I'm transgender, MTF, and have started transitioning at least to the best of my ability given the Covid-19 situation. So here is the problem I'm facing due to the current situation in the world: I don't know how to handle it as I'm struggling to find the help or start hormone therapy, or even if I even need to actually go onto hormones to be transgender. Every site I've looked at only ever mentions going onto hormones to be considered trans, so I don't even know if I'll be accepted as female if I'm for whatever reason unable to do hormone therapy. Even though I'm trying my best to present as female. (But I've still been misgendered several times, which I can only assume is because I still "look and sound" male, which has been stressing me to no end on how to even handle that).
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Thank you for asking a very important question that may help others who read my column. Let's get down to it.
Just like people who think all furries wear fursuits, there is an assumption among the public that all transgender people get surgery and/or hormone therapy. This is false. There are a lot of people just like you who do not go for medical options. This can be for a number of reasons. Perhaps they are unable to afford hormones or surgeries. Perhaps they have other medical problems that prevent them from doing so safely. Or perhaps they simply don't want to put their body through a medical procedure. These are extremely personal decisions, and there is no right or wrong answer. You must do what is best for you.
Are you trans if you don't have surgery or hormone therapy? If you feel that your physical sex does not match the real you, then yes, you are trans. Your true self lies within you and how you feel. It is not subject to public opinion.
Assuming that, even if you do want hormone therapy, you are unable to pursue it at least for the time being, what else can you do to be trans? Your third option is called "social transitioning." That is, you change yourself outwardly in things that can be easily perceived by society. One obvious thing you can do is change your appearance--your hair, your clothes, your makeup, etc. Next, you can change your name (you can do this legally online for very little money at websites such as totallegal.com, which charges like $30 to do the paperwork), and you can insist on people referring to you with the appropriate name and pronoun that suits you. Finally, you need to look into all your legal rights in your state, which might require you to do some paperwork, depending on where you live. Check out this page https://transequality.org/know-your-rights for more on that.
Finally, related to the last part of your letter, try to build a network of support, including friends, family, and professionals (anyone from doctors, nurses, and therapists to ministers and other counselors). I recommend you check out the National Center for Transgender Equality at transequality.org to get further advice and support.
I got into the furry fandom about 6.5 months ago. Ever since I joined I always wanted to have a fully drawn out fursona, Tippy (Deer/Buck), but I’ve never had the art skill to do so. I recently have been super interested in getting a reference sheet via commission. But, I have a bit of a problem, I have no idea what I’m supposed to say/do when it comes to telling them how I want it to look. I don’t wanna be to vague so it doesn’t look right or way to complicated to the point where they don’t know what to do. If you have any advice about the proper way I should communicate my thoughts into their drawings I’d be so grateful!
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Good question, and thanks for submitting it. This is how I handled communications with the ref sheet artist for Grubbs. When talking with the artist, think of the drawing in terms of what the fursuit maker will be sewing. Figure out all the things the fursuit maker will be doing and then describe those to the ref sheet artist.
First, decide the overall feel of the character. Are you going for a highly realistic anthro, or something cartoony?
Do some research on fursuit makers based on fursuits you've seen and what appeals to you with a maker's style. If you have already chosen a maker, point out some of the fursuits they made that you want the ref sheet artist to emulate (artists have their own style, of course, but a good artist can emulate other styles). You can also suggest looks you like from movies, TV shows, and cartoons. For example, when I was coming up with how Grubbs should look, I told the maker, Beastcub, that I thought the bear suits in Disney's The Country Bears were superb and I wanted something along those lines.
What is the overall personality/occupation you are trying to convey? Is this going to be a fat furry? Skinny? Will clothing be worn or will the fursuit be skyclad (naked)? Perhaps armor will be worn because it is a warrior, or a wizard's robe, or there will be jewelry or native wear. Maybe your fursona is a tomb raider or a gamer or an athlete. Maybe they are a musician or skateboarder (maybe you want inline skate wheels installed in the feet! I've seen that... cool!).
Pick out particular features that you want. Do you want realistic eyes made of glass or acrylic, or do you want cloth mesh? Do you want horns or wings or something animatronic? Do you want soft claws or perhaps something made of polyurethane that looks real. Where do you want the zipper (back or front)? Do you want a detachable tail? Should the ears wobble or be static? Do you want a moveable jaw so you can appear to be talking? Should the fur be shaggy or short or felty? Or do you need claws or feathers? Hooves on the feet but human hands? See if the maker has options for how the head is constructed (there are various approaches to head construction (foam heads are more typical of cartoony heads, while resin is often seen in more realistic heads). Ref sheet artists often don't go into mechanical details, but if you can get them to sketch out a lot of the specifics, it can be helpful to the maker.
