In A Very Special Episode Of Bitchzarro, we introduced you to the shocking, heartwrenching story of my my mental health.

And now today, the thrilling conclusion to a tale of tragedy, heartbreak, and an inconsolable hatred for Jawas.

Two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I wasn't surprised. Okay, that's a lie. I thought I would be Bipolar. So I was surprised, but in the way of a gun nut who carelessly cleans their shotgun every night but ends up beefing it in a car crash. I knew the race was over. I just backed the wrong horse. You might find my comparisons between a diganosis and dying a little extreme, but looking back on how I duck and dodged the inevitable reveal, hoping that if I could get my shit together in time I wouldn't need the diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I can't ignore the eerie (and ultimately, inappropriate) similarities between my actions and that college lecture on how people cope with terminal illness that I interrupted by cheering when I got my highest score in Tetris, ever. It's a shame I didn't have to take the final. I think that professor was my good luck charm.

Having a diagnosis is like coming out. All. Over. Again. You have this metaphoric decoder ring that makes sense of all these feelings and experiences, and the more you show it to your loved ones the less valuable it becomes. Because nobody ever fucking believes you. I could construct this insightful pop culture reference about how the internet is like infinite monkeys pulling decoder rings from an infinite amount of boxes of Cracker Jack, and how everybody gets a different secret message from Little Orphan Annie so they assume that either you're decoder ring is broken or that you don't know how to use it, but I feel the reference would be lost on most of my readers, especially the friends who's pep talks about “getting over my bad mood” or “learning to love myself and not need surgery” are killing me by degrees.

In here, behind this screen, I am a trans woman coping with mental illness. Out there, I am a crossdresser who is often very sad and thinks they're being spied on by a guy in a white Sedan. Which is simply not true. It's a Plymouth Voyager, and if follows me to Trader Joe's again I'll...oh I'll...uh... GET OFF MY LAWN! WONDER TWINS ACTIVATE!

The first loser in the 20 man battle royale of black depression is conversation. It doesn't even put up a fight. It practically throws itself out of the ring, runs into the audience and wets its singlet. You can't tell people how you really feel, but you can't tell them what they want to hear because they'll know you're lying. So you think of clever, automated responses to the mundane everyday questions people ask you, hoping to come off as aloof and eccentric, with a dash of on-the-fly wit. But it doesn't work. Probably because you mixed up your “how I'm doing” stock response with your “what I want to eat” stock response and so now everyone thinks you're not paying attention or just have aphasia.

So you can't talk, which means you can't write, because you sound the same doing both. Writing is just carving your internal monologue into a digital tablet, and you don't want there to be any record of your existence because you keep hoping that one day the world will hit the “reset” button and erase your file. It's been months since I've contributed to my other writing projects, and would have flaked on this too if I hadn't received such rabid fanfare from the readers and editors of this blog and genuinely feel that you care, in some voyeuristic fashion. Or that you find me funny. Which for most humorists is the only human sentiment we understand.

So you can't talk or write. What do you do? You get some snacks and let the TV or computer do all the talking. They can do it for hours, even days, like a stupefying Tantra workout for your brain. You download MP3s of The Mighty Boosh's BBC radio show and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. At first it's just a mild curiosity, but soon, before you have the volition or self-awareness to consciously decide, you're committed. Two or three episodes a day. Subtitled so you can learn all those goofy alien names. If you throw yourself in front of the train, you'll never know if Geordi trades in his visor for eye implants, or if Riker and Troi actually put all this sexual tension they're brewing like moonshine to some fucking use and I swear to god if any of you put spoilers in the comments I will find you, tie you to a chair and play the entire Boston catalog with a kazoo right in your ear.

To say I'm a little late to the Star Trek game is an understatement. Fuck, I missed the game and the playoffs. TNG ended 8 years ago (if we count the movies) and I'm just now starting Season 3. I'm sure some months or years in the future I'll train myself to keep a straight face and say it's because I wanted to wait until it was over so I could enjoy it in its purity without fear of someone trying to retcon or stretch another season out of a perfectly closed story. But I shall take this opportunity to be “straight up” while I still can: my fear of conformity prevents me from partaking of any massively consumed media while it is still “in”. It may be years before I ever give Heroes a chance.

It's a wonder I've stuck it out through two seasons so far. The show possesses none of the qualities I find attractive in a space opera. The campiness is unintentional and uncomfortable to watch, laser battles are scarce and there are no leather goddesses to be found anywhere. Nonetheless, I found myself compelled to hit “next” on my DVD remote. Well, not really, because DVD remotes don't have a “next” button, but ugh, if I don't cut it out with the fucking snarky asides we will never finish this.

