Witney By-election

The candidates for the by-election to replace David Cameron, worst Prime Minister of the UK ever, have been announced. Unfortunately, it appears that the Loony vote will be split. There are fourteen candidates, and as well as the Official Monster Raving Loony Party there are candidates for The Bus Pass Elvis Party and the Eccentric Party. Emilia Arno managed to get her nomination in on time despite not, apparently, having a website: as I write the only Google hit for “Emilia Arno” “One Love” is the Wikipedia page on the by-election. UKIP have lived down to their usual practice by selecting a homophobe to stand: if he split the Tory vote enough to let the Liberal Democrat in, all my Christmases would have come at once.

One Love have a website, though, and it seems all about air pollution apart from this bit containing a badly spelled complaint submitted today to the European Commission alleging the UK EU referendum and the intention to invoke Article 50 under the Royal Prerogative was illegal. Alas for them! The Remainiac groups I am a member of will support the Liberal Democrat, who is Liz on her leaflets, Elizabeth on the ballot paper.

Long convoluted sentences- it’s the subject.

Onywye. Loonies. The Official Monster Raving Loony party, the original and best, oppose Capital Punishment as it is unfair to Londoners. They want to leave Europe.

Lord Toby Jug, standing for the Eccentric party, uses it as a way of making money. Better to do it above board than as Mrs May does it, charging to have meals with her or her cabinet. Jug invites you to email him to book him as a speaker, or his band The Eccentric’s for an evening of wild rock and roll. I hope he gets £500 worth of publicity from standing. His policies aren’t as funny as OMRLP’s, and may be cribbed: they both want to pay off the National Debt with credit cards. No, definitely not as funny, but he might think they are: People who allow their dogs to poo on the pavement without cleaning it up should be forced to wear it as a moustache.

The English Democrats, also Loony, are not funny at all. Surveys show that young women are keen to have children at a sufficient
birth-rate to ensure the long term stability of the size of the population. They are however currently deterred due to difficulties in acquiring housing, financial pressures and employment difficulties. A population policy should involve a more family friendly stance and include the following:
* The introduction of joint taxation and transferable tax allowances for married couples, who have parental responsibility for a child, which will help those dependent upon a single wage and will help where a mother [or father] stays at home to care for children full time. The government should not be trying to force mothers who wish to stay at home out to work.

Helen Salisbury, standing for the NHAP or National Health Action Party says, The NHS represents British values at their best – fairness, compassion and the best care for all people regardless of their circumstances. I am proud to work for a service where I can concentrate on what is right for my patients, whoever they are, and although they may worry about being ill they do not need to worry about paying for medical care.

But the current government is in the process of breaking up the NHS, inviting private providers to take over more and more services.

The combination of austerity and privatisation is leading us to the brink of disaster; their promise of a service ‘free at the point of delivery’ is hollow if that service is threadbare and fragmented and provided by companies whose priority is profit not patient care.

Unfortunately, a loony, Robert Courts, is most likely to win. He will play a part in forcing through Brexit, and what could be more loony than that?

Emilia Arno – One Love Party
Dickie Bird – UKIP
David Bishop – Bus Pass Elvis Party
Robert Courts – Conservative
Duncan Enright – Labour
Mad Hatter – OMRLP
Lord Toby Jug – Eccentric Party
Adam Knight – Independent
Elizabeth Leffman – Lib Dems
Winston Mckenzie – English Dem
Helen Salisbury – NHAP
Larry Sanders – Green Party- brother of Bernie
Daniel Skidmore – Independent
Nicholas Ward – Independent

The doctors

What should we want from doctors?

In creating DSM V, experts distinguished unusual behaviour from distress arising from that behaviour. A paraphilia is only a disorder if it causes suffering for the patient. The distress arises from the disjunction of what the person desires, and what s/he thinks s/he should desire. Unfortunately, the distinction has not always been observed: it was thought the distress arose from the desire, so the treatment was to change the desire. That was the basis of my own aversion therapy in 1992: the psychologist offered me a choice, and could have sought to make me more comfortable with the desire, but instead sought to increase my disgust, and change my desire to other channels. Better to seek to change desire than squash it. But desiring women is compatible with cross-dressing.

The issue as I see it now is not fitting how “Men” are supposed to be. Cross-dressing, cross-dreaming or identification is a way of coping with that, symptom not cause. Sexual arousal is incidental.

The Danish Girl makes the doctors monsters. One points radioactive sources at Lili’s genitals because science, and because he has this expensive equipment which must be used for something. One calls her schizophrenic and wants to lock her up. One performs the first SRS under medical conditions, but then implants a womb so that she dies from organ rejection. The Franken-doctor’s reputation would have been so great had the operation succeeded!

Doctors want to fiddle around and do something rather than leave well alone. Or- doctors seek to make the person better able to cope with life, but don’t always see the best way to do that. Surgery is better than trying to make the trans woman more Manly.

Self-acceptance is the cure. We come to enjoy our coping strategies rather than being ashamed. They become less compulsive, less isolating. I don’t know whether this is in the air or I am just more aware of it. T-Central’s latest share is a review of a book along those lines. I would highly recommend retiring from gender to anyone who is feeling like the spectrum or the binary doesn’t fit. Many people look at me strangely when I tell them, but the decreased pressure of having to perform a gender makes up for all the misunderstandings.

Would anyone want surgery if it were not the path to being acceptable to the general public? I don’t know. Seeking to pass as a woman is seeking to fit in with gendered society. That means hormones and hair removal is a surrender, compromising being me in order to fit in. Of course, everyone compromises to fit in, from speaking differently at work and in the pub, to following fashions rather than creating them.

Seeing myself as a trans woman

Facebook, again. I feel like I’m not good enough to be a girl. I don’t feel feminine enough. I get misgendered all the time.

I am not a woman. But I don’t have to be. There is no pass mark. I have a Y chromosome, which is often thought of as disqualifying. If I have to be a woman, think, act, look like a woman, I will always worry I am failing. I have to be me. I can’t fail at that unless I think I do.

I still want to dress female, but why not if I want to?

I can be terribly negative. I am not a woman, I think, and that leads on to OhmyGod I’m a fake, fraud, failure- ridiculous, never should have done this… Whereas, it could be liberating. I am not a woman. So, no need to pass!

Dividing people into “men” and “women” makes no sense in modern society. It is the foundation of patriarchal oppression. Let it fade away.

And then I read this article on “Colour-blindness”. White people affect to be “colour-blind”, not noticing colour, but is that really the case? Try it in a room full of black people. I have only been in a black-majority room once: the white people sat together. Black people cannot be colour-blind, he wrote: they always notice. “Colour-blind” is part of privilege, part of being the default default. On that analogy, males, brought up to be assertive and still the cultural default- a female fbfnd shared something in sexist language only yesterday- have not earned the right to express ourselves as women. I am not good enough to be a girl.

Let the one without sin cast the first stone. Most of us benefit from one or another kind of privilege or oppression. Yes, it matters, and this is the way I am. I dress in clothes from third world sweat shops, even if I wear clothes out and buy from charity shops.

All of us are supported by others- sometimes the support is given under duress. I recognise that. I oppose it- well, you know, I share articles, sign petitions and talk earnestly to friends. We do what we can.

Desiring transition

Arguably I had two separate desires. When I wanted to present female full time, that was all I wanted, and the desire to be surgically altered came later. Can I know why I wanted that?

I wanted to pass. It is so much safer if you do. Some people are too tall, and some cis women are read as men. Passing privilege is a bad thing- where trans folk who pass are accepted, and those who don’t aren’t- yet most of us would prefer to pass. That was why I had electrolysis to get rid of facial hair, and why I took testosterone suppressors and oestradiol, and why I pushed my testicles back into the inguinal canal and my penis back between my legs and held it all in place with tummy control pants. I did not want a lump under my skirt. So, even if I had not had the operation, I might have been permanently infertile and incapable of erection.

I disliked getting turned on by thoughts of feminisation. I can’t remember how long they lasted, or how long I was getting aroused often: I am only aroused occasionally now. Now on facebook I read people agonising about how long they have to wait for appointments, hormones or surgery, or delighting in getting it, and on one group the person who said she was quite happy with her sex being male and her gender female, shortly after said that she was leaving because she did not want a certain person reading her posts. Even though many of her own posts are public. There are a lot of comments: this is a sore point, and there is some discomfort and difficulty understanding, even though the line is “bodily autonomy is important”- we should get to choose- which it wasn’t on TS-UK around 2000.

Onywye. Social pressure? Dunno. There is social pressure and expectation.

My path to self-acceptance led through transition. I wanted it. I wanted the Op. If now I wish that I could have self-accepted without all that, without any of it, still use the old name and never have wanted to cross-dress- it’s a choice I made knowing there was no going back. The wish is pointless. Ridiculous.

Why did I want it? I just did. What do I feel about it now? Rage, horror, misery-

for I am not a woman. I don’t see myself as a woman. I see myself as a trans woman, inherently ridiculous, victim, pitiable, always chasing after something impossible. I will not revert: Returning were as tedious as go o’er.

I have always done my best. Only Perfect me could have done better, and Perfect me does not exist. The world is not easy for anyone, and perhaps it could not be. I have no solutions, but perhaps infinite forbearance forgiveness and love might mitigate some of the pain. I kind of miss Perfect me. It was never going to be easy, but with Perfect me I could fantasise it was.

Now I read the suggestion that we should eschew the term “gender identity”. The word is simply “gender”- something objective, rather than “identity”, something in my own mind. I like that, actually.

That b— hill

I overtook a car!

So when I cycle to the wee shop, or to the nearby town, I go down a steep hill with a chicane and a give-way sign at the bottom. I accelerate rapidly, playing bravery games and not braking, and whizz past the chicane whether there’s a car coming the other way or not. Fortunately, it is a quiet road.

Drivers are courteous, generally, giving the 1.5m space they are supposed to by law, when overtaking, and pausing if they cannot overtake safely rather than just breenging past. However, not on this hill: they pass even though I am accelerating and they will immediately have to slow down for the give way. One stopped at the junction a little further on and I shouted at him.

This woman I noticed holding back just before the hill, as it’s a bit of a blind summit and she was nervous in case she could not see anyone on the hill. But when I started to speed up going down hill, she judged it safe to pass me, then slammed on her brakes so I had to slow down. I thought, I’m no huvin this, and passed her. There was a car coming the other way, and they both had to co-operate to let me back in, but they did, so I am more or less pleased with myself.

Another time recently I noticed my handlebars slipped just as I set off for the shop, a mile away, and thought I would fix them when I got home. Pulling on the handlebars cycling up hill loosened them a lot- yes, I know my cadence is too slow- and before I got home they were completely loose and I found myself steering to the right side of the road. I stopped, thought about it for a bit, and worked out how to hold the handlebars so I could ride home slowly, faster than pushing the bike. I realised the problem just before getting off, that I did not know how to slow down. Bummer. I managed it, though. Good job the road’s quiet.

Haiku

The writing discussion group I led went well.

stiff

terrified

The exercise was to write Haiku, which I deliberately simplified. The only requirement was to create a scene in three lines, 5,7,5 syllables. I started by quoting some, and discussing how the same idea could be expressed in different words. The aim is to express as much as possible, and make each syllable count.

So why them? An unpleasant person, with unpleasant views, nevertheless wins sympathy. She shows discomfort then outright disgust. How much of Nige and Di can you put into three lines?

Or- a man got chatting with a woman, much younger than he, and they were quite friendly. Then she stops answering his texts and phone messages. Then he finds out where she works- should he visit?

Or- it was very hot, so I went outside and looked up at Cassiopeia. I had crafted this a bit for a facebook share: Too hot to sleep, I lay outside on a recliner, eating grapes and looking at the stars.

Would anyone like to give these a try?

Christian Science

I thoughtChristian Science was about Christianity for scientists, then I heard it was much nuttier than that. It has to get over beliefs like this- Has it? Can it?

The Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good. She wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in 1875 that sickness is an illusion that can be cured by faith alone. Such can be deduced from certain Bible verses, such as “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect” and “God created humankind in his image”. If we are perfect, in the image of God, we cannot be sick. People tried to convince themselves that they were not sick.

I hear the anger this belief still engenders sixty years after my friend ceased to believe it, aged 12. Her father had migraines, and tried to believe they were not there. Her parents read Eddy’s book, understanding the Bible through it.

How is it Science? Because God is understood to be unchanging Love—the infinite Principle that is constant, universal, inclusive, eternal, the only true power and source of all good. It explains the spiritual laws of Love that enabled Jesus to heal sickness and sin. This divine Science also answers our fundamental questions about evil, reality, and eternal life. And as the word science implies, it is reliable, consistent, and provable, bringing healing to individuals and humanity through a deeper understanding of God. It isn’t, in other words: the term sounded good. Mary Baker Eddy turned wholeheartedly to God when she experienced a critical injury in 1866. As she read accounts of Jesus’ swift, powerful healings, a new sense of God, Spirit, as the only reality flooded her thought and healed her. Impelled to understand the Principle behind this experience, she continued to search for and find in the Bible the underlying laws of God that would form the basis of her teaching and practice of Christian Science. One coincidence or delusion for one charismatic, persuasive woman, and people throw out real medicine. Children have died and parents been convicted of neglect because of it.

It would be so lovely, if only it were true.

Our true nature is spiritual, Eddy decided. No. We are animals, physical creatures. If I am tired I need to sleep. They still teach that if we accept and believe Jesus’ promises, follow his teachings and understand his spiritual laws (as explained by Ms Eddy) we will be healed- so if we are ill, it is our fault.

Shame III

If I feel shame about everything, it ceases to be a useful emotion.

Man goes out jogging in the morning, gets chatting, and is much later home than normal. “Where have you been?” asks his wife. “Being myself” he tells us; working out the marvelousness that is He. Nothing wrong with chatting, of course, nothing wrong with being back a little later than expected, unless they had something particular to do together; not necessarily any criticism in the question, it could be entirely innocent…

Grief, yearning, guilt, shame- As I listened to this, past events popped into my mind which I feel shame about. I was not completely perfect. I did not know everything beforehand- well, we have the well-known, well-used term “Hindsight” to counteract use of that in blaming and shaming, and I can use the idea to forgive others.

If everything is black shameful, nothing is. From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves. I have nothing I can think on for my improvement, to try and avoid, just a heavy burden. Christian the Pilgrim felt that burden fall from him through Repentance, but I have not even that, for I can’t see how I might improve, apart from being Perfect which I should be already.

I don’t know if weekly repentance in the Eucharist makes this bearable for anyone or dulls the impact through repetition.

It is a way of realising an uncomfortable feeling. I feel uncomfortable and an uncomfortable situation or a thing which shames me in the past pops into my head, then I resent and resist the discomfort. Learn to swim in my discomfort, not knowing or understanding anything, not being perfect, accepting the feeling and blundering on. I could cheer, jolly along, invigorate myself with affirmations.

Gender queer

I want to explode gender stereotypes.

In my limited experience, most who identify as gender-queer are AFAB. How is it possible to live, objectively gender-queer- that is, not fitting gender stereotypes? What boxes, what categorisations, are people comfortable with, and what can they imagine?

The possibilities are different depending on sexuality, but I feel the possibilities expand. First there was Butch, with a particular hair style, footwear, and all dress in between; now I hear jocular complaints of straights “dressing like lesbians”. A Butch friend complained in the 1990s that no stylist would give her a man’s haircut. She could get very close, but not quite there. I see people on buses indicating this may not still be true. Long after “Unisex” hair stylists (How my parents complained! Ridiculous idea, to have women cutting men’s hair! What is the world coming to!) there may be unisex hair styles.

There is also RadFem: do they all dress in black? Groups organising against Trans must look like funerals. A pity that they don’t see trans are fighting gender stereotypes, far more effectively than they are.

Gender-queer, pronouns “They”- you can have a man’s haircut, but don’t need to bind your breasts like a trans man! Breast binding is painful. To be accepted, I thought I had to alter my body. I am delighted that some people do not feel the need, now.

I want the boxes to expand. I see more possibilities. There is that man who wears a very feminine scarf: it indicates to people that they should let go of their usual expectations of what a “man” is. Being gynaephile, I want straights to adopt gay expression of themselves, to indicate escape from stereotypes of gender.

There was I, keeping control, following the rules, staying safe, though it cost me so much to do it, and indeed it did let me be myself more than ever before: and one pretty scarf was all I needed? It all takes courage; it should not involve any pressure for physical alteration as well. We should only physically alter ourselves if that is our complete free choice.

I blog, rather than write, because I am thinking these things through. But some will say, removal of gonads can never be free choice. There are social pressures against as well as for- the idea that transition involves having the operation, and the idea that removing gonads is repugnant. How to maintain freedom for those who do, and those who don’t? Round and round I go, trying to get my head round it.

If we explode concepts of masculine and feminine, all people benefit, for no-one fits the stereotypes. We could all be gender queer. It’s not about being “Metrosexual”, in love with appearance, it’s about being able to be onesself. Other people are only uncomfortable with you being yourself insofar as they are uncomfortable with aspects of themselves.