The ref sheet should, obviously, have a color palate. Make sure you are clear on everything from fur color to paws to claws to eyes to nose to inner ear, etc. etc. etc.
A ref sheet is essential because this is where you work out all the details of your fursona before it goes into production (much cheaper to correct things in a drawing than after it has been sewn!). So, take your time and make sure you have exactly the look you are going for before you give the okay to the maker to start sewing!
Hope this answers your question!
First of all, I'm a huge fan of your site, and I'd like to thank you for being such an amazing, kind and wise person! Keep it up!
Now, I'm not here to complain about my issues since I'm proud to say that I'm really happy with myself and will continue to be happy! Thanks both to your knowledge and positivity and my efforts! I'm only here to share my view on why there's so much sadness in this "modern", "advanced" world and how realising this changed me for the better and rescued me out of a vicious circle of self-pity, anxiety and sadness.
I'll try to keep this short, and I'm sorry since English isn't my native language so sorry if it sounds weird.
So, everyone keeps bragging about how the world today is so "advanced" and "modern" and how science is this aaaamaaaazing thing that is only improving our lives and will continue to do so. But that, of course is not the case at all because, how I see it, science hasn't really solved any problems or made our lives "better" by any means, it only replaced previous issues with twice the time as many worse ones. Science didn't make us better, happier and compassionate... It only did the contrary.
Science doesn't "improve" our lives, it actively replaces our real, natural lives and experiences with simulation, replicas and failed attempts to surpass nature. In it's delusions of grandeur, science is shortsighted... It creates and invents more and more, always focusing on how it will "make the world better" but never on how these Inventions could be used for evil, or how they could backfire in the long run and destroy people's lives and so many other side negative side effects... Just because something can be invented, doesn't mean it HAS to be invented. Science invents things for the sake of it, always under the pretense that it will improve the world, while being blind to the counter effects.
This talk about science matters because science has removed all real life activities and experience with replicas and simulation of said activities and experiences. There is no more need for exploration, risk, real thrill, challenge... All is replaced and packaged into the virtual existence, or heavily roboticised and automated.
Why go outside and explore nature when, on a click of a button, you can immerse yourself into many virtual, idealised worlds without having to go into the real, "dangerous" world? Why go to concerts and enjoy a good time with your friends when you can simply listen to music on your phone, computer or TV, in the safety of your own home? Why indulge in dangerous, tiresome sport activities when you can play sport games or watch other people do sports, all the while eating snacks and not breaking a sweat? Why travel and see the world in all its beauty when you can watch other people travel on travel shows or just open up Google Earth? Not to go on any further, you get the point.
Science created a world free of challenge, risk, no major problems, everything made easier, everything made readily accessible... Served on a silver plate, all the while eliminating the need to even leave your house and socialize. You can do all those things, and many people thankfully still do, but that number is rapidly decreasing...
It is so horrible that we are allowed, in many ways forced, to live such sheltered, passive lives. "Lead" is not a proper word, "watch" or "observe" is more suitable. A life where nature and reality, failure and experience and all the great things that make life are made "obsolete" by the virtual, the packaged replica... In which there is no real consequence, no real failure, no thrill... no love. Most activities replaced by video games, relationships and romance replaced with over-idealised, readily available porn/anime/hentai (all of which replace the need and the want for real sex, because it's so "perfect" compared to the real deal and seriously skews the expectations of what people should be), real socialisation replaced by "social" media, real comedy, parody and jokes replaced by "memes" which bleed the humor dry, real labour replaced by machines and automatic processes.... Real reality, with all it's flaws and beauty, replaced by safer, risk free artificial copies that are more easy to access and provide no real repercussions to failing, which is necessary for growth. I do not live in the "first world", but this especially applies to it.