Thankfully my support group moderator shed some light on this mystery and let me move on with my life; he noted that Star Trek is easy to get into because it's “fair”. I took some time to contemplate this (not too much, though, as I was busy weighing the merits of cheese and toast vs a ploughman's sandwich for breakfast) and have come to realize that Star Trek really is the embodiment of “fair”, and it may in fact be the fairest of them all. Of all the media I have or will cover on this blog, ST: TNG may be the most gender neutral. When I say “gender neutral” I don't mean the universally compatible restrooms that are becoming all the rage at universities and safe space coffee shops. I mean to say the show goes absolutely out of its way to buck our patriarchal perceptions of gender and sex, all under the facade of “business as usual out here in SPACE!”

Let's consider the women of the Enterprise, circa Season 1. You have Beverly Crusher, Chief Medical Officer and single mom. Her station allows her to relieve Captain Picard of duty when he is deemed medically or mentally unfit to command. There is a small number of things more empowering than being able to pull rank on your boss who you have very telegraphed (in a wide ass font) feelings for, and Michael “Make Fried Chicken And They Will Come” Steele is working to make them all illegal. Her (and her replacement Pulaski) serve to pre-emptively balance out the age range on the ship; with all these sex kitten “special guests of the week” that come on the ship and give Riker a burning sensation when he pees, the uneducated observer might come to suspect that the future is some sort of patriarchal Logan's Run where women too old to jump on trampolines suggestively are euthanised. Thanks for the assurance then I will still be of value to society when I too enter my “faceplate of makeup and coat one size too large for me” phase, Gene Roddenberry.

Then you have Deanna Troi, empath and ship's Counselor from Betazed, the planet of therapists. That's girl power for you. Sticking a woman who can invasively read people's feelings on a ship where people will be confined in a closed space for long periods at a time, during which they will be attacked by robots, succumb to alien diseases and find themselves in situations that the human grasp of physics. Fuck off Jem, this is really really outrageous. Nay, be not deceived by my heckles and jeers. I am quite fond of the Deanna Troi character, because her existence marks a phenomena that I am oh too eager to have return to television. She is eye candy, and unapologetically so (the producers even made her lose weight just to be on the damn show), but rather than risk the ire of women everyone by making her brainless and pedantic, the creators twisted the trop one its head and made Deanna the second most irritating character on the show (the first being a tie between Wesley Crusher and the entire Ferengi race). Even the people for whom Deanna is geared can't fucking stand her. There's something caustically beautiful about taking a commodity (in this case, the “sex appeal”) and just throwing it away right in front of everyone so you they really know how you feel. Deanna's annoying. Not because she's a woman, or a half-alien, or even because she has the quackiest job on the starship. She has a gratingly phony “alien accent”, poor dialogue and stupid clothes, attributes that are pretty gender-generic. Hating everyone equally, the final frontier in tolerance. Roffle. Jay Kay.

Why did Tasha Yar get saved for last? Is it because I really liked the two Trekkies documentaries? Or because I thought her character could've done some great things if Denise Crosby hadn't left the show after Season 1? Or because I wish I had the hair capable of pulling off her look? The answer to all none of your goddam business. Butch yet proudly feminine, sexual yet restrained, Yar is a box of chocolates shaped in a heart sent to the feminists of the world. And I ate every last fucking one of them. She's shamefully validating for the girl sci-fi fan looking for positive portrayals outside of the Whedonverse. Aside from her one-night stand with Data (which some women have read as a woman “taking care of her own needs with the help of some gadgetry”...yeah, you know who you are...), she does not carry torch, unlike her aforementioned comrades, and some say that may be why Yar wasn't given any real development by the writers. Actually, it's just me who says that. I also say that TNG had something very special with Denise Crosby in the role, something that could not be replicated if tried. If the series were remade today, she would change out of her uniform into a tank top, shorts and heeled boots anytime there was a security breach...which would happen at least once an episdoe, even if it was only a false alarm. Don't give me that look. You sit through an episode of Two and a Half Men and tell me television is getting better. Spoiler Alert: you won't be able to, because if you haven't beaten yourself unconscious with the nearest piece of Battlestar Galactica memorabilia, you'll be giggling at the sound your drool makes when you gargle it. Unlike Crusher, who was replaced in Season 2 by the older, even more matronly Pulaski, Yar was eventually replaced by Worf, a male, as if to say the creators knew that they couldn't just cookie cutter another dynamic female role like that. Disappointed I may have been at the unfortunate tipping of gender ratio, I can appreciate that sort of honesty. One token “chick” character was enough.

