HypnospacePsychonaut: Lucas I need to ask you something weird
HypnospacePsychonaut: Lucas have you ever considered whether you might be
HypnospacePsychonaut: Hope you liked meeting the Cule! Everyone thought you were rad. Say, do you think
HypnospacePsychonaut: Have you ever felt that
HypnospacePsychonaut: Lucas, this isn't gonna be easy to hear so I'm just gonna come straight out with it: I think you're experiencing
HypnospacePsychonaut: fuck it lucas you have dysphoria lol :C
Why was this so godsdamned hard?!
How could she bring it up in a way that didn't feel like she was diagnosing him somehow, like she was forcing an explanation for his misery on him that he hadn't asked for. What if it made him feel worse? What if she accidentally "transed" someone who wasn't trans, like all the fucking idiot TERFs were screaming about? How did she have the right to tell Lucas anything about himself when she'd witnessed it all with no permission from him?
AlternianDidact: Myrrah, what does dysphoria feel like?
HypnospacePsychonaut: Lucas I literally cannot express how glad I am that you asked me this questionHypnospacePsychonaut: Because I was like, really struggling over how to bring up the subject of dysphoriaAlternianDidact: Art imitates life, I suppose.AlternianDidact: Wait, is that the correct metaphor? "Speak of the devil" doesn't feel appropriate in this context.HypnospacePsychonaut: I didn't want you to feel like I was forcing a diagnosis on youAlternianDidact: Myrrah stop fucking pre-apologising for shit you haven't even done or said yet, we've got more than enough of that with me.AlternianDidact: Sorry.AlternianDidact: Sorry.AlternianDidact: I didn't mean to snap.HypnospacePsychonaut: Lucas you are fine and thank you for setting me straight (only time I'll ever be LMAO)HypnospacePsychonaut: Now stop apologising for speaking your mind :PHypnospacePsychonaut: So you wanna talk dysphoria, huhAlternianDidact: Yes. I need to know.
Myrrah took a very long, deep breath, closed her eyes, and exhaled.
HypnospacePsychonaut: Okay like I'm not usually a fan of summing incredibly complex things up into neat little statements
HypnospacePsychonaut: But what if you could look in the mirror and get an incorrect answer
She thought for a moment about how to explain that further.
HypnospacePsychonaut: straight up you look at your reflection and you're like "nah that can't be right"HypnospacePsychonaut: who the fuck is that i seeHypnospacePsychonaut: humans are quite distinct from other creatures in that almost universally we learn to identify ourself in mirrors from an early ageHypnospacePsychonaut: only like certain birds, dolphins, whales, elephants and certain higher primates can do thatHypnospacePsychonaut: (and MAYBE cats and dogs but the research is inconclusive)HypnospacePsychonaut: it is kind of a warning sign when you look into a mirror, understand that it is a mirror, but do not fully recognise what you seeHypnospacePsychonaut: do you obsess over a feature of your appearance?
Lucas closed his eyes. Grey shadow.
AlternianDidact: The grey shadow underneath the skin on my face. No matter how hard I shave it doesn't go away.HypnospacePsychonaut: Hmmm yeah that's because you have dark hair and pale skin, so the hairs are partially subdermalAlternianDidact: It won't ever go away. I can't get rid of it, no matter how hard I try.HypnospacePsychonaut: You realise you can get laser for that rightAlternianDidact: What?HypnospacePsychonaut: Laser hair removal. Like that will not only get rid of the shadow, it'll kill the hair follicles so your beard won't grow anymoreHypnospacePsychonaut: It's like one of the most common procedures trans women get because you don't need a prescription or medical approval
Fuck, fuck, fuck, wait, that felt like she was hinting too hard. Divert course!
HypnospacePsychonaut: Heck it's one of the most common cosmetic procedures cis women get too!AlternianDidact: Cis women get facial hair?HypnospacePsychonaut: lmao it's 99% the reason the treatment even exists, they sure wouldn't invent it just for us transes or the twinky boysHypnospacePsychonaut: Tons of older cis women get it during menopauseHypnospacePsychonaut: But like even supermodels in their 20s get the whiskers sometimes, hormones are a minefieldHypnospacePsychonaut: Literally every transfemme in the cule has had it done - me, Val, Katie, Jessie. Heck, Riley's not even transfemme and they had their face lasered when they started T cause they didn't like how the beard feltHypnospacePsychonaut: Riley's such a twink lmfaoHypnospacePsychonaut: But yeah like the grey shadow is not something you have to live with, you can literally destroy it with lasers
There was a long pause before Lucas' answer arrived.