All of this combined, you get sheltered, deeply unhappy people with very unrealistic expectations due to overwhelming exposure to over-idealised fake reality, and with insufficient failure and experience from said failure due to resorting to risk-free alternatives, the same people, when faced with real problems or when comparing their own lives to that of a idealised ones they see in games, TV, anime, whatever, they start to feel empty, insufficient, "not good enough"... But overexposure to the fake world and insufficient exposure to the real world make those people not realise the difference between one and the other... I was one of those people, always depressed and anxious, ever sheltered and passive, always escaping to the virtual world in which I don't have to put any real effort or face real pain from failure... Always comparing my life to over-idealised ones I saw on social media, in film, games and anime and always thinking how I'm not nearly as "good enough", because due to not enough experience in the real world, I projected the picture perfect things I saw in the virtual to real life people which were only perfect on the surface. Many people do this, unfortunately... It was always like that until I got a grip on life, and on risk, and failure and grew stronger from it and realised that I'm not as weak and "useless" as I had thought and that other people weren't as perfect or as happy as I thought. That was all due to my skewed perception of what life is supposed to be, and what love is supposed to be, heavily skewed by porn, anime and other media, which is why I view anime and porn as especially dangerous due to the fact that it can skew expectations tremendously... Especially to the inexperienced youth. Another thing are the artificial and unrealistic beauty standards that come from western media that is especially troublesome and dangerous... Many people have gone insane with anger, bitterness and pity over them, but that's all just fantasy and NO ONE can achieve those standards. It just isn't realistic... I thought I was "ugly" all the time and constantly saw other people do the same, and even now they do... Thankfully, I saw through the bullshit and am much happier now!
I'm sorry for my English, I might have forgotten to mention many of the things I wanted to, but I hope this makes enough sense. I see that the people in the west, especially the USA, live such lives with unrealistic goals and expectations provided by society and further abused by consumerism. Am I correct on that?
I'm just so afraid of what's going to happen to the world, science isn't going to stop anytime soon... It is a sad world in which the human experience is made obsolete by artificial, picture perfect virtual worlds. All of life packaged safely in a magical rectangle, all the knowledge in the world contained inside our devices, all at a click of a button, all in the safety and comfort of our homes... But science can never replace nature, a copy can never surpass the original... We are paying dearly for not realising that, aren't we? The spiritual made obsolete by the material...
Thank you for reading, Papa Bear!
Theo (age 19)
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Thank you for your intelligent and well-thought-out letter. Your English is quite excellent, by the way, thanks to European education (you don't say what country you are native to, but pretty much all European countries excel over the USA's pathetic public schools). On to your question/statements....
My two initial reactions are: 1) it is dangerous to generalize about anything as being "all bad" or "all good," and that includes science; and 2) it sounds like your main concern is with virtual reality, the internet, and the media (TV and movies) giving a false impression of reality and depriving people of exposure to the real world, which leads to unrealistic expectations about life. Let's address these two issues.
Science is both good and bad. Medical science, for example, has come a long way in treating previously incurable or untreatable injuries and diseases. Physics, biology, astronomy, mathematics, etc. are teaching us the true nature of reality, which has helped explain the world in ways where religion has utterly failed. Science can solve problems such as how to deal with climate change and pollution (it's only politics and greed that get in the way). Yes, science can give us bad things, too, such as plastic waste and nuclear warheads. That's true with everything, though. There is always good and bad. Don't blame science; blame the people who use science for ill.
Going into the specific area of science and technology that you are complaining about: the way it creates a world that protects us from the real world. This can include everything from the internet to living in climate-controlled houses and cars. Yes, science has separated us from nature in many ways, as well as from social interaction. Religion does this, too, if you haven't noticed. Religions such as Christianity teach us that nature is "bad" and only heaven is good (which results in mankind treating nature like garbage), and it keeps us from understanding other people through mistrust.
But, back to science. Let's focus on virtual worlds and social media and movies and such. What you say is, often, very true. I've seen people get immersed in gaming, for example, as a way to hide from a difficult world. It is far easier to be Zardok the Savior of the Fifth Realm than to be Edmund Peebles of Tiny Town, Iowa, who can't hold down a job at the local McDonald's. Likewise, with porn (and this is a huge reason why many furries are into furporn, I believe), it is more fun (and stress-relieving) to pretend you are a well-endowed muscle wolf who can ejaculate 10 gallons of spoo from your 5-foot-long penis than it is to be a lonely 20-year-old who is too nervous to ask a girl on a date because he is terrified that if it leads to sex he will be too nervous or awkward to perform. The fursona aspect of it is a way of wearing a mask--not to conceal your identity so much as to relieve the anxiety and tension that arises if one were to reveal one's true self, which leaves you exposed to being judged by others, and if there is one thing most people crave it is positive validation, not criticism.
Yes, movies, television, RPGs, and even comic books take us to fantasy worlds that are not realistic. This can be a lot of fun, but it is also very limiting. Let's go back to furporn for a second. While one can be a sexy furry with many partners online, the stimulus here is limited to the visual and the auditory. Compared to real-world sex, you miss out on all the other senses: touch, smell, and taste. And so, you are only getting about 40% of an actual sexual experience. I, for one, would much rather have the real thing than sit and watch a naughty furry animation.
