Why You Shouldn’t Buy the New Harry Potter Game

Featured image description: The default featured image for Trans Autistic Feminist blogposts, with a pink background on the left and blog logo on the right. The white text on the left says the blog title “Why You Shouldn’t Buy the New Harry Potter Game.” The smaller text says “(aka Hogwarts: Legacy)”.

CW: J . K Rowling, transphobia, terfs, fascism, nazis, conversion therapy mention, murder (real and fictional)

Hi all, 

Recently, during the 16th September PlayStation 5 digital livestream event, a long-rumoured game set in the Harry Potter universe was finally announced. Hogwarts: Legacy is an open-world RPG game set in the world of Hogwarts where the player is a blank slate protagonist who carves out their legacy. It sounds pretty promising on paper if you aren’t aware of the broader context of the author. In practice, this announcement only serves to boost a bigoted author who has gradually revealed her bigotry over time. The gender-critical movement (aka one of many arms of the far right). has radicalised J K Rowling.

I don’t have the energy or ability to dig into much of Rowling’s history myself and explain it all to you. I try not to address such crap especially given my situation (hence why there is almost no reference of the said author on my site, and I may be somewhat sloppy in this post because of the stress). But I will include a summary. 

A summary of gender critical feminism’s harmful aims

This situation is incredibly distressing for trans people like myself for many reasons. Gender critical hate speech has the ultimate goal of rolling back rights for all women and LGBT people, but they start with trans people.

  • wrongly imply our existence is a danger to cis women and children,
  • wrongly claim that we are predators and cross-dressing fetishists
  • advocate putting us into single-gender spaces matching our assigned sex at both (and will be dangerous for trans people)
  • barring us from sports, domestic violence refuges and inclusive healthcare
  • advocate “watchful waiting” for medical transition (especially in trans kids), which is conversion therapy
  • they support gatekeeping and pathologizing to the point of suffering and making support inaccessible
  • want us removed from public life and to go stealth, if not end our lives

The wider context though stems beyond trans people. The ultimate aim is to restrict the way women can present and enforce a binary, outdated form of presentation for women and nonbinary people. It is feminism in name only. In reality, it is far-right conservative hate speech that functions like a cult. It is very much in the same way that the far-right have indoctrinated MAGA supporters and Brexiteer gammon into supporting hate.

Many cisgender people do not realise this. Terfs use dog whistles and concern trolling, they harass and doxx people who call them out and threaten them with legal action. They frame the rights for trans people to exist as a “debate” even though they don’t want a discussion; they want to spread hate. Their “debate” in the UK – alongside a complicit and bigoted media – has derailed the Gender Recognition Act reforms and turned a simple administrative change into a fake culture war.

Heck, even J K Rowling’s new book coming out in the near future used many of the transphobic tropes outlined above as part of the murderer’s character. Namely, this fictional murderer is a cis man who dresses as a woman to target and kill cis women. This was published under her pen name Robert Galbraith. Fortunately, the backlash for that has been swift and severe. Rowling and other terfs have threatened libel suits to force trans people into silence and not call out this harm. This is the suffering these bigots want.

This reveal ruined the stream

Frankly, the reveal ruined the whole stream for me and no doubt many others too. It speaks volumes that Sony and Warner Bros. believed platforming a J K Rowling IP during a significant event was a good idea. This shits on the diverse gaming community, including trans people, is. This distresses their trans viewers as well as allies. I had expected this reveal at some point as it had been rumoured for months. However, I had not expected it during such a significant stream. Additionally, the queer adventure game Goodbye Volcano High was revealed at a PS5 digital event just a few months earlier., which is what makes it hurt a lot more. Do Sony actually care about LGBTQ+ rights or not?

It’s very insensitive considering the harm Rowling is doing and shows either they are clueless about this reality – or they don’t care and want to increase sales. They know many gamers do not have principles and will often buy things they got outraged at during reveals when they come out. As it is, many people online have been like “Oh I don’t like what Rowling has done, but I still want to buy this Harry Potter game.” However, the consequences of this go far beyond video games. 

Transphobia has fatal consequences

This is a classic example of why you cannot separate the art from the artist. You cannot separate transgender people from human diversity. They are innately linked, and there’s nothing anybody can do to change this reality. But until the world accepts this, trans people have to deal with a constant risk of being murdered no matter where they are in the world – especially black trans women. Trans people, in particular, are more likely to be in poverty, unemployed and have comorbid mental illnesses due to transphobia. We often cannot defend ourselves from this due to lack of money or poor mental health. Despite what bigots say, love will eventually win.

But the more harmful figures like Rowling are platformed, this progress is reversible, especially when people become manipulated into supporting fascism. The Nazi government in Germany did this back in the 1930s, by burning books and libraries from the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (aka Institute of Sex Research). This library containing decades of LGBT positive research and is one reason why trans healthcare is decades behind where it should be. Yes, literal book burning. And to think many right wingers like to claim the left are “book-burning Nazis.”

Don’t buy the game

I understand how a lot of people – especially those my age and younger – have a lot of nostalgia for the Harry Potter series and are inclined to support the game. And this is a perfectly valid inclination. However, Rowling will likely make royalties off it (even though she is not involved) she doesn’t need or deserve.

Therefore myself, much like the politically active trans community as a whole, urge you not to support this game. Do not buy it. Do not give Rowling or this publisher a penny. I say publisher because in practice the developers won’t make bank off it thanks to capitalism and lack of unionisation, which is an issue across gaming. Buying a copy of Hogwarts: Legacy supports a billionaire who is using her platform and influence to spread hate speech to rollback trans rights. Even if it’s “just a game.” Money talks, especially those who already have wealth.

If you really want to play it, wait until after launch day to pick it up pre-owned. That way, only the seller of the second hand game gets the money. And don’t go round bragging about it on social media or in collection videos, instead keep it quiet that you have it and are playing it. Because trans people and allies will notice and start to doubt that you genuinely have their back and this will be very distressing.

One of my favourite pastimes are video game collection videos and I fear being unable to watch PS4 / PS5 / Xbox One / Xbox Series X videos now knowing it’s possible that game could come up and the person buying it sees no issue supporting a transphobe. For transgender people, our rights to exist is literally a matter of life and death thanks to transphobic cis people. Don’t remind us of that through supporting this video game, a medium popular with trans people.

How you can help: 

I know being an ally can be difficult for cis people to do as they don’t know what to do so that I will help. 

  • Firstly, buy the game second hand if you can’t bear skipping it as mentioned earlier. Otherwise, skip it. Same goes for all other Harry Potter products. 
  • Educate yourselves on trans people and our lived experiences. There are many of us out there. I’ve included some links at the end of this post to help. 
  • Give us money to access healthcare, housing and mental health support. Give us well-paid jobs. Discrimination is still rampant against trans folk. Many of us have to crowdfund to access private healthcare because public healthcare routes are unfit for purpose.
  • Support our content if we are self-employed as many of us have to go self employed in order to work.
  • Boost our voices. Sharing content written by trans people like this one is a great place to start. 
  • Get political. Call out the bigots around you. Assume good faith, but if they turn hostile, don’t be afraid to call them out. Fill in consultations and write to elected ministers about transgender issues. Go to protests if you can access them. 

Anyway, that’s me out. This whole thing is very distressing for me, so for the time being, self-care is needed. With all this said, I am so glad this game is not coming to the Nintendo Switch (my preferred and most accessible gaming platform this gen).

Milla x 

Further Reading: 

Here is an article by Katelyn Burns, explaining how gender critical feminism has risen in prominence

Here is a short essay by Katy Montgomerie, that unpicks Rowling’s arguments and why they are transphobic (a much longer, more thorough breakdown is available elsewhere on her Medium blog)

In the UK, the anti-trans situation has gotten so bad many trans people here are planning to leave the country

One example of J K Rowling threatening a smaller organisation with legal action for calling out her bigotry 

The Wikipedia page for the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, the private sexology research facility where the Nazis burnt the books in 1933 (trigger warning for images of Nazis and book burning)

Even the developers themselves anticipated this mess as they were feeling uneasy before it was revealed

Unrelated to the above external reading links, I recently set up a crowd funder to help kickstart my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading! 

The Employment Dilemma for Trans + Disabled People

Featured image description: The default featured image for Trans Autistic Feminist blogposts, with a pink background on the left and blog logo on the right. The white text on the left says the blog title “The Employment Dilemma for Trans + Disabled People”.