AlternianDidact: And that'll make this... misery stop?HypnospacePsychonaut: are you only miserable because you have a beard shadow?HypnospacePsychonaut: You're asking about dysphoria and that usually goes a little bit deeper than a single cosmetic featureAlternianDidact: Do you think I'm trans?
Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck. This was happening way, way quicker than she'd prepared for. She had to say something reserved, moderate, uncontroversial.
HypnospacePsychonaut: when you first looked at my pictures, you had immediate intrusive thoughts about "chaser shit"HypnospacePsychonaut: why was that?
She slapped her head so hard it echoed off the walls of her bedroom. Myrrah, you stupid piece of shit, how is that in any way reserved, moderate and uncontroversial?!
AlternianDidact: Because I'veAlternianDidact is typing......AlternianDidact is typing...AlternianDidact: Because I've looked at pictures of trans women before.HypnospacePsychonaut: And that makes you a chaser how?
Lucas hung his head.
AlternianDidact: Because I was sexually objectifying them.
Myrrah raised an eyebrow, not that anyone else could see it.
HypnospacePsychonaut: Uh were you thoughHypnospacePsychonaut: Were you ACTUALLY thoughHypnospacePsychonaut: Were you going into our DMs and saying "hey shemale whore gimme some of that tranny dick"AlternianDidact: Christ, of course not!HypnospacePsychonaut: Were you obsessively replying to every single picture of us about how much you wanted to fuck usAlternianDidact: No!HypnospacePsychonaut: Lmao then I fail to see how you are in any way a chaser LucasHypnospacePsychonaut: Look trans women have this unfortunate habit of getting fired from our jobs due to shitty transphobes and then not getting hired again because of shitty transphobesHypnospacePsychonaut: Which means a lot of us have to turn to sex work because the one thing that trans women will never be short of is people who want to jack off to usHypnospacePsychonaut: And there are a huge number of issues with sex work! Don't get me wrong!HypnospacePsychonaut: But you are NOT a chaser just because you find trans women attractive Lucas, you are simply correctHypnospacePsychonaut: We're hot as fuck lolHypnospacePsychonaut: I don't even need to ask if you know that there's a person with real thoughts and feelings behind those picturesHypnospacePsychonaut: I know you doHypnospacePsychonaut: Being a chaser (or sexually objectifying in general) requires a total lack of respect for trans people as people
Lucas grunted irritably, not wanting to talk about this subject anymore.
AlternianDidact: You still haven't answered my question. Do you think I'm trans?HypnospacePsychonaut: I don't think I can answer thatAlternianDidact: Oh bullshit. You've seen inside my head. You're trans, you know what it feels like.HypnospacePsychonaut: Lucas, noHypnospacePsychonaut: I know what being trans felt and feels like FOR MEHypnospacePsychonaut: Even having seen your memories I met you three weeks ago and changeHypnospacePsychonaut: Even having seen your life story I cannot know you anywhere near as well as you know yourselfHypnospacePsychonaut: I can only hint at the answerAlternianDidact: Then start hinting.
Myrrah raised an eyebrow, grumbling to herself. "Right, yeah, okay, this is how he's talking now."
HypnospacePsychonaut: Getting mighty fucking terse there Lucas but I understand you're stressed so I forgive youHypnospacePsychonaut: Let's put it in the easiest possible terms, the question every trans girl gives to every potential eggHypnospacePsychonaut: I put a magic button in front of youHypnospacePsychonaut: This button, if you press it, turns you into a woman instantlyHypnospacePsychonaut: Absolute transformation, down to the chromosomes, down to what's between your legs, your bones, voice, facial structure, the whole smackHypnospacePsychonaut: And all of your friends and family accept you so automatically, so much as if this was who you always were, they don't even noticeHypnospacePsychonaut: And you can press it again whenever you want and go back to who you are now, no harm no foul, nobody will even noticeHypnospacePsychonaut: Do you press the button?AlternianDidact: Yes.HypnospacePsychonaut: Hmmmmmmmmm pretty much no hestitation there 😉AlternianDidact: Well, you said it yourself. There's no consequences. Why wouldn't I see what it's like?HypnospacePsychonaut: Okay but you understand that even simply by doing that, you are admitting you'd want to see what being a girl is like
Wait, goddamnit, he'd been tricked! She'd turned it all around on him.