The same is true with experiencing nature. Yes, you can take virtual trips online or watch a travel show on TV, but again, you are only getting part of the experience while also neglecting some physical exercise. You can learn a lot of stuff from a documentary, but you don't get an experience you will remember. An example from my life: Ten years ago, my sister took me whale watching off the coast of Baja. Oh. My. God. You go out in tiny boats where the cow (female) gray whales are swimming gently about with their calves and these magnificent creatures come right up to the boats and interact with you! You can pet them, smell them, feel their presence. Far more amazing and memorable than watching a National Geographic special.
Neither online porn nor TV shows will ever replace the real thing, as you wisely conclude. Fortunately, they never fully will. Just as when people feared that the invention of Betamax and VHS tapes would keep people from attending the movie theater proved incorrect (except when you're in a pandemic), technology will never fully replace real life.
When it comes to furries, I believe that one reason people want to be anthros is because, deep down, they recognize how humanity has become separated from animals in nature, and this is their way of reconnecting with wildlife. Now, one of the greatest things to do as a furry is to go to furcons and furmeets, but the main reason the fandom has grown by leaps and bounds can be chalked up to the internet, which allows for communication throughout the world (as I am doing with you right now, my European furiend). Many furries can't go to cons and meets for one reason or another, so the internet allows them to do this. You can thank science for the ability of people to connect in ways they never could before.
Again, good and bad, Yin and Yang, positive and negative. It is the dual nature of our lives.
To answer your last question about science and technology replacing the real world, no, I don't think it will--at least, not completely. There will always be people like yourself who want to go outdoors and do things, interacting with nature and other human beings. Look at what is going on now with the pandemic. Yes, people can watch football on the telly and they can watch movies and talk in chat rooms, but they are screaming to "get back to normal," go see sports and concerts in real auditoriums and stadiums. They want to hang out with friends in bars. They want to go to a beach, even a crowded beach, and enjoy the people and surf. Humans are social beings. They want to interact with real people. How many furries do you talk to who are sad that the conventions have closed? There is nothing like fursuiting in public and getting real hugs. A glowing screen will never ever replace that.
I am glad that you have wrested yourself from the virtual world to experience your life. That's a great thing. You needn't reject it completely, however, or label it evil. As will all things, balance is the key. Find what is good with technology and exploit it for good use. For example, I could not do my current job without the information I have access to when researching online. Yes, I could go to a library, but that is limited compared to the terabytes of information online.
Balance science with nature, technology with the spiritual, and temper it all with wisdom and compassion. That is the path to a happier future.
Where can you find a website for young furs? I try to go to furry websites but they always say you have to be 18 or older. I need a break from that. I wish I had furry friends to make online, and I just want young furs like me to have fun online too. I look at every furry website, but no young furs are allowed, so please make a website.
Peanut Butter (age 8)
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Dear Peanut Butter,
You are 8 years old, so I am guessing you are not aware of furry history. You see, the furry fandom began back in the 1970s, when a number of sci-fi and comic book fans decided to start making art and writing stories featuring "funny animals" but with adult themes (mostly violence and mature situations, but sometimes involving sex). "Funny animals" are what people used to call talking animals in cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and Mighty Mouse. Anyway, the whole point of furry was to have talking animal characters featured in more mature stories. Now, this doesn't mean X-rated stories, necessarily. There was a lot of sci-fi stuff such as in the now-classic Albedo series. But there was also stuff with more sexual situations, such as the Omaha: The Cat Dancer comic books. As the fandom matured, more and more X-rated stuff has entered websites and publications and, no, it is not suitable for kids under 18.
The demographics (who is in the fandom in terms of age, gender, race, etc. etc.) have been evolving a lot over the last couple of decades. While the majority of furries are still people in their late-teens and twenties (mostly male and white, but there are more women getting involved, as well as non-Caucasian furries), more and more furries are older and more and more are quite young. Furries such as you probably enjoy anthro characters in Disney and Pixar cartoons and films, of course, and then you find out about furries by stumbling upon them online or perhaps hearing about furries from a friend. Anyway, you are not looking for X-rated art. You just want to have fun adopting a fursona and perhaps having some online RPG adventures.
Unfortunately, at this time, there are no social networking sites like FurAffinity or SoFurry that are specifically for cubfurs, especially as young as you. I would LOVE to design and run such a site (and thank you for asking and thinking I could) but I have neither the time nor technical know-how to do so. I do keep my eyes out for such things on the Web, though, and you can be sure I will write about it if I hear anything.