Content warning: ableism, transphobia, masking, ABA mention

Hi all, 

I’ve had a lot to process regarding employment as of late, so I will be writing a bit about what’s on my mind so other people can understand the dilemmas of disabled and/or trans people entering employment. Despite having the time and willpower to work, it’s a lot easier said than done. 

As a disabled person, I have to ensure whatever career move I take next is suitable for me. While I’m not sure of the exact area I want to work in, I am pretty open to anything as long as it’s accessible for me. So, in other words, an office job I can do from home at least part-time and where I don’t have to talk to people much.

Note that the disability angle will mainly focus on autism as that is my lived experience, but there will be a lot of overlap with other disabilities and mental illnesses.

To disclose or not to disclose? 

This is the first issue. This question can be broken down even more to the following sub-questions:

  • Is the workplace safe to be openly trans and/or autistic?
  • How much does somebody have to disclose to employers to be able to work the job? 
  • How much is OK to share in general? 

More specifically, when it comes to disability, the main issue is accommodations. The more somebody can conceal their support needs, the fewer problems at work they may have to deal with (including being fired and/or not hired). This can also include coping with trauma and mental health triggers, which will often have negative consequences for the person’s career – even if they don’t harm anyone. 

A lot of disabled people hide their disabilities from employers as a result and advise others do the same – as employers can quickly get away with being ableist, despite initiatives. For example, the UK’s Disability Confident scheme is widely discredited in the disability community, partially because the guarantee of an interview to all disabled people who meet the criteria isn’t enforced. Additionally, all a company has to do if they don’t want to hire a disabled person is to claim that “they’ve found somebody who is a better cultural fit” and move on. 

If a disabled person does try to hold their employer to account – whether during recruitment or unfair dismissal – the odds are stacked against them. This is partially due to a lack of legal aid, but also because it risks them being blacklisted from other firms. Employers don’t want people that they think would cause them hassle, and sharing too much is not a good idea, as it can be used against them later. 

Of course, hiding disabilities is only really possible for those with invisible disabilities – as, for people with visible disabilities who need aids, this isn’t an option for them. 

Work relationships vs personal relationships boundaries: 

This is something else I have also struggled to understand. What is appropriate for what relationship? When is it OK to move people from colleagues to friends? How do you deal with social media? What is “professionalism?” 

There are no fixed rules regarding this that people follow aside from vague generalisations that depend on culture and industry contexts. There are also general business expectations of behaviour (like relying on Outlook) that employees are expected to instinctively pick up, which is impossible for any autistic people to do (I will return to this later). 

The other expectation is for people that can act as neurotypical as possible (aka so they see you as pleasant and can collaborate with them). All of this can be very difficult for autistic people to pick up. Likewise, things like networking and people to avoid working with are usually found out via the grapevine (especially for abusers). The grapevine is something autistic people find difficult to access. I started to learn some of these things myself before being let go from my last internship, even though a lot of this stuff (in hindsight) feels like things all autistic people should directly be told years before starting work. 

I say this from the perspective of somebody who has unintentionally self-sabotaged career opportunities due to not knowing social rules or accidentally blundering when trying to talk to people regarding work opportunities. The fear I have about this is that I feel I risk being blacklisted by others on ableist grounds then not finding out why until many months later – if at all. Even then, once a person or organisation is blacklisted, it’s very likely the blacklisting will not be reversed for years if at all as there is often no chance of appeal. 

Yet, nobody has ever been able to offer advice for dealing with this, so the only conclusion I could think of is to strictly partition work relationships from personal relationships unless certain circumstances mean it’s a good idea to cross them over. For example, if a personal friend helps someone get a job, they start a business venture together, or somebody makes a genuine friend at work that they get along with over a sustained period. This includes social media.

The minefield of inclusivity 

While there are genuinely inclusive and supportive employers out there, the reality is that it is a minefield and often the most challenging part of employment is sustaining it, not getting it. There is no real way for disabled employees to know which employers genuinely care about inclusivity and diversity – or only get the credentials for PR purposes (such as the very organisers of the Disability Confident scheme themselves). Hence, many disabled people go freelance and/or unemployed, so they can work while also accommodating their support needs as best as they can. 

A lot of inclusivity issues also stem from not understanding how mainstream office culture can cause problems for autistic people. For example, I saw this article today (“Will young workers be the victims of the decline in the office?” 13/09/2020) in The Independent, which discusses whether young people will be the victims of the declining office. It’s an article that argues yes, but completely omits the experiences of disabled adults. 

One example is the following belief, something that is impossible for many autistic and other neurodivergent people to do without direct communication: 

“There are also lots of benefits to informal interaction – something a prearranged video call cannot replicate,” he says, pointing to the ability of new employees in an office to directly observe how colleagues behave, pick up important information, absorb the unwritten rules of the organisation and even its ethical values.” 

Another example is this, something that can lead to discrimination towards women and marginalised groups in the right environment, as well as forcing out disabled people who cannot participate in office politics or social culture.

“Gosling is more concerned about the challenge of retaining the benefits from the social aspects of traditional office life – the gossip, the chats, the collective visits to the pub.” 

In essence, the inaccessibility and deeply rooted ableism in office life already claimed tens of millions of disabled people at some point.

In a way, getting a career going forward will now be more accessible thanks to neurotypicals finally understanding the benefits of working from home. This was thanks to a pandemic, even though they should have listened to disabled people years ago.

Personally, I am incredibly thrilled office culture will never be the same again and is declining. Hence employment will now be easier for neurodivergent people to access. However, employers need to understand they must not force neurotypical abled standards on employees. They still need to listen to disabled people. I am happy to help people I’d work with down the line to a point, but a lot of it is on them. And not knowing what the reaction will be till I’m in the role is a massive source of anxiety. 

Here is an article I wrote back in April 2020 about COVID-19, home working and ableism. 

To go stealth or not go stealth? 

The other issue that is noticeable for trans people is about transitioning and how to balance that around employers. A lot of trans people often prepare to change jobs when they come out, so future employers aren’t aware that they have a trans employee. Many trans people also aren’t able to work as a result of untreated dysphoria and/or transphobia from employers, thus are stuck in the trap of not having the money required to transition. 

Hence, many trans people choose to be stealth at work – especially those with passing privilege – for their own safety and so they can get the money to transition. When it comes to medical appointments and other transition-related care, they may choose to lie or omit information about why they need time off. They may also not speak about their personal lives much to avoid outing themselves by mistake. 

There is also the whole issue regarding surgery and taking time off for that, though I don’t know enough about this to discuss that here.

Additionally, there are two legal barriers in the UK regarding transgender employees I’d like to highlight as they are also factoring into my thinking (and will also be variants of this issue worldwide): 

No GRC means trans people in the UK have to out themselves to HR 

This is because of two reasons: 

Firstly, if a trans person hasn’t updated their documents or they are coming out at their current job, their team will know. This includes HR and other staff who see misgendered/deadnamed documents as part of ID verification. Passport/driving licenses are what is asked at interviews, and this can be updated with each respective office using a different process. This doesn’t mean a trans person won’t be outed to their employer, though. 

This is because the legal gender at HMRC can only be changed with a gender recognition certificate, and there is nothing a trans person without a GRC and/or unable to get one can do. At my last job, when I had to fill in a form for my employer to log my info into HMRC with, I initially put down F because that’s who I am. LI later got summoned to HR, and they told me that they had to change the gender marker to M as my F marker doesn’t match what is on the database. Hence, I had to change it back so it could be submitted to HMRC so I could get paid. It was demoralising for me, but my employer knew I am trans already and was discreet about it, so no harm was done in my case. But that isn’t the case for everyone. 

This is a problem that all trans people in the UK face unless they get a GRC, which is one of many reasons there were calls to reform the GRA (where have we heard this before?). 

