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Episode Ninety Three

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Monstrous Agonies E93S03 Transcript

H.R. Owen

Hello friends, Hero here. I'm on holiday next week, and will be frolicking around the countryside, jumping in puddles and hugging trees – activities which leave very little time for podcasting. So, no episode on April 6th but we'll be back on schedule on Thursday April 13th. Have a great week, enjoy the episode, and see you soon.


[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]


H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Ninety Three.


[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-let us sing for joy-”, more music, a voice saying “-it's harder now-” and a voice saying “-no it isn't-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-floating face down on the surface, revealed at last.


You're listening to the UK's only dedicated radio station for the creature community.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]


The Presenter

131.3FM – the voice of liminal Britain.


[End of background music]

The Presenter

Next, I'll be answering questions from our listeners in our weekly advice segment. Our first letter tonight asks how to push back against tradition.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I come from a very tight-knit family. Everyone's in each other's pockets and getting involved in one another's business. I usually don't mind. I-I prefer it, actually.


I see friends from other genuses who just don't have that kind of support network. They don't have people they can ask to pick up some shopping when they're poorly, or keep an eye on the dog for a bit at short notice.


But obviously it has its downsides. There's... expectations. It's hard to push back if you realise that what's right for the family might not be what's right for you.


I'm pregnant with my first child. I'm not very far along at all, and I haven't even told my family yet, partly because it's so early. But I also haven't told them because I know they'll expect me to uphold our cultural practice of, um... [clears throat] surreptitious mutual adoption.

Now, I appreciate that this is a tradition that has a lot of significance for my culture. We've been doing it for millennia – one child per generation, switched at birth with a bouncing baby sapio! [laughs]

The child is raised in our realm and treated like any other member of the family. There's no difference for us between adoptees and genetic members of the genus. It's just another way of becoming one of us.


Historically it was a way for us to shore up relationships with the sapios. We found they were a little less likely to come knocking with torches and pitchforks if they thought one of their own might be among us. Nowadays, with torches and pitchforks in mercifully short supply [laughs] we mostly just keep doing it out of tradition.


Plus, once they're older, the sapio child can then go back to the sapio world as a sort of ambassador on our behalf. They can go into places that we might not be able to, or lift certain spells cast against us.


It's really very practical, and as well as being part of the family in every usual sort of way, the child receives a really incomparable magical education. I don't think there's a sapio institution that can rival us on that front.


I know sapios can be a bit less enthusiastic about the situation, but I think their side of the bargain's every bit as good as ours. They get a child with all sorts of abilities and insights into the world that no ordinary sapio could. It's hardly our fault if they don't appreciate those insights.


But as much as I respect this as a cultural practice, and as much as I understand that I do have a role to play in keeping that culture alive, I... don't necessarily want this for me. Or for my baby. I want to raise it myself, in my own home. In my own world.

I don't want to upset anyone but I really feel the need to stick up for myself over this. How do I put my foot down without hurting anybody's feelings?


The Presenter (as themselves)

I'm not surprised your family holds its traditions so dear, listener. Given the relentless push towards sapio-normativity in mainstream culture, liminal cultural practices are more important than ever. But you are not responsible for upholding those traditions alone, and you need to do what's right for you.

It may be difficult for your family to understand how you've come to this decision. There's a chance they'll feel that, in rejecting this particular choice for yourself, you're condemning the practice entirely, and thus condemning the people for whom it is important.

You've done a very good job of expressing your appreciation for your culture in your letter. Be sure to do this again when you share your decision with your family. Explain clearly that this is a personal choice, not an ideological one.


And I do think that framing is important – you are sharing the news, not asking for advice. You understand how important this topic is for the family, and you have not made your decision lightly, but you have made it, and it is not up for debate.


Do not engage in any attempts to argue with you. If people are curious about the decision and want to explore the subject with you, they can. But make it very clear that you will not tolerate attempts to change your mind.


Finally, you mention that one child is required to be exchanged every generation. Forgive my ignorance but I don't quite see the necessity for that to be this particular child. If your family really won't see eye to eye with you, you can always promise your second-born – or see if a cousin or sibling wants the honour of offering their child instead.


