#89: Han and Matt Escape from Reality | Episode, Show Notes, & Transcript

Show Notes

Han and Matt tackle questions from some of their favorite advice sources from the week of September 30th, 2018, and beyond, including:

  1. BONUS: Han's Tattoo on Their Tattoo Artist's Instagram (and Han's Instagram)

  2. Listener Skyler Elmridge, Ingenious Blacksmith: "Should We Put a Spot for Pronouns On Our Wedding Place Cards?"

  3. Listener Insert Name Here: "Am I a Bad Queer?"

  4. Listener Quarrius, Nimble Geomancer: "What More Can I Do to Help My Friend Who Keeps Facing Abusive Jobs Everywhere He Goes?"

  5. Listener Aephe, Stout Battlemage: "Should I Talk to My Dad Again?"

  6. Listener Yolanda, Cynosure of the Net: "Where Do I Find My Motivation Now That I'm No Longer Being Terrorized By a Cat?"

  7. SPONSOR: Podigy: The podcast editing service we partner proudly with!

  8. Listener Lady Lazor, Hufflepuff: "A Question of Bodies and Their Wonderful Variety!"

  9. Learning About Disabilities and Chronic Pain

  10. Listeners Weigh In On Gender Reveal Parties

  11. Children's Books Eschewing Gender Norms

  12. The Ocean Is Coming For You

  13. Advice Column Question Round-Up

Submit your favorite questions or questions you may have for the podcast to hanandmattknowitall@gmail.com, anonymously at bit.ly/askhanandmatt, or to askahelpinghan@gmail.com for a Han-only written answer on hanandmattknowitall.com.

Looking to support us? Desperately in need of a fantastical alter-ego? You can become a Patreon supporter and donate to us monthly for all kinds of sweet perks!


Transcript

Han Hi! This is Han.

Matt And this is Matt.

Han And this is Han and Matt Know It All your weekly podcast where we discuss our favorite advice columns from around the internet and answer questions from you all.

Matt That’s right! And not only do we do that thing but we also do some chatting about other things.

Han I mean, yes that is a thing that we do and this week we’re not actually answering any questions about advice columns; we’re just answering questions from you all. So really, you know…

Matt Nothing we said was true.

Han We lied. We lied to your faces or more to your ear holes because you can’t see us.

Matt Believe no one. Yeah! Well, some can see us.

Han What?

Matt Oh God.

Han That shouldn’t be a thing.

Matt Ummm. What I meant to say was, uh, how was your weekend?

Han It was good! I went to New York for like the ninth time since we moved to D.C.!

Matt You finally got the finishing touches on your tattoo, huh?

Han I did! My tattoo is now officially done and I’m very excited about it! And it’s beautiful and I love it and I’m so excited that it’s there forever and my tattoo artist threatened to steal my arm.

Matt Laughs Steal your arm, yeah. That’s-

Han Yeah.

Matt Flattering.

Han The macabre compliments of body modifications.

Matt Well, and now I’ve started following her on instagram and it’s very clear this is one of the best works she’s ever done.

Han Hell yeah!

Matt Yeah. And that’s… oh shoot, what’s her name?

Han Karen Glass.

Matt That’s right! Karen Glass. I’d say follow her on instagram.

Han Yes, if you’d like to see my arm look at Karenglasstattoo on instagram and you will see my arm.

Matt Or I guess your instagram.

Han Well yeah, that too which is, uh, shows up on our twitter and stuff, it’s Hantastical1985 if you’d like to follow me on instagram.

Matt Love it and I’m sure you’ll see it on round ups of the best Alice in Wonderland tattoos.

Han Best tattoos of all time!

Matt Or that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No qualifier needed.

Han Yeah, it’s just the most amazing tattoo anyone’s ever had. That’s all. How was your weekend?

Matt Good. I was here. I did things.

Han Matt was a good little house hubby and like did domestic things while I was off prancing about because he’s a good partner!

Matt Yeah. I tried.

Han I love you.

Matt It was a tough weekend.

Han Oh. Yeah, no. Um, we’re not going to talk about politics. We’re absolutely- I’m cutting that off right at the start.

Matt Yeah, just alluding to that.

Han Yep.

Matt So those of you who have gotten through this weekend somehow, you know, you’re all very strong.

Han Yeah. If anyone wants to see me cry, go ahead and watch the live Facebook thing we did because that is where you get to see me break for a moment about everything that’s going on right now. But I don’t feel like crying today so let's just go ahead and talk about people's questions instead.

Matt Yeah. One of the reasons we’re doing an all listener question thing is because I don’t, I don’t wanna- I just want to not be in the world for a moment.

Han Yes. Let’s help people instead.

Matt Yeah! Alright, so our very first question comes from listener Skylar Elmridge, ingenious blacksmith and the summary is: Should we put a spot for pronouns on our wedding place cards? Wow. Let me emphasize that differently.

Han Laughs. Place cards?

Matt Place cards? Should we put a place for pronouns on our wedding place cards? Wait. Mhm. No, that was still wrong wasn’t it?

Han No, that was right.

Matt Got it! We’re going to keep all this in.

Han Yeah. Good jorb.

Matt Laughs. Thanks.

Han Matt’s good at emphasis.

Matt Dear Han and Matt, my partner and I are hosting 45 guests for our casual costumes required wedding in the Fingerlakes next week. Yay! Shared connection!

Han Hell yeah!

Matt And I’ve gotten the idea that perhaps we could put pronouns on the place setting cards or leave a spot open for people to write their own pronouns. Based on your podcast, I’ve added my pronouns to my work email signature and I thought our wedding might be a good educational opportunity for some of the people I care about. However, one of my best friend’s 16 year old has changed his pronouns recently and I want to be sensitive to that. He and his mother live a good distance away and have not met any of the other guests before. I definitely want to normalize conscious pronoun usage instead of calling out anyone in particular. What do you think about this idea? Are there better actions I could take here? Thanks and love, Skylar Elmridge, ingenious blacksmith.

Han So, I think that your heart is in the right place on this one but in terms of efficacy, I don’t know if place cards is the best way to do this. Mostly because, generally speaking, most people only see their own place cards. Like, when you’re sitting at a table at a wedding people’s place cards are usually turned towards them so they can find their seat not turned outwards so that other people know what their name is. Um-

Matt Well, if it’s turned outward for them to see it, wouldn’t other people see it while they’re walking by?

Han Yeah, but people are usually only looking for their own to, like, figure out where they’re supposed to sit basically.

Matt Mhm.

Han So like, I don’t know. I just don’t think it’s the most effective way to actually get that across because people aren’t going to be walking around memorizing other people’s pronouns. I would say if you want to do conscious pronouning at your wedding and if there are going to be people that don’t know each other there, you could always, especially since it’s a costume party, have people do actual name tags that they could wear for mingling and whatever and then have space for name and pronoun. Then they can write their own and put whatever they want.

Matt Honestly, I would love that. I’ve never been to a wedding that had name tags and it would be so helpful to know whose cousin this is or…

Han I feel like it could be really useful. Yeah, so I would maybe suggest doing that. I think that if you were going to do that on the place setting cards, I would let people fill out their entire own place setting card or I would ask pronouns ahead of time so they were printed on all of them rather than having it be your name is printed and then you write your pronouns on just because that feels just a little bit too like you thought about it later.

Matt Oh I don’t know about that. I think given the caveat here that someone changed their pronouns in between, that’s- I think that’s a worthwhile thing to note. That you don’t want to prescribe anyone pronouns if, you know, day of people went through a different personal journey.

Han Yeah, I don’t know. I just- something about just scrawling it at the bottom feels weird to me I guess.

Matt Well and I get your point about it wouldn’t be as visible to others.

Han Yeah.

Matt But if this is an educational moment, it does face every individual with this opportunity to kinda learn and think about “Oh yeah, what are my pronouns?” and I guess one thing I thought about is that this could cause a lot of confusion for people who’ve never dealt with this before and as one of the people getting married, you definitely don’t want to field all of the questions or na-na’s… is that how you say it?

Han Nana usually.

Matt Nana.

Han Yeah.

Matt Not like a banana.

Han Na-na’s what my family calls me.

Matt  Sorry. Yeah, that’s different than nana. You don’t want to field nana’s “what is this?” kinda question all night. So, maybe getting like, I don’t know, some trusted folks per table to kind of, like, educate them to field the questions. I don’t know if that’s asking too much?

Han Especially since this is like the next week. I think that just having name tags and having a couple sample ones out that say like “Bob – he/him” or “Jay – they/them” like however you want to do that.

Matt Yeah.

Han Is probably an easier and less questions involved or feel less forced than having it handwritten on the place cards later and also makes it more of a conversation if people have it on so that then they can identify each other cause Lord knows I never know who I’m talking to at someone’s wedding where I’m not a family member so…

Matt For real.

