Saturday, January 31, 2015

Actually, Yes, The "A" Is For Ally

Before I begin, a quick note: This essay is not in support of the "A is for Ally!" version of the LGBTQIA acronym.  I, in fact, want to abolish the whole idea of the LGBT acronym, which inherently cannot support all queer identities while simultaneously being used to try legitimizing the appropriation of "queer" by cishet people.  But I'm getting frustrated by the following statements being thrown around that the A has never, ever, ever meant "ally," usually punctuated with some insistence that whoever commented that it did mean "ally" should totally have known better for some reason.

You're right in saying that allies should not be given space in this way.  But you're wrong if you think they never are or never have been.  And refusing to acknowledge this leads to a lot of problems.  What follows are some important things to note about why the acronym is what it is and why the "A is for asexual and never, ever ally" thing isn't.

1. The acronym always changes and it's ludicrous to expect everyone to have learned it the same way.

It was only in the '90s people started regularly adding a "T" to "LGBT."  Since then people have regularly campaigned to get other letters added in order to facilitate inclusiveness (or appropriation), most commonly the Q (for questioning or queer), the I (for intersex), and the A (for ally or asexual).  This has resulted in some ridiculously lengthy and irritating-to-pronounce-or-read acronyms like LGSBTTQQIAAPP which is literally a real one from a campus group I went to a conference with once back in like 2007.

Notably, the replacement of "ally" with "asexual" is recent in the vast majority of cases.  In fact, I didn't see A for asexual for years, and when I did start seeing it it was usually alongside "ally."  That doesn't mean that it didn't exist, obviously, but this is the way most people who became active around the time I did or earlier will have learned it.  And it's just fucking ridiculous how many members of this community snap on people over conventions that aren't even universally used today let alone ten fucking years ago.

In fact, "A as in Ally" is still how some people are learning it, because...

2. The acronym varies between groups and communities.

What letters and what they stand for vary widely based on the interests of the group you're working with and the region that group is based in.  The group above that used LGSBTTQQIAAPP was adding letters left and right because the group itself wanted to be inclusive and sensitive to all their members.  Whether or not the I for intersex is included will depend on whether or not local intersex people consider themselves a part of the community.  Some groups only go with LGBT either because they're only targeted on those four identities or assume the rest are implied, still others stubbornly refuse to add the T, even in name, due to separatism and/or outright transphobia.

With this in mind, it's easy to see why many groups still add an A for ally... many groups are over-accommodating of cishet allies in their spaces.  And this happens for a variety of reasons.  Plenty of groups are desperately afraid of losing their allies.  In some cases this is totally irrational because allies don't add anything useful to, say, a queer social group.  But in other cases it might make sense... at one of my alma maters, for instance, the actual queer and trans community is spread thin and getting rid of all of the allies would result in a group too small to keep its status as an official campus organization.  Groups like this--and many that aren't--are very interested in attracting and retaining straight cis allies, and one of the ways they do that is by carving out space centering them.  This is just one instance of that.

3. It's really hard for a lot of queer people to tell allies "no" during their endless quests for validation.

It's preposterous that any queer and/or trans group should be bending its policies or culture merely to furnish straight cis peoples' comfort.  A true ally does not need to be in the acronym, does not need groups to call attention to straight peoples' role in some alliance, does not ask for validation or space.  The reality is that most cishet folks are not true allies.  They are there craving validation.  They are uncomfortable when things aren't about them.  Their feelings are hurt very easily when they are not validated and when their "concerns" are ignored.

They are also powerful, whether they are aware of it or not.

What I mean is that the mere presence of a straight person in queer space or a cis person in trans space--whether closed, safer space or not--changes the entire dynamic of that group.  In most cases this means queer people are constantly altering their behavior and speech, backtracking on their genuine sentiments, and including cishet allies in irrelevant contexts in order to avoid alienating them or hurting their feelings.  Alternatively, it can mean a group is extra critical of allies in attendance, such as the group in this irritating HuffPost piece in which a straight ally asks a fucking ridiculous, offensive question and refuses to return after he's called out on it.

Think about that article for a minute.  A straight guy goes to a queer group, says something outrageously offensive, some shitty grating thing queer people hear time and time again as if it's some original pearl of wisdom every goddamn time, and people don't write thinkpieces about how the straight guy shouldn't have said those things, only about how we need to stop being so "mean" to people who invade our space.