No GRC means trans people starting their own companies is also risky 

Yes, there is a loophole with self-employment too. The following applies to trans people who start their own company and become a company director or majority shareholder (referred to in UK law as “People with Significant Control”). This is because the current procedures mean trans people legally have to be outed by Companies House upon request due to an obscure legal loophole. This is explained by the following quote from page 59 of the 2019 Corporate Transparency and Register Reform consultation document

“The Companies Act 2006 requires any change of a director’s name to be notified to Companies House and made publicly available on the register. This also applies to [People with Significant Control] (PSC). This includes cases where the person’s name changes as a result of a change in gender. Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 makes it an offence to disclose information about the gender history of transgender people who have legally changed their gender through obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) where this information has been acquired in an official capacity. However, section 22(4)(j) provides an exemption where the disclosure is made under another enactment. Companies House is exempt from this general prohibition because it makes information public in accordance with the Companies Act 2006.” 

One of the many proposed reforms in the 2019 Corporate Transparency and Register Reform that would allow trans directors and PSCs to apply to have their name hidden. But as of September 2020, the consultation still hasn’t had its results released. Sounds familiar, even though this is the only mention in the entire document. The loophole around this is to become a sole trader, although this does bring the risk of unlimited liability. Which in the world where anti-trans bigots threaten to sue people who call them out often forces trans folk into silence. 

Additionally, for transgender people who are in work, many also intend to pass as cis as part of maintaining a working relationship. Because while cis men do not take cis women and cis passing trans people seriously, they take non-cis passing trans people even less seriously.

Hence this is a scenario where the transgender concept of passing and the autism concept of masking overlap – and both of these issues will take its toll on trans and autistic employees. I also wrote about this ages ago, here is a relevant extract. Note that body language and presentation are two things considered very important in the world of work, and women have it particularly hard. The world of work – without relevant adjustments – also enforces the narrative mentioned in the last paragraph.

Firstly, with being autistic I am not always aware how I come across. So, if my body language doesn’t appear feminine, I likely have no idea that’s the case. Furthermore, even when I try to present feminine it will be very hard to maintain the image as I fundamentally can’t mask.

Additionally, executive dysfunction may also get in the way which may make daily feminine tasks difficult, such as doing makeup to cover up facial hair and shaving body hair. Plus, I have seen cis autistic women that find it difficult to meet these standards or choose not to. It would be very unfair on them to be judged by these same arbitrary standards. 

However, I then realised how much this is similar to masking – and how there is still the widespread ableist assumption that autistic people need to mask to be accepted in wider society. I have talked about this before. We see this pervasive attitude in wider culture and through how ABA is being forced on autistic children from a young age in an attempt to “normalise” them with no regard for their mental wellbeing. 

And the reason why both passing and masking are problematic is because they blame the autistic trans person for their own differences. Basically, the narrative says that both autistic people and trans people alike (regardless of whether they are both autistic and trans) aren’t good enough as they are. In other words, the narrative says they are not who they identify as, they are what other people decide they are.

My personal, less objective, conclusion

The conclusions I’ve tentatively come to is that it is very tempting to conceal my gender and disability-related support needs as much as possible. I don’t like the thought of having to go stealth at work about these aside from: 

  • HMRC stuff as outlined above 
  • Any time off requests for medical transition appointments 
  • accommodations that aren’t vital for the job 
  • Anything else that my employer needs to know and that I can’t get away with not disclosing. 

Bear in mind much of this stems from avoidable trauma I got from people I have disclosed and been open to. And frankly, I do not have the energy to deal with that going forward, despite the thick skin I developed from it. While I am moving on and slowly mitigating the trauma, trying to mitigate further harm and obstacles is very important to me. However, I am hoping that as time goes by I will feel more able to take the risk of disclosing my needs again and being open like before (but not too open as oversharing is also something I did at my last role).

I know that masking in work like that would likely be very damaging for me as it is for many autistic people, and being myself is vital for motivation. I love who I am and am proud of myself and everything I have achieved, and I shouldn’t have to hide that. 

In hindsight, I overshared at my last role about said issues – again, partially due to trauma and disassociation – which may have factored in being let go. I am grateful to my previous employer for treating me as well as they did because I could have been treated a lot worse. 

I am still contemplating self-employment. As much as I’d like to be self-employed, that could take years to become sustainable enough to migrate, so I may end up having to do a Masters just to help me get out of England. Which in all honesty isn’t a good enough reason by itself, but depending on what I do may be useful in other ways too. Fortunately, I am open to pretty much anything work-wise I can do.  

Regardless of what I decide to do, I just want to get this employment dilemma worked out and mastered so I can medically transition, get my life stabilised and get out of this country for good. I don’t regret being open to the extent I was – and I’m glad I was as it was the right thing to do at the time.

The more objective conclusion

In short, there are a lot of structural barriers to work that have been touched on in this piece. Some of them can be helped by the world of work – to any employers reading this, please listen to your disabled staff and work to make your workplace genuinely inclusive. Please do not follow the same mindset like the person from the Independent article. Please allow form policies allowing trans people to take the time off they need for essential appointments, and do not allow transphobia to take hold in your organisation.

Hopefully, anybody who has taken the time to read this now understands many of the systematic barriers that trans and/or disabled people face regarding re-entering employment. Despite my personal anxieties, I am confident I can find a way forward, and I believe I’ll be in a much better position next year. 

Milla xx 

PS I recently set up a crowd funder to help kickstart my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading! 

Empowerment Affirmations

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “Empowerment Affirmations.” On the right is the a logo for the blog ,”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

Content warning for: mentions of various kinds of abuse, ableism, death

Hi all,

Today I’m going to discuss empowerment in the context of surviving and recovering from abuse, in an affirmative context. This is something I had initially written a while ago, but recently refined. I hope this may be useful to others.

What is empowerment? 

It’s about asserting autonomy. 

It’s stating that you are an adult and you have the right to full control of your life. 

It’s about controlling who is in your trusted circle – and what information you share with whom. 

It’s about building self-confidence – whether from scratch or picking up the pieces that they shattered. 

It’s telling yourself that you matter and are worth so much more than what they thought of you. 

It’s about not putting up with people’s bullshit. 

No, you don’t have to put up with toxic people “for the good of the family,” “because he’s your blood relative” or “you have no other choice.” 

No, you don’t have to get back in contact with any toxic people after you leave “for the good of the family,” “because they’re your [insert relative here]” or “you have no other choice.” 

No, you don’t have to put up with anyone trying to gaslight you about things you know happened to you because “oh they didn’t mean it like that,” “boys will be boys” or “that can’t have actually happened.” 

No, you don’t have to debate your existence to anyone who thinks there are “two sides” to discussions around human rights or harmful therapies or cures. These people do not have your best interests at heart. 

No, you don’t have to engage anyone who makes you feel unsafe in any form. The fear of the unknown is scary – but being in a familiar environment that threatens your life daily will kill you. 

Empowerment is rectifying the mistakes made by said toxic relatives and organisations. 

Said relatives and institutions failed to teach you important things, instead leaving you with perfectly avoidable trauma – that is not your fault. 

These relatives likely had low expectations of you often on bigoted grounds or they just wanted to control you. 

The reasons don’t matter – even if you know what they are or only in part, because getting full conclusions is often not possible. Reasons will not change the reality. 

So, if it means learning independent living skills later than your peers, that is absolutely fine. 

If it means taking longer to learn what authentic relationships are, that is absolutely fine. 

If it means taking longer to learn employability skills or not being able to work at all, that is absolutely fine too. 

No, it doesn’t mean you have to “go to the police!” or get any form of legal/social repercussions for anything they did. 

Not only will it likely not be worth it due to the police systematically being biased against anyone who isn’t a cis white man, but you know the truth. 

You also know people who have been through similar experiences or other genuine friends will support you. 

Empowerment is saying to those that failed you that you are better than them. 

That’s not being arrogant – it’s stating reality. Taking steps to better your life and shatter their expectations even if just for your own benefit is one of the best things you can do in response. 

Empowerment is understanding what support you need and getting help on your terms. You likely won’t get where you want to be without some help, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept help from just anyone. 

It’s better to be selective and ensure you get the right help for you, rather than accept anything that is unsuitable – often the first thing offered. This is especially the case for marginalised groups. 

For genuine things that you know you genuinely can’t do, it’s your right to choose who helps you do these. This is so you can ensure they have your best interests at heart and trust is maintained. 

You don’t have to accept help from your abusers. 

You don’t have to accept help from predatory organisations that will fail to meet your needs – if not complicate them. 

You don’t have to accept help from anyone else you otherwise do not trust. 

Empowerment is about becoming yourself – who you deeply are inside. 

