Justice [Under Construction]

I’m still reeling from this year of insults,  a traumatizing campaign turned traumatic election. I’m not sad about a contest lost, but what those results mean for real people around me. 2016 is over, but 2017 is going to be even harder.

I’ve had a good year in many ways, and so has the world generally. Transition has been scary, and confusing, but also wonderful and rewarding.

But over the last few months, I’ve watched my friends (and the Internet) cycle through denial, anger, depression, and a million other painful emotions — often turning on each other out of fear or misunderstanding. I’ve been through a similar cycle of my own —  constantly distracted, making phone calls, updating my legal documentation, struggling to get work done, building little toy models to calm myself, sending donations, hugging friends, and breaking into tears reading article after article.

I’ve tried to write this post at least 20 different times, and I still can’t get it right. There is no right to get.

Like many of us, I live at an intersection of worlds — female, white, transgender, able-bodied, lesbian/pan-sexual, neurotypical, etc —  not sure if I’m the primary problem or a primary target. Probably both. I’m tired, and I don’t know how to be useful. How effective is art? Am I in personal danger? How useful is my writing? How complicit am I in which problems, and how do I fight back? How can my experiences, my love, my donations, my company, phone-calls, or protests help anyone?

I want to be strong, but I’m not. I want to be effective, but I don’t know what that means, and I’m pretty sure it’s a myth of our culture.

Personal & Political

There are several tensions pulling me in different directions. Zooming in, I see individuals hurting — scared like me. I know how to be a friend. I can reach inward, and care for my community. I can listen to what’s needed day-to-day, and be there for the people around me. I see you, and I love you.

Zooming out, I get overwhelmed by the scale of our problems —  the ways neoliberal capitalism, misogyny, ableism, and white-supremacy take physical form to destroy lives in the most mundane ways. Our representative democracy doesn’t represent us all, and never has. The best we can hope for is a few simple rights doled out selectively, or not taken away — rights we should have by default.

We don’t want better jobs, we want to stop selling our bodies and lives to corporations for their profit. We don’t want to hug police officers, we want to end the police state. We don’t want access to marriage on hetero terms, we want to redefine “family” for ourselves. We don’t want legal weed for white entrepreneurs, we want the prisons emptied and the war-on-drugs annulled. We don’t want the DAPL re-routed, we want full sovereignty and reparations for native tribes,  and an end to environmental destruction.

The status quo was bad enough, how are we supposed to deal with Trump?

Known Unknowns

No one knows exactly what will happen next, but the threats against marginalized people (and the environment) are clear. We understand the direction, if not all the details.

We know our government is designed to resist change, and maybe that will work in our favor now.  But we also know how easily our institutions are corrupted by money and fear. Who will fight beside us? How bad will things get?

The unknowns don’t make this transition less terrifying,  and the fact that things were bad already is no consolation. There’s a lot to do, and a lot of people that need our help.

Queering the Revolution

I see a temptation to grasp for simple explanations, with simple sides, and even simpler solutions. But simplifications are what got us here —  a distraction, not a plan for change. It’s time to embrace the complexity of human rights, human systems, and human identities. Not to be stopped by wishy-washy complacency, but to fight for all the people, no matter how messy that gets. We need movements for intersectional empowerment, when it would be easier to throw our fringes under the bus. We need to challenge all our assumptions about what is “normal” in this queer and unusual world.

Listening is radical, emotions are radical, silence can be radical, and efficiency is not the definition of your value. Speaking up can also be radical, along with rational thought, action, and visible results. Progress comes in cycles of action and reflection, mourning and anger, give and take, analysis and emotion. Don’t get stuck in one place. Keep cycling. Keep showing up.

There will always be arguments about what tactics are better, more effective, or enough. Change will require all of us doing what we can,  finding new ways to define action, and new ways of acting. That will look different for different people. The bigger and more diverse the movement, the better.

I know it’s annoying, but we need anarchists and politicians.

We need to accept that no question is either or. Individuals are not either privileged or marginalized with a simple on/off switch, but shades of intersectional identity and experience. Resistance doesn’t have to be either violent or polite, when confrontational nonviolence has the only reliable track-record.