AlternianDidact: Curiosity is a natural human instinct!HypnospacePsychonaut: Lucas it feels like you're busy inventing elaborate excuses as to why your specific brand of "hmmm wanna try being a girl" is not transnessHypnospacePsychonaut: Which ~HINTS~ at somethingHypnospacePsychonaut: But okay, let's say the button can't change your chromosomes and I'm sorry, you can have a working vag but you'll never get pregnantHypnospacePsychonaut: Everything else you get, and you can still change back instantly if you wantHypnospacePsychonaut: Still pressing the button?AlternianDidact: Yes, probably.HypnospacePsychonaut: You're not worried that you wouldn't be a "real" enough woman to sate your curiosity?AlternianDidact: I don't particularly want to get pregnant, and anyway, lots of "real" women can't get pregnant.HypnospacePsychonaut: Okay, so the button can't change your voice either. Still press it?AlternianDidact: Maybe.HypnospacePsychonaut: Okay, the button can't change your genitals at all. Voice, face, tits and skin you still get, but the junk is still what you have now. Still press it?AlternianDidact: I think so?HypnospacePsychonaut: Aha! So "having a dick" is not a dealbreaker to "being a woman"AlternianDidact: Well you're a woman and you have a dick.
Myrrah snapped her fingers, held out her hands, and shimmied a little. She immediately felt ridiculous, given that there was no-one else in the room to witness her victory dance.
HypnospacePsychonaut: I am very pleased to see you're so open-minded about gender identity!HypnospacePsychonaut: so despite my manly-ass john cena jaw and being tall as fuck and having a dick and my voice kinda not passing because voice training's so fucking hard lolHypnospacePsychonaut: I am a woman?AlternianDidact: Of course.HypnospacePsychonaut: Ah so what is a woman?AlternianDidact: I don't know.HypnospacePsychonaut: No no no that's not a good enough answerHypnospacePsychonaut: I have XY chromosomes and a dick and a square jaw and TMI warning I had to shove pills up my ass to get decent tits but I'm still a womanHypnospacePsychonaut: So what defines me as a woman?AlternianDidact: Because that's how you choose to define yourself.HypnospacePsychonaut: So could you define yourself as a woman?AlternianDidact is typing......AlternianDidact is typing...AlternianDidact: No.HypnospacePsychonaut: LdflskkldlfkdsskldflksdflkdfKL AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Myrrah quite literally slammed her face against the desk. This dense motherfucker!
HypnospacePsychonaut: WHY NOTAlternianDidact: Because there's no way I could make it work!HypnospacePsychonaut: Lmao Lucas nearly every trans girl says that about herselfHypnospacePsychonaut: What makes you so uniquely fucking manly you think estrogen and laser hair removal can't touchHypnospacePsychonaut: Fuck I can trust you with thisHypnospacePsychonaut sent a file: the_darkest_and_dorkest_of_days.pngHypnospacePsychonaut: Doesn't exactly look like a fucking supermodel does he
The photograph depicted a young man with greasy, short-cropped brown hair, barely an adult from the looks of things. He had a sullen expression that he seemed to have forced into a facsimile of a smile, one that most certainly didn't reach his eyes. He dressed in dark, very baggy clothes that hung off his body, making it difficult to determine anything about his build. Lucas remembered doing that. He looked like a total stranger.
AlternianDidact: That's you?HypnospacePsychonaut: Yeah that's meHypnospacePsychonaut: 2010 was a dark fucking year my dude, I had not yet accepted nu metal was never coming backAlternianDidact: That can't be you.HypnospacePsychonaut: Don't look at the hair or the skin or the band shirt that was tragically irrelevant even at the timeHypnospacePsychonaut: Look at the jaw, look at the eyes, look at the nose
She was right: here was the strong line of Myrrah's jaw. Without the septum piercing it looked a little different, but that nose was unmistakeable. And those eyes. He'd know those green eyes anywhere.
AlternianDidact: Holy shit.HypnospacePsychonaut: Look at this fuck-up, he's never gonna make it, he'll never look like a girlHypnospacePsychonaut: Except guess who he turned intoHypnospacePsychonaut: I hate this photo but I also love itHypnospacePsychonaut: I hate to imagine I ever looked that way and was that miserable but I also feel so much love for it because I know what's ahead of himHypnospacePsychonaut: And I can use it to prove to other people like him that radical change is possible
Lucas immediately reached for an excuse.