Whether that includes transitioning gender or following a deep passion no matter how obscure, the best person you can be is yourself. 

So long as it you don’t harm others, people will support you. 

Of course, sometimes refusal isn’t always possible for various reasons – but it damn well should be. And someday, you will be able to refuse and empower yourself.

Empowerment is about controlling your narrative. 

It is understandable that you repress who you are around dangerous people – that says nothing about you but a lot about them. 

You can tell people as much or as little as you like about what happened. 

Sometimes being open and outspoken about the need for change is right for you. If not, that is OK. 

Sometimes processing the trauma privately and not speaking much about it going forward may also be right for you. 

This also extends to when they are on their deathbed. You don’t need to go back and see them one more time to “make amends.” You don’t even need to write about them indirectly. 

When said people die, you can speak ill of them as much as you like. You aren’t obliged to pander to the idea of “not speaking ill of the dead” to make others feel comfortable. 

They harmed you and you have every right to tell your story. You owe them absolutely nothing.

This also applies if they themselves are a survivor too.

This means they have to realize themselves the damage they’ve done as a result of their trauma and take steps to fix it.

They may take steps to redeem themselves as much as possible, but ultimately nothing will undo the harm they’ve done to you (and anyone else they’ve harmed you may not be aware of).

It’s ok to be sympathetic towards them if that’s how you feel – trauma is complicated.

But you can keep them out of your life for any reason – including that no contact may be the only way to be free of their harm.

Again, you owe them absolutely nothing. Abusers who are genuinely remorseful will understand that they have to live with the consequences of what they’ve done.

This includes parents, romantic partners and other close family and/or friends.

You are empowered and have a long, fulfilling life ahead.

Kind regards, 

Milla xx 

P.S. I recently set up a crowdfunder so I can start my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading! 


I’m 23 and Finally Free

Hi all,  

Today’s post is going to be a ramble because as of today, I have now turned 23. Subsequently, what was one of the hardest years of my life has come to a close. Now I can actually look towards my future.  

I am finally making progress in solving my homelessness situation – and at the time of writing, in more suitable temporary accommodation. I am also able to start thinking about employment and reaching out to the community properly.  

That said, one other thought that comes to mind is this realisation. I should have been in this position last year. Let me contextualise it with an anecdote I haven’t discussed before – my 22nd birthday day the previous year.  

That day, I got up really early for a job interview that I attended via a long train commute. I didn’t get the job, but it was a good experience nonetheless. At the time, I was still stuck at my abusers’ home and believed that getting a job was my only viable way out.  

My situation was deteriorating, and it was only a matter of time before I was kicked out. Hence, I had to get a job as soon as possible because nobody would house me. I also had no presents nor cards from my abusers as they refused to get me anything – as did the family members that they manipulated against me. So not much of a birthday.  

Some reasons why this is significant to me is that last year:  

  • I wasn’t able to think properly about my future in any way, nor access the right support to do this, such as mentoring.
  • My focus was forcibly narrowed to getting a new place to live in any way possible.
  • Nor was I able to work out precisely what my support needs were. This is due to the toxic negativity I had, that assumed I could never work or live on my own. 
  • I also wasn’t able to work out what would be best for me regarding careers. All I knew is that I would need to move to a more accessible area for the best jobs and support. 
  • I wasn’t able to access mental health support for what I was going through, nor access any form of peer support.  

I wasn’t able to have a life, basically. I was trapped and disabled by the toxic environment around me.  

The difference between then and now is that I can now adequately address all of the above.  

This is because I’m free. I can finally get all of this addressed and more, such as: 

  • Medically transitioning
  • Reaching out to other people in the local community
  • Rebuilding my career
  • Working towards my long-term ambitions to migrate out of the U.K. permanently 

I am also accessing support and have developed a thick skin and matured as a result of my experiences. 

So today, I’ll be spending the day to myself and probably play games, do some writing and catch up with some friends online. And honestly, I’m OK with that. Compared to last year, this is far better. It’s better to be alone and happy than surrounded by people who don’t care about your wellbeing.  

My life is so much better now.  

I’m 23 and finally free. Here’s to a year of freedom and finally finding my feet as an adult.  

Milla xx  

P.S. I recently set up a crowdfunder so I can start my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here.

What to Know When Accessing Services for the First Time

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “What to Know When Accessing Services for the First Time”. The words “Accessing Services” are larger and curved upwards like a smile. On the right is the a logo for the blog ,”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

Content warning for discussion of systematic ableism, gaslighting

Hi all,

Navigating services in 2020 is a huge challenge, as people who have been following politics and issues concerning marginalised people will be aware of. Here are some things to know when navigating services as a multiply marginalised person. This article is aimed primarily at people who need to access support for the first time and have no previous experience dealing with it first hand.

Know what you are getting yourself into.

People who engage services often have no other choice. Hence, due to how dire the situation is with services, it is often seen as a last resort. This will affect how much of a priority you are seen as by services – and this is even further complicated by those with additional support needs or marginalisations. Hence, you need to do research in relation to how said services treat people who fit your marginalisations. This is so you know where to go and where to avoid. Likewise, research local laws such as the UK’s Equality Act 2010 so you can understand your rights regarding what you need help with.

Sites of large organisations are a good place to start, as they explain relevant laws and concepts in plain English and other language equivalents. However, other recommend sources are actually service users as well as user-led organisations. This is because they can explain the situation on the ground away from positive marketing and any secret backroom deals major funders may place on services (this is one reason the UK’s largest disability charities do not hold the DWP to account properly).

There will be a lot of waiting and a lot of rejections

Before I go on, I want to clarify that the behaviours outlined by services below is NOTHING personal against the users by the service providers in many cases. Many staff members want to help, but the awful process of accessing support is the result of government policy that forces them to make difficult decisions on who gets help. It also means they often wait until peoples circumstances get worse before they will help. Service users basically need to answer the following question implicitly asked by each service:

“Why do we have to help? Why can’t anybody else?”

It will be a fight to get anywhere. This will drag out far longer than necessary, so don’t set yourself an expectation of a date where you hope you have what you need. This is because it is very likely what you need won’t happen promptly at best.

Why do services reject people?

Services will often reject people for many reasons. A lot of it will come down to trying to reduce their workload so they don’t have to deal with as many people as the funding they have doesn’t allow it. Hence service users need to keep persisting as much as possible. Rejections usually despite good intentions as often services just cannot help somebody properly, however bigotry is sometimes the case. Some ways these rejections happen include:

  • Misinterpreting the law on purpose to justify gatekeeping – this is where services relying on service users not understanding the law or having the energy to fight back even when they do understand it. One example is not giving somebody the correct priority for a service, such as denying emergency accommodation to somebody that is sofa surfing and could be on the streets at anytime.
  • Citing requirements not made clear before initial contact – This is where sometimes a service user discloses something that leads the service to state that they can’t help someone regardless of how true it is. This is even when conversations initially go well, and support is promised. I had this happen repeatedly when I tried to access services, usually after I disclosed that I was homeless. Another scenario is when your eligibility criteria is changed over time, following a separate or related appointment that someone is told to report feedback on. This also happened to me. It was not made clear to me that anything said at the appointment could affect my elgibility. Because it was, I was ejected from the service with no chance of appeal. Services can get around this by being more clear at the beginning at the request, however I suspect they don’t do this partially because the ambiguity allows them to dodge accountability.
  • Nitpicking – this is where they purposely reject people for very minor reasons or for how they think could react in situations very unlikely to happen. Or if they do, they do not consider that people already have action plans to counteract them nor attempt to find out before rejection.
  • Nonsense – this is basically where services can make up reasons to justify their rejections that is legal to do, but is obviously nonsense to the service user. One example is blaming an autistic person’s mental illness on them being autistic to deny counselling and discharge them, when this is untrue. They know it doesn’t matter if its lies, as long as it’s legal to do so they will get away with it.
  • Not responding to initial contact or following up (ie. A callback) – I am told this is essentially a face-saving act for the service, so that services indirectly let people down rather than have to deal with bad reactions from people when they know they are not eligible. Other times emails, calls etc. are genuinely forgotten about due to workload, but then by the time people find it again, they decide its not worth addressing due to how long it has sat there.