Han Actually, sometimes at family member’s too. Hell, you could also have it be, maybe tell people to go around and introduce themselves at the tables and be like, you know when you’ve got everyone sitting, be like “hey, we’d love if everyone would go around, introduce themselves, say your name, your pronouns and how you know the bride and groom.”

Matt Oh, I like this the best because-

Han Or, Sorry. How you know one of the people getting married. I just realized this is not a gendered wedding. It doesn’t say. So, anyway.

Matt Right, right. Yeah, it’s really, I think, important if we’re trying to impart a lesson here because that’s how it’s typically done. You get introduced into a room, you go around and say your name and your pronouns. Awe, that’s great! So, that plus name tags you think?

Han Yeah, I think so or one or the other. You can go either way but I, honestly, I wish weddings had time for like officially introducing yourselves to the other people at your table because again, unless your part of the family and therefore at a table with all family members-

Matt It’s super awkward.

Han I often end up sitting with people where I’m like, I have no clue who these people are, how they are, like, how they know the wedding people. Like, yeah.

Matt Wow. I hadn’t thought about this but yeah, in the same way that you do icebreakers at work functions or whatever cause you’re all coming together, you’re on the same team.

Han And having dinner together. Yeah.

Matt Yeah. And often you’re just sitting there and you’re like who are these folks?

Han Yeah.

Matt And it’s just difficult to start a conversation. Maybe we’re just admitting how awkward we are.

Han Look, we’re real awkward.

Matt But that’s true of a lot of folks.

Han Yeah.

Matt Like, what do you say to break the ice.

Han Yeah. So Yeah. I’m gonna- I’m gonna say that that is now our official stance is when you’ve got everybody seated, you know I’m sure you’ve got your mic there for whatever reason just have either yourself or the announcer or whatever you’ve got going on say “Hi. We’re so excited to have you here. We want to ask everyone to take a minute at your tables to introduce yourselves, give your name, your pronouns and how you know the wedding people.

Matt Yeah. I dig that because that’s usually how I- the question I ask is how do you know?

Han Yeah exactly. So how do you know bride or groom or other person?

Matt What’s your connection to here? Yeah and then you grade them like based on their connection.

Han And then you’re like, “Ooooh. I know them better than you…”

Matt Yes, sorry. “Are you sure that you were invited on purpose?”

Han “Were you a second tier invite?”

Matt Laughs.

Han We’re a lot of fun at parties y’all.

Matt Yeah. Right.

Han People love us.

Matt Uh-huh.

Han Alright, shall we move onto the next question?

Matt Let’s do it.

Han So this- I don’t know if Matt left it this way on purpose or not but this says it’s from listener Insert Name Here.

Matt That’s right!

Han Am I a bad queer? Dear Han and Matt, I’ve been with my girlfriend for about a year and a half. We are in our early 30’s and I am the first female bodied person she’s been with so this was kind of her first foray into exploring her bisexuality in this way. About six months ago, however, I came out as a transman. There wasn’t a whole lot of adjusting involved. I passed pretty well even before coming out and I kind of have a boy’s name anyway. My girlfriend says she supports me but sometimes waffled a bit saying I’m beautiful as a women and she doesn’t fully get why I’d want to change that. She seems to have accepted it now and she doesn’t bring that up anymore. Things became contentious between us about a month or two ago. She’s recently taken to insisting on pointing out her TV crushes to me, all super-hot ripped guys. I get that this is a thing people do but she has lots of friends with whom she shares her fandoms and with whom she can and does talk about these things. I typically don’t have much to counter with. I can only say so much about Gillian Anderson and Rachel Maddow and I don’t mention them ever. That’s because my girlfriend told me early on in our relationship that her ex used to compare her to his TV crushes and it made her feel inadequate. Kinda like I feel now. As much as I’d like to, I’ll probably never look like any of these guys. I can’t even afford to start medically transitioning any time soon. The dysphoria is strong right now and it’s been depressing me a lot more than usual. A few weeks back, when I told her how I feel about this, she got very angry and accused me of being biphobic and paranoid about her leaving me for a sis man. That’s not even what I said which was just that it made me feel inadequate about my body which, having experienced that, I thought she’d understand. She insists that this is something I need to learn to be comfortable with for there not to be an unhealthy jealousy between us and for me to be a decent LGBTQ person. She still continues pointing out hot guys to me saying this is what I need to “get used to it.” I don’t know what to do. It feels horrible to say I was the one who explained to her what biphobia was in the first place and now I almost wish I didn’t because I feel like all she’s done is attack me with it. Is this wrong? How do I get over this. Sincerely, Insert Name Here, he/him/his.

Matt So in reading this question for the very first time, I thought that, well, we don’t know necessarily that the girlfriend is comparing you to these folks but then we get the line later on it’s that the girlfriend says “Well, I need to do this in order to get used to it.” Like, oh okay, that’s interesting.

Han Well, I assumed that the get used to it was like I want my- like, that she was saying that he needs to get used to not being jealous of other dudes when she does that like immersion therapy stuff.

Matt Oh okay. That’s a better read than what I ascribed it which is like you need to get used to the idea of being attracted to men or something like that.

Han Yeah, no. I mean, so it says she’s bi and she’s mostly been with men so this is not really a new experience for her other than that this is a transman. So, not to come out swinging too hard but your girlfriend’s an asshole.

Matt Right!? Like you’re a bad LGBT community – bad queer. Like, what!?

Han Yeah. No. It’s- I don’t want to prescribe feelings onto your girlfriend in terms of how she’s handling your transition. It sounds like she’s, she was sort of try- I don’t know. Anyway, I’m not going to get into that side of it. I am going to say that she can’t have a double standard like that where she doesn’t want to be compared to other people’s TV crushes but she insists on comparing you to her TV crushes. You’ve explained to her that this makes you uncomfortable. She knows you’re dealing with dysphoria right now because you can’t afford to have surgery or hormones or whatever else and she, rather than being compassionate about the fact that you’re in a rough space right now, instead insists on pointing out Chris Hemsworth and being like “Mmm! That’s the kind of man I’m attracted to.” Like, that’s really shitty! She’s being really shitty.

Matt Yeah! Even in my most sympathetic read, it could just be that, well look, there are a large range of men I’m attracted to and here happens to be one but if the overwhelming pattern is the same type of like Hollywood super buff pretty then that doesn’t bode well for attraction level in this relationship.

Han I mean it feels passive aggressive like, I don’t know, I’m attracted to people on TV that I wouldn’t necessarily like compare to people that I date in real life and that’s fine but, like, I think the important part of this is that you’ve asked her to stop and said it makes you uncomfortable and she has said no and doubled down.

Matt And insisted that you’re a bad queer because of jealousy?  Like wait a minute. I wanted to dig into that. Because even as, you know, polyamorous ethically non-monogamous folks, we don’t think that, like, jealousy is something you can overcome necessarily.

Han Right. And also like- ugh. No it’s- I’m sorry. It’s just she’s being really terrible and she’s using like weird psychology stuff to say that this is your problem instead of her problem and, like, this is her problem. She needs to stop being shitty to you. Like, what it comes down to is a basic level of respect. Like if your partner asks you for something reasonable and says like x thing makes me uncomfortable, could you please not do it; the correct response is to say “Okay, sure.” as long as it’s not something that like impairs their ability to live. Like if you were like it makes me uncomfortable when you drink water, could you please not do it then obviously she would be like “No, fuck you.” That’s, like, not a reasonable thing to ask of someone but for you to just say “Hey, can you not point out hot muscly guys that you’re attracted to in front of me especially since I am wanting to medically transition and cant right now and I’m feeling really uncomfortable in my body?” For her to be like “No. Fuck you. That makes you a bad queer. I’m going to keep doing this thing and even more so.” is just a dick move.

Matt Yeah. Super sucks.

Han So, I mean, I definitely think- You know, play this for her. I guess let her know she’s being an asshole. No, don’t play this for her because we’re being really harsh but maybe have a conversation with her and be like “Look, I’m having a rough time right now with my body and my transition and like it’s not okay for you to put me in a position that makes me uncomfortable and I’ve asked you for something really reasonable and if she doesn’t respect that I can’t imagine that she’s going to be a particularly supportive partner as you go through this whole process if she can’t even make this one little change for you.

Matt Yeah, especially when there’s like a medical intervention required to get close to this standard or whatever and like not even.  And that- that- I mean like even remove the transition aspect of this, we don’t compare each other to our other partners, to celebs, to people on the street. Like, we acknowledge we have a wide range of folks we’re attracted to but I don’t just point out, I don’t know, people who are vastly different than you when they have a completely different body type. Like you can’t do anything about that.

Han Right. Well also like we do check out celebrities and like we’ll tell each other when celebrities are hot sometimes but it’s not like a necessary and required part of viewing. Like, we don’t, like, every time we watch TV be like “and that person’s attractive and that person’s attractive and that person’s attractive.”