The women of TNG are as empowered and independent as the plot demands. They are not all very interesting or singular, but they are fair. Like a promotional free lunch, they can be dull and predictable, but isn't the ultimate goal of equality activism to have your behavior, values, and appearance be judged as “normal” or as an acceptable alternative to a default? They're average women. And in the future, in the age of space exploration, we'll all become average. And that's the bittersweet message behind it all. One day, no one will be special because they're a woman, or gay, or trans, or what have you. We'll be judged on our abilities and the convince-ability of our accents. Which is...yeah. Fair.

After all, it's not like I'm taking these three fragile, flawed female characters who are surrounded by immaculate, all purpose swiss army knife men and putting them under the microscope. The fact is the men have no more french fries in their happy meals than their female counterparts. Handsomely aged Picard is forever torn between the sophisticated gentleman officer and the cantankerous, tough-love spewing old man that equally occupy his mind. Ladykiller Riker's libido is so out of control he falls in love with a holodeck program. Worf like women who throw furniture and Data...everybody thinks they're Data. That's the key to the success of the show.

Everybody looks at poor fish out of water Data and sees themselves. Queers see a variant person who's life is pointlessly obstructed by people who demand he justify his existence. Objectivists see the struggle to adhere to absolute truths in a world being painted gray. Glenn Beck sees things too horrifying for words and Stevie Wonder still can't see shit. If queer and gender theorists weren't busy with things like fighting for our equality, they could spend days even arguing the implications of a sentient being having their gender irreversibly programmed into them. Perhaps I will go forth into the world and assemble my own team of academics to discuss such a notion. Yesterday I learned “red delicious” is not slang for apple, it is a type of apple grown. So it might be a quite awhile before I should attempt such a scholastic feat unsupervised.

Picard and Riker are not examples of mangificent men. They are superb officers, and their gender is secondary, no matter how ludicrous their relationship with it is. It will be noted, however grudgingly so, that both have stuck up for a woman's right to serve equally with men, and while both episodes in question (“Code of Honor” and “Angel One”) are considered travesties by even the most forgiving of Trekkies, it's a bit much to expect both a compelling episode and a positive message in a time where Pat Robertson and Jesse Jackson ran for president and nobody laughed. Such is the beauty of space opera. Everyone gets taken down a notch. You have the star of Roots walking around with a shiny viewfinder on his face. Wil Wheaton, God Emperor of all geekdom and the only authority to whom I answer to, made out with a girl who can turn into a giant fur beast. Nobody's sex appeal is getting out alive. And alas, she finally comes around to her point. Without sex appeal, without attraction, there is no enforcement of gender norms. It is my belief that women are told they should wear makeup and do their hair everyday because it makes them attractive, not because it's necessarily what “women do”. Vice versa with men growing beards and working out and not wearing eye liner. Someone who can remain attractive while “playing with gender”, whatever the fuck you that means, does not suffer a loss of gender validation, but is such a powerful/attractive _____ that they can “make it work”. There is no “making it work” on the Enterprise. Everyone wears the same ugly jumpsuit that bunches around the crotch, eats the same generated food and plays the same holodeck games where they are king and everyone lives to amuse them. In space, people are only as special as their duty and skills with a phaser allow them to be.

And that's all all I got to say about that. I know what you're thinking. “What? You gave the three female leads of TNG their own paragraphs, and yet you compress the male cast into one? That's uneven.” Yeah. It totes is. Write your own breakdown of Next Generation character profiles if you want, but I can't in good conscience talk about a gender that I don't identify with. Despite over 20 years of history I still find myself unable to grasp the nuances of masculinity. I think Riker looks like a creepy uncle with that beard. Do you really want me dissecting the merits of his manhood? I didn't think so.

If you only remember one thing I tell you, it's this; forget it. I'll sit here and tear into The Next Generation for five pages, and when Season 3 comes in the mail on Monday I'll get about as much sunshine as I did this week watching Season 2. It's awkwardly written, uncomfortably acted, and I can't get enough of it. Because it's fair. Each episode, each character, fails all by themselves. It doesn't need unfortunate social norms or misinformed opinions about race, gender, convey its stories. It says the bare minimum and just keeps going. And in a time where I feel like everyone, even my loved ones and allies and fellow communiteers are keeping an eye on the right bus to throw me under, I can get by just fine on the bare minimum of tolerance and social sensitivity lip service. There might not be a better deal available in television. Judging by how I treat something that is admittedly helping me get through perhaps the worst depression of my entire life, I probably wouldn't deserve it if it existed.

Speaking of obligatory lip service, I apologize for using these articles to air my dirty laundry. I will strive to do more geeking and less bleaking in the future. If I remember. In the meantime, feel free to tell me some of your experiences in therapy or mental health treatment in general.

It'd be only fair...

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