For me personally, a lot of any undue accommodation I give to straight or cis people has to do with what I call the "whine effect."  There are things I don't have the energy to talk about with straight people and/or cis people anymore, not because they say nothing egregiously offensive, but because I'm just so goddamn sick of hearing them whine about how hard it is for them that I buckle.

One of the things straight cis people like whining about?  Lack of representation in spaces that aren't theirs.  They want a fucking letter, they want a fucking flag, they want a fucking caucus at a queer event, they want the right to be called "queer" when they're obviously not, they want, they want, they whine, they want.

With all that going on it's only a matter of time before people start accommodating just to avoid hearing the constant shrill whine of allies wanting attention.  And so you get groups calling themselves LGBTA... lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally.

Again, like I've been saying, it doesn't make it right, but we still need to take these things into context.  To fix the problem of entitled ally behavior in our communities we need to understand how it's been accommodated and nurtured throughout the years without assuming it's just a matter of misinformation that people believe the A is for Ally.  It's not.

4. Who gets represented in the acronym isn't exactly curated by radicals and inclusivists.

It staggers me that so many people think it's always been that way everywhere and for all time, because quite frankly many of these groups have been put together by people who are anywhere from suspicious to downright bigoted against asexual people.

The first group I did any real work with used "ally," not "asexual," for many years.  I remember distinctly the first time I met somebody who self-identified as asexual, and it was in the context of him trying to convince the leadership of this group to include asexuality in its program.  At the time this was met with severe resistance by people who proclaimed in no uncertain terms that asexuality was not what they were fighting for.

It's ridiculous and wrong but it's still fact.  The A did not mean "asexual."  Asexuality wasn't even on peoples' radar when the A was added.  And it wouldn't be for almost a decade.

I don't want to give the impression that I think it's totally cool that every other organization and public figure out there is interpreting the A in LGBTA as "ally."  It shouldn't be in there.  Allies don't need that accommodation because they as straight people get it everywhere else.  We can't fight against that, though, by pretending that ally-centering behavior in queer spaces has somehow magically never happened.  And one of these issues is that, yes, the A has stood for "ally" much more often than it has stood for "asexual."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No, Really, How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You Pope Francis I Is A Bigot?

So in today's episode of "Christian exceptionalism is a hell of a drug," I woke this morning to a nice variety of people posting an article entitled "Pope Francis: No need to breed 'like rabbits'."  The comments they left on this and other articles talking about the same event zeroed in on ridiculing people who have a lot of kids.  Which is really interesting, because I can't fathom how people are reading this and still seeing Pope Francis as some sort of liberal Catholic revolutionary worthy of pro-LGBT awards and uncritical swells of praise.  Is it possible for anybody to pause their standing ovation of his misogynistic judging of women who have a lot of kids to pay any attention to the rest of what he said?

Because he also said that same-sex marriage "disfigures God's plan for creation."
As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.  -- Pope Francis, 2013 The Advocate Man of the Year

Keep in mind that gay and lesbian Christians have been metaphorically sucking this guy's dick for over a year now for a couple of speeches about homosexuality in which he literally said nothing new or useful.  His statements were entirely in-line with already-present church doctrine which paints queer people as sinners who do not deserve our relationships fully recognized, who are inherently unfit parents (one of Francis's pet issues pre-papacy was fighting against same-sex couples' right to adopt children), who are "called by God" to be lifelong celibates (hence any iota of support for gay priests).  The only thing pro-queer about Francis is that he is against murdering us and occasionally compromises on key issues in order to avoid accepting our full humanity.

But let's back up here.  I didn't put in my title "homophobic bigot" like I did for my last two Pope Francis essays (listed below) because his problems go way beyond his stance on homosexuality, and it starts with this doozy of a position on family planning.  Keep in mind that Francis--like the Church in general--opposes contraception, hands-down.  The only contraception methods the Church supports are ones that basically involve guessing whether or not a woman is fertile on that particular day.  Whether they're effective or not depends on the method used and how accurately those methods are followed, but regardless, a very observant Catholic has very few options for birth control and is required to just grin and bear the possibility of getting pregnant whenever they have sex.  For those who can't properly get the hang of Church approved methods, there is no backup birth control (no morning after pill if the condom fails, no hormonal birth control if you happen to have sex at a fertile time, no abortion if you get pregnant anyway).  You're supposed to just accept that God might want you to have a baby like it's no big thing.  So here's a guy who fully supports that kind of sexual environment in his religion, and he can still tell a woman with seven kids that she's irresponsible?