Matt Yeah.

Han Because that’s a weird way to watch TV.

Matt Yeah. Like, stating it as objective fact. Yeah that is a weird way to watch tv. Like, save it for tumblr.

Han  Like, we do. We’ll talk about attractiveness of celebrities occasionally but that’s not like necessary to existence.

Matt Mhm.

Han I dunno. It just sounds like she’s being really uncompromising and adding that into the fact that she was kinda shitty about your transition at first and now that she’s calling you biphobic and saying your bad at being LGBTQ it sounds like she’s having some real issues with the fact that you’re transitioning and that maybe that’s something that y’all need to have a conversation with maybe with a therapist. I mean if you’re having trouble financially getting to the point where you can medically transition, maybe you can’t financially see a therapist together but if you can that might be worthwhile just to kinda like try to talk through the way that she’s handling your transition and whether this is like salvageable and if she’s going to be a good partner for you while you go through this.

Matt Yeah. My worst interpretation here is that, oh my god, if she’s going to call you biphobic, you could just as easily counter and more accurately I think with “You’re being transphobic.”

Han Yeah.

Matt Because if this is like her way of thinking like “Ok, I am attracted to women and I am attracted to men and there’s no space in between” and she’s reinforcing what it is that is masculine and attractive to her, I don’t know, I may be over reading it now but this seems like that’s a hell of a problem to.

Han Yeah. I don’t know. I just- I don’t even know if it’s that thought out. I think she’s just kind of being an asshole.

Matt Laughs. Right. I mean it could all be subconscious.

Han Yeah, I don’t know but anyway I hope that you either get through to her or find someone who treats you better because this is really shitty and I’m sorry.

Matt How great is it here that letter writer here talks about Gillian Anderson and Rachel Maddow and the attractive like cause that’s like everybody I know.

Han Yep. Look, listen. So much love for them. I won’t say who it is but a straight woman that I know who has never been attracted to women in any way admitted a crush on Rachel Maddow to me after a couple glasses of wine and I was like heh-heh-heh.

Matt Fair enough!

Han Yeah. Laughs. Anyway. Uh, shall we move on?

Matt Yeah! Let’s do it. Our next question comes from Quarrius, Nimble Geomancer and the summary is: what more can I do to help my friend who keeps facing abusive jobs everywhere he goes. That’s my summary Hi Han and Matt, a good friend of mine graduated from college about two and a half years ago and since then has what from the outside looks like a rock star career, quickly moving up in his industry. However, from the inside, a different story is painted. He is on his fifth job in his third company and each time is the same story: he loves his manager, the manager leaves by choice or fired, and the new manager is verbally abusive and racist. He manages to get a good referral to take a leap in his career and does not report the problematic behavior any higher than HR. About a year ago, I attempted to help him by connecting him to some social connections I have in his field. Which he was very grateful for upfront but ended up taking about 8 or 9 months to reach out hence burning the contact for me. Currently, my friend is once again in the stage where he must leave a hostile work environment. Given how horrible humans are, I don’t doubt that he has faced multiple racist bosses so I don’t doubt him being truthful in his need to leave. So, I’ve already done what I can to set him up with connections in his field and I am in a very different industry so can't actually help him find jobs. I’m wondering how I can support him in his search to find a job that will not mistreat him 4 to 5 months in? Quarrius, Nimble Geomancer.

Han I have a really short answer for this one.

Matt Oh yeah?

Han Which is you can’t, you shouldn’t. It’s not your job search and it's not your problem. You did what you could. You introduced him to a couple contacts of yours. He didn’t take advantage of it in a timely manner. You have more than fulfilled your responsibility as a good friend. All you have to do at this point is be supportive if he needs someone to talk to about this and maybe buy him a drink when he has a bad job interview or a bad day at work.

Matt I 100% agree. That was my knee jerk reaction. Like, you’ve gone above and beyond. I’ve never had anyone do this level of labor for me.

Han Yep.

Matt When it comes to my job situations and, you know, this is certainly relatable. I’ve had bosses leave and whoever comes in next is just like “Why?” Why has this happened?”

Han Yep. This super sucks. Hell this kind of thing has happened to Matt and all I’ve done is be sup- and again, like Matt and I are married so I want to add, like, this is just a friend of yours. Matt and I are married and still the most I’ve done is maybe send a job listing his way when I come across one that seems like a good fit.

Matt Which I am so thankful for.

Han And so that’s always something you can do. Like, if you see a job listing that seems like it might fit his stuff, send it his way and be like “Hey. I saw this and thought of you.” but yeah, that’s like max because when it comes down to it someone’s career is their own responsibility and you can’t be- like, you can’t be responsible for finding someone else a job and helping them keep it.

Matt And you’ve already tried with personal connections and that hasn’t panned out.

Han Yeah, I would maybe feel slightly different if he hadn’t burned connections for you but, like yeah, you’ve already went above and beyond and hurt your connections within your network to do it and so, yeah, you don’t need to do anything else other than just like be a supportive friend.

Matt Yeah. Purely conjecture here, but I suppose even the turmoil your friend has had in his career has probably taken a toll in as far as feeling confident or feeling deserving of good jobs and maybe there’s a little bit of self-destructiveness that went into burning that connection or I don’t know, not taking action right away to report things like properly. I don’t know. I don’t want to ascribe blame but it’s easy to get disheartened when this is the career trajectory that you’ve been on.

Han Yeah and I don’t want to discount how frustrating this must be for your friend and how hard it must be to be continually faced with racism and abuse within his work places.

Matt Yeah.

Han That sounds terrible. It's just that that is not yours to fix. Yeah. Basically, when it comes down to it, it would be one thing if you worked with him and were a coworker witnessing this racism and could take it to HR and be like “Hey. I’m witnessing this really racist behavior.” but you can’t interfere at somebody else’s work place so like it’s just not, it’s not yours to fix.

Matt Yeah. I guess really what you can do is just be there for, like you said, drinks, solidarity, hugs.

Han Yep, basically. Alright, shall we move on?

Matt Yeah I think so.

Han Our next question comes from listener Aephe, Stout Battlemage, Should talk to my dad again. Hi Han and Matt and precious kitties, As I write this it’s been about two months since my father has spoken to me. Going to keep this as brief as possible but sorry if it gets long and rantish. I grew up with separated parents. My mom was bipolar and an addict as well as neglectful and abusive. My dad had partial custody of me and whenever I went to his house, it was like a refuge. In large part, because of my stepmother with whom I am very very close. I consider her to be my real mom. When I was 14 I went to live with my dad permanently and we actually moved to another country. I moved to the U.S. two weeks before starting my freshman year of high school and almost immediately began experiencing mental issues, mainly depression, anxiety and insomnia. When I told my dad I thought I needed help, he said I was giving in to the side of me that was like my mother and maybe I just wanted to go on medication like every other American.

Matt Yikes!

Han My dad has always been angry and intense. When I was a child, he once didn’t talk to me for three days because I lied about something and he said he could never trust me again. As I got older, my dad and I began to have a really fractured relationship. He says I became a vicious person when I hit puberty and I say he was mean and difficult to grow up with. When I had a breakdown at 18 and ran away to live with my grandmother, he accused me of being selfish even though I ran away because my grandmother said I was suicidal and should come and live with her and get mental health care while I recovered. Dad has since said that calling myself mentally ill is an insult to people who are actually mentally ill and that I am just selfish. Holy shit! Now as a 28 year old, I have a diagnosis for depression, anxiety and PTSD related to my childhood trauma. I’ve spent the last few years being mostly kind and cordial with my dad and writing off his behaviors as eccentricities until recently he did something else that really hurt my feelings and actually damaged my reputation within a cabaret community I’m a part of. He owns a theatre and our creative spheres often overlap. I let him know that I wouldn’t be able to speak to  him until he apologized. He has never apologized for anything and since then, he hasn’t spoken to me for two months. Here is the issue: His wife is my favorite parent. We are close and I love her more than anything. I know this hurts her and I haven’t been able to see her since dad and I stopped talking. I know if I apologize and say I was being unreasonable, we’ll go back to a cordial relationship. My question is: should I do it for the sake of seeing my only decent parent? Or should I accept that if I don’t have my toxic dad in my life, I also don’t have my stepmother who I love? Thanks, sorry it was so long. Aephe, Stout Battlemage.

Matt Holy Shit. Oh my God.

Han So, first of all, I’m really sorry that this is the family dynamic you’ve had to grow up with. Knowing who this person is, you’re fantastic and, um, yeah like you’re an amazing person and I’m impressed that you are who you are based on this being how you grew up.

Matt Yeah. For real.

Han So props to you for just being a badass. In terms of actual advice, the first thing I want to do is question your statement that if you don’t talk to your dad you can’t have your stepmom in your life. Is that true? Like-

Matt Yeah. Is he gonna, like, intentionally, I don’t know, obscure your emails or attempts to reach out?