We must both acknowledge our collective and individual racism, while we more clearly distinguish between ignorance, complacency, prejudice, and active white supremacy. All bigotry is real, no matter the intentions, but different forms of bigotry call for different forms of resistance.

We can learn to dissect and identify all the subtle micro-aggressions of the kyriarchy, and identify where ideas become problematic, while also understanding that a barrage of facts and “callouts” will never bring about the change we need. We can recognize that personalized education on privilege and oppression is not our responsibility as minorities, but may be our primary responsibility as activists.

We can acknowledge that general education is essential in the abstract, but degrees and certifications are often an excuse for new hierarchies, moral requirements, money, power, and exclusion.

Our bubbles separate us, but also keep us safe. Self-care is essential, and a clever cover for complacency. Real America is rural and urban, and infinitely diverse. Action is essential, and a clever cover for insecurity. Incremental progress leaves people behind, while revolutions often kill the most vulnerable. We have to be political and empathetic, listening and fighting. Move fast and slow, think personal and systemic. Respect our feelings enough to act on them, and respect our actions enough to feel them. Soul-searching won’t end oppression, but it’s an important part of our work.

We have to be human, in systems that are larger than ourselves.

Alok Vaid-Menon sums it up well in their recent new years resolution:

  1. stop using politics to legitimize my feelings
  2. affirm people for being needy & vulnerable in public
  3. recognize everyone else’s complexity as much as i do my own
  4. admit when i operate from a place of hurt & loneliness
  5. believe in all of our infinite capacity for transformation
  6. provide care as much as i provide critique
  7. respect limitations & constraints
  8. honor silence as a form of presence
  9. feel & love, militantly
  10. refuse the dismissal of art & interdependence & magic
  11. find immensity in what they call insignificant

And a few of my own:

  1. accept that my experiences are not universal
  2. embrace a lack of answers and fear of uselessness
  3. show up with my entire self, broken and scared and opinionated

Notes on Showing Up

Some incomplete notes to myself, for being present in a time of struggle.

Find and join the efforts already under way. Find marginalized people already building movements, and support them. Don’t take over, or dictate the terms, or concern-troll and tone-police the movement. Find ways to stay involved over the long-haul —  pace yourself but take risks, and keep showing up.

Fight for diversity in your own industry, company, and organizations — in who you hire and what you build. Create a better training pipeline, improve your hiring funnel, write a code of conduct, address harassment and micro-aggressions in the workplace, and keep an eye on retention rates. There’s not one single problem, and it will never be fully resolved.

The long arc of the universe bends wherever we bend it.

Learn to bring family and friends into the movement. It’s a skill that takes practice —  emotional labor that can’t be done by listing the facts. Outreach requires vulnerability, discomfort, and a lot of patience.

Build a practice of sustainable and ongoing action. Keep looking for new ways to show up, and leave your ego at home. Welcome to 2017.

Stay strong. Stay weak. Stay present. Keep dreaming, and get real. Keep crying, keep laughing, keep fighting.

Take care of each other.

50 ‘post’ episodes

2019

Design Systems & CSS @ Views on Vue

We start by talking about design systems and design tooling – how they differ, and the problems they solve.

CSS Custom Properties @ Smashing Magazine

Pushing past the “variable” metaphor, CSS Custom Properties can provide new ways to balance context and isolation in our patterns and components.

Has CSS finally come of age? @ Creative Bloq

Steve Jenkins interviews me about the state of CSS, and what’s coming next for the language – from Intrinsic Design to Dynamic CSS.

Dynamic CSS Interview @ Thunder Nerds

Thunder Nerds interview me before her talk at VueConf US 2019.

2018

Fonts & more @ Views on Vue

The panel and the guest talk about grid systems, fonts, and more!

Ethics, ES6 in Practice, and Dynamic CSS @ TalkScript

On Episode 18, the TalkScript team continues the live-ish at JSConfUS podcast series with guests Myles Borins, Tim Doherty, and Miriam Suzanne. Listen in!