Accessibility needs will often not be met

Services will wrongly assume that every person can use the phone and act accordingly. That means some of the most vulnerable people will struggle to access services. You will often have to repeat your access needs to people countless times before they finally understand and respect them. This is discrimination but like with rejections, services will often get away with it. What I did to mitigate this was write multiple paragraphs in my email signature to pre-emptively stop these conversations. While nobody should have to take steps like this, it works.

You will be forced to repeat your history which each new service you talk to

Many services will have their own assessment proceedures that staff at these services have to follow, which at best is incredibly annoying. This is because the assessments between each service are broadly the same in content, even though what each service provides can differ significantly especially when services are specifially for certain groups (ie. Many services for people my age will often have the following specialisms – Young people, Women, LGBTQ+, Trans-only, People of Colour, Asian, Muslims, Disability, Neurodivergent).

Unfortunately, a major downside of this means reliving trauma as people will not simply just reuse existing information for their own, they must follow the proceedures they have and ask for entirely new recounts of the same information. What I did to help mitigate this was to write an extensive summary of my situation and supplied that to help me communicate what I needed to and give them evidence to use for their assessment.

A lot of mainstream advice is cookie cutter, irrespective of marginalisations and individual needs

Systematic bigotry exists everywhere and default advice in the Western world centres the perspectives of white abled neurotypical cishet men. This is subconscious, because most people are uninformed on how suitable or not their advice. Usually it is because they are trained to give said stock advice and signposting . Hence, be prepared to hear the same well-meaning advice from services and for them to be unable to help you when you point out how it isn’t suitable. At it’s worst, it is unsolicited advice that is both deeply triggering and unsuitable especially as trauma stacks up over time. It is also often done when people are being rejected from services.

Some examples:

  • Telling a homeless people who has never managed a tenancy before they can go private as an option and enclosing a bunch of documents meant to help them on their way, but not helping them understand
  • Sending a list of phone numbers to call regarding mental health support, even though this doesn’t work for everyone and isn’t accessible
  • Urging people to contact the police so they can deal with abusers criminally, even though for many minority groups especially black people, this is not viable.
  • Telling disabled people to “chase up” services, even though said service contact methods are inaccessible and people there don’t respond to messages or call back
  • Encouraging autistic and LGBTQ+ people to “change who they are,” thinking it will help, despite lots of evidence to the contrary

This is why I mentioned getting facts from service users and user led orgs earlier as part of your research.

Some services gaslight to ignore systematic barriers

This is likely the most triggering pat of the article for many, so this is it’s own section. Services can also act in a way that is dismissive of legitimate systematic barriers towards marginalised groups when said cookie cutter advice from above is challenged. This is when services dismiss real and valid issues that affect a whole group as somebody’s personal fears or anxiety. Examples include:

  • Why BAME and black people do not trust the police and avoid all non-essential engagement
  • Why disabled people do not trust social security offices or doctors, so often do not get what they’re entitled to to survive
  • Why reaching out for mental health support can be dangerous for autistic and other neurodivergent people
  • Why a trans person outing themselves to single gender services like refuges can be dangerous

The way services will say it indirectly is “You feel that [this systematic barrier/danger] is an issue, but we don’t accept this. We will claim that all users are required to engage with [said systematic barrier/danger] regardless of personal or systematic barriers.” This is an attempt to absolve themselves of any responsibility of educating themselves and addressing their unconscious biases, but in reality signifies to service users they are not to be trusted. It is a warning sign of bad support. Do not engage services that do this where possible.

You may have to take drastic action upon being failed, including relocation to places where specialist support is

Outside of major cities (Like London, Glasgow and Manchester in the UK), there is little support for marginalised groups. Some support exists almost everywhere in developed countries, but in more rural, right-wing areas it is next to nonexistant. Only a few places exist across those areas and with very limited supply. This also factors into the gatekeeping and barriers marginalised people face in these areas, where service staff tend to believe myths perpetrated by the right. Hence, vulnerable people are not taken seriously and trauma is often compounded. Sometimes situations become unsustainable like mine was and disengaging from local services and/or relocating to try elsewhere are the only viable options left. Only once marginalised people move to a more understanding area after being badly failed, do they close in on the help they need. This is something I anecdotally heard is very common from providers regarding housing and LGBTQ+ support.

Do not face this alone

Trying to access services is EXHAUSTING. I almost gave up a few times myself, but managed to keep at it due to seeking help, such as:

  • Peer support from friends, both in person and over the internet. This can be directly elated to solving the situation or moral support.
  • Advocacy services. Many organisations do this in somecapacity such as Shelter, the LGBT Foundation and many user led groups have professionals that will help advocate for you for free.
  • Mental health support, mostly self-help support and techniques while more proper support is put in place, such as writing and gaming.

Self care is so important

It’s OK to disengage from the situation sometimes. It’s OK to take steps to look after yourself, such as engaging in a hobby sometimes. It is OK to buy yourself some treats when and where you have the money. It’s OK if you have to give up with or disengage from certain organisations that harm where it is feasible. You will get there.

I hope this series of tips will help you navigate the mess that are services.

Milla xx

P.S. If you enjoyed this post and have the financial means to do so, please consider sending a donation to me on my Ko-fi to help me stabilise my life and start my medical transition. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading!

Gender Euphoria: How Transitioning Affects Autistic Related Passions

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “Gender Euphoria: How Transitioning Affects Autistic Related Passions”. On the right is the a logo for the blog ,”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

Content warning: gender dysphoria, trauma discussion, toxic masculinity, gamerTM culture discussion, radicalisation mention

Hi all,

Today I am going to talk about an aspect of transitioning and getting lived experience that I haven’t talked about much on here. Namely, how it changes hobbies and passions (aka what many people describe as “special interests” in autistic people) usually for the better.

Transitioning and hobbies

There was something regarding hobbies that I was told after coming out, which I imagine is a fairly common thing told to freshly cracked eggs. This idea is that people who come out should drop all previous things that were associated with them pre-transition, including hobbies. This would be because of shame over who they were. Hence, to be themselves they need to essentially conform to gender based stereotypes.
I don’t need to explain the problems with gender stereotypes and putting hobbies into boxes. However before I go on to the positives regarding hobbies and transitioning, the issue with this idea need explaining. Namely that:

It misunderstands the trauma trans people have

Generally, a lot of the trauma trans people have regarding their hobbies stem as a result of how they engage with said hobbies. Namely, to try to suppress their true gender identity whether they realise it or not. The hobbies themselves aren’t necessarily the issue.

For a lot of trans people, before they come out they try to live the assigned role they were given. I find it difficult to describe without using the wording I used when I tried to do this, so I’ll use it. Namely, a quest to “find a masculine identity I [was] comfortable with.” Often this does include conforming to gender stereotypes sometimes to extreme ends.

Trauma can be compounded by this for many possible reasons like:

  • Realising that it isn’t solving the underlying distress (only transitioning does that).
  • How people perceive said trans person engaging with said hobbies can be distressing
  • Becoming toxic and harmful in the process through social circles, which need to be unpacked (a lot of trans women have had anti-SJW/alt right and/or incel phases, even if they don’t truly believe the argument. However, many go along with them to fit in)
  • When they discover they’ve internalised a lot of transphobic myths from wider society and needing to unpack them
  • All of the above can be complicated when somebody practices hyper masculinity or hyper femininity as a result
  • Likewise when other intersections are involved, such as disability and race

Changing their interests whether pre or post transition by itself will usually only help trans people when it is to:

  • Alleviate dysphoria
  • Increase euphoria
  • Heal from trauma
  • Aid personal safety

In longer words, it can be a new beginning in being true to themselves. Going “OK I didn’t actually like this. What do I actually like? Who am I really? How can I express myself in a genuine way?” It means unpacking the trauma and unconscious bigotry they acquired over time. It means looking deep into themselves and self-reflecting honestly. It also means working out a practical plan of action on taking steps to move forward and become themselves. This is why supportive therapy can be very beneficial for many.

How it could impact trans autistic people

For an autistic person, this is even more doubly important. Passions are often something that is an integral part of our identity and being told to change it completely is an impossible request.

Often our best chances of having a successful career stem from our passions. Hence, to just abandon them can be further damaging as we can lose our sense of purpose and direction and put us at risk of mental harm (or even radicalisation to the far right especially for cis autistic men.)

