Marriage Equality Plebiscite Rage Vomit: Step right up

Alright, since we’re here, and since we’re apparently having this godawful debate over extending basic human rights and treating people with human decency and dignity I’m just going to say it. It’s not original. It’s a bit weird coming from mostly-straighty-McStraightPants-who-is-actually-fucking-married over here in the corner. It’s fuelled by horror and rage.

But I’m going to say it anyway.

This is about extending human rights to people. Your default setting should be yes unless there is a very good reason to vote no.

1. There is no logical, sensible, useful reason to say no to marriage equality. Follow these dots.

2. If your reasoning is religious, then you should say yes to marriage equality, because your religion should not get to decide who other people marry. I do not follow your religion. If I wanted to marry a lass, or a nonbinary individual, I should be allowed to (were I not already shackled, since our legal system is based on monogamy, which works for me personally but not for everyone, and that’s an entirely different conversation). You are welcome to follow your religious rules. Go nuts. You cannot and MUST NOT apply those to other people. Do better. You can’t apply your religious rules to other people by majority vote. We do not live in a theocracy. You better believe there are a lot more heathens and atheists around than you think there are, and we just want you to stop with that bullshit (not to mention people from other religions, or people from your own religion who actually agree with marriage equality).

3. If your reasoning is that you are concerned about “children”, then we can go a couple of ways. I’m going to go into sub-points.

3a. This is about marriage, not children. Surprise, surprise, when two blokes or two ladies shack up, newborns rarely miraculously appear. I mean, it’s not out of the question, given that trans people exist, but if you’re thinking of voting no, you might not be aware that trans people exist, and can have babies. Regardless, letting them get married does not mean they are going to have children. Next!

3b. Marriage is not for making babies. It might be that way for you, but it’s not that way for a lot of people. Many married couples do not have babies. Sometimes by choice. Sometimes by infertility. Sometimes because they’re tying the knot in their twilight years and are well past kids and have done that dash already (cf. my dad for exhibit A on this, as he has married twice in my adulthood, both times to wonderful warm-hearted women who were unlikely to experience a flush of post-50 fertility). So if you think people with roughly matching genitalia shouldn’t get married because they won’t have babies, then it’s a non-sequitur. It really is.

3c. Same-sex couples ALREADY HAVE CHILDREN. They adopt. Or do the IVF thing. Or foster. Whatever. In some way, they provide loving homes for kidlets because many of them have the same need to lavish adoration and care on small helpless humans that straight people feel. Marriage equality will not affect this. It will simply legally legitimise existing relationships, allow public acknowledgement that these families are Actual Proper Families (acknowledgement that should not be necessary as it’s bleeding obvious). We actually do have legitimate fucking scientific evidence that kiddos do better when they are in families with married (or at least civilly committed) couples due to the feeling of permanence, reduced social stigma, and increased recognition. It bothers me, since I don’t think anyone should feel pressure to have the party and the piece of paper.

3d. “Kids need a mother and a father.” No. They don’t. They emphatically do not. As someone who had both, and who doesn’t speak to one of them due to some nasty abuse, the effects of which I will be living with literally every day for the rest of my goddamn life, I didn’t care. All I needed was to feel loved and safe. Loved. And safe. I was aware that I was loved. I was not safe. I did not feel safe for an extended period from 1995 to 2001. You know what? It’s also good when kids have parents – of whatever genitals and personal gender ID – who love each other and can communicate effectively about *how* to keep kids feeling loved and safe. ONE parent who can keep the wheels turning over is good. TWO would be fantastic (and also stop the one from losing their goddamn mind, because by all reports being a single parent is insanely difficult). There is NO EVIDENCE that kids need one of each biological sex in their home life. There is none whatsoever. In fact, the evidence says something rather different: it says that kids do well when their parents are committed and loving, and that makes them feel loved and safe. See above. I know it might be hard for you to imagine a family that doesn’t look like yours, or that doesn’t look like what you grew up with – and you know what? That’s okay. That’s okay that you find that hard to picture. It doesn’t matter if you can see it. You don’t have to. You just have to know that it exists, that it works, and that at the end of the day, it’s none of your business.

3e. “But if there are two guys, who will make the sandwiches? And if there are two women, who will play sports with them?” Are you fucking kidding me. If I actually need to refute this, someone tell me, because otherwise I’m going to assume the profound idiocy in this statement is self-evident. Also, you think very poorly of both men and women.