It frustrates me to have to say again, but Pope Francis just isn't that much of a breath of fresh air.  He's championed a select few progressive causes--things that don't challenge Church doctrine in any useful manner--and has continued to espouse staunchly conservative, bigoted beliefs elsewhere.

* As an anti-marriage queer it might seem odd that I would be so irritated at the support of people who are against same-sex marriage.  The reality is that there is a huge difference between being against marriage as an institution and being against marriage only for same-sex couples or trans folk.  More can be read here.

** For an earlier take on his popishness you can check out my earlier essays, "Pope Francis is a Homophobic Bigot" and "Pope Francis is STILL a Homophobic Bigot."

Friday, January 9, 2015

Wheat-Free Stuff I've Eaten Lately

I recently learned that I'm actually allergic to wheat (which explains why some of my weird symptoms go away when I eat paleo or primal or go on a Whole 30 or something).  I've actually been eating way more packaged "gluten-free" (since gluten-free is usually wheat-free) foods than I wish I was, but it has in some respects inspired me to eat in more preferred ways.

Plus, I haven't made a frivolous food post here in what feels like ages, so why not?

Simple Green Tofu Curry
I've been adding more meatless meals to my diet for environmental and monetary reasons, and this curry is the result of that.  I pretty much fry tofu until it's done (I hate undercooked tofu so for take my sweet time), add green curry paste, broccoli, coconut milk, and that's about it.  I don't remember if I just winged it or if I went by a recipe to make it the first time, but it's kind of similar to recipes I've found anyway.

Corn Pasta Lasagna Casserole
I've put two recipes including gluten-free packaged goods just because... well, I have been eating it.  May as well document.  This is a rendition of a recipe my mom used to make (when she still cooked).  You just layer cooked rotini noodles, cottage cheese, shredded mozzarella or Italian mix (I used the latter) cheese, and pasta sauce, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the cheese is well melted.  I added some Italian seasoning to the top.

Orange Tamarind Cornish Game Hen and Leftovers
 Some leftover lasagna casserole to the right.  On the left is a Cornish game hen which was baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour and periodically basted with a mix of tamarind extract, minced garlic, honey, and orange juice.  The rest of the mix was added as a sauce after cooking.

Flaxseed Chia Hot Cereal
This stuff is great if you don't eat oats (and, hell, if you do eat oats).  Mix ground flaxseed meal (about 1/2-3/4 cup), whole flax seeds (about half a tablespoon), and chia seeds (about half a tablespoon) in a bowl, add milk to cover, microwave for 45 seconds to a minute (you can change the amount of milk until it's your preferred hot cereal texture, which for me varies).  Add fruit and maple syrup if you want, but I think it tastes good as is.

Worst Cooks Knockoff Chuck Steak 

I've been obsessed with the show "Worst Cooks Ever" lately and as such have gotten lots of inspiration.  This was based on one of the dishes the contestants were supposed to copy.  I had a chuck eye steak and decided to use that.  I coated the steak with a spicy five pepper mix, seared it in a cast iron pan, sliced it, put a sprig of rosemary and a tablespoon of butter on top, and put the pan in the oven at 350 degrees for what turned out to be like a half an hour (keep checking for doneness/preferred redness).  I then made a puree out of sweet potato, butter, maple syrup, and milk.  When it was all done I used the sweet potato puree as a bed for the steak, and it was pretty delicious.

Tranniversary Muffin Cake
I wanted a cake for my 3rd hormone anniversary (I called it my Tranniversary but I'm not sure what qualifies for a Tranniversary these days. I was three years on hormones.).  I couldn't for the life of me find a wheat-free yellow cake mix, and I was really lazy that day, so I took a wheat-free blueberry muffin mix and baked it in a cake pan instead.  Decorated with penis candles and frosting and voila.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

On my Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Context of Conditional Male/Masculine Privilege

A cautionary note that this article contains somewhat explicit details about a sexual assault.