In the meantime, there are still fun things you can do to meet furries in the virtual world. If your parents are okay with it, you can play online RP and other games such as Furcadia (just stay away from the Furrabian Nights adult section, but almost everything else is kid-friendly). You can roleplay while also meeting other furries. Here are some other games you might find enjoyable, many of which offer ways to chat with furries playing the game with you online (some are better for older kids, and some for younger kids):
Many furries meet other furries by playing such games, no matter what their age. In fact, it was in the early days of FurryMuck that contributed greatly to the growth of the fandom back in the 1980s. So, I would recommend you not worry about such places as FurAffinity and instead start playing some furry games.
THEN! Get an account on Discord.com, which is a place where you can hang out and chat with people about your favorite games.
Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’ve just been very busy with woodwork and social stuff. However, recently I’ve been thinking about the sad and dark stuff that happened in 2020 and how so much I wasn’t expecting just how low the year could get.
I’ve been feeling down lately (though I stress I wanna live more than anything). The news and all the horrifying stories about COVID-19 and the horrific crimes committed by police (the fact I now cannot trust them with my life given my mild Autism and hearing about police murdering Aspies [people with Asperger's] is both depressing and disturbing), the numerous deaths of beloved figures from disease, the recent financial recession in my country. Not to mention the natural disasters that occurred earlier in the year and so many events I were looking forward to getting cancelled.
I’ve also suffered a relapse in depression. There are nights where it’s been so overwhelmingly miserable, I just want to cry myself to sleep. I struggle to smile and find the situation so hopeless, I can’t stop frowning. I just wanna smile again and feel hope and light, not this looming despair and darkness that leaves me paranoid of a horrible disease. It’s so scary and uncertain.
I’ve been feeling lonely lately. Trying to get out of the house to help my mother out with shopping and seeing a friend is to try and cheer myself up. It’s hard to feel hopeful when the news is destroying my faith in humanity and the global pandemic is killing so many people. I’m just so overwhelmed.
I also felt a sense of guilt from what happened with Etika. I wanted to help him because I could empathise with him and wanted to help him but when I heard he was blocking people trying to help him, I didn’t do anything because I loved his stuff and I wanted to not bother him. I was scared when I heard about his disappearance and was devastated when I heard the news of his suicide. I’m crying typing this because I feel so guilty I didn’t do anything even if doing something kind meant being blocked for trying to be a good person.
Also, one massive thing that traumatised me and made me feel terrified was my Mum’s so-called friend (I’m just gonna call him “J” even though he has the same name as my brother which I find insulting). I noticed early on in 2019 when J was emotionally abusive to my mum, gaslighting her and making her feel as if he was the only one who truly loved her(my separated father is 10-times the better partner than that bastard). He was also screaming at her at times. I could hear them through the paper thin walls. He threw things and was cruel to her. First time that happened my brother and I (and my dog Jake though neither of us got our shoes on and I couldn’t get my phone or wallet from upstairs) ran out while my Mum called the cops (this is before my trust in them was destroyed this year) and her bloody bruised face still haunts me. Second time it happened at night after he “apologised” to her and threatened to kill himself if she left, I couldn’t take it anymore and screamed at him to get out and stay out! I never once trusted him and my mum screamed at me that I should be glad dad and mum are in separate relationships. I don’t appreciate abuse. I always had a gut feeling not to trust him but I was nice to him anyway before the second time because I wanted to give him a second chance. He even gave me chew lollies but I suspect it was a bribe to shut me up and it didn’t work. I now associate the packet of lollies with that asshole. I hate them.
Both times, he destroyed something in the house (the car park door on the 2nd time) and made my mum cry. I hate myself for being so scared. I hate that man for what he did and it took every bit of willpower not to attack him the second time he attacked my mum. He’s also taller than my mum and me so he’s intimidating. He’s a monster. A cruel, manipulative and evil sack of shit who I hope I NEVER see his face again.
By the way, I should clarify despite my sadness at my parents separating, they’re still good parents who care about me and my siblings.
The 2010s were honestly some of the darkest and lowest points in my life. I was seriously hoping 2020 would actually improve things but it just got worse. I really wanna hope 2021 is slightly better but I have no idea. I wanna be a parent before I’m 30 but I’m worried if I’ll be a good parent given that I remember a social class from primary school when we were given a younger student from another class to help as a “parent” and I wasn’t there for them so they were given to someone else and the kid told me to my face I wasn’t there for them and were disappointed in me. I know it was just a school Project but it haunted me ever since and makes me scared I’ll be a bad parent for real. After some horrible abuse I went through from that shithead, I realised how important my family mean to me. I really wanna be a good loving attentive father one day.