Culture is important, but so is your individuality. Stand firm in your decision, and communicate it respectfully, but clearly. You will need to get in the habit of this kind of boundary setting when you become a parent, both with your child and with others, and it's better for everyone if you start now.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]


The Presenter

In assocation with Señor Soapy's Safety Suds – nightfolk-friendly bath products for genuses sensitive to saline. Señor Soapy products neutralise salt in hard and soft water, and our all-new Safety Salts give you all the pleasure of bath salts without the threat of personal liquification. Señor Soapy's Safety Suds – soothing soaks without the salt. Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.


[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener facing new questions about their family history.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

So, I'm pretty new to the 'liminal community.' My family is all sapio, as far as I know, but I never knew my dad so I had no way of knowing what was going on over there. I guess I’m learning what was going on over there! [laughs]


I started HRT about eight months ago, and among the other things Puberty 2 is doing for me, I’ve got some other fun stuff. Uh, fun is one word for it at least. [laughs]


So. I woke up a few weeks ago covered in dead skin. Gross! But after a shower and a whole lot of mosturiser, now I guess I have scales. They're kind of reddish orange, which makes me think my dad was a desert dwelling genus? Which could be a real issue since I live in the north east.


North east US, that is. Your 2AM segment is a perfect 9AM drive-to-work listen. But the weather here is not so desert-like and I don't know if that's going to be a problem.


I know you really never know what you’re going to get when you go on hormones. But learning that you’re half reptile is kind of a lot! I’ve been told I look cool, anyway. I have a bearded dragon that’s about the same colour as me and she's pretty cool.


And I think my dad's genus is one where the females are bigger than the males? Because I'm getting really buff. I wouldn't have thought that I would be into it but boy! [laughs] Am I into it.

So it's not that I mind, per se. It's just a lot to deal with. I don't know how be a lizard. The shedding, the new claws – how do I deal with gender stuff now? And... I haven’t seen my mom since all this started. I don't even know how to begin that conversation. So... Basically... help!


The Presenter (as themselves)

Oof. That was... something. [clears throat] First of all, listener – congratulations on your medical transition, and welcome to the community. We are very glad to have you.


I do think your mother would be a good person to speak to about this, but let your experience with her guide you. If she has generally avoided speaking about your father, or if you think the subject will upset her, you'll need to approach the topic carefully.


In any case, I suggest you start off with a phone call to let her know that you want to talk, and what you'd like to talk about. This could potentially be a very emotional subject for her, and you want to give her some time to prepare.


She might not want to speak about your father's genus at all. Or she might want to, but have very little information beyond a general physical description – and depending on how long it's been since she last saw him, who knows how accurate that description might be.


You touched on this a little in your letter, but it's worth noting that his genus might well have a significant degree of sexual dimorphism. Your mother's memory could be completely accurate, but tell you very little about what to expect as your transition continues.

There's no right way to feel about any of these possibilities. But just as your mother will need to prepare for the conversation, so will you. Take a little time to explore your feelings, and to put support strategies in place if needed – arranging to have coffee with a friend afterwards, for example, or making sure you have some of your favourite food waiting for you at home.

Fortunately, you don't need to know your precise genus in order to find support for your more practical questions. There are innumerable reptilian genuses in the world who will be able to speak to similar physical experiences as yours.

Depending on the size of the reptilian population in your area, you might be able to find a local group to join. If not, you can always connect online and find people able to answer your questions about everything from monthly shedding to staying warm in cold climates.


I also recommend getting stuck in with the general creature community. There is often a good deal of overlap between transgender people and creatures, and I think it will be emotionally nourishing for you to be among people who understand the challenges you're facing, even if they don't share precisely the same experience.


I know these changes weren't what you were expecting. But if you keep approaching them as you are, with interest, excitement and curiosity, I feel sure you'll find your way to a deepened understanding of yourself, your body, your gender and your genus. Best of luck, listener.


That's all for our advice segment. Up next, how incorporate a towering black obelisk of unknown origin into your home décor and make the most of its constant, atonal humming...


[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through electronic music, a voice saying “-because we were different-”, choral music and a voice saying “-one day, our luck will run out-” before fading out.


Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]

H.R. Owen

Episode Ninety Three of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.


Tonight's first letter was submitted anonymously, the second letter was from Jace, and this week's advert came from Ghosty Goose. Thanks, friends.


If you're enjoying the programme please consider supporting us at patreon.com/monstrousagonies, or making a one-off donation at ko-fi.com/hrowen. You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.


This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.


Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.


[Fade to silence]

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