3f. This is important. Are you ready? We’re still on “but the children!” So here’s the kicker: QUEER KIDS ARE CHILDREN. Yes. Very young queer humans are children, and the absolute best thing we can do for queer children is fight homophobia. The best thing we can do is make it safe for them to be themselves, to pursue their own love lives and sex lives safely, and to not treat them as though their love is somehow different or lesser – not treat them as though they are lesser. Queer kids are dying because of the constant flood of messages they get about this shit. If you care about children, care about all the children.

3 closure. I’m hoping now we have settled the children issue. Marriage equality is good for children. Moving on.

4. “But it makes me uncomfortable to see two guys kissing!” Oh lordy. There is a bunch of other stuff you can look at. Maybe people don’t want to see you kissing, ever think about that? Also, it’s possible that not everyone in the world is into PDAs anyway (I actually kind of like them up to a point, as I think it’s sweet, but not everyone is as mushy and demonstrative as I am). The world does not exist for your viewing pleasure. There are people who don’t want to see me in a bikini, or tight pants, or a glamorous sequinned gown, but is that going to stop me? This is not a reason to vote no. This is not a reason to take rights away from human beings. If your reason comes down to “but gay people are icky and now I feel icky” then you have no reason and you must vote yes to marriage equality or it honestly make you a terrible person.

5. “But it’s redefining marriage!” Alright, let’s deal with this one.

5a. A lot of the time, this is coming from a religious perspective, so we’ll take that first. Christianity – or whatever your religion might be, I’m basically looping in the ACL here – did not invent marriage. I have heard people describe marriage as a gift from god, and you know what, fine. If you think that your Christian (or whatever) marriage is a gift from God, then sure, you do your Christian marriage the way you want to and don’t marry someone with genitalia that roughly match your own. But marriage, in the sense of a legally recognised union of two people creating a new legal unit for the purposes of government recognition, has been around for literal millennia and in countries that have had nothing to do with your particular spiritual leanings. You might not think those marriages are real and that they didn’t matter. But you did not invent marriage, and here’s another factoid for you: same-sex marriages occurred thousands of miles away from your religion in cultures that had never heard of it. Australia extending the right of marriage to include all consenting couples is not redefining marriage past anything. It’s only redefining what we’ve had since 2004 and you must admit that 13 years is hardly an ancient tradition of bigotry. I’m betting you coped before 2004 with a legally ambiguous definition of marriage. You’ll cope now.

5b. So what? Words get redefined all the time. That is how language works. It is a living thing, and living things change. How will this affect you? This argument also comes from non-religious people and I have no idea what the problem is. Your marriage will not change. I have read commentary from one person who was concerned that people would see his wedding ring and would not automatically know that he was married to a woman, and who argued that marriage equality would take away his right to be recognised as a fucking straight person. Are you serious. Who cares? If it’s that important to you, say “MY WIFE” at some point in the conversation and move on. How is this a point of obsession? If this is your argument for voting no, you need to vote yes.

6. “Next people will marry animals, children, inanimate objects and immediate first-order relatives!” No. This is about consent. Children, animals and inanimate objects cannot consent. Marriage to immediate first-order relatives is illegal, and under these changes will remain so. This argument literally makes no sense. Please reconsider ever using it again. Maybe write it down and symbolically set it on fire. Dance around the flames. Celebrate its death.

7. “I’m entitled to my opinion!” Yes and no. You’re entitled to believe and think whatever you want. You’re not entitled to hurt people for no good reason. You can vote no because you believe irrational things and one or more of the above horrendous “no” arguments somehow resonates with you, in spite of all evidence and empathy and logic, but here’s the thing: if you vote to deny someone’s rights, if you vote to make them feel like second-class citizens again, and more so than they’ve already been dealing with for their entire fucking lives, if you vote to make the lives of queer kids harder, if you do this without a good, rational reason, then you are a terrible human being. Unfortunately, you’re legally entitled to be a terrible human being. If you have any illusions about yourself, any basic conviction that you’re a good, decent person, you need to make good choices based on good reasons. If you don’t do that, I’m sorry, but you’re fucking trash.