I guess my questions are this: is there any hope for the future and how can I be a better person? Also, hope your leg’s okay, Papa Bear. I was rather worried when I heard the news from you. Stay safe, mate.
From a concerned and unhappy canine.
Sam the Dog
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Wow, there is a lot going on in this letter. There are at least four questions here: 1) Given the current state of the world, how can I be optimistic and hopeful about the future? 2) How do I deal with my mom and her abusive boyfriend? 3) Should I be a parent soon? 4) How do I deal with my feelings of guilt regarding Etika? (Please note in future that you are only supposed to ask one question per letter, but I know that writing this down is a catharsis for you, so it's okay this one time.
Let's start with the second one first. Domestic abuse is a serious business. Your mother's boyfriend is emotionally abusive and, it sounds like, even physically so. There is not too much you can do until your mother recognizes this, and there are many psychological reasons too complicated to go into here as to why she might be so reticent to change her life. I'm not sure what Australian police are like, but if you do not trust them to help with domestic abuse problems, I would recommend you contact Lifeline Australia (https://www.lifeline.org.au/), which offers services concerning suicide, domestic abuse, and other crisis support services. Start with them.
Next: Etika. What happened to Etika is not your fault. Could you have done more? Sure, you could have tried to talk to him more or recommend help for him, but ultimately his choices were his own. You do not own other people's fates; you only own your own fate.
Should you try and be a parent before you are 30? Ideally, in my opinion, no one should try to be a parent until they have their shit together, but if I could somehow enforce that, Homo sapiens would become extinct in a couple of generations. Almost no one has their shit completely together, so the second option would be to have your shit mostly together, meaning you had enough income and could provide a stable environment to nurture a child into adulthood. Do not become a parent for your own selfish reasons (I cannot count how many times I have heard people say, "I want a baby so I have someone to love me" or "I want a baby so I have someone to take care of me in my old age" or "I want a baby so that I can have someone to carry on my legacy.") All of these reasons are wrong reasons for bringing a human being into the world. So, ask yourself: "WHY do I want to bring a child into this crazy world?"
Lastly, the BIG question: How can one be optimistic about the future in such a grim year? To get a grip on this, one must accept that life goes in cycles. There are good periods in history and bad ones; economic good times and depressions; periods of political stability and periods of unrest. I sympathize with your unease in this Time of Trump, which is simply horrible. I am very nervous that our American republic is being destroyed and we are regressing into a past when racism ran rampant and when destroying the environment was the status quo. Right now, it is about 50/50 as to which path we will follow in November, and it is truly disturbing how many Americans still support Trump and his evil reign of hatred and racism. Let us hope that voters will turn things around, but if not, and we get four years (or more) of Trump, even then there is still hope because, as noted, eventually evil is overthrown and things improve. The only question is whether that happens sooner or later. Of course, you are in Australia, which is a stable, fairly socialist country (compared to the US), so you should be okay, especially since Australia is doing better handling the COVID-19 pandemic than many countries (South Australia is considered one of the safest places on Earth regarding the coronavirus). I think you will be okay. Hang in there.
Looking worldwide rather than just in Australia, yes, there has been a definite swing toward right-wing regimes in recent years. Countries including the USA, Brazil, the UK, Hungary, Poland, and Austria have growing right-wing movements. This is the result of a couple of things, including reactionary movements against immigration and the success of liberal legislation giving rise to counter-legislation. Basically, white, conservative Christians fearing they are losing power to brown-skinned people who follow other faiths or who are liberal socialists. So, we get a political phenomenon based on changing world demographics. As with any active system, there is turbulence during a transition from one equilibrium to the next. Things will settle down eventually, but it could take decades.
You can't take on the world by yourself. But I do like the saying, "Think globally, act locally." If you wish to do something, get involved in local political, social, and environmental groups, and see if you can lend them a hand. That will ease your sense of being powerless because you will be doing something constructive.
Good Luck to You! Take Care! Bear Hugs!
My parents have been fighting a lot lately, and I fear that they no longer love each other. Whenever I go to visit them, it seems they cannot get along with each other. My younger brother and sister ignore the fighting, but I know deep down that they are saddened by this and I do not know what to do. So I am writing to you for advice as to what to do about this.
Anonymous (age 21)
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Instead of speculating about what is going on between your parents, you should talk to them. Ask them what is going on. You and your siblings and your parents should have an honest family meeting and communicate with one another. You are 21 years old, so they can't pull the "you're too young to understand" excuse for not talking to you. Their relationship affects you and your siblings, so you have a right to know. Once you know what is going on, only then can you truly make a decision as to a course of action.
