HBM069: Redwoods of the In-World

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Please Note: This episode contains a brief description of sexual violence (and casual swearing too, but we don’t usually warn you about that).

Ariadne, Jacqueline, North, and others unnamed are all part of the same system.  They share a single body.  They take turns “fronting” the body, controlling it.  And when they’re not fronting, the system members are free to roam an infinite landscape, a pocket reality that they call the “in-world”.

Together, they go to work every day, spend time with friends and lovers, go to shows, play video games, and live many aspects of a typical life. But when multiple people with varying interests, social skills, and gender identities share a single body, some things are tough.  It’s tough to live in a world that doesn’t understand you, doesn’t know your secrets, or just wants to diagnose you.

The system members refer to their living situation as being “plural” or “multiple”.  Psychiatry calls similar situations Dissociative Identity Disorder.  The system members don’t identify with this diagnosis, as it requires the multiplicity to be hindrance.  They say it’s the opposite of a hindrance--it’s what lets them survive.

Another perspective on multiplicity can be found in the work of philosopher John Perry.  1978, he published a paper called A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality which critiques popular assumptions of personal identity.  This writing was brought to our attention by Barry Lam, the producer of a soon-to-be released philosophy podcast called Hi-Phi Nation.  

We mailed our spare recorder to the system’s home in the spring of 2016.  Over the course of several months, system members created diary entries and field recordings to share the world that Ari calls too “bright and loud”.

Producer Jeff Emtman did an interview with Jacqueline, where she also described the building process of the in-world, including the creation a spot of reverence within it--a grove of redwood trees modeled on a forest near Oakland.

One day, Jacqueline hopes to move from the city to the wilderness and have dogs.  Jacqueline said that there are no current plans to integrate the system.

We found out about Ari, North, Jacqueline et al because we asked for listeners to tell us their secrets.   If you have a secret you’d like to share, please get in touch.

This episode was produced by Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton.  Nick White is HBM’s editor at KCRW.  

Music: The Black Spot

In other news:  there’s a chance that you subscribed to our podcast while you were looking for the work of another podcaster named Derek Hayes.  He has a show that’s also about monsters (though his are more the bigfoot, chupacabra and hellhound variety).  Until recently, his show had a very similar name to ours.  So, to clear up any confusion, Derek’s changed his podcast’s name to Monsters Among Us.

HBM045: Deep Stealth Mode (How To Be A Girl)

Marlo Mack gave birth to a son.  At least, she thought she did.  As a toddler, her son crawled towards dresses, wanted to be a princess, asked to grow long blonde hair.  And at age 3, Marlo's son requested to return to her tummy so he could come back out as a baby girl.  Marlo thought it was a phase--it wasn't.  So she started learning how to raise a very young transgender daughter.  She started keeping audio diaries. 


In this episode, Marlo sends her child to a new summer camp, and struggles with giving her autonomy in revealing her gender identity to other children.  


Marlo faces questions daily about how to best raise her daughter.  How can she stimulate her child while protecting her in a world often unkind to transfolk?  She tells her daughter that there are some people who are like Darth Vader, just too sad to be kind anymore. 


Marlo Mack and her daughter produce a podcast about their life together called How to Be a Girl.  Marlo generously gave us access to her raw recordings for use on this episode.  How to Be a Girl is part of The Heard, a new podcast network.  Marlo also writes a blog called Gender Mom

Marlo Mack is a pseudonym.  She will keep their true identities secret until her child is old enough to understand the risks of revealing her identity.  These risks are real.  2015 has been an especially bad year for trans folk;  2015 has already seen the murders of at least 15 American trans women.  Marlo and her daughter exist in what they call "deep stealth mode." 

So, when do you tell people that you're a girl with a penis? When is it safer to hide?

This episode was produced by Marlo Mack.  Jeff Emtman edited it with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White. 

Music:  The Black Spot 

Resources for trans children and their parents: 
Trans Youth Family Allies   - for families of trans youth
The Trevor Project - specifically crisis and suicide prevention
YouthResource - specifically for trans/lgbt youth
Human Rights Campaign - list of resources for trans youth

Video by Marlo Mack.

Marlo's daughter meets advocate and actress Laverne Cox.