A transvestite

Hope Lye dresses in low cut short dresses and tweets selfies from men’s loos. He likes male pronouns, calls himself a “gender critical trans identified male” and says trans women should also go to the gents.

He is balding, and does not wear a wig. His problem is that he does not understand Britishness, any more than trans. My friend from Tasmania said that when he was young, in Australia there were no eccentrics, just “bloody nutters”. Here we tolerate eccentricity, and do not make personal remarks. If he wants to go round looking like a weirdo, people will ignore him, for that is the culturally-accepted way of showing self-respect. He might get beaten up in the very roughest pubs, but drinkers in most places just won’t care.

Someone suggested that trans women try to look like women, and give off ambiguous signals to straight males. Transphobic attacks arise because men find us attractive then find that disturbing. Hope, however, wears no wig despite his short, receding hair. His copiously tattooed arms and legs are not feminine.

He whined about being suspended from Twitter, he said “for saying I’m male”, probably for being abusive to trans women, but Mumsnet had a long thread of adulation: “He truly is an ally to women, and it’s appreciated”. A trans woman produced a photo allegedly of him, when younger, doing a Nazi salute, and Mumsnetters appeared to confirm his nastiness- “he has an (allegedly) very shady and fucked up past”; “Hope was indeed involved with some dubious stuff in his youth.” But she doesn’t hold Nazism against him: “Spot on on this, though”. Well, I suppose they have to take any allies they get. They were sweet, really, sympathising with him: femininity is so hard to escape!

Hope may be an exhibitionist rather than a transvestite. He blogs, with several photos of himself outdoors, or in toilets- who wants a picture of himself with a loo? Yuck- and is desperate for people to “ask me about my identity”. Sometimes, people do. He is not short on self-regard: when they ask him, “I normally end up educating other men”. He calls on “gender critical trans identified males” to follow him into the gents, show it’s safe, and put pressure on the trans community to do the same. “I have been challenging the media to feature how I go about life… They aren’t listening… No one’s listening!” Not even to his one-man crusade to get trans women into men’s loos.

However, we’re different. Most people who go out cross-dressed are testing the waters before transition. We want to fit in: the thing about being ignored as an eccentric is that it deprives you of ordinary human company. I don’t want to talk to strangers in the pub, especially not people who might be laughing at me, but to friends.

He claims to be perfectly safe in men’s loos, but told a different story in the past. In 2015 he complained of men putting their hands under his skirt and touching his “bum” (so, some understanding of Britishness). “Slut shaming right through to transphobia was the order of the day.” Also, though he is now a transvestite, formerly he wanted to transition: he came out as transgender in December 2014, and realised “many trans people fear being ridiculed or even murdered”. “I want to change now but alas the NHS is very slow. I hate being a man. I tried to conform to my birth gender for 47 years but can no longer do it. It just isn’t me!” He stopped wearing men’s clothes or using his male name, wanted hormones and “fully transitioning”. He was sickened by the misogynist abuse that [cis] women receive. He started campaigning for trans rights, and tried to get British Sky Broadcasting to add “Mx” to its list of possible titles. He dressed in micro-skirts and stockings with the tops showing, not a good look for a man of 47.

Then in April, he decided to identify as a “biological male” rather than trans or gender non-conforming, which are “ridiculous identities anyway”.

His “shady and fucked up past” reveals something of his current character. He shows no sign of repentance, and like others on the hard right he is involved in a hate campaign against trans people.

How would people behave, without internalised transphobia? It is a matter of self-respect, for me as a trans woman, to use women’s facilities. I try to look good when I go out, not ridiculous.

We need to talk?

How is the debate on Trans issues in the UK, and does it matter at all?

There are a variety of views amongst those left wing feminists who would ban all trans women from women’s spaces. Some are disgusted with us, and want to spread that disgust to others. Some want us excluded, and to stop calling ourselves “women”, but would otherwise be our allies, supporting us in getting separate services. Some want to divide us up- there are “genuine” trans women, who might be treated as women, but a lot of men. Which are men is unclear. Some seem to think men would pretend to be trans women in order to enter women’s spaces. Some seem to think some trans people are genuine trans women, some not- alleged autogynephiliacs, perhaps, though I have seen “homosexual transsexuals” grouped there, who the woman claimed transitioned in order to seduce straight men.

To me, genuine trans women are those of us who transition or who intend to transition, which means adopting women’s presentation in clothes and hair. It is problematic, though- need they seek hormones or surgery? Keeping a beard excludes you from this definition, I think, but what I think does not really matter. What matters is the everyday encounters a person has. And the motive for transitioning is often used as a scare factor- shock horror, someone is deluded, transitioning is obviously wrong- but people still transition comfortably.

There are also the hard-right, who want to demonise us because they like to create out-groups. That is the motivation of The Spectator. Meanwhile, it is reported that employers would be less likely to recruit a trans person. There is a low level of prejudice against us, which the Right would inflame if it can.

We have faithful allies. Most of the Labour Party say “Trans women are women”, though there is the tiny minority which think we are a more important issue than any other, and would leave the party because of it.

There are some very nasty people frothing about and some odd alliances. A man, apparently a former Nazi, has feminists praising him loudly. There has been a public bomb threat from an idiot troll. There might be some interesting ideas brewing, so many people are thinking about this, but it might be better to see what has become a trend in a year’s time rather than to try to sift them out from the cacophony now.

And really, none of it matters. Can I enjoy time with friends, am