I've been thinking about whether or not I should fatten up any furry characters who aren't Christians. You see, most of my fat comics and skinny pictures have portrayed Christian birds and other animals, and I'd like to know this: Is it a good idea, or should I just stick to my Christianized characters?
(P.S. I believe that fattening up humans - which I've NEVER done - disgraces God's image since He created human beings in his likeness; however, I know that fattening up animals is perfectly fine since they're NOT created in His image. Isn't that cool?)
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Well, I'm sorry to inform you that that is utter nonsense. "Created in God's image" has nothing to do with your body. What is meant by that is that human beings possess souls; God is Spirit, and this spirit imbues our essence. It has nothing to do with your body. God doesn't look like a Homo sapiens. God is beyond mere physicality. God does not have a gender or legs or eyes or a mouth or hands or anything like that. Christian portrayals of God as an old man on a throne are mere anthropomorphic interpretations of the Great Spirit. Therefore, in your art, portraying Christians or non-Christians as overweight is not an insult to God because it is completely unrelated to God.
I'm surprised you didn't know that. But there it is. I think if you talked to any modern priest or minister they would agree on this point. That said, I am not a Christian and have different ideas about the spiritual, but that is a longer letter....
Since I was about 7 years old, I've felt like I wasn't a girl. When I tried talking to my dad about it, he told me not to listen to how I feel. At first, I thought I wanted to be a boy, but 3 years ago I discovered the term non-binary and only came out about a month ago. I only told my mom and best friend, and while my best friend has been super supportive, my mom seems a bit uncomfortable. I told her she could continue to call me "she" and her "daughter" to make her more comfortable, but it doesn't feel right. I want her to call me "they," but I don't want her to feel weird. Me and her have always loved drag queens, and she has always told me if I ever turned out to be gay she would be supportive, so it confuses me a bit to know she's uncomfortable with me being non-binary. Do you have any idea why she might feel this way and what I could do to make her feel better?
Hijinkx the Cataroo (13)
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First of all, your father's advice to not listen to how you feel is absolutely THE WORST advice he could possibly give you. So, do not listen to him on this point. As for your mother, at least she is trying to be sympathetic to you. I think she is uncomfortable about the non-binary term because she doesn't really understand what that is. She can comprehend homosexuality, but, let's face it, lately, there has been a lot of research and terms being flung around by the scientific and LGBTQI+ community that can be very confusing to most people. This page https://www.healthline.com/health/different-types-of-sexuality lists 46 terms that describe sexuality, gender, and orientation, for example, and there are actually even more than that.
What's going on here is that science, in recognizing that human sexuality and gender are very complex, is attempting to define all the various possibilities. Many people find this helpful because there is a sense of relief when one feels that one's personal feelings have been validated scientifically. But for those who are just plain-old heterosexual, white bread, and socially "normal," it can muddle the issue more than it clarifies it. I mean, throw around terms like cisgender, skoliosexual, demisexual, etc., and you are gonna get a blank stare. So many definitions can give one a headache and make one just want to tune it all out.
But just as this terminology can take some time and study to comprehend, so is your own sexuality coming into definition. At 13, you are still undergoing many changes, and you are still figuring things out. You are making a lot of progress and you definitely have resolved the fact that you don't feel like a girl even though that is what you are genetically. But now you are working toward what exactly that means and what variations of that apply to you, as well as how are you going to deal with it. This is an extremely personal voyage that only you can travel, although it helps when you have support from family and friends, people who can hold your hand.
What I am saying is this: Do not rush too quickly into defining yourself. You are only 13, and you are going to be developing physically, mentally, and emotionally for years to come still. And, just as you should not push yourself to the finish line too quickly (the finish line will just move farther ahead anyway), you should not push your parents too hard, either. Do not insist on them using the "they" pronoun yet. To them, you are their daughter, and that is a lot of responsibility in and of itself. Let them call you by whatever they are comfortable with. It is not an important issue right now. What is important is that you continue to explore your own feelings (and ignore parents who say ignore your feelings). This is not to say don't talk to your parents! TALK to them. But don't insist on anything. Just be honest about how you feel and don't put a label on it. Labels can be limiting anyway. If your mother can deal with this best by just thinking of you as being gay, then let her for now, even if she is not being accurate. If your father can't grasp your complex identity just yet, then let him just think of you as his daughter.