Rejecting Maleness @ Journal of Mennonite Writing

The Journal of Mennonite Writing asked me to submit for their queer issue. I don’t identify as Mennonite, but I did grow up in the church, so I asked my friends what to write about. They suggested the common question: In a world without rigid gender roles, would anyone need to be trans?

Chosen Family (Thank You)

Yesterday, I shared an article about my impending surgery, and a request for help – both social and financial – as I go through this. I was embarrassed to ask, and not sure what to expect, but your response has been swift and overwhelming. I can’t thank you enough, but I’ll keep trying.

Mia’s Medical Upgrade

Denver Health has started offering vaginoplasty in addition to their other trans medical services. While I’ve been on the waitlist for various surgeons around the country, Denver Health called me this week to give me a date: September 10, less than two months away.

2017

Sex, Love, & RomancePS I Love You

“I don’t have many guy friends, but my guitarist is one. Parting, I lean in for the cheek-kiss but he plants a good one right on my lips.”

(Mis)Gender

At the family vacation in Moab, everyone is doing their best. It’s not enough, and my day is peppered with the wrong name and pronouns. I hide in my room through dinner so they won’t see me crying.

Shifting Nouns @ Twined Fragments

“I’ve seen myself in the mirror. I find me… disorienting. What do they see that I don’t? Why aren’t they laughing at me?”

Mothers, Fathers, Husbands, Wives @ Twined Fragments

“Mother finds me at her wardrobe, in her pumps and pearls. What are you doing? Being a mommy. Are you, then? She clips on the earrings (they pinch!), reaches for her lipstick.”

Fun with Viewport UnitsCSS Tricks

Viewport units have been around for several years now, with near-perfect support in the major browsers, but I keep finding new and exciting ways to use them. I thought it would be fun to review the basics, and then round-up some of my favorite use-cases.

Body & Gender Fragments

I wasn’t born in the wrong body. I was born, a body. Without my body, I don’t exist.

Getting Started with CSS GridCSS Tricks

It feels like CSS Grid has been coming for a long time now, but it just now seems to be reaching a point where folks are talking more and more about it and that it’s becoming something we should learning.

Justice [Under Construction]

2016

Some Clarifications on Trans Language

There’s a lot of language that gets thrown around, but much of it comes loaded with over-simplified baggage and misconceptions. Here are a few that have been on my mind – from gender identity to biological sex, transition, passing, and visibility.

Some Kind of Resistance Tour

It’s been a month since our country pseudo-elected a bigoted blow-hard for president. I’m heading to DC to protest his inauguration in January, visit friends, and go on a mixed-media resistance tour…

Loops in CSS PreprocessorsCSS Tricks

No matter what acronym drives your selectors (BEM, OOCSS, SMACSS, ETC), loops can help keep your patterns more readable and maintainable, baking them directly into your code. We’ll take a look at what loops can do, and how to use them in the major CSS preprocessors.

*Beyond Pixels Profile @ Net Magazine

Miriam Suzanne creates experimental experiences with her band and her fellow developers.

An Interview with Miriam SuzanneCSS Tricks

Chris Coyier interviews Miriam when she joins the CSS Tricks team as a Staff Writer. We talk about gettting started in the industry, name confusion, fouding OddBird, building Susy, and more.

Versioning Show, Episode 8 @ SitePoint

In this episode of the Versioning Show, Tim and David are joined by Miriam Suzanne, best known for Susy, a responsive layout toolkit for Sass. They discuss going from being a lurker to finding your voice, the importance of writing about what you’re learning, stumbling into fame, approaching new projects, and unit testing in Sass.

Miriam: A How-To Guide

There are some questions that come up again and again if you are trans. A few of those questions are terrible, but most of them are well-intentioned. I’m lucky to have a supportive community around me, so I thought I’d write down my most common answers to help ease your stress about getting it right, and ease my stress about answering the same questions over and over.

2015

2013

2012

Fuck The Muse @ The Operating System

a series of articles on creative process