Han Well, I’m just wondering like have you talked to her about that? Have you said “Hey, this is what’s been going on with dad. I don’t want to put you in the middle of it but I would really love to still have you in my life and it’s not safe for me to have him in my life right now.”

Matt That’s true and I wonder to what extent does she know these details? The fact that he denied your mental illness and was just super-duper shitty to you about all of this for your entire life.

Han Yeah.

Matt Like, I mean, that may be pertinent if-, you know, if she still loves him or whatever but also loves you and is cool, she would hopefully care about those details and understand why you need distance from him but still be a part of your life. I would hope.

Han So, you say you have diagnosis, I’m hoping that you’re in therapy. If not and if no one has ever said this to you, I just want to break down the fact that you refer to the fact that your mom was abusive but I want you to acknowledge the fact that your father was also abusive.

Matt Yes, absolutely.

Han Um, denying you necessary health care because he doesn’t believe that you actually have a mental illness is abuse. So, I just want to put that out there. That’s necessary medical care. That’s not a- That’s not a luxury. He denied that you had an illness. Which he should have been able to, based on the fact that your mom did, know that you need treatment for and chose to frame it as weakness and not get you the care you needed until you were in an unsafe mental health place and had to leave for your own safety. Literally, the word suicidal and that he has no sympathy for that. Has never apologized for anything? Gaslighting you into thinking you didn’t have a mental illness to the point of suicide almost? Like fuck that noise!

Han Yeah. Not one apology.

Han So, yeah. I just- I just want you to, if you haven’t framed it that way, I want you to know that your dad is also abusive. I’m really sorry that you had to deal with that and it is ok to not keep abusive people in your life. I understand you’re wanting to keep your stepmother in your life and I would try to do that. In a way that keeps him out of it if at all possible. Like, I would call your stepmom, ask if you guys can get together and talk, and say “Look, this is what’s been going on with dad. I don’t feel like it is healthy for me to be in communication with him right now but I really miss you. Would it be possible for us to, like, get together for coffee once a week or something to just catch up or have a recurring phone call or something?” and hopefully she’ll be willing to do that even if it’s not what your dad would prefer because your dad is kind of an asshole.

Matt Yeah. Yeah, you gave him the ultimatum. You said I’m not speaking to you again until you apologize so he’s calling that bluff basically and because he’s never apologized for anything, um, he’s hoping that you’ll just allow him to keep being shitty and- uh nah, that’s a bad way of phrasing it. It’s not that you’re enabling him. It’s just that he’s shitty no matter what.

Han Yeah. I will say if it is important to you for your own well-being to have your stepmother in your life and she isn’t able for whatever reason to maintain a relationship with you without being in contact with your dad, then I think its ok to fake an apology to your dad as long as you know that you’re doing it to get access to what you need, not because you actually mean it. Like, I don’t think you should have to have him in your life but I think that if it’s a choice between having neither of them in your life or having access to someone who you- who really helps you at the cost of pretending to feel bad for something you don’t, that’s an okay compromise to make with yourself. Like, you don’t have to be absolutist about this on principle.

Matt So, I suppose that in that apology if you’re sending a text, you know, the tone is entirely obscured by you via the text. What I’m saying is you can say I’m sorry but out loud say “I’m soooorry.” You know just so you can be assured that it is total bullshit and he doesn’t deserve it.

Han Yeah. Basically, what I’m saying is that you don’t have a moral obligation to anyone to stay principled on this. It’s all about what’s going to be healthiest for you. If you think that- yeah basically, weigh your pros and cons. Decide whether it’s worth it to you to fake that apology and know that you don’t mean it in order for you to have access to your stepmother, then go ahead and do that.

Matt I guess my concern there is does it invite him back in and what level of communication do they have as far as, “Ok, now that we’re on speaking terms again, he’s going to send me a bunch of bullshit via text that make me feel horrible all the time.”

Han Well and she doesn’t give any context about that.

Matt I guess weigh the pros and cons.

Han Yeah, weigh the pros and cons. Basically, what I’m saying is your allowed to do whatever is healthiest for you regardless of what other people would think of it.

Matt Mhm.

Han Um, but I- I think your first plan of attack should be to see if you can’t maintain a relationship with your stepmother without involving your dad in it and hopefully if she’s as cool as you say she is, she will understand that that is a thing that you need and won't insist on you being involved with your dad in order to talk to her. I hope so anyway.

Matt I don't know. I think- I'm hopeful as well here.

Han Good luck.

Matt Yeah. good luck with this. This is really tough.

Han Yeah. Alright. Next question.

Matt Our next question comes from listener Yolanda, Cynosure of the Net: Where do I find my motivation now that I'm no longer being terrorized by a cat? That’s my summary. Dear Han and Matt and associated cats, I recently moved and I’m having trouble staying productive in my new environment. I am one of those people who constantly picks up side projects because I can't stop making art. I am writing a book, I publish a monthly zine, I make board games and I do drag. My last apartment I lived in was not the best situation. I lived with some friends who I love dearly but weren’t my favorite roommates and they also had an awful cat I was allergic to. I ended up spending most of my time in my bedroom just working on all my various projects. A few weeks ago I moved out on my own and am in a studio apartment by myself. My living situation is so much better for me now but I’m having trouble staying motivated. I think that because I am more at peace and relaxed where I live, I don't need the escapism of constant projects but I’m worried that I'm losing the creative drive that has made this year the most creatively fulfilling for me. Do you have any advice on figuring out the balance between staying motivated and enjoying that my living situation doesn't make me miserable? Thanks! Yolanda, Cynosure of the Net. P.S. I don't have any pet pics but I do have one of me in drag. I am the gold one.

Han Yeeeesss! Oh my god its so good!

Matt Isn't it amazing!

Han Holy shit!

Matt I'm like- I don't know that i've ever seen anything like this before.

Han I don't know what that head piece is but i love it!

Matt Right!? With all the little- I don't even- How do we even describe this? Ok, let's do our best here: there are gold pants, there are gold uh- sneakers, like body paint in gold. Looks like this is a red haired individual with- He’s got red, red everything but also these white eyes painted all over his chest.


Han It's pretty fucking bad ass is what it comes down to.

Matt Its really cool and a white mask.

Han Very Cirque du Soleil.

Matt And then there’s more here.

Han Oh there’s more?! Oh my god it’s just gold all the time I love it.

Matt Gold with intense blue eye shadow.

Han Holy shit!

Matt Yeah, that’s so cool.

Han This is amazing.

Matt So, I waited until now so we’d get your genuine reaction.

Han That’s sooo cool. I Love it!

Matt Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.

Han Alright. Well, now that I have screamed about your drag, um, I will say that one, you don't have to be doing projects all the time. I think you can be creative without it being your entire life but two, if you want to be doing creative projects still,  I would recommend setting time aside to go do them elsewhere.

Matt Mhm.

Han I think thats- so, this is- I work at home a couple of days a week and I have found that if I am trying to work in a room that I- that I like regularly hang out in for non-work purposes-

Matt Mhm.

Han It is harder to get motivated. I need that separated space of like going into another room to sit down at the computer and just do my work so I’m not like mmmm or I could just be reading a book.

Matt In a studio apartment, that is the ultimate problem cause there’s no other room.

Han Right so some of this stuff: writing a book, publishing a zine, you could do not in your apartment. So maybe go out to a coffee shop, find a- or a library. Find a place that you feel comfortable and focused. Library honestly is a pretty good one cause its quiet. But maybe a park or something as long as you don't need access to the internet. Wherever, anyway. Find a space that you feel like you can focus and set aside time for yourself in your calendar with like reminders: it’s like “Hey, at 3 p.m. on Saturdays I go to the Starbucks at this corner, order myself a latte and sit down and spend two hours working on my zine or my book or whatever.”

Matt Mhm.

Han So separate that space for yourself and for the ones that are things that you only can probably do at home unless you're doing them with other people, still maybe consider setting aside time. Put it in the calendar if that’s a thing that you do. But I mean that ones a little harder, I don't have as much advice for that. Matt, you do more creative projects at home. Do you have thoughts on that one?

Matt Oh, hm. Laughs. Let me think about that.

Han Matt’s just like “No, I’m just used to you doing the answers.”

Matt Nah, I just kept thinking that the letter writer here needs a cat.

Han Laughs.

Matt To get that motivation back. Definitely.

Han That’s a terrible idea.

Matt Laughs.

Han Especially cause you can no longer shut the cat out of the room.

Matt I know, I know, I know it's even worse. Um… Hold on. I’m just thinking.

Han Matt’s like: “No, I'm not motivated what are you talking about.”

Matt Uh, well I have a very unhealthy relationship with all of my projects and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that fact that I have this protestant work ethic that- yeah, in order to prove myself useful as a human and to leave a lasting legacy I have to work all the time and when I’m not I feel guilty for every moment that I waste and its a huge problem. So.