Additionally, engaging in passions can be very helpful for sensory regulation in a world that is hostile towards autistic people and even more hostile to trans autistic people. Having something reliable to fall back on to help deal with the world helps mitigate meltdowns and can be life saving.

Additionally, ADHD related hyper focusing can also factor into this especially when it makes it easy for time to pass. This can greatly boost enjoyment of passions and sustain mental health. This is especially important as due to both ableism and transphobia, autistic trans people are more likely to be unemployed, have comorbid mental illnesses and/or untreated gender dysphoria.

Redirecting passions to become more euphoric

A way around this is to redirect energy into more inclusive and euphoric aspects of hobbies. Let me contextualise all the above using my passion for video games:

Over the last year or so, I’ve gravitated more towards casual games aimed primarily at women (such as Animal Crossing, Rune Factory and otome visual novels). I play more “core games” on lower difficulties such as Xenoblade Chronicles, embrace accessibility features and becoming a mostly handheld-only gamer gal. This has the very pleasant side effect of being quite euphoric and validating. It is telling me that “Yes I am feminine and I am enjoying what I deprived myself of prior to coming out.” Said games being feminine is seen that way by wider society. Subsequently I enjoy gaming a lot more than I used to and complete more titles. This includes side content within longer RPGs that I would previously skip.

It wasn’t always this way though. Before I came out, I had unknowingly internalised toxic gamer(TM) culture while trying to feel comfortable in my assigned gender. This included playing games, including problematic moe crap, on the default or higher difficulty because it was “the way it’s meant to be played.” I frequently dropped games mid way through due as a result and avoided games with “politics” in them. This was compounded by my attempt to crack games journalism professionally via a site that enabled this toxicity. This meant a lot of trauma built up over time. I wasn’t enjoying my hobby, nor truly belonged with a community of bigots. Because gaming was my passion, I couldn’t abandon it contrary to the myth mentioned.

I redirected my passion into something positive by:

  • Be honest with myself about what I actually felt about my gaming hobbies and took action
  • Moved myself from toxic circles into more inclusive circles
  • Allocated my gaming time and money towards said feminine games
  • Using appropriate accessibility features and lower difficulty settings
  • As the euphoria builds up and continues to affirm, past trauma begins to heal and I relearned to enjoy my passion
  • Interest in toxic circles and problematic moe games decline
  • Abandoned games journalism as a career, but would like to do gaming content on my terms down the line
  • Developed more passions as a result, becoming a more rounded person

It is a similar process for a lot of hobbies – likewise between other trans people.

Any change that happens is out of personal choice or necessity

This is the crucial thing. When trans people make these conscious changes to their hobbies, they only do it because they want or need to. Not because society or individuals tell them to, unless its potentially detrimental to their life. We should support them in doing so, especially as for trans autistic people, passions are critical

Milla xx

P.S. If you enjoyed this post and have the financial means to do so, please consider sending a donation to me on my Ko-fi to help me stabilise my life and start my medical transition. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading!

For The World of Work to be Truly Inclusive, it Must Unpack it’s Systematic Ableism

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “Why the World of Work Must Eradicate Systematic Ableism to be Truly Inclusive”. On the right is the a logo for the blog ,”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

Content warning for: systematic ableism, internalised ableism, discrimination, subminimum wage, abuse mention

Hi all,

Over the next few months on this blog, there is going to be a recurring theme. Namely about moving into adulthood as a disabled person, which put it lightly is fraught with barriers. Many of these barriers are unnecessary and put on by society even when they don’t know it. An excellent example of this is the world of work. I’ve blogged in the past quite positively about the world of work – especially as last autumn, I did manage to hold a full-time role for seven weeks before my employer let me go. I was let go due to my circumstances combined with the position being unsuitable for me and resulting concern for my mental health. I should never have been there in the first place. The background info is relevant as my experiences there (alongside hearing other stories from other people) are what has led to a shift in perspective.

While I do believe there are genuine employers out there who try to be as inclusive as possible, the the problem is that the entire model of the world of work as is systematically ableist it needs to be completely dismantled and rebuilt. Because as it stands, genuine inclusivity will not be possible. Also, before I continue, this article is not about disabled people who cannot work at all, even with accommodations. Because those people exist and governments should be supporting those people properly, not forcing them to work when this is not possible. It is about the majority of disabled people who can work, but the world of work makes it inaccessible so are forced out. Here are some examples of this:

It punishes those who cannot work full time

The more hours somebody can work, the more they’re paid. Employers and governments alike place full-time work as an arbitrary requirement for people to earn a living. This usually means eight hours in the workplace with daily commutes five days a week. Anybody who cannot do this for any reason will struggle unless they can claim social security or live with other people who can support or limit living costs. This is what forces vulnerability onto people, putting them at risk of abuse.

All can think as to why is because employers will simply refuse to pay people full-time wages on part-time hours unless they are roles higher up the career ladder. This is because capitalists can frame it as a “reward for your hard work.” The fact there are part-time jobs on full-time pay restricted to senior, more experienced people supports this. It is ableist as it relies on the flawed idea that if people “work hard” to elevate through the ranks, they will be “rewarded” with something that for disabled people is an accessibility need – reduced working hours. Usually, it’s advertised by employers as a fringe benefit so that people can “relax” or “spend time with their family.” But for many disabled people, it is actually “have time for allocated support services” or “recover from a meltdown, flare up and other symptoms.” Said “fringe benefit” in this instance is essential for having an autonomous life.

This reminds me of the time I asked for advice on finding a “work from home graduate job” only to get told about requesting it as an accommodation and other implications that relies on the goodwill of employers. In other words, what many disabled people need to work any level job didn’t exist – even though it should. The same applies to part time hour work that pays a living wage by itself.

We can’t work hard in impossible situations.

It punishes those who need to seek regular support

Many people need to have medical appointments for things like therapy, as well as social care support. It can be a minefield negotiating the time off with an employer, especially when unconscious vbias or insist on people using holiday hours or something similar. It means people Ely on employer goodwill as disclosure can be used by the employer to “manage out” employees.

The solution for many disabled people is to work part time around appointments so they don’t have to tell the employer anything. Additionally, support services mostly only operate on weekdays, implicitly pushing the idea that people who need support do not work full time or at all, so will be available for said appointment. The same also applies to social care. It essentially means we are forced out of the highest paid, influential jobs all because we have additional support needs through no fault of our own. It’s a punishment that makes accessing services even harder. All of the above is compounded by daily commuting, further increasing burnout and restrictions especially in rural areas.

We can’t access support in impossible situations.

It punishes those who can’t network for any reason

The world of work isn’t actually about what skills people have. Sure, training plays a part for specialist roles, but to ableds it comes down to how good people can professional relationships (whatever they are). I can’t define it properly as I don’t understand them properly myself because I’m neurodivergent, which therein lie the root issue with the world of work’s reliance on networking.

If you don’t have the skills, ability or understanding for networking is you will be at a disadvantage. The simplest way I can define networking is “the ability to conform to an arbitrary standard set by the neurotypical, privileged majority in society. This is to build rapport with people to help support each other as colleagues and further each other’s careers.” The world of work subtly discriminates against swathes of groups as a result, but especially towards neurodivergent people.

Neurotypicals do not explain networking adequately. They don’t explain the building blocks so that people who need extra support to understand can do so. It also means anyone who makes social mistakes or good faith approaches outside of the accepted standards risk being glossed over for jobs, or even worse, bullied and blacklisted.

It also applies in jobs too, such as setting unreasonable expectations by not helping the neurodivergent person understand how they should respond to situations. An excellent example of this happened at my last job. I was told I did not “show initiative” when dealing with queries when actually I could not work out the expected solution to very ambiguous situations. I’m autistic so unless I was told what to do, it was impossible. This is the case in a lot of customer service roles where pleasing the neurotypical majority is paramount. This is regardless of what mistake they made (such as not following procedures, or when famous or important people are involved).

Again, we cannot communicate in impossible situations.

It contributes to damaging mental and physical health of workers, even when employers act to try to protect it

The damage the workplace does to disabled people is real. This is even when employers are well-intentioned but ultimately fall short of understanding how the world of work they operate in is exclusionary. For disabled people, the world of work is a lifelong uphill battle as little barriers pop up very day that cannot always be overcome or managed. Eventually, the damage builds up to a point where they have no choice but to stop working. Disabled people notice these things in ways even the most genuinely inclusive employers don’t. That’s why employers need to listen to us.

