Non-binary and disabled

This piece was previously published in September 2018 in the Disgender zine – you can see the zine here, and I encourage you to check it out. There’s lots of cool stuff in it, all themed around being trans/non-binary and disabled/chronically ill.

Becoming (realising I was) non-binary was a lifetime’s process, of fighting a femaleness (femininity) that never belonged to me; of hating the breasts and periods that life burdened me with; of not knowing who I was, what I was, only what I wasn’t, a confusion made worse by growing up in a place and time that barely acknowledged the L and G of LGBT+ (never mind the rest), and so left me bereft of words, of a name for my being, stranding me in a place of “well, female I guess, if I have to choose (but why do I have to choose?)” that never felt right or true; of always wondering why I wasn’t like everyone else, why calling myself female was unsettling, but calling myself male was definitely wrong.

Becoming disabled has been half a lifetime’s process, of injury and illness, of pain and cumulative slow failure of my body’s systems, and yet, I can love my non-binary disabled body in a way I never could love my abled, presumed female body; I can revel in what it can do, appreciate my non-binary self for what it is. Weirdly, it’s illness that taught me to love my body, to appreciate being alive – and it’s illness that finally gave me both the courage and the words to call myself both non-binary and disabled. After years of thinking (insisting) I wasn’t disabled enough to claim that as an identity (because I can x, because I can’t y, because I’m not z) I got cancer, and it was weirdly revelatory in some ways. I had to think about death, and about how having cancer means always having to think about cancer, at least a little bit, even though I’m now in remission, and I thought about what I wanted the rest of my life (however short or long) to look like. And the biggest part of that was I wanted the rest of my life to be mine, to stop being afraid of what people might think of me, and claim myself. And I looked at the mix of physical issues I have and thought, yeah, I’m disabled. I need to own it. I walk with a fucking stick, clearly I’m disabled. Being able to sometimes do without the stick doesn’t make me not disabled, any more than wearing a skirt makes me female. And it was having a mastectomy that made me realise that it’s not that I’m a woman who’s bad at being female, it’s that I’m not a woman at all – which was a deeply and profoundly liberating experience.

The first day I left the house as a newly-identified non-binary person I felt like I owned the world. All the anxiety of a lifetime of faking femaleness fell away from me, and I felt free. I felt like my body finally belonged to me and I could stop caring what other people thought of me; like I could look at myself and not see a failed woman, but see someone who was living on their own terms, someone who belonged not to the world, but to themself – someone who could build their identity from the ground up without any shoulds from society (how to dress, how to act, how to be), someone who could create their own norms – someone who wasn’t an imposter, but who belonged. Someone who could wear a dress if they wanted, or not – but either way it didn’t define them; someone who could be themself, whoever that might be. Someone who is (finally) happy to be themself.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 10 Nov 2019

What have I read this week? Late again, sorry!

The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen Series Book 1) by Emily R. King

This is a fantasy novel about a woman named Kalinda. She is selected to be the hundredth wife of the rajah of her kingdom. I found the world really interesting, and I liked the main characters. I enjoyed this book and would probably read more in this series.

Raven Stratagem (Machineries of Empire Book Two) by Yoon Ha Lee

This is a science fiction novel following various characters. It is the sequel to Ninefox Gambit. It’s set in a very dystopian future where the preserved mind of a disgraced general who murdered his own soldiers is resurrected to help with a problem, but then he goes rogue. I liked this. It’s a good continuation of the story, and I’d definitely read more in the series.

© bardofupton 2019

A new poem

This is another new poem.

i have a sad
downhearted and discouraged
craving touch
skin hunger blooming
loneliness blossoms
i fall into myself
down dark deep
drowning in myself

i have a sad

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 3 Nov 2019

What have I read this week? Just one, this time.

Mark of Fire (The Endarian Prophecy Book 1) by Richard Phillips

This is a fantasy novel about a young woman called Carol, a young man called Arm and an evil magic wielder called Kragan. I thought it was okay; the story and characters were quite interesting, but I probably won’t read any more in the series.

© bardofupton 2019

Writing project, October 2019

This month’s word is dark, meaning “gloomy; cheerless; dismal” or “evil; iniquitous; wicked”.

This is going to be a short one, because I am kind of behind on writing it.


It had been raining for weeks. Everything was damp, or wet, or flooded. The sky was a constant grey, making everything gloomy and dim. The perfect weather for a slow, creeping kind of evil. Nothing flashy, nothing too noticeable, just something that spread and spread like a cold, bringing misery to as many as possible. The conditions were ideal for a small, unimportant demon like Xel.

Almost too good, Xel thought to themself. Perhaps it’s a trick.

After all, they did have a number of enemies, despite their insignificance. Other demons were constantly clawing for any advantage. Or perhaps a senior demon was amusing themself by baiting a trap for a minor demon.

That’s not unheard of, thought Xel. I need to be cautious.

Besides, if a senior demon had set things up, they would get the credit, and Xel would have put in a great deal of work for nothing. It was probably better to wait.

Yes, Xel muttered. I’ll wait. Better to wait than to let someone else take credit for my work. Yes.

So, once again, Xel did nothing, for fear of doing the wrong thing or of someone else benefiting. They received neither blame nor praise and as a result, had risen high in the infernal hierarchy, an occurrence which had caused anger amongst those demons who did take action and work to spread darkness over the earth. Xel was aware of this hatred, but was unconcerned by it, as they now outranked all of them.

Although Xel’s fear of doing the wrong thing was an innate trait, they had begun to deliberately cultivate it once they realised how successful it was as a strategy. Xel had, in fact, managed to hack the system, something they were secretly smug about.

Pretty good for a minor imp, they thought to themself. My plan is working.

Xel gave a demonic laugh, breaking off suddenly as Pek, another demon, appeared in their doorway.

Lucifer wants to see you, Pek said.

Xel swallowed. That was never good news. They took a deep breath, stood up, and went to meet their fate.

© bardofupton 2019

wolf (poem)

This is a new poem. It’s been quite a while since I wrote any poetry, so I’m happy to have something new to put up.

I’m feeling quite wolf today
wanting to tear and rend
and howl at the moon
my hands become paws
ripping away with sharpened claws
longer teeth and elongated jaws
I’d like to shred my problems
and scatter them to the winds
solve my issues with a snarl
and a flash of fang
today i’m feeling quite wolf

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 27 Oct 2019

What have I read this week?

Song of Edmon (The Fracture Worlds Book 1) by Adam Burch

This is a science fiction novel following a young man named Edmon. He is the son of a man who gained noble rank through winning the annual Combat, but Edmon is really only interested in becoming a musician. I quite enjoyed this, but feel no particular urge to read any more of the series.

A Little Hatred (The Age of Madness: Book 1) by Joe Abercrombie

This is a fantasy novel following various characters during a time of great upheaval in a kingdom that is rapidly industrialising. I enjoyed this: it’s dark and brutal, like pretty much everything else I’ve read by the author, but the characters and the world are really interesting and engaging. I definitely plan on reading the next book in the series.

A False Report: A True Story by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong

This is a nonfiction book about a serial rapist. It was very interesting, and quite harrowing, particularly the parts about the woman who was pressured into withdrawing her rape allegation by the police.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 20 Oct 2019

What have I read this week?

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy And Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward, Ph.D. with Craig Buck

This is a nonfiction self-help book about dealing with the problems caused by toxic parents. I found it very interesting and useful, although I think some of the writing is a little dated.

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

This is a fantasy novel about the kingdom of Iraden, which is protected by a god called the Raven. I really enjoyed this; it did not at all end up where I thought it was going to, and I really liked the characters and the world-building.

© bardofupton 2019