I have a lot of feelings about how trans men fit into male privilege discourse.  I am quite firm in my stance that trans men are not somehow magically exempt from male privilege, but there are some common narrative strains up-and-coming that come to the bizarre conclusion that not only do trans men unconditionally have male privilege, we somehow have it from birth, because--as the current popular narrative goes--"trans men have always been men."

This has repeatedly ruffled me because I absolutely loathe having my experiences erased, and this narrative erases a lot of experiences I have had on the target end of misogyny, experiences that many women have come out as sharing.  People insisting beyond a shadow of a doubt that trans men do not experience misogyny--ever, not even before transition--erases over eighteen years of my life in the name of promoting a shady narrative of dubious effectiveness as far as combating transphobia.  The reality is that a significant number of us do not adhere to the belief that we were always men.  Some, including myself, value our histories as girls and/or women as informing the kind of men we are or hope to become.

I had a whole thing written about this that went into extreme detail as to why male privilege in trans men is conditional, why it harms us, a run-down of the many experiences I've had both pre- and post-transition, and a million etceteras about the subject, but instead I'm going to tell a singular story that pretty much encapsulates for me why the way trans male privilege is framed is so offensive and painful to me.  And that's the story of when I was sexually assaulted.

I have picked this story for a variety of reasons.  First, it's from the period in my life after my social transition was well underway but before I was able to get hormones.  Second, the reasons it happened were very explicitly related to misogyny.  Finally, it's a story that has repeatedly gotten me harassed by a fringe minority of trans women who have made it their goal to "call out" trans men who talk about our experiences of oppression.

It goes like this.  I had been out as transgender for seven years.  I'd been living in-role as a man for most of that time, and had even gotten my name legally changed, but was having an extremely difficult time finding work.  In desperation I got a job at a summer camp for disabled adults across the state, where I found myself closeted and working as a butch woman.

It was against the rules for men to work with women, but women were able to work with men if they consented to it, so I signed the form saying I'd work with men and pretty consistently did throughout the summer.  Because I worked with men--and also to relieve some of the dysphoria--I slept in the men's dorm.  This went on for weeks with no problem.

One day I was about to go to sleep when three men stumbled drunkenly into the dorm and surrounded me.  They were laughing at me, grinding against me, and one of them grabbing and kissing me.  I repeatedly told them no, that I just wanted to go to sleep, but they'd only back off a few feet and then would resume harassing me.  When trying to get into my bunk bed, one of them kept trying to follow me up the ladder as the other two laughed.  Finally I kneed him a couple times and, flustered, went into the common area of the dorm where I hung out with some people who weren't asleep yet, unable to really say anything.

A different guy came and asked what had happened, since I was so visibly shaken.  He stood up for me and talked to the men who had assaulted me as well as one of our bosses.  He also was instrumental in me understanding that what had happened to me was an assault.  But during this process I also wound up with many moments of clarity that really dug what had happened to me deeper.

One of the men who assaulted me apologized for it.  While doing so, he explained that the reason they had done it was because they thought it would be funny to target me because I was butch and apparently sexual assault is hilarious when you're convinced a woman is unattractive.  My masculinity had not protected me from misogyny, and in fact had made me more vulnerable to it in this particular context.

The response by the administration was even more appalling.  Rather than acknowledge that what had happened to me was wrong, they instituted a policy that women could no longer sleep in the men's dorm on nights off.  The situation was treated as if I had knowingly walked into a trap--the dorm that it was literally my job to sleep in on any other night--and was responsible for the assault.  None of the men were reprimanded in any way for what they had done to me.

This was not a sexual assault perpetrated by men against a man to emasculate him, as many sexual assaults against men are.  It was a sexual assault perpetrated by men specifically because they saw me as a woman, specifically because they saw me as a butch woman.  What I experienced was misogyny.

And this is one experience of mine among hundreds of others, from assumptions of academic ineptitude in math and computer classes to gender-targeted fat shaming to men who wouldn't leave me the fuck alone until I said I was taken and endless pulling apart of my gender expression by people who not only implied but flat out stated that my concern should be how attractive I am to men.