Employers are so used to the existing system; they want to continue with said system, not knowing what alternatives are out there or fearing what alternatives to put in primarily due to believing myths or not wanting to threaten profits. Even those that do go above and beyond still put said constraints in place mentioned above, meaning there is still a glass ceiling stopping disabled employees from fulfilling their potential. This is one reason why employers routinely denied homeworking until COVID-19 forced employers to put it in place for ableds.

The physical and mental harm is still there and is still done, but employers and politicians alike will often blame the individual, rather than the system they operate in. Yes, some jobs truly aren’t appropriate for some disabled people despite accommodations (such as my previous job), but this isn’t the case for everyone. Thus, it should not be used as a blanket excuse to not address the existing model. Even if they let us go out of genuine concern for our health, the damage is done.

We can’t protect our health in impossible situations.

Many disabled people reach an impossible choice, that current initiatives do not address

The world of work has a lot of initiatives for disabled people, which have gone some way to improve the conference and employability skills of many typically shut out of work. I have accessed some of this support in the past and they helped me greatly improve my skills and become better able to work. I am grateful to the good support that I accessed and do believe they are valuable and for any disabled person reading this – it is worth engaging suitable schemes. I continue to do this now.

However, most, if not all, omit a major shortcoming. Many schemes I’ve engaged prepare many disabled people towards full-time work even though many like myself will later find out that they cannot do this. There is no support on what to do if you are disabled and want to/have to earn a full-time income but can’t handle the world of work. Anyone in that gap is basically on their own or are told the usual accommodation stuff. It is still about trying to help disabled people adjust to an existing system that for many is impossible. This is one reason many employers struggle to retain disabled employees.

That said, some schemes are in bad faith, such as sheltered workshops, that force disabled people (usually with higher support needs) to work for the subminimum wage where there is no chance of career progression or independent living. I have no personal experience with this, so I will leave links to some further reading about this – one from the United States and another from Germany.

The message the world of work implicitly sends is that of abandonment. It’s telling us that there is support out there, except disability support that emphasises autonomy and getting an sustainable income without being exploited by the employer or the state is tough to find. Additionally, hoping employers agree to accommodate support needs is not acceptable, when in reality they can easily discriminate by claiming the accommodation requests aren’t reasonable and get away with it.

It means many disabled people are put into a position where there is no easy way forward and said support initiatives did not prepare them for, which can further damage mental health. To paraphrase the words of somebody else I spoke to recently who is in an equally tricky situation (which I think sums it up perfectly):

“The world of work forces disabled people to make a choice between their career and their independence.”

We shouldn’t have to sacrifice either under any circumstances.

The following are what many disabled people do

For those who choose independence, this often means going self employed, freelance or only look for remote working jobs. It means that we can curate our environment and schedule to our needs while also working towards an income we can live on. This can take a while so is risky; however, getting passive income in particular can pay off in the long run as it reduces required working hours. For others, this means having to leave work altogether, which puts them at the mercy of governments to actually give them the money they are entitled to live on. Many disabled people cannot work even if the system changed, but so many more could. And we want to.

I imagine a lot of disabled people who choose the career option do it for one of two reasons – the first is internalised ableism like the myth of “overcoming disability.” The other reason is that their circumstances mean they’ve got no choice. One example is that they have no social security, so they have to work, even though they know this is harmful. Usually, people that choose the career option sooner or later have to revert to the independence option after their health declines, or they get let go.

What are the solutions to this?

Firstly, any solution should focus on prioritising the autonomy and human rights of disabled people, as by doing so this physical and mental health damaged is reduced or eliminated. This is to help avoid situations for disabled employees like I described in the last paragraph. It will also indirectly benefit abled as well.

This means many of the fundamental ideas that underpin the world of work need to be demolished entirely and changed on a structural level. Some ways (both on an organisational and legal level) include:

  • A shorter working week so that many disabled people can work said hours without losing pay or having to request accommodations
  • Move to remote working more often, as well as making home working standard or a legal right where possible (and it is possible for the vast majority of office jobs – I wrote a whole article on this)
  • Set out unwritten social rules and expectations – ie. Written down and frequently updated.
  • Change expectations to become more friendly to neurodivergent people. To go back to the ambiguity example, instead of trying to people please neurotypicals who don’t follow proceedures without a good reason, enforce them. Eventually, they will get the message as the customer is not always right and the disorganised, last minute nature of many neurotypicals is detrimental to the welfare of neurodivergent staff
  • Make specific holiday time available for those with specific needs without dipping into the default holiday time. Such as allowing extra holiday for weekly counselling appointments, social care chunks as well as for essential healthcare (like appointments at specialist clinics).
  • Outline alternative pathways to employment to disabled people clearly, to avoid them being having to choose between independence and a career.
  • Emphasising the world of work’s failings to accommodate to prevent internalised ableism
  • Encourage people to financially support disabled people who go self employed like what happens in social justice circles
  • Push for structural change, so more disability-friendly practises are enshrined in law for everyone, not just as an accommodation that has to be requested and can be denied.
  • Abolish sheltered workshops.
  • Universal basic income – this was trailed in Finland with positive results
  • A progressive tax system.
  • Higher corporation tax
  • Read more articles from disabled people like this one

In conclusion

Overall, the world of work needs to go further to be truly inclusive. This is because accessibility benefits everyone regardless of ability – improving the quality of life for everyone while making the impossible possible for a significant chunk of the population.

Even if it means we earn less money in the long run, we have to choose our independence over a fulfilling, high flying career. This is because it is no good having a job if it is slowly destroying somebody’s physical or mental health – thus sabotaging somebody’s autonomy and therefore independence. In that scenario, it is better not to work.

As someone who has hit said independence vs career choice over the last 12 months, what you have just read is what I have taken away from it. I don’t know what I’ll be doing now work-wise but I do know one thing – no matter what happens, I will find a way forward. To any other disabled people reading this, that applies to you too.

Milla xx
P.S. If you enjoyed this post and have the financial means to do so, please consider sending a donation to me on my Ko-fi to help me stabilise my life and start my medical transition. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading!

Why the End of Bigoted “Checks and Balances” is Inevitable

Featured image description: White text on a pink background saying the blogpost title of “Why the End of Bigoted “Checks and Balances” is Inevitable”. To the right is the blog name in purple text as well as the logo (a golden neurodiversity symbol on top of a black trans symbol).

CW for transphobia, brief examples of bigotry impacting many other minority groups (no detail)

Hi all,

I’m writing today’s post to talk about something important after recent news. Namely, around the concept of “checks and balances” which is one of the anti-trans dog whistles that was used by Liz Truss in her first Women’s Equality & Human Rights Committee meeting in April 2020. It was then reinforced in a leaked report in the June 14th, 2020 issue of the Sunday Times. The original quote from the meeting is as follows:

“…making sure that transgender adults are free to live their lives as they wish without fear of persecution, while maintaining the proper checks and balances in the system.”

The usage of “checks and balances” here underpins a lot of fundamental issues that are not just limited to transgender rights. Hence I’m going to explain why this impacts everybody and what to do about it.

It implies the myth that we aren’t all human or worthy of respect, despite the precise opposite being the case.

We are all human and broadly have similar desires and needs. We all desire a good quality of life in whatever forms that each of us wants. We all need access to the resources that will help us get to a good position that satisfies us. We all have human rights and dignity that we are entitled to – and deserve.

A lot of privileged people don’t realise this on a deep level about minority groups, mainly because they’ve been unknowingly conditioned to think that way. Whether it’s the erasure of British colonial history (leading to many denying the UK is racist) to transgender people labelled as predatory and dangerous by the media, the undertones of “us vs them,” “normal vs abnormal” and “familiar vs strange” exist. When if all of this is put aside, we are all human and possess much deeper commonalities then we think.

It implies that restrictions will be put in place, even if broader society denies this.

This is the result of the implications set above. The “checks and balances” reinforce people’s misguided perceptions of abnormality in minority groups. It is an approach intended to restrict freedom and encourage conformity, “checking” that people are adhering to their wishes while trying to “balance” the reaction to stop the masses realising it’s discrimination.
Of course, this does have consequences:

  • For trans people, it means having to convince cisgender people to agree with them that they are their gender  (which is very dehumanising and is why the GRA and NHS trans pathways aren’t fit for purpose).

