenue has to be explored for the good of humanity, and you’ll see this phrase again. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Some people are randomly being selected to be tested. Right now, it is voluntary, but no one knows if that will stay for long.
    But a few years ago, I read about how people went to the bathroom in other countries. They don’t use toilets. Or at least, not the kinds we are used to. They use squat toilets which are supposed to be better for you. They also don’t use toilet paper. They either use a bidet or hand-wipe with water. The Western world has developed a yuck factor to poop at a young age that we grow up taking our toilet paper for granted. People also found that using bidets were totally disgusting because it was commonly associated with sexual acts and fancy mansions. So, I got creative and started using a plant waterer with a long spout, which I will keep using until my Tushy toilet attachment arrives, which, according to Amazon, won’t be for another two months. All the personal protective equipment and other medical supplies are backordered because those on the front line need it the most right now. Google and a few other places have started making parodies of well-known kids’ songs with the emphasis of washing your hands.
    All this led to another discovery, although I’ve known about this from having watched some of George Carlin’s speeches on our preparedness to war compared to other worst case scenarios of mass human destruction. Personally, if we confronted pandemics the same way we confronted terorists, our healthcare system would be in much better shape. Other countries seem to have far greater successes. So, why not we? What is it about us that supposedly makes us the most arrogant, yet the most vulnerable, nation in the world? Is it about time that we are seeing a viral apocalypse here? Lots of people in popular culture believed that zombies would take over one day, but that didn’t happen. Instead, this happened, and almost nobody was prepared for it. This is not science fiction anymore. This is real. Yes, a lot of sci-fi writers have anticipated scenarios like this for years, but almost nobody thought it would really happen. COVID19 shows just how weak we really are when it comes to biowarfare. People said, Oh well, these things come and go, but we’ll do something to prepare ourselves for the next one. Instead of that happening, we quickly forget our promises until we get a wake-up call one day. I also despise all those people who have the attitude of ignoring other people’s aches and pains because of an assumption that they want to get out of playing a sport, rehearsing, or working in general. So, what better way than to use a major pandemic like this one as a stabbing point to force people’s attitudes to change? Although I wish anyone no harm, I personally felt that nobody really understood how I felt when I got home from Arizona because of the heat, and now we’re all in this together. So, What goes around comes around. The number of telehealth appointments has increased tremendously. Something that doctors had always scrutinised is now being favoured. Although I don’t know if this is a contributing factor, I read that some of the countries that had better success rates were primarily led by females. And, unless a miracle were to happen, I don’t see the United States electing a female, minority, or underserved president anytime soon and for a very long time.
    Other countries have invented several models for contact tracing and testing through existing technology. Still, a lot of people here are paranoid about the government encroaching on our privacy, especially because they fear power-hungry governments and data-hungry corporations; they might as well be friends. That’s why so many laws and policies are geared towards them and not us. Anybody can form a corporation, but it takes a lot of selflessness and willpower to be truly alltruistic. Contact tracing should help bring things to normalcy, but in the meantime, think of your quarantine as a prison sentence. I know we didn’t deserved to be punished, but prisoners get used to this all the time because they truly deserved it, unless of course they were wrongly convicted because of a frame-up. A quarantine is usually supposed to last for forty days, which is how it got its name, but this is definitely going to be a lot longer than that. We need to be in an indefinite and continued state of emergency until a reliable vaccine has been developed and widely distributed. Just like how we’re worried about an economic recession, we should be worried about a social recession, as well. So, the next time you go out in public, you may be required to submit some personal information for contact tracing purposes, and they might also require you to wear a mask until you had left their premises. In fact, almost every state is now requiring everyone, unless they are exempt for medical or ADA reasons, to wear masks in any indoor or outdoor space, especially if they cannot keep six feet away from each other.
    If we want to ultimately save the human race from extinction, we need to make some sacrifices for the good of humanity. The Atlantic outlined three possible scenarios. One that is very unlikely, one that is very dangerous, and one that is very long. We did the first one with the SARS CoV1 in 2003, and I hardly remember that one, for I was but eight years of age. Now you know how old I am. The second one was what people had to do with the flu in 1918 and 2009. We simply let it consume lives until there were enough survivors to start a new population. The third one is probably our best option, but it will also be the longest. It would require us to sit here and play wack a mole with the virus while we work together to make a vaccine and antiviral drugs to fight the virus and continue ramping up and slacking down on social distancing requirements. Soon, the virus will be like the flu, and we can start over once more until the next novel pandemic comes along.