Han Is that a protestant thing?

Matt Maybe?

Han Interesting.

Matt Catholic thing? Oh wait. What is it? Protestant? What is it supposed to be?

Han I don't know.

Matt Am I saying it wrong? I don't know.  Maybe.

Han I have no idea. I just thats the first time I’ve heard that used in that framing.

Matt Ehhh we’ll double check after the show. Laughs.

Han Whatever. Some religion.

Matt Yeah, so there's this sort of guilt factor that motivates me which is not great, um, so I mean i agree with you in that you don't necessarily have to be doing all these things. I definitely have better advice about getting out and doing things. I don't know what city you're in but from my experience when i was part of the indie games community, every city has got like a board game group, um, where folks work together or they collaborate on games or there is just spaces that they occupy to do jams or just work together on a regular basis. So that's an easy way to get motivated is to immerse yourself with fellow creatives and, uh, you know bounce your ideas of off them and that can be same for writing as well you know find a workshop of similar folks.

Han Yeah, I was actually gonna say for drag that's probably a really good one because I’m sure that if you're involved in a drag community and doing shows then there's probably other people doing it so maybe you can set up some sort of like collaborative work time with people

Matt I like that.

Han I don’t know. I’ve not been involved in drag but, like, I've been involved in theatre and stuff like that where there's costuming involved.

Matt There seems to be a pretty big overlap with creativity in general. I'm sure they would like to work on stuff in a space.

Han Yeah, when I was doing visual art more like my favorite thing was having shared studio time with other painters cause we could, like, when you got stuck wonder around and see what other people were working on.

Matt Yeah, I like that.

Han I really miss that actually. That’s something that I’d love to have again at some point in my life anyway.

Matt Yeah, oh boy. Staying motivated at home. I’m an an obsessive project manager. That helps. I’ve got everything in my trello board. It’s all very visual. There’s that great tip I’ve gotten about breaking things down into tasks if they require more than five minutes otherwise you just do them.

Han Yeah.

Matt So, you know, thinking about your projects in that way, like what are the different components that go into x,y and z thing? Doing them in chunks reminding yourself that any progress is better than zero progress.

Han Yes, and then the final thing that I will say is unless any of these are like the things that are paying your bills don't berudge yourself your down time.

Matt Yeah.

Han Uh, I think that it's really healthy to allow yourself- especially depending on like, I am a big introvert and I don't know what-  how you orient yourself in terms of that but like I need my downtime so that I can then productively use the rest of my time.

Matt Mhm.

Han So, I think- yeah, don’t begrudge yourself your downtime if you want to take some time to just like hang out in your apartment and read a book or play a video game or watch tv or take a nap like fucking do that. It’s great!

Matt It's a necessary part of self care.

Han Yeah.

Matt Yeah, it's taken years for me to sort of internalize that lesson and I'm still working on it.

Han I've gotten so much better at it since we moved to Maryland and I'm so much happier.

Matt Yeah. I was going to say I probably swung wildly in the opposite direction. Project productive.

Han Yeah.

Matt Yeah, but it’s important.

Han Yeah.

Matt Yeah, man you’re doing so many great things. I don't know. I’m impressed.

Han So, yeah. So thats thats blah that’s it for that one.

Matt Sputters.

Han Sputters. Wow. Sputters.  I speak english very very well.

Matt Its early here.

Han This is my first language, um, yeah I think that’s it shall we move on?

Matt Let’s do it and for those wondering Yolanda Shinisher of the Net was the letter writer’s doing.

Han Nice.

Matt Yeah, it’s a good name.

Han Hey Matt! I have a listener question for you. You haven’t seen this one yet.

Matt Oh yeah?

Han Yep it’s from listener… Zan! They write to ask Hey Han and Matt, My partner is the sort of person who dedicates themselves deeply to everything they do. Sometimes to deeply. A while back we decided to do a podcast together; however, even though this is technically a joint venture between the two of us, they spend a lot of time on the behind the scenes work. Namely: editing. I love my partner and I love having this project together but I miss them and would like to do other things with them sometimes too. Help?

Matt Well, listener Zan, I have some great advice for you! Outsource your labour. Han and I were experiencing a problem basically identical to this. Huh. We ended up deciding to get a professional editor. Enter Podigy. Hiring Podigy to edit our podcasts has saved me tons of time and allowed me to spend more time with Han... Han? Zan. Wow. That’s cool that they have like a rhyming name with yours. Huh. Um, doing things we love like watching HGTV and petting cats.

Han That is such good advice Matt! Well done!

Matt I know right!

Han Podigy can be found online at podigy.co thats prodigy without the r and .com without the m and they’ll even edit your first episode up to 60 minutes for free so you can see if the service works for you.

Matt Check them out and let them know that Han and Matt sent you.

Han Your spouse and your cats will thank you. Ok. So this next one is complicated.

Matt It is.

Han And we’re- spoiler, we’re not going to have a catch all answer for it but listener Lady Lazor Hufflepuff has a question of bodies and their wonderful varieties. Hello Han and Matt, I’ve been in love with your podcast ever since I listened to the episode of Dear Prudence you guested on. I was super sad when I finally finished all of Daniel’s back episodes but then I realized I didn’t need to take a break from awesome audio advice at all. Well, thank you. I hope you’ll consider answering my question even though I totally missed your dating themed episode. I’m wondering about how to navigate dating people and our many diverse bodily anatomies and our beautiful world of multiple possible genders. I’ve recently left a 14 year relationship with a sis man and have only been with sis men in previous relationships. I’m currently quite happily single but if I do venture into dating, I’m pretty sure I’m open to dating all genders of people with only one specific desire in terms of anatomy: I’d like to find someone who is happily in possession of a “factory installed” penis as I’ve never found myself attracted to vulvas. I’m wondering how to approach dating with this in mind as it’s pretty darn specific especially when tucked inside a desire to be open to humans of all genders. Any advice you might have would be very welcome. Cheers and virtual hugs to you and the kitties.

Matt And there’s a picture attached of a cute dog.

Han Awee puppy!

Matt Yeah, bathing in the sun. Very cute.

Han This is a really sensitive subject area.

Matt Uh-huh.

Han Especially for trans communities. So I guess my first question to you would be are you actually attracted to people of multiple genders or are you just- or do you just want to be is sort of my first- are you straight or do you like the idea of dating multiple genders or have you always oriented as bi or like what’s- think about that. I’m not asking you this as like answer this right now or that I’m like questioning it. I’m saying think about this for yourself because you don’t actually give an orientation for yourself anywhere in here.

Matt Yeah, that’s interesting because normally that’s a pretty big part.

Han Think about whether you want to date people of multiple genders because you are genuinely attracted to people of multiple genders or because you don’t want to seem closed minded.

Matt Mhm.

Han Because I do want to say that it’s okay to be straight. It’s okay to have an orientation. Uh, you’re not obligated to be interested in people of all genders if that’s not how you are.

Matt Is it Okay though?

Han Yes.

Matt Ok, I joke.

Han So there’s that then. If you do think you are attracted to people of multiple genders, I want to question your why you want some one who has a “factory installed penis” which is to say an AMAB person.

Matt Mhm.

Han Is it because penetration is the way that you get off? Is it because it’s what you know how it interact with in terms of bringing somebody else pleasure? Is it because you want to have kids and you want to biologically have kids? Like, what is your impetus in wanting to date someone who was born with a penis?

Matt It’s totally valid if like penises are just awesome and you want to stimulate them but if it’s a matter of you getting stimulated then strap ons are awesome.

Han Right. So, here’s the thing: there are physical or biological or whatever people with any sort of parts can penetrate other people. There are strap ons, there are some types of bottom surgery that will allow that for trans men, um, there are people who were born with a penis. Like, there are any number of ways that penetration can happen. If it’s in terms of how you can bring pleasure to a partner if your not like repulsed by AFAB genitalia, maybe just like- and it’s just sort of like a discomfort I have not done that maybe do some reading, watch some porn thats like positively produced.

Matt Yeah.

Han Think about, like, whether that’d be something you would be willing or able or interested in trying.

Matt Mhm.

Han Like, basically, give some more thought to this is basically what it comes down to. Like, I want you to analyze what you’re actually interested in; what genders you’re actually interested in; why you have this idea that you only want to date people who were born with a penis; and like, we can’t- we don’t really have the answer for you. This is all very personal stuff. I just think its something that you should work through more.

Matt I mean and certainly experiment.

Han Yeah.

Matt Especially if you’ve never been with a woman before. Like, that’s something to try.

Han Yeah. I mean, some women will be open to that and some will not. We’ll say there are a lot of people in queer communities who don't want to be with someone who’s just sorta trying to figure their stuff out because it feels like being a sex toy. But there are some people that are super open to that and are like “Yeah, it's kinda fun to like initiate somebody into my ways!” But yeah, just really that's the only advice I can give you is to like give it some serious thought about what you actually want; what you're hoping to get out of this; why that's a- a thing that you consider to be a requirement.

