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Mezzo Forte

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About Mezzo Forte

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    Adjunct Music Professor
  • Romanticism
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  1. Aromantisicm influencing nonbinary gender identity

    We definitely sound like we're on the same page about all this stuff, and I just wanted to say congrats about your upcoming surgery! I'm looking to have SRS myself within the next 1~1.5 years, (basically before I turn 26 and get booted off my family's insurance,) though I'm still figuring out some of the logistical things. I hope everything goes smoothly!
  2. Shipping

    Can't really say I ever had much interest in shipping. I'm fine with canon romance so long as someone bothers to make the dynamic between the characters interesting rather than painfully generic. That said, I have peers who apparently ship platonic bonds, and one of them declared my friend and I her "BrOTP," which is actually something I find quite amusing. I'm aro/ace and my friend strictly straight, so I appreciate when others recognize that this dear friendship of mine is strictly platonic. Too many people ask me if I'm gay when I get sentimental about my male friendships >.>
  3. HELLO?!?!!

    That's part of the joys of smaller forums; with a smaller userbase, there's only so many new pieces of content for the regulars to post in, so the regulars stop posting quite so much, with new regulars only coming in very rarely. I spent quite some time watching low-activity aromanticism forums over the years, and I especially remember keeping AroPlane basically on life support by personally responding to every single post as soon as I saw them. Being an admod meant that I watched AroPlane and the original Arocalypse (that belonged to a different domain owner) pretty closely when they were still alive. Nowadays, I just barely have anything to say in regards to aromanticism, so the forums only do so much for me. I occasionally post comments in a private aromantic Facebook group, but even then, it isn't much. I still like to lurk this site though.
  4. Binding

    @shotinthehand, gonna be honest, your post sounds like something that should be a thread in its own right, not a copy/pasted comment on 15+ threads that are only tangentially related to your project. As someone doing a visibility project of sorts myself (specifically giving transgender musicians a voice using ethnomusicological approaches), I see the good in what you're aiming to do, and I want to see you find the participants you're looking for. I just think you risk putting a bad taste in people's mouths with this approach because it makes your message look like spam. I'm honestly not 100% certain about what demographics you're looking for, particularly when you say transgender. I originally took your call as basically "everyone who isn't a cis man or straight woman," but your sample questions and research prompt sound like you're looking for more feminine-aligned people. Honestly, included binding topics in your sample questions would have made your post more relevant to the thread you posted in, and could better clarify why you're advertising your research within this thread in particular. I know how tone can be easily misconstrued online, so please do not take my words as an act of aggression. I find your work commendable and would really like to see your project succeed. There's just better ways to show good will when you make a call for participants, and I don't want your project to suffer for it. Regardless, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors!
  5. Aromantisicm influencing nonbinary gender identity

    I'm a binary transman, so while my perspective is a bit different, I do relate to a lot of what you're saying, even if I treat my orientations and gender as fairly separate entities, in the sense that I think I would have been aro/ace regardless of my gender identity. My gender-questioning process couldn't properly start until I figured out my romantic/sexual orientation. Before university, My disinterest in sex come off as a form of female straightness, because so many of the men were sex-obsessed, and how could I be a man if I didn't want sex? I yearned for romantic love, and even mistook myself for a straight girl because of my appreciation for the masculine form, but never could successfully fall in love, no matter how much I cared platonically. I needed to learn that I wasn't straight by default to understand that I wasn't cis by default. Many of the years I spent in my extended gender-questioning process, I strongly suspected that I was nonbinary to some extent, and suspected I was androgyne for a bit, but that had more to do with my sense of being othered by extreme femininity and extreme masculinity. I was somewhat shielded from those extremes pretty much until university, and even then, musicians aren't always the most gender-conforming types. Doing a master's degree in business showed me the extremes of gender-conformity though, and I never felt so alienated in my life. That said, I identify as binary almost purely because of my relationship with my body. The medical transition I needed was/is very binary. What I ultimately wanted out of my gender expression was/is very binary. My reason for starting transition was because I couldn't take the physical dysphoria anymore and I desperately needed medical intervention. Even if my mind doesn't feel super masculine, everything else pointed to a binary trans experience. As I transitioned socially, being read as male only felt more and more right. Transition made me realize that I was even more binary than I first thought. Perhaps you could say that my mind isn't quite so binary. My upbringing was not explicitly gendered, but I do take some pride in certain feminine-coded traits of mine, and those traits are core parts of my personality. That said, my deepest friendships are with straight cismen, and all of them dissent from the extremes of masculinity in their own ways; ways that resonate with my own experiences. Strangely enough, my perception of my femininity does not seem to reflect how others perceive me, as I am apparently somewhat straight-passing as well as cis-passing. In the end, I guess I used a more prescriptive approach with labeling my gender, as I decided not to factor the abstract elements of my mind quite as heavily as the concrete dysphoria that was degrading my quality of life. In regards to orientations, I suppose I don't think about them in a gendered light nowadays. My aromanticism and asexuality transcend gende; my relationship with my body changed with transition, but my orientations remain constant. I'm already kind of eclectic anyways, so I connect with others over interests that aren't particularly gendered. I find the ways some men act around attractive women to be rather alienating, but I try to at least make small quips to establish that their tactics only make women uncomfortable. Thankfully, they're not the only straight men in my life, and seeing the difference stops me from labeling that shitty behavior as an inherently straight guy thing. ...aaannndd I started rambling. My bad.
  6. Dealing with wanting physical intimacy