8. “You’re being angry and confrontational!” Yes. Yes, I am. Or at least, as much as I know how to be given that I’m an anxious mess who doesn’t like talking to people I don’t know. You know why? Because this whole thing stinks. It fucking stinks. It feels like this is so goddamn obvious and I don’t know why this argument even happens. I’m angry because there are people that are very dear to me who are being hurt by this, crushed by this, infuriated and exhausted by this, and I can’t do anything to help them. I can’t. Do. Anything. I feel helpless and it makes me angry and furious and I’m lashing out the only way I know how. This isn’t about my feelings, but when I’m angry, shit like this happens. And how much worse is it going to be for those people I care about? What I’m feeling is going to be a tiny mosquito bite compared to what they’re going through. I can’t step in and take the blows for them. They’re suffering, and for no goddamn reason.

If I weren’t angry, if I weren’t feeling confrontational, I would be inhuman.

If you’re considering voting no, what does that make you?


This Keto Life: The trouble with n=1

I recently returned from a wonderful ten day holiday in Indonesia, staying on the island of Gili Air and diving nearly every day (and I saw turtles on every dive. Only one shark this time though). While I’m on holiday, I don’t tend to eat keto, in spite of the damage this will cause. It’s just too complicated and difficult and two weeks won’t do a huge amount of damage.

Besides. Margaritas.

So I come back, having gained some water weight (and some non-water weight, because nom), and feeling sluggish and bloated, but hopefully not having given myself the usual long-term consequences (I did develop an abscess, probably due to increased inflammation – ugh – but it was tiny and I managed to blast it with antibiotics).

Here’s one thing that I find interesting: when I first went keto, my resting heart rate (RHR) went up. Not a huge amount, maybe 6 bpm, but it definitely increased from a stable point. I thought this was odd, but didn’t pay it too much mind.

Now, I have a Charge HR, and thus a continuous heart rate monitor. It’s true that it’s not the most reliable monitor, and also that the way it calculates “resting heart rate” is a little bit bogus (if you’re not moving, it thinks you’re resting. Maybe you are. But maybe you’re absorbing some profoundly stressful news, or reading an exciting book with cliffhangers. You see the problem).

The trends, however, are very reliable.

When I break keto, my RHR pounds to the sky, usually maxing out at about 73. When I get back on keto, it starts to plummet – my usual RHR (at least according to the Fitbit) sits somewhere between 57 and 60.

I am tempted to assume – and there is some good evidence for this – that this is because my body is now better adapted to a low carbohydrate, ketone-based metabolism, and so I run more efficiently when that’s in operation.

Here’s the problem: I’m one person, with a complicated body. There are a number of other things it could be.

It could be that my overall inflammation is lower when I’m on low-carb. This is well supported in the literature, and would interact with my Crohn’s (which is, after all, an inflammatory autoimmune condition).

It could be that I’m less anxious because I have predictable control over my diet (I plan a lot when I’m on keto and I find that comforting). The reason I don’t think that this is the case is that when I’m on holiday, I’m not stressed at all about food choices. I give myself free rein. All the same, it’s a plausible hypothesis that there is some underlying anxiety – I’m usually away from my home and my comfort zone and surrounded by strangers when I’m on holiday, so it wouldn’t be a surprise that my RHR is a bit elevated.

It could also be hormonal. I’ve noticed that my RHR is locked in very tightly to my hormonal cycle, and skyrockets around ovulation time, dropping off when the period arrives. And I did get my period about a day after I got home. So this is plausible – but again, it’s not always the case with the keto RHR changes.

What I suspect has happened is that going back on keto has lowered my inflammation, and that this has interacted with my hormonal cycle as well, because both of these things affect my RHR.

But I don’t know. I won’t ever know. Because there’s no way to test this with n=1. You’d need a wide sample of male and female people with active ileal Crohn’s disease, some of whom have adapted to a keto diet and some of whom haven’t, and then you’d need to monitor their RHR as they went on and off keto, to see if it changed, and how much.

This bugs me, because of who I am. I want to use it as supporting evidence that keto is good for me (I have a bunch of evidence for that already, but I get anxious, because it still is considered a really weird way to eat, and I get nervous when I stand out from the crowd, and already I have social anxiety around food choices), but I can’t be 100% sure (or even 95% sure with a basic p-value of 0.05) that this is what the relationship is, between ketone-based metabolism and cardiovascular efficiency.

The above is why I always narrow my eyes whenever anyone says “Well, [thing that is shown to be a placebo or worse] always works for ME.” Because maybe it does, and people do know their own bodies, but maybe it’s comforting, and anxiety is a factor, or maybe there’s something else that is correlated with that practice, and maybe…

Yeah. I’ve been told by a GP that perhaps I “over-science” my health.

All the same, it’s strangely fun.