Matt Well i guess the more difficult question to answer here is: if this is absolutely what you want, how do you put this in your, like, dating profile or how do you bring it up on a date that like this is what I’m searching for?

Han I don't know that there is a nontransphobic way to spell out “I’m only interested in people who were born with a penis.”

Matt Yeah, that's my concern.

Han Um, that is a question that I- I don’t have a- any answer to. I can’t, like, other than, like, just date sis men and don’t worry about it, I don’t really have any good advice on that.

Matt You know what? I will say, and I know we talk of OkCupid’s praises all the time, but I’ve seen a ton of profiles of trans women who say that they’re explicitly not surgeried.

Han Not having had or are not planning to have.

Matt Yeah. So, often times folks will provide that information because they know it’s pertinent for transphobic folks out there and, like, they just wanna be sure they’ve got their bases covered before anything terrible happens to them.

Han That makes sense.

Matt Yeah.

Han I mean, yeah, so I mean I guess you can do screening on your own end in terms of like- But yeah, don’t like ask people that. Like thats, um-

Matt I know. I know, yeah that’s-

Han Yeah.

Matt We can’t really give an answer there.

Han Yeah. I mean, I think that if you- if you’re worried about offending people and you don’t wanna, like, cause waves you could, it’s safer just dating sis men than like hurting somebody by asking them painful questions but I don't know like I think- honestly think through this stuff on your own and figure out like what it is you're actually looking for.

Matt Yeah.

Han And yeah. I- yeah. There's just like, there’s just not a sensitive way to ask people what parts they have.

Matt No, not really.

Han I also feel like I’m not the best person to address this because I am attracted to people of all genders and with all body parts.

Matt Yeah, regardless of parts.

Han Yeah, and so I don’t have like a way to relate to only finding oneself attracted to one type of body part so I don’t- I don’t.

Matt Yeah, same.

Han I don't want to take the opposite stance of people who are bierasier and be like “sounds fake” because I am sure that that is a thing. It’s just not at all relevant to my life experience so I can’t give good advice on that. Like, I don't know how that works.

Matt Well to me it makes sense and, I mean, I don't know- Like, I’m never in a space where 100% of the time I am equally attracted to all parts - you know without any distinction like sometimes I am really craving one part or other.

Han Yeah.

Matt So, I guess it’s entirely plausible to have just one desire.

Han Yeah, well I mean for me I will have a particular way that I feel like having sex at a given time but I feel like I can do that type of sex with any person or any gender.

Matt Any gender. Yeah.

Han Yeah. So like, I can just be like I don’t want a penis in me right now if that’s not  what I’m feeling and like we’ll work around it. But- Laughs.

Matt Ah, what a topic.

Han I know right?

Matt  I wonder if there are any potential parents listening to this.

Han Laughs. Yeah, Hi Mom!

Matt Yeah.

Han Um.

Matt Oh well on a lighter note, uh, you may have heard the cats meowing outside the door, possibly not. We had to lock them out.

Han One of them bit me on my fresh tattoo. It was really rude. And by one of them I mean Shadow. Shadow is the bitey one.

Matt Yeah, with her one tooth.

Han She's got one tooth but she manages to get it right into that tattoo.

Matt Yeah, cause we weren’t giving them enough attention.

Han Yeah, anyways. Um, so hopefully we covered that in a way that is like alright for everyone. If there are any people that are part of the trans community out there that wanna provide some additional context or feedback, uh, it would be greatly appreciated because obviously that’s not us.

Matt Right. Right.

Han We’re just doing our best. I did some research on like different types of surgeries and things but basically when it comes down to it we don’t know. So-

Matt Yeah, its manner of preference. Laughs.

Han Yeah. Yeah. So, I think that was the last question right?

Matt That's right and so we move on to some show notes.

Han Cool, cool, cool.

Matt Um, so the first thing I want to talk about just, uh, conversationally is that I’ve been doing a lot of reading about disabilities and chronic pain. So kind of what kicked this off was seeing our listener Chirstie, uh, sorry if I’m saying your name incorrectly, but she had some really good comments about our teeth brushing tips or maybe lack thereof. But just on dealing with, um, various chronic conditions and the the sort of steps and considerations that need to be taken for somebody who has a lot of pain that, like, to do that basic hygiene and it's a perspective I’ve never seen before. And so, there's another thing that I was doing some reading about, um, that was linked to me. It’s this essay about lupus and it’s called My Disease is not a Metaphor. So I recently started seeing somebody who is dealing with lupus and learning about that from scratch. Like, I kind of only knew about it like the vaguest sense and I’m going to link to this. And one of the most interesting things about this essay, i mean, not only does it give you a pretty good indicator of what this condition is like, but the author talks about how people with chronic pains like to get tattoos to reclaim their bodies and I was like Oh! This sounds familiar! Like I certainly know that thats been a motivator for a lot of people. Folks in the room perhaps…

Han I don't know anything about that.

Matt Laughs.

Han It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with my existential crisis.

Matt Laughs. Yeah, right, right.

Han Mine is mental pain not physical pain. Yes.

Matt Oh sure.

Han It crosses through physical pain. It’s a whole different thing.

Matt Well and then this date friend also loaned me book or a collection of essays rather called Pain Woman and Other Essays from the Nervous System and it is soo good. Like I, really I’ve said this a lot, it really should be required reading, like particularly for the medical community. It really gets into how our medical community, especially in the U.S., is obsessed with fixing people and if we can’t fix you we’re just sort of like oh, fuck it. You know. They kinda- they don’t want to have the embarrassment of not being able to figure you out on their record So, it- Yeah, it’s super duper valuable stuff particularly if you’ve never dealt with chronic pain and from the stats in here is something like 47% of Americans deal with some form of chronic pain. I’m like holy shit!

Han Yeah.

Matt Yeah, that is much higher than I thought. Yeah, I know. Uh, so it’s a serious epidemic. And then I’ve been doing some chatting with my girlfriend, Emile, about her various chronic conditions and just learning a lot. So yeah, I don’t know there are things that I pick up just through the communities that I’m a part of and the Facebook groups and what have you, but just like doing the sort of research I guess was long overdue and my understanding of chronic pain. The more accounts that I read the more interesting metaphors. Like, it’s it’s really easy to imagine I guess at this point and valuable so yeah I’ll do some linking here for all y’all and for our next item we have genders weighing in on gender reveal parties, as we solicited.

Han Yeah. Yeah, so last week we told people that we didn’t have a strong opinion one way or the other on gender reveal parties. Well, Matt had more opinions than I did. I was kind of like meh, do whatever.

Matt Laughs.

Han And we asked y’all what you felt about it. So Matt pulled some of the highlights of what people said.

Matt So, Lady Rowana Ardeus simply linked to this CNN article the summary of which is Border Patrol Agent’s Gender Reveal Party Ignited a 47,000 Acre Wildfire. Holy shit. So, uh, this quote kind of says it all: Um, “Dennis Dickie’s plan was to shoot a rifle at a target containing tannerite, a highly explosive substance that would have exploded to reveal either blue powder for a boy or pink powder for a girl. Dickie shot the target, causing it to explode and start a fire that spread and resulted in what was known as the Sawmill Fire.” the Department of Justice said.

Han Holy shit! Right?!

Matt So, this a pretty clear argument that don't do gender reveals. Like, this-

Han Or at least don't use firearms irresponsibly.

Matt That is so wild.

Han Wow.

Matt Yeah.

Han Anyway.

Matt And a side note Elle’s headline on this story is: What to expect when your child’s gender is fire.

Han Oh wait, me!

Matt Exactly!

Han I’m gonna start telling people that my gender is fire.

Matt My gender is fire.

Han I’m not gonna do that but that’s awesome.

Matt Laughs.

Han My identity is fire. It’s separate.

Matt Indeed. Ah, listener Andrea shared this First, gender reveal parties are misnamed; it’s a sex reveal party. Others in the Facebook group pointed this out as well. As the child’s gender will not be revealed for a few years at least. Basically you are throwing a party celebrating your unborn child’s genitalia which is a weird thing to celebrate but not really any weirder than the fact that the first thing doctors announce after the kid is born is: its a boy! or its a girl! So, I love that. That’s a really good point. Second, gender reveal parties are not normally gift giving events. They are the party you have before the baby shower so you have some time to buy the pink dolls/blue truck shit. It’s an excuse to get together to eat cake and hang out with friends.

Han I didn't know that. So that's good to know. You can tell we don’t have babies or many friends that have babies. We’re all we’ve got.

Matt Right, I’m just like what about this gift thing? I don’t know.

Han At least not friends that would invite us to things about their babies because they’re like Han and Matt are gonna suck at this so just don’t invite them.