AlternianDidact: But that's different. You were, what? 2010, you must've been in your early twenties. I'm 31.HypnospacePsychonaut: Do you think Katie looks like a girl? That she "passes?"AlternianDidact: Of course, I wouldn't even have known she was trans if she hadn't told me.HypnospacePsychonaut: She only started transitioning 2 years agoHypnospacePsychonaut: And she's a year older than youHypnospacePsychonaut: And she said some of the same things to me that you are now
Lucas immediately reached for a diversion.
AlternianDidact: You STILL haven't answered my question.HypnospacePsychonaut: Do I think you're trans? I'm not answering it because I don't think the answer will help youAlternianDidact: Tell me.HypnospacePsychonaut: OkayHypnospacePsychonaut: In as much as there are patterns of behavior that I have seen in other people who came out as transHypnospacePsychonaut: You match those patterns very closelyAlternianDidact: Then what's wrong with me?HypnospacePsychonaut: What do you mean, what's wrong with you?AlternianDidact: Why don't I feel trans? Why can't I admit it to myself?AlternianDidact: If I'm trans, why do I keep finding excuses not to be?
Myrrah sighed, and launched into an essay she'd given a dozen times on Tumult.
HypnospacePsychonaut: Okay this is gonna sound like a BUCK WILD tangent but I promise it's relevantHypnospacePsychonaut: You said the Matrix was one of your favourite filmsHypnospacePsychonaut: You know Morpheus says that as a general rule they don't pull people out of the Matrix as adultsHypnospacePsychonaut: Because they can't cope with the shock, they've become dependent on the manufactured reality to make sense of existenceHypnospacePsychonaut: Well the Matrix is actually a giant trans metaphor and the Wachowskis literally said soHypnospacePsychonaut: But like it's also a metaphor for any insidious oppressive systemHypnospacePsychonaut: Propagandized false consciousnesses are specifically designed to create dependencyHypnospacePsychonaut: Gender is basically such a bedrock foundational aspect of how we perceive the universe that we don't even realize itHypnospacePsychonaut: You can't see yourself as anything other than a boy or a man because you have been told your entire life that's what you are by EVERYTHINGHypnospacePsychonaut: The clothes you wore, the toys you played with, the books you read, the classes you took at school, your parents, your friends, EVERYTHINGHypnospacePsychonaut: If that cornerstone of your identity falls apart what's left? What else did they lie to you about?
She gave a glance upwards to the anarchosocialist flag hanging on her bedroom wall. Basically everything, really, but let's get to that one later.
HypnospacePsychonaut: Gender's not a fundamental fact of the universe it's a classification system we use based on a bunch of arbitrary shitHypnospacePsychonaut: Bird chromosomes don't work the same way human chromosomes doHypnospacePsychonaut: In the 18th century the height of manliness was to wear a ton of makeup, powdered wigs, tights and high heelsHypnospacePsychonaut: Indigenous societies had words for genders that literally couldn't be translated into English, there was no even remotely matching wordHypnospacePsychonaut: Do people think that if we found alien life out there in the galaxy, that had evolved on a completely different planet, under completely different conditions, that it would perfectly reproduce the same specific sexual dimorphism we see in humans?HypnospacePsychonaut: Shit that doesn't even happen ON OUR OWN PLANETHypnospacePsychonaut: Bee sexes are basically "does work, lays eggs" "does no work, lays special eggs" and "does no work, does not lay eggs, fucks all day"HypnospacePsychonaut: We force them into "male and female" because of extremely rough resemblance to human social rolesHypnospacePsychonaut: it's kind of on the nose that "does no work, does not lay eggs, fucks all day" is "the male"HypnospacePsychonaut: Sorry bro, you were born a drone, you are condemned to servitude in the Royal Manslut Harem for lifeHypnospacePsychonaut: But this is all just stuff we observed and decided to call male or female based on our own standardsHypnospacePsychonaut: You think a crow cares about human definitions of gender? Lmao no it's gonna go caw caw and steal your french fries like a boss
Lucas felt a little bit more nausea welling up inside of him as each line appeared on his screen.