  • For disabled people, it means constant hostility from the state who run on the assumption that social security fraud is rampant and people must not cost the state anything, regardless of the outcome on disabled people.

  • For homeless people, it means having to continually to prove that they are “really homeless” and nobody else can help them due to artificially constrained supply of both housing and support for addressing issues.

These kind of issues apply to every minority in some form even if they aren’t directly targeted by certain “checks and balances” agendas (ie. Systematic racism, migrants from abroad). At the time of writing though, trans people are the target with the dogwhistle “checks and balances” to signify this.

The idea that “checks and balances” can be put in place to regulate minority groups for any length of time highlights one of the fundamental flaws with conservative ideology. Change is inevitable.

In the past, a lot of things Westerners take for granted today were not standard in the past and our ancestors had to fight for them. Examples include women being able to vote, decriminalising homosexuality and abolishing slavery. These weren’t given to us, we had to fight for them.

Conservatives are the gatekeepers of these rights and only because they have more influential power in the world, but are vulnerable when collective action is taken. Previous generations fought for change, and we got it – and this did include violence and riots.

Of course, the fight isn’t over. Voter suppression still happens, trans rights are under attack, and systematic racism is far and wide (hence the current Black Lives Matter movement). This is before mentioning how many rights Westerners have are non-existent in former European colonies to this day. This is due to said conservative colonialists forcing their “checks and balances” across the world.

We will win, but we have to work for it.

The status quo cannot be upheld forever. It is simply not possible. The “checks and balances” that are standard now to suppress minorities will destroy itself naturally as more people begin to understand that we are human. This includes many of those that initially enforced said “checks and balances” in the first place.

But that does mean we have to get political such as – sending letters to political figures, running campaigns, spread accurate information on and offline as well as taking to the streets and get allies on board. It will be worth the struggle.

Milla xx

P.S. If you enjoyed this post and have the financial means to do so, please consider sending a donation to me on my Ko-fi to help me stabilise my life and start my medical transition. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading!

What’s in a Name? – Redux –

Hi, I’m Milla.

I finally got around to doing something I’ve thought about doing for a while – rebranding my blog.

On this blog, I will be focusing primarily on my lived experience of being autistic and trans going forward. I’ve been doing this for the last year or so without changing the name, but now it is official.

More specifically, I aim to blog about:

– Lived experiences, particularly as I work to rebuild my life
– Rambles that will be looked at from the lense of lived experience and intersectionality
– Political rambles, mainly around UK politics but would like to do more
– Guides and advice (ie. For transitioning in the UK)
– Anything else that wouldn’t get aired in UK mainstream media
– Links to any other things I do

Why the change?

I used to focus primarily on autism but moved away from that over time. This is mainly because the experiences of those percieved as autistic boys is very well trodden ground if it does not include a trans perspective. Therefore some originality is needed. This revamp symbolises this and makes it more official.

I am also hoping to primarily channel my online political thoughts (and more serious posts) onto my blog alongside positivity so that social media is a more positive space for myself and others. This doesn’t mean I’ll be spamming politics blogposts but what it is mean is that I can consolidate my thoughts better.

I have gone back and corrected pronouns on older blogposts as well as deleted some that don’t reflect who I sm today or I wish to rewrite (such as my blogpost on being aspec, which now I’ve transitioned I am unsure if I still feel the same way). So some reposts will go up at some point.

Why the change?

When I first started almost three years ago, I was anonymous because I was a socially anxious mess. I had no idea who I really was and internalised a lot of problematic beliefs. This was mainly due to being mistreated growing up and hence becoming vulnerable to toxic crowds as a result. I also wasn’t engaged with the disability community much so struggled to meet my needs but was also unaware of the diverse range of lived experience out there. I preferred anonymity as a result of my circumstances then, hence I chose the pseudonym Subtle.

Nowadays, Milla is proud to be themselves largely due to what I realised, discovered and learnt since starting this blog. I’m confident in who I am and despite everything, life has never been better. That said, I don’t have patience for bullshit and will be quite direct with that. I’m trans. I’m autistic. I’m an intersectional feminist. I don’t speak for everyone with my lived experience but said experiences are part of who I am.

Here is the new logo (with image description):

ID: The logo for Trans Autistic Feminist. The logo consists of a “Light it Up Gold” neurodiversity helic on top of a black trans symbol. The background is pink and the blog title “Trans Autistic Feminist” is written in purple below.

Here is a sample featured image with image description):

ID: A sample featured image for “Trans Autistic Feminist.” On the right is the blog logo which is identical to what is in the above logo image.

To the left is white text in front of a pink background that will be the title of the blogpost. This one says “Noise-Cancelling Liberation.”

I have also changed the layout a bit to reflect this change, but at the time of writing is still a work in progress.

I hope y’all continue to stick around.

Best,
Milla xx

Black Lives Matter (including resources & links)

Featured ID: Whote text on a black background that says “#BlackLivesMatter (including Resources and Links)”

Major TW police brutality, racism, ableism, murder, white supremacy

Hi all,

Firstly, apologies again for the silence on here for a bit. My blog was on haitus due to my personal circumstances (which will be discussed another time).

That said, given the current climate that can not be ignored, I need to make something clear here given that not everyone who reads my blog follows my Twitter.

Black Lives Matter.

Systematic racism is not normal nor should it be tolerated.

The systematic murder of black people by the police and other government forces for existing is not OK.

We wouldn’t have LGBTQ+ rights without the black trans women that led the Stonewall riots all those years ago. And yes said riots were violent just as the current riots are.

Autistic black people are just group of black disabled people who are even more vulnerable to police brutality due to how systematic racism and ableism intersect.

Fuck fascism and all who enable it. If you are “anti-antifa” you are pro-fascism. Antifa isn’t an organisation, it is short for anti-fascism. Hence you out yourself as a fascist and a danger to minorities. Dismantling racism is key to atopping fascism. You can’t have one without the other.

You need to do your bit to show support especially if you are white. And that dosen’t mean a performative black square on social media and call it a day. Or posting #AllLivesMatter, “the cops aren’t that bad” and other dismissive nonsense.

It means:

– boost voices of black people especially those who are multiply marginalised

– hire black people and donate to their crowdfunders

– educating yourself on systematic racism and colonialism and how it persists to this day

(This ESPECIALLY applies to white British people in particular. Many current geopolitical conflicts (ie. Jammu and Kashmir) alongside racism in UK government policy (ie. Windrush, Brexit) are largely because white Brits haven’t took the time understand British history)

– attend protest marches where possible

– sign petitions and boost protest related content

– holding the racists in your personal life to account

Here are some resources to help you:

Links to BLM sites:

https://blmsites.carrd.co/

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

https://blacklivesmatter.com/

https://allblm.carrd.co/

Petitions to sign:
https://twitter.com/notlikethemonth/status/1267830196272459776?s=19

Bail funds to donate to:
https://twitter.com/sorrybythway/status/1267469168300998656?s=19

YouTube ad donation videos:

A 1 hour long YouTube video project where all ad revenue will go towards BLM causes for those who can’t donate themselves:

https://youtu.be/bCgLa25fDHM

Note: You MUST turn off adblock and let the ads fully run to be effective.

For repeat watches only do so after watching 3-5 videos of differing lengths to stop it being marked as spam.

And here is a thread of other similar donation vids:
https://twitter.com/iDiminies/status/1267550974190764033?s=19

Resource for disabled people regarding protests:
https://twitter.com/gender_goblin/status/1267215844754567168?s=19

UK specific anti-racism resources:

“Racism in the UK: What they didn’t teach us in school” instagram post with lots of starting points for research: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA53Q_WDl9O/?igshid=14acojkudj5xg

Black Lives Matter UK Reading List:
https://twitter.com/LDNYoungLabour/status/1268160429999697920?s=19

Another non-UK specific google drive resource with more black activism and history info:
https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0Bz011IF2Pu9TUWIxVWxybGJ1Ync

If you play video games, here is a database of black devs to support:
http://www.blackgamedevs.com/

If there’s any more things people would like me to add to this list, please leave a comment. I’ll make sure to add them 🙂

Once again, Black Lives Matter.

Fuck racism, fascism and white supremacy.

Human lives come above all else. Businesses can be rebuilt once lost but lives cannot.

Milla xx