Matt Yeah, we’ve kind of advertized that here on the podcast.

Han Laughs.

Matt Third, while I have never been invited to one, I would never attend a gender reveal party. That said, I will also never attend a baby shower or a wedding shower or any of these things and haven’t for years. I attend parties around food and sporting events not parties around future parties, weddings or future spawn. Anybody is allowed to decline an invitation for any reason. It’s an invitation not a subpoena.

Han And that is a very good point.

Matt I love that. Listener Victoria said I had a sex reveal cake with my first child. Because i love cake. No one gave gifts and I was excited to find out the sex with both of my pregnancies because being pregnant was terrible and it was a fun milestone. Since then, I have encouraged both my kids to buck gender norms if they want. With a shruggy emoji. And I love that point because, uh, we tried to consider that when we were discussing the question because we don’t know what kind of parenting is going to take place after this reveal.

Han Mhm.

Matt So yeah, I really appreciate that you shared that. And listener Grace says Hi Han and Matt, Big fan here. Quick comment about the recent episode and question about the gender reveal party. I think you skipped over a point which is that even if the party correctly identifies the gender the baby will grow up to identify with, it is all about expectations of what that gender will mean. It is celebrating the idea that once you know the gender of the baby, you know a lot about who they are going to be. It seems to boil down to: which are you having? A caring cute social type one or a active hero physical type one? Which sounds a lot like picking your first pokemon. Um, uh, I believe in the games right away Professor Oak asks you as the character “Uh, I can’t tell which you are. Are you a boy or a girl?” and you have to decide at that moment.

Han Uuuggh!

Matt Yeah. Anyhoo.

Han Neither. Fuck you Pokemon!

Matt Yeah exactly! My suggestion would be to turn up to the reveal with a gift that is really nice but that goes slightly against the gender norms. e.g. get the girl a cuddly dinosaur and a romper with spaceships on it and hand over with a smile and a light genuine “well, just because baby is gender, we don't know what they'll be interested in yet. Gifts are for everyone after all.

Han Yeah, um, and I think that that probably applies more to a baby shower than a gender reveal party now that we know that the party is not actually about presents.

Matt Yeah now that we know. Mhm.

Han So, yeah. That’s all good stuff and also there was a thread on the Facebook group where people had a lot of input on this and it’s worth checking it out.

Matt Absolutely. So yeah, go there. And also on that same topic there were a bunch of recommendations for children’s books that issue gender norms which we also asked for cause hell if we know. I will mention these in the show notes and add links. Just a few of them are: My Princess Boy; Jacob’s New Dress; A Day in the Life of Marvin Mundo. Laughs.

Han Oh, that one I’ve read and it’s really cute.

Matt Yes. Laughs. Was that not from John Oliver? Who wrote that?

Han Uh, yes it was.

Matt Oh, okay. Sweet. Yep, so a lot of good stuff there and there's a comment I wanted to pull out that was just so good I wanted to share.

Han This made me laugh really hard.

Matt So, listener Vitaeus Carralia, Archivist Defector was commenting on the advice column question we talked about last week, the climate advice: Should I Tell My Republican Friend That Her Florida Mansion is Doomed by Sea Level Rise? and  Vitaeus Carralia says I feel like an opportunity was missed to note that there is no need to tell these people to fuck off into the ocean if they are climate change deniers because it’s coming to them.

Han Laughs. Someone entitled this note “The Ocean is Coming For you.”  and I was like hah!

Matt Indeed. Laughs. I love it so much and because we can never take a break from reading advice column stuff I did do a round up of questions that we would have discussed. So some of these are ones that were recommended to us including Captain Awkward, Navigating the Aftermath of the Abuse in the Social Circle from listener Sarah H. Uh, some that I added to here including Y’all Need Help: Your Girlfriend’s Family is Racist and You Should Probably Get the Hell Out of There.

Han Laughs.

Matt Oh, and the Ask Amy one that I pointed out to you recently.

Han Yeah.

Matt Urban Pioneer Isn’t Ready for the Neighborhood. So, yeah. I will link all of these in the show notes. These are like suggested topics to discuss like we’re a book club or something.

Han So, yeah talk about all the things cause that's fun and that is the end of our episode for today!

Matt Bah Bah Bah!

Han So as usual you can find us online at HanandMattknowitall.com. You can email us your questions or questions form around the internet at hanandmattknowitall@gmail.com or your feedback on the various things that we’re like “Hey, tell us. We don’t know.” We’re really bad at being know it alls sometimes.

Matt Ehh at times.

Han Anyway I got called judgmental this weekend and was

Matt Fuck yeah.

Han And then was told “To be fair, they do have a podcast called Han and Matt Know it All.” and I was like exactly, this is my personal brand. Don't worry about it.

Matt And fire.

Han Laughs. And fire. If you have a question you’d like a written answer to you can email me directly at askahelpinghan@gmail.com also if you have something specific you want to say to me, that’s a good way to reach me. Someone did that this week and I was like “Oh that’s kinda nice!” I can like respond to things because Matt reads our regular inbox.

Matt Mhm.

Han Anyway. I’m on twitter @hanknowitall although I’m kind of off twitter this week both to avoid Doctor Who spoilers and because the world is a trash fire and I don’t feel like dealing with it.

Matt Mhm. Mhm.

Han We have a Facebook group that’s pretty active and has a whole bunch of spin off groups for if you like talking to know it alls about things that aren't advice columns. You can merch through our website on redbubble and if you want to support us you can either leave us an itunes review or star rating or recommend us to your friends to help us reach more people or you can provide financial support at patreon. We’re on there at patreon/hanandmattknowitall and at the ten dollar and up level, you will have your fantasy name that Matt will make for you at the end of our episodes.

Matt And that list includes: Aephe, Stout Battlemage; Heldraga the Unseen; Akinma, Boreal Elementalist; Cynthea Motherfury; E, Enigmatic Insurgent; Dhergo, Twisted Languisher; The Nameless One; Taphre, Redeemed Cultist; Riecka the Aeonian; The Phantom of Silkbay; Aurora, Dark Huntress; Xantar, Fearless Aeronaut; Alana, Volant Trailblazer; Dr. Wrenwood, Rabid Botanist; Kavura, Illustrious Mariner; Lygeia, Cunning Mesmerist; Amisril, Desolater of The Bezirh Highlands; Zelda Ambershine, Siren Lyricist; Kahlmera, Ringleader of The Silkbay Arena; Silnia Shearfang; Azuriel, Guardian of the Arillium Shanctuary, blah. Shanctuary.

Han Shanctuary

Matt Uh, Yusa the Iron Hearted;  Ethemera of the Jade Massif; Lady Margella III, Commander of the Thunderpearl Airship; Kroval Zidarose, First Mate of the Thunderpearl Airship; Orlahv, Wicked Savant; Kalvarin Ashmor, Renowned Euphomancer; Nyori the Familiar Spirit; Feldaius, Bladesmith of Wisteria Heights; Kaimura Coldplum, Whose Crimes Are Unnamable; Norgowyn, Doomsayer of The Night's Fall; Chromak, Deus of Foreboding; Holly Hellhunter; Ludathius, Avatar of Benevolence; and Zephyr Dawngazer, Hunter of Doppelgängers.

Han That is a lot of people.

Matt It is! I love you all.

Han So, thanks to all of you and thank you everyone for listening.

Matt Thank you so much everyone for listening.

Han and Matt Bye!


Thank you to Listener Megan Bell for volunteering her time to transcribe this episode!

How Do I Successfully Negotiate Boundaries in My Romantic Relationships?

Note that the following question was answered in greater detail on the embedded podcast episode above. For more in-depth discussions to questions like the below and more on the topics of relationships, sexuality, roommates, workplace, health, culture, politics, and everything in between, subscribe to Hannah and Matt Know It All on iTunes.

Listener Gestalt Asked:

I am realizing that my idea of "The One" is someone who shares my same boundaries (as defined by this article from Esther Perel, “Why successful couples have boundaries”) but I'm learning that it's not uncommon for couples to negotiate. What are your thoughts? Any tips/advice on how to go about discussing/defining boundaries with a partner (casual or serious)?

The Know It Alls Answered:

The article in question here is about boundaries, and espouses how important they are, especially at the outset of a new relationship. Perel discusses how relationships are forged on boundaries from day one, giving examples of the negotiation of what is in and what is out: who you spend time with and how and when, what is shared and what isn’t, whether the couple goes to bed at the same time, whether finances are combined, who the holidays are spent with, etc.

This is an interesting listener question because those boundaries—how your lives mesh with each other—are the foundational make-or-break things in a relationship. The goal of setting boundaries should be to make sure that nobody has to compromise on anything that would result in making them extremely unhappy. Compromise is okay in some places and not in others, and everybody’s “no compromise” issues are different.
 