HypnospacePsychonaut: Once you realise that it's basically a fucking scam everything falls apartHypnospacePsychonaut: Like if you can just decide to be a woman what makes "woman" meaningful anymore?HypnospacePsychonaut: And what made your previous identity as "man" meaningful?HypnospacePsychonaut: When people with vaginas can be men what does it mean to be gay?HypnospacePsychonaut: There are answers to these questions but not easy or quick onesHypnospacePsychonaut: A world with rules, even BULLSHIT rules, is less scary than a world without themHypnospacePsychonaut: Or suddenly EVERYTHING is arbitraryHypnospacePsychonaut: Why do new years start on January 1st? We decided they do, except the US financial system disagrees, because a fiscal year begins on October 1stHypnospacePsychonaut: What is money actually? Do nations actually exist? Why does a day have 24 hours?HypnospacePsychonaut: Your brain has been conditioned to think these immutable truths, and when you try to pull out one of the biggest ones, it rebels against you
It hurt, not being able to just hug the poor boy.
HypnospacePsychonaut: and like, the simple truth is, LucasHypnospacePsychonaut: Transphobes act like you being able to decide you're a girl will bring about the death of societyHypnospacePsychonaut: And they want you to believe the same so that you're too scared to ever do itHypnospacePsychonaut: But in the kindest possible wayHypnospacePsychonaut: you're not actually that importantHypnospacePsychonaut: Accepting yourself as trans will not affect the world, it will keep on keeping on just as it always didHypnospacePsychonaut: What it will affect is YOUR life, YOUR happiness
Lucas waited almost ten minutes before replying. Myrrah was starting to worry he'd just run off entirely when the answer came.
AlternianDidact: Then even knowing all of that, why can't I just say to myself "I'm trans?"HypnospacePsychonaut: Because it would obligate you to do something about it.HypnospacePsychonaut: So long as you can just be dysphoric and miserable and suspect but never actually acknowledge why, you have plausible deniabilityHypnospacePsychonaut: When you just hear a distant cry you can tell yourself "hmmm well that could just be a bird" and you can walk quickly in the other directionHypnospacePsychonaut: But once you hear "help, help, somebody help" you're making a decision to continue ignoring it, you're being asked a moral questionHypnospacePsychonaut: Not doing anything about the problem becomes an active choice rather than a passive act of ignoranceHypnospacePsychonaut: And I know that you are not the kind of person who would allow yourself to commit injustice
There was another long pause, and when Lucas finally answered, it wasn't with words Myrrah wanted to see.
AlternianDidact: Hypnotise me.AlternianDidact: You do hypnosis, right?
Her response was immediate and visceral.
HypnospacePsychonaut: No.HypnospacePsychonaut: Whatever you're about to ask, don'tHypnospacePsychonaut: Because I will notAlternianDidact: Hypnotise me. Make me stop having this hesitation.AlternianDidact: I've spent 31 years trying and failing to know myself.HypnospacePsychonaut: What, and you want someone else to do the final work for you?
Myrrah's hands shook as she typed.
HypnospacePsychonaut: Lucas, I promise, cross my heart and hope to fucking die, that if YOU work out that you're trans, I will do WHATEVER I can for youHypnospacePsychonaut: I will find some way to get you hormones quicker than 5 years on the shitty British trans healthcare systemHypnospacePsychonaut: I will find trans people in your area to help you with anything you need help withHypnospacePsychonaut: And if you ask for it I WILL hypnotise you to deal with your dysphoria in the meantimeHypnospacePsychonaut: I will move heaven and earth to help youHypnospacePsychonaut: But I will not, CANNOT go into your thoughts and drag the answer out of you, because it will not be your answerHypnospacePsychonaut: It will be the answer you think impresses me, or pleases me, or that you can tell yourself that I forced on youHypnospacePsychonaut: I have an ironclad rule and I have never broken it, I do NOT hypnotise people to help them discover their genderHypnospacePsychonaut: This is the ONE thing I cannot help you withHypnospacePsychonaut: I cannot tell you the answer even if I think I already know itHypnospacePsychonaut: You have to decide for yourselfHypnospacePsychonaut: I refuse to take your personal identity into my hands and decide that I know better than you who you areHypnospacePsychonaut: This isn't a kink, this isn't a fetish, this isn't some fun roleplay, this is your innermost soulHypnospacePsychonaut: I am willing to decide, with someone's consent, what they wear, how they act, who they fuck and how they feel about all of that, that is fun kink headspace stuffHypnospacePsychonaut: I am ABSOLUTELY NOT willing to decide who they are and who they should be, that is too big a responsibility for anyone else to be entrusted withHypnospacePsychonaut: and you could not possibly give informed consent to that in any form I would accept
She thought long and hard about she was about to type.
HypnospacePsychonaut: But I might be able to do something else for you.