I have been on hormones now for three years, and many of these problems have been mitigated.  There is absolutely no question that I have male privilege in the vast majority of contexts.

But even with all the medical help I've gotten, with facial hair and an easily-concealable chest and a deep voice, there are plenty of people--mostly relatives, but others as well--who do not fully acknowledge my maleness, and those people regularly throw microaggressions at me, implying that I'm weak or don't understand things just because I happened to spend 18 years as a woman.

These are things that have not only informed my current understanding of misogyny, they have affected the way I handle things, how I interact with people, how I read the ways people interact with me, and every other facet of my existence.  As popular as it may be to fantasize about, there is no possible way for me to divorce myself from my female history.

I haven't always been a man.  I used to be a woman.  I identified as a woman.  And even after that, I was a man who was almost universally viewed as a woman.  I reject the assumption that that part of my life should be rewritten as anything else, and any attempts to do so I consider malicious erasure of my experiences.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pagan Values Part 2: Why so little nudity?

You probably don't remember, but I started a Pagan values series months ago and never got around to writing the part I wanted to write shortly after.  It's about nudity, which is a great topic.

Once upon a time, Pagans did rituals naked.  OK... we still often do rituals naked, but it's less likely you will encounter a nude Pagan at a Pagan event, even if the event is clothing-optional, as some still are.  This article posted way back when I originally was planning to write this has a set of arguments, most of which I think form pieces of this puzzle.  Some of what's argued there will inevitably be repeated here.  There are a lot of reasons why nudity has lessened, here are the ones that really pop out to me, though.

Pressure from Parents
If you go to a comment feed of anything advertising a clothing optional Pagan event you're pretty likely to find panicked complaints from parents about how they can't go because they have children.  This used to annoy the hell out of me.  The drive to make Pagan events "family friendly" is frustrating as a childfree Pagan who practices radical queer spirituality.  It took listening to a conversation between Pagan divorcees to recognize how important this is.  These were people who were basically forced to join churches and pretend to be born-again Christians to avoid having their kids taken away because their exes spontaneously became anti-Pagan when they felt they could use it to gain full custody of their children.  And this isn't an irrational fear: There have even been cases where Paganism was not an issue for either parent and a judge still insisted the children be kept away from the faith, such as this case where both parents were Wiccans and the judge still insisted their child be kept away from Wicca.

This has changed the character of the Pagan community and reduced the number of clothing-optional events, but it doesn't entirely explain the lack of nudity at events where nudity is welcome.  There are some other reasons for this that I have personally noticed:

I'm surprised at how little the original article touched on the whole subject of creepers, because quite frankly there are a lot of them.  Then again, people are often unwilling to point out that these people are creepers due to the unfortunate association of open sexuality with being more socially evolved that plagues radical and alternative communities (I'll talk a bit about that later).  To use an example, the very first time I encountered nudity at a public Pagan gathering involved a woman who was minding her own business only to have some dude grovel at her feet thanking her and calling her things like "Goddess" because she was nude, as if her nudity was inherently something meant for him.  When nudity brings you this kind of attention, it makes sense that people would put their clothes back on.

Less Socially-Cumpulsory Sexual Availability

This is tied to the last one but still a separate issue.  One of the historical problems in the Pagan community--a problem that has plagued pretty much all radical and alternative communities--is the perspective that there's something Extra Specially Spiritual or Extra Specially Radical about being sexually available, whether that means you are willing to sleep with pretty much anybody or merely that you make yourself available as eye candy.  Mind you, being sexually available is perfectly fine if that's what you're into, but it's not something that a person should be pressured to do, which unfortunately has been a pretty big problem in a lot of subsets of Paganism.

Less Emphasis on Traditions Utilizing Nudity
I think this is actually a really big one.  Back in the '70s and '80s, the heyday of the publicly nude Pagan, the people you expected to show up at a Pagan gathering were in traditions that either utilized ritual nudity or were aligned with social movements promoting free love and sexual availability.  Gardnerian Wicca--which is source material for many more forms of Witchcraft than just other Wiccan denominations--practices ritual nudity.  Aradian Witchcraft practices ritual nudity.  Many feminist traditions of Witchcraft practice nudity.  Nowadays you're more likely to find people at Pagan gatherings who are in traditions that don't utilize ritual nudity.  Notably, most forms of Reconstructionism and Revivalism are typically not practiced nude, and Pagan events are being increasingly frequented by people who are in those faith categories.

Body Image
OK, this one is kind of a gimme.  People often don't go nude because they aren't comfortable with their bodies, and the standards of what makes a body "beautiful" are ever-changing and harder still to compete with. 

The fact that people are asking this question, though, gives me a little pause because so much of it suggests that the lack of nudity is a bad thing.  Is it?

And the answer for me is a solid "no."  Nudity is something that should always be a choice, of course, but when I see less nudity it strikes me as a similar situation to less hugging.  People are constantly going on about how people "don't hug enough" anymore and how humanity is now experiencing "deficits" in personal touch, but the reality is that people now have the autonomy to decide not to touch or be touched, and that's actually fantastic!

In the same way, fewer people going nude suggests to me not so much that people are more ashamed of being nude (although that may very well be a factor), but that people are not inclined to do so just because that's what Pagans do.  More importantly, perhaps, they aren't inclined to go nude out of a false obligation to be beautiful to bystanders.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Regarding Tumblr's Deletion of Leelah's Blog

Note: Content includes some dialogue about suicide.  I originally posted this to Tumblr and have reposted it here due to some friends' reasonable desire to read it somewhere other than Tumblr.

I was in some conversations with people on Twitter who informed me that social media sites regularly remove the accounts of deceased people.  This removal was not out-of-character for Tumblr, which I realize now deletes accounts of dead people when requested by close relatives as policy.  This is standard for social media accounts.

Reading this initial explanation that Tumblr deleted Leelah’s account on request of her parents viscerally disgusted me and perhaps you’d expect that it would soften my position on this to learn that they are enforcing a regular policy of theirs.  Instead it’s drawn attention to some extremely disturbing issues that are very firmly related to transgender experiences as well as the experiences of children in abusive households.

I’m reminded of the recent incident with Jennifer Gable, a trans woman who had already entirely socially transitioned including going through a legal name change.  Her relatives had her hair cut and she was buried as if she were a man.  Her family even succeeded in having her old name put on her death certificate.  There was no way this was within her wishes, but it went ahead anyway.  It was not just an insult to Gable, but to her friends and to the entire trans community.  And there’s no telling how many other trans people have been treated in this manner who didn’t have the same extrafamilial support Gable did.

Blanket policies and laws allowing relatives to curate a deceased person’s identity—whether through an obviously insensitive funeral or the deletion of a person’s web presence or any other way—are based on the assumption that people as a general rule have supportive parents who will honor and care for them.  These policies do not have leeway for cases where somebody has very clearly expressed wishes that do not align with their parents’.  Leelah’s note makes it reasonably clear that she would not have wanted her parents to have the ability to have that message erased, but Tumblr did it anyway.  And their hands aren’t tied, by the way: They reserve the right to selectively enforce their own guidelines in their community policy.  This was a choice they made.

Keep this in mind:  Leelah’s parents are not woe-as-me misunderstood players in a tragedy.  They abused her.  Why should a social media site knowingly give control over a person’s image to people we know are abusers?  Why should a social media site assume that our parents aren’t abusers?

So rather than this being simply a question of Tumblr making a singular bad decision, it’s indicative of some very common and deep problems with how we navigate death and identity in the 21st century.

While I was looking into this, I read a copy of Tumblr’s community guidelines.  In those guidelines Tumblr acknowledges how important the site has been to people struggling with things like suicidal ideation or self-harm:
Dialogue about these behaviors is incredibly important and online communities can be extraordinarily helpful to people struggling with these difficult conditions. We aim for Tumblr to be a place that facilitates awareness, support and recovery, and we will remove only those posts or blogs that cross the line into active promotion or glorification of self-harm.
It’s interesting to me that with this level of self-awareness Tumblr has chosen to ignore the extreme importance that particular post has had for the transgender community with relation to our staggeringly high abuse and suicide rate.  Is this dialogue only worth keeping if it avoids hurting the feelings of abusers?

And while I’m talking about it, I greatly value how many people have shared Leelah’s note.  The Alcorns may have been able to get rid of her blog, but they will never be able to get rid of every copy of that letter.