Why OkCupid Works So Well for Setting Boundaries—Online and Offline

One of the things we love about the dating website OkCupid is the ability to answer questions about your boundaries and preferences and how important they are to you; it’s such an amazing time saver to be able to look at the answers other users have given on those questions most important to you and then filter out people whom you can’t see yourself having in a relationship with for the long-term.


The goal of setting boundaries should be to make sure that nobody has to compromise on anything that would result in making them extremely unhappy.

But even in the convenient world of online dating, it’s beneficial to take the time to think about and even write down these kinds of questions for yourself, even going the extra mile of rating their importance to you. Questions like:

  • Do you need to have a partner who wants or doesn’t want kids?

  • Who practices a particular religion?

  • Who is a vegetarian?

  • Who is a morning person?

  • Who is willing to move for you to pursue your career goals?


In order to find someone you can have a good life with, you need to know what a good life looks like to you.

As polyamorous people, we (perhaps unsurprisingly) don’t really ascribe to the idea of “The One.” There are billions of people on the planet, so there are likely many people with whom you could potentially have a successful relationship and life. Because it’s really unlikely that someone is going to 100% fit the picture you painted yourself of your perfect partner, you’re going to end up compromising on different things with different people. However, it IS important to try to find a partner who can make you the happiest you, which means it’s important to know what your deal breakers are.
 

What Are Your Relationship Deal Breakers?

While most things are negotiable to some extent, there are a few things that are pretty black and white with no real space for compromise, and there will likely be some that aren’t negotiable just because they are really and truly that important to you. Some of the more weighty considerations:

  • Wanting to have kids, for instance, is not something that is really negotiable. Either you want children or you don’t; you can’t KIND OF have kids.

  • The role that faith plays in your life can also often fall into the non-negotiable space, especially if one partner is deeply observant and wants a partner who will share those core beliefs with them.

  • Where a person is happy living is an issue that can be a deal breaker—if one partner wants to live out in the country and one wants to live in the middle of the city, the suburbs aren’t a compromise; they’re a solution that will make everyone involved miserable.


Know your “must haves” and your “nice to haves,” and be really honest with yourself about which things belong on which lists.

It is, however, often possible to compromise on things like family holidays (where you can spend half with one family and half with the other and alternate years or pick based on family values)—the solutions may not be perfect for both of you, but some compromise 15 days a year is probably worth 350 other days of enjoying each other’s company. Issues like going to bed at the same time or merging finances are definitely things where a conversation can and should be had to find something that works for both partners. It’s important to look for red flags, such as unwillingness to compromise or lack of transparency, but it’s much easier to do that when having open conversations.

In terms of “The One”: as you realize what your absolute needs are and what your “nice to have but negotiable” things are, you’ll start to see a lot more potential “The Ones.” In HGTV speak, know your “must haves” and your “nice to haves,” and be really honest with yourself about which things belong on which lists.

While it’s nice to have partners who like the same things as you, having a partner who also practices yoga or like the same TV shows as you do is not necessarily essential to a successful relationship. How frequently you want to have sex, however, could be a deal breaker—if one of you wants to have sex every day, and one would be fine with twice a year, one of you is likely to end up really unhappy.


Anything that is a definite deal breaker is worth bringing up on the first date if you’re looking for more than a casual sexual connection.

What your deal breakers are might be different when you’re looking at serious versus casual dating, but it’s good to be aware that casual dating can often turn into serious dating whether you want it to or not, so things that don’t seem like deal breakers up front might actually cause problems later on—so be honest with yourself about those possibilities.
 

Setting Boundaries Is so Important, It’s Non-Negotiable

Ultimately, err on the side of discussion and disclosure. Anything that is a definite deal breaker is worth bringing up on the first date if you’re looking for more than a casual sexual connection. It might not be super romantic, but, honestly, if someone’s reaction to talking about things that are important to you is “whoa, this is too much,” they probably aren’t looking for anything serious anyway—otherwise they have as much of a stake in making sure that you’re compatible as you do.

“Nice to haves” are probably easier to discuss on an as-they-come-up basis; you don’t need to negotiate every detail of your prospective lives together up front. If you’re doing (or planning on doing) something that a reasonable person might be bothered by—like getting lunch with an ex—it’s always a good idea to check in with your partner first to avoid unnecessary conflict, but that’s about it in terms of due diligence.

The main takeaway is that you shouldn’t put yourself in a position where you’re likely to get your heart broken or have someone force you into compromising your values because you weren’t on the same page from day one. There are way, way too many other fish in the sea (as they say), so don’t waste your time on someone who won’t make you happy!

What Can Liberals Do to Harness Their Post-Election Rage?

Note that the following question was answered in greater detail on the embedded podcast episode above. For more in-depth discussions to questions like the below and more on the topics of relationships, sexuality, roommates, workplace, health, culture, politics, and everything in between, subscribe to Hannah and Matt Know It All on iTunes.

Listener Andre Asked:

What's the best way for leftists to harness the current wave of anti-conservative fervor sweeping liberals and centrists, and not let it peter out into individualist wheel-spinning like what happened after the '08 election?

The Know It Alls Answered:

We love this question, because in terms of things we’re qualified to speak to, at least 90% of our respective Facebook feeds are very politically charged or activism-related, so we obviously have some really strong feelings on these topics.

That said, we’re NOT qualified to answer this; we don’t know how to keep a movement going on our own and have obviously never been in a position to have to do that!

However, we tried to answer this to the best of our abilities.
 

If You Are Worried, You’re Not Alone

Our gut reaction is that the most important thing to focus on in this moment is intersectionality. We need everyone to continue to show up for one another’s causes, and not just the ones that affect them directly—what we need is A MOVEMENT, not a bunch of small movements that occasionally overlap. In order to drive any kind of systemic change, we all need to care about the things that are wrong in our country, regardless of whether they affect our lives personally.

It’s also important to remember that activism is nothing new. There has always been activism. There have been groups fighting on all sorts of issues for as long as there have been humans who have been treated unfairly (so, always). It’s important at this juncture not to try to reinvent the wheel, but to find out who is already doing the work and support them.


We need everyone to continue to show up for one another’s causes, and not just the ones that affect them directly.

Additionally, it is important to remember that advocacy shouldn't only happen in response to crises; we, as residents of a democratic nation, are obligated to participate in our government if we are to expect it to work for us. One resource we’d like to point out is the Indivisible Guide which is a newish resource released in the aftermath of the Trump election that uses Tea Party tactics to help people actively advocate to their members of Congress on the things they care about. There’s a lot of concern about what people are doing or can be doing now that might ACTUALLY WORK, and connecting to existing movements and your elected representatives are the simplest, most effective ways to drive change.
 

A Better Tomorrow Is Not All or Nothing

One point we really want to drive home is the need for us all to be willing to compromise and work with people who share a common enemy, if not identical goals. Remember that our government is supposed to represent the needs of ALL of its people, so you may not get exactly what you want, but that doesn't mean that you can or should take yourself out of the game.

During this election cycle, a lot of people who weren't wild about Hillary Clinton as a candidate chose to “take their ball and go home” rather than choose what they considered to be the lesser of two evils—which was partially responsible for us ending up with just straight up evil running our country.

In continued activism at this point in time, we have to remember that a win is moving things back in a direction where people are safe and not having their rights stripped away, not necessarily putting a super liberal, uncompromising candidate into office. The reality is that very few people are 100% represented by the platform of any one political party or candidate, but the system that governs us requires that we come together to elect a group of people to lead us, and if everyone who is not 100% represented chooses not to participate, we’re leaving it to a very small group of people to make our choices for us.
 

Use Your Voice—And Your Vote

We have to hold the people in power accountable—it’s not about party, it’s about policy, and we need to support candidates and groups that will move forward policies that we believe are safe and fair and correct regardless of who put their name on them.


Your representatives work for you, regardless of their party affiliation.

Part of the reason we’re in such trouble right now is because things have become so divided along party lines that representatives refuse to support measures headed by someone on their opposing party even if they agree with the policy itself, just so that they can say that they haven’t compromised. That’s a really dangerous, black and white way of looking at things, and it’s not how our government was designed to work.

Your representatives work for you, regardless of their party affiliation: demand and attend town halls, make phone calls and visits, write emails and letters—insist on being heard on what you, as their constituent, care about.

TL;DR: to harness the political energy that is happening right now,

  1. Get involved in local and state politics as well as national/remember that president isn’t the only elected office that matters;

  2. Work intersectionally and continue to be active on issues that don’t affect you directly, because they are affecting people who are on your side, and

  3. Don’t think that the only way to win is to get 100% of what you want.

There is no victory in the battle of good versus evil; evil will always be there. All that we can do is continuously push it back, look out for each other, and continue to fight for the common good. This thought brought to you by watching too much Angel, but for real though, there will always be another battle to fight, so pace yourself and commit to being in it for the long haul.