    Now, more than ever, people are turning to on-line businesses and working from home. Choirs, bands, orchestras, and other ensembles are using digital audio workstations to mix music recordings to make virtual concerts. In fact, GALA Choruses is compiling a list of tools and procedures to teach choir directors how to put something like this together. Music and art are such an important cultural value the world doesn’t want to lose, so the industry is most likely going to see a huge surge for both music and technology after we recover from this pandemic. In fact, I am considering compiling some courses to be sold by companies like CommTech USA or I See Music.
    This would probably teach technophobes (like my Spanish-speaking mother) a lesson about not letting their insecurities get in the way if it meant making a decision between life and death. More people are signing up to become amateur radio operators, which are essential during a time of any crisis. In fact, a group of hams built an emergency ventilator that is expected to exceed FDA specifications. Ham radio volunteer examiners are now administering tests remotely.
    Earlier this year, I predicted that the 2020’s would see a lot of changes to the healthcare and technology industry, but I never thought a pandemic would be the catalyst to cause such a change. The Corona Virus Disease of 2019 will go down in history as being the virus that shifted the entire social, educational, political, economic, and any other landscape imaginable. So, in the future, if you meet somebody named Covid or Lockdown, don’t be surprised. Many parents name their children after historical events, which is a way to keep track of when they happened if technology is not available. These kids of generation C will probably grow up to become epidemiologists, and hopefully that will become our new foreign policy. These attitudes doctors and nurses have about not believing patients who have rare medical conditions need to change, and hopefully COVID19 will change that. It’s easy for people to dismiss rare disease research with a simple gesture because it is not important in the current moment. Oh, well, if it isn’t happening to everyone, then there’s no need for us to waste our time when there are bigger problems to deal with. People need to practise more participatory medicine and only see the doctor if they absolutely need to, at least until the day comes when everybody has equal access to healthcare. That won’t come unless we all pay higher taxes, the rich included, and if we know how best to allocate those taxes accordingly. We thought we got rid of all of the viruses, but I guess not, for now we have to fight this one. Something that is considered rare can suddenly become common in a mere eyeblink. That’s why we need more basic research instead of dedicated research for things like trying to cure diabetes. If we funded more basic research, there’s a far greater chance that we can cure more than just that one disease. Some religious believers feel that the universe wanted to teach this world a lesson for not getting along with one another, and I believe it. As cruel, nasty, unmersiful, and coldhearted as this world is, it is a shame that it took a novel virus to get us to think twice about reassessing what it meant to be interdependent, compassionate, and providing mutual aid for those who are truly and honestly unfortunate, marginalised, or who are otherwise struggling to survive when they should be given a chance at life to really show off their talents to the world. Showing such things is evidently considered a sign of weakness. Our society simply sits and waits until disaster strikes. Then we spend a lot of time and energy scrambling to calm down the public when we should’ve done that a long time ago. A lot of people also emphasise the need for self-care, but hardly anybody focuses on community support. And now, we pretty much don’t have a choice. We need to start using science rather than law and politics to fight the virus. When our stress level increases, our ability to maintain standards decrease. Adversity can either bring out the best in us, or it can bring out the worst. But it is all based on your schemas and how you view the world.
    Some people in the DeafBlind community fear that they are not worthy of being treated if they got sick. These two articles, here and here, addresses the issues that social distancing has caused, but they haven’t advocated for potential solutions to address these problems. I thought about using a six-foot-long tether to trail behind my mother or a stranger when out and about. This was how I ran track events during high school with a sighted hearing athlete, although the tether was only two feet long. I later learnt that people from the same household don’t have to be socially distant. It’s only people from other households who have to do this. The other thing that needs to be addressed is identify why our healthcare system is currently being seen as a privilege rather than a right, as is the case in other countries like Canada. As I had said above and in my open letter to friends and family who are shocked to discover I’m a liberal, I believe that the way our taxes are currently allocated are making it such that healthcare is at the bottom when it should be at the top. Obviously, we are seeing first hand how bad the repercussions can be as a result of that. In just a little over a hundred years, this pandemic has changed everything we previously took for granted.
    Although we are alone and separate, we are still together thanks to how much technology has enabled us to communicate with one another. Our new anthem should probably be Separately Together.
    Stay safe, and stay healthy!

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.

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