While this is all very much about you, it is also about your parents and their feelings. Try to be as sympathetic to what they are going through as you would like them to be about what you are going through. Do you understand? This is a process that will take many years. Do not expect instant results or instant sympathy and understanding. Take your time and be patient with them. And count yourself lucky that at least your parents are there for you, even though they are struggling to understand you.
And remember: we are more than just our sexuality and gender. We are complex beings of mind, spirit, and body. Your sexuality and gender are just one aspect of a complex human being--do not neglect the other aspects of yourself while you evolve as a person, and do not keep your parents from appreciating those other aspects as they strive to raise their child. Let them into your life without being insistent on what is just one part of you. Don't hide it, but don't bludgeon them with it, if you get my drift.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
Big Bear Hugs,
Dear Papa Bear,
I'm writing to you because you've helped me out multiple times while I was a teenager, and it just felt nice to come to you for advice once more as an adult! So for that, let's start this off with a thank you.
So, the TLDR of my situation is that my parents divorced. Dad retired from the army, kicked me out. My mom helped me move to California, where I had a lot more job opportunities. Mom is moving back with her bf in January, and I'm planning on leaving California. They (half) joke about you needing to make $30/h or higher to live here on your own haha. It's just a bit too expensive for my taste.
So when January comes, I'm hoping to go to Kansas, but I'm unsure, actually. It'll be my first time on my own. I was always planning on moving out but so many things in life kept happening that my plans kept suddenly changing.
When it comes to that time, do you have any advice on moving out on your own? How much money should I have saved up? What things should I do to make sure it goes smoothly? Advice on getting an apartment for the first time?
Sorry that this is a big question. It's been weighing on my mind a lot lately.
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Welcome back. It's weird, this column has been going on for about 8 years now and, yes, some original letter writers who were teens back then are now adults. How fast you grow up!
Depending where you live in California, you need to make more or less money. For example, it's much cheaper to live in the Central Valley than in a coastal city, but I get what you're saying.
Moving across the country is a really complicated and involved process, and I could write a book on just how to do that. Really, too much to say for this little column of mine. But I can give you a few pointers:
Hope this helps. Good luck!
Dear Papa Bear,
Ever since I started school, I always focused on the work more then anything. I always wanted to make my parents proud for all that they ever gave me. I didn’t even have that many good friends until high school, when I finally met a group. I was happy, but for college I decided to follow a full ride scholarship to a university states away. I thought it would be an easy adaptation and I would get many friends and good experiences here. But even without COVID-19, things have been rough.
With my experience here so far, I’ve struggled to make any friends in anything I thought I’d be remotely interested in, with me even joining a furry club. I haven’t felt a connection even close to the one I had with my friends back home, and at times even feel unwanted. While I can call my friends, I feel much more alienated to them the before, especially with me being the only one to go out of state for college. This feeling is starting to affect my drive for my grades, which is possibly a disaster, since I need to maintain a 3.5 to even keep my scholarship. Do you have any advice for not feeling so lonely when you’re having a really difficult time making connections?
Drew (age 20; live in Lincoln, NE for school; San Antonio, TX and Atlanta, GA for family)
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Different states, cities, countries have different cultures. One might think there would not be a big difference, culturally between Texas and Nebraska, but it kinda depends on the part of Texas. Now, you are from San Antonio, which is a pretty happening city. You also mention Atlanta, Georgia, which is very different as well. Nebraska is very rural, for the most part. Now, if you were from the Texas panhandle, for example, you might have a closer cultural tie to Nebraska. Lincoln, Nebraska, is very much a "college town," which also has a different feel from, say, a big city like Atlanta.
So, a guess I have is that there is a bit of a cultural difference going on here that might be interfering a bit with your efforts to make friends. Also, just in general, it can be a challenge to make new friends in a new town compared to a place in which you grew up. One suggestion would be to see if you could find some fellow students who are from San Antonio or Georgia. Might be a bit easier to connect.
While having a healthy social life is important, the main reason you are in Lincoln is for school--and congrats on your scholarship, by the way. I'm also guessing that, once you complete your degree, you're not going to stay in Lincoln. I could be wrong, of course. But even if you do stay where you are now, your peers will change once you get a job. You will be switching from college buddies to coworkers, and by then (4 or more years from now) you may have adjusted more to being a Nebraskan.
Big adjustments such as the one you're making take time to acclimate to. I remember my first year of college being rather lonely, but it got better in my sophomore year. Now, you're 20, so have you been in college a couple years? Or did you get a late start? If the former, you can tough it out for another year or two and then you will likely move when you find a job; if the latter, give yourself some time. Such big changes take a while to settle into.
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