    I second that dance suggestion. My sister dances swing/blues/lindy/etc. and she sometimes shows me the basic techniques of those dances. Of the dances she shows me, blues is definitely the most physically intimate. From what my sister describes, dancers have a way of being pretty tactile, so that kind of scene could be good for finding people who would have similar touch needs. My family is quite tactile, and exchanging massages is quite normal, so while I make sure to disclaimer that massages are 100% platonic for me, I do sometimes gives friends massages if they complain of stuff like shoulder/back pain. I like receiving massages more than I like giving them, but they're easier to offer than to ask for, and giving massages is still a form of physical intimacy to me. It sucks seeing so many of us being touch starved. I'm in that same boat because I'm bad at initiating touch and don't live near my family. Transitioning only made the touch barrier stronger too, especially with my male friends. Of my dearest friends, the ones who are more tactile don't live nearby, and the one who lives with me isn't tactile at all. Being touch starved doesn't hit me that hard, as I tend to only notice it within very specific contexts and I have hard limits on how much touch I can handle at once as well, so I don't even know how much touch I would even want if I did have access to it.
  7. Our attitudes to AVEN

    I kind of hesitate on threads like these because I've been active on AVEN for 5+ years. I feel like I've seen and participated in these exact critique threads on several sites that don't exist anymore, including AroPlane and the original Arocalype, often agreeing with the negative observations of the site. Yet here I am, where AVEN is the only forum where I've ever broken even 1000 posts, not to mention the only online community that has stuck in the long term with me. I see it as too big of a mass to paint in one stroke, and perception depends a lot on how the end user approaches the site. AVEN spearheaded the introspection I needed to figure out my orientations and gender. I was actually part of the push for an aromantic subforum on the site and quickly got involved with AroPlane for the aromantic discussion I was looking for. The romantic orientation subforum that we ultimately got just never appealed to me, and that board feels kind of alienating to the average aromantic, as it falls into all the usual trappings of the site (Ex. 'am I X' threads, obsession with defining attraction, among other repetitive thread types) while also giving far more voice to romantic aces than aromantic ones. That said, I've posted about asexuality/aromanticism enough over the years that I actually find posting on those topics a touch repetitive and tiring. I probably wouldn't be posting anymore if not for finding a community that I genuinely clicked with: AVEN's Gender Discussion forum. (~75% of my total AVEN content came from after I came out to myself as trans in February 2016. I've been a member since 2012.) I've made genuine friendships on there that I never expected, and I even have a pen pal now who I met on there. Honestly, since I tire so much of general ace/aro discussion in general, I stay out of most the boards that seem to cause the drama that make people rant about AVEN on other sites. AVEN's got a shit ton of people. The ace discussion often feels like a crowded train station, where some people may stick around, but most are transient and the conversations almost become white noise. Those kinds of crowds make you feel like you're talking to yourself rather than having a true conversation. As a slow, methodical poster, my voice often felt lost in that crowd. That made smaller aro communities work out much better for me, even if now, I feel like I have so little to say that I barely post anymore. That said, using the size of the site to engage smaller subcommunities ended up what kept me on the site. There's enough activity to find new conversation, but not so much that your voice doesn't get heard.
  8. Immaturity

    I actually have hangups about being trapped in childhood, to the point that it actually informs some of my dysphoria. Heck, one reason why I chose to start taking testosterone was because I couldn't see myself as having an adult body without it. I was basically denying that estrogen-based puberty ever happened. I feel kind of weird being in the middle of the right puberty ~10 years late, but I don't mind since it's my transition into having the adult body I'm supposed to have. There's way more layers to these hangups than I'll get into, (my youthful appearance, power dynamics with my parents, my financial reliance on family, etc.) but my asexuality/aromanticism often end up becoming yet another few things that make me feel more childlike. Seeing my orientations that way actually feels kind of ironic because my attempts at dating were far more indicative of immaturity than finding the introspection to understand what's truly best for me. Nonetheless, having one less way to relate to adult peers does In spite of all that, I've had a reputation for being an old soul even early in childhood, go figure.
  9. Top Surgery

    I'm four months post-op right now and I'll gladly chat experiences. With that broad a topic though, it'd be hard to pin down what to say without creating countless tangents. I went with periareolar top surgery and am overall happy with my results. (Insurance covered it too, but I'm still waiting for my reimbursement.) My chest still feels like it's settling, but I doubt I'll need revisions. Can't say I had an easy recovery though. My left side wouldn't drain properly and I actually went to the ER the first night of recovery because of all the excess bleeding. The surgeon's nurse had to squeeze a lot of the swelling out by hand on more than one occasion. In fact, at my reveal, my left pec looked bigger than it was pre-op from all the swelling, so the nurse spent over an hour squeezing that gunk out of me. Because of all those swelling issues, I got prescribed a second strain of antibiotics out of precaution. A few days after I finished that antibiotic, I had a horrific delayed allergic reaction to the stuff. I was really close to developing Steven-Johnson's Syndrome and found myself going to the ER, spending two days in the hospital, and then returning to the ER mere hours after I was discharged because the damn doctor didn't give me a single prescription despite the fact that I was taking steroids while I was in the hospital. That allergic reaction stayed in my system for over two weeks, and recovering from that was hell. It's all water under the bridge at this point, but the recovery was definitely much harder than it should have been. That said, I would do all this again 10x over if that was what it took to have a flat chest. I notice that the dysphoria was gone the moment I awoke after surgery. I could physically feel that my chest was finally right. No longer having to bind has been so good on my back, and living in a particularly hot environment, no longer needing to wear that extra layer made the summer so much easier to tolerate. Fuck, I can actually enjoy swimming now, even if I'm still wearing swimshirts. I'm waiting until I'm 1 year post-op before I expose my scars to sunlight. Excessive sun can especially darken new scars and I want to minimize what little scarring I have. One thing I can recommend is figuring out if your insurance company requires a pre-clearance for surgery. My top surgery got delayed five days over that, and that was after several weeks of scrambling to get through all the red tape. I got mine explicitly covered as a treatment for gender dysphoria, so it'd look different for me than it will for you, but I hope everything goes without a hitch!
  10. Favourite Anime/Manga(s)?

    I'm a big fan of Naoki Urasawa's Monster. I only really read the manga, but it did a damn good job with its atmosphere, especially with the sense of suspense. It just seemed to encapsulate the "thriller" genre so masterfully. Definitely not a perfect series, but I have a soft spot for it I get nostalgic about series I discovered in my early teens, but among those, the ones that stand out are Fullmetal Alchemist and Ouran High School Host Club. (I will admit, it's trippy realizing that I first got into Bleach over 10 years ago. Guess I had to have liked the early stuff if I was willing to ride that sinking ship down to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. ) Funny thing about Fullmetal and Ouran is that my reactions to their lead characters were two very different signs of me being trans. I'm short and wore my blond hair long for most my life, and Ed was pretty much my justification for not seeing braids as particularly gendered. I did identify with Haruhi quite a bit, but that actually made me put off asking the questions I needed to regarding orientation/gender, go figure. (The way they wrote her made me think that I was just oblivious to the romantic attraction that I was totally experiencing. At first watch, I definitely read Haruhi as cis too, so that made me less apt to ask why I was so fascinated with the idea of AFAB people presenting as male.)
  11. Binding

    I hope it all works out! It's also possible that having a Velcro binder could save you the cost of buying a medical compression vest if your surgeon recommends those kinds of things, so definitely bring that binder to your pre-op appointment! Best of luck, and I wish you a speedy recovery
  12. Binding

    I'm just over 3 weeks post-op from my top surgery, so while I'm wearing compression right now, I'm technically done with binding forever. I was thankfully didn't have too big of moobs, (small enough that I got periareolar top surgery,) so I got away with more minor forms of compression. I used sports bras for a while, but eventually moved to gynecomastia shirts, and that combined with loose button-ups was enough to hide my chest and keep the dysphoria from disrupting my daily life. I own a genuine binder that got me super flat, but because of how busy I kept myself with my music, I couldn't manage the "don't bind for more than 8 hours" rule, so I never really used it. Even despite my chest not being as big as it could have been, my chest was my biggest source of dysphoria. Compression made me dysphoric sometimes too though, so binding was not always ideal, especially when you combine the warm climate with the extra sweat from taking testosterone. I'm currently wearing an ace bandage under doctor's orders until I'm one month post-op. I think it's supposed to help with the swelling and ensuring that the nipples heal properly, which I think it worth tolerating compression a little longer. I only have just over a week of this compression left anyways
  13. Based on my past relationships with romantics, I would probably at least give a strong disclaimer about what to expect. I hesitate to advise against it without full context, but I would definitely encourage dialogue between the two people beforehand. It was really obvious that I didn't feel the same things that my partners were in relationships, and that was something that actively pained some of them. I felt so much guilt in the process too, as I didn't know I was aro and wanted so desperately to make my friends happy and fall in love with them. Now I know that it's better to turn down someone you're not interested in than to drag them through a relationship where they don't feel loved back.
  14. Do you wear glasses?

    I'm technically nearsighted and have astigmatism in both eyes, but I got LASEK about five years ago and haven't needed glasses since.
  15. How many of us are musicians?

    Funny to hear that so many years after I stopped playing clarinet. In some circles, I'm "that marimba guy," in some, I'm "that berimbau guy," and in others, I'm "that guy who uses way too big of multi-percussion setups," but I haven't been "that clarinet guy" since before people even recognized that I'm a guy. I guess it is kinda funny that the first album that I've ever been involved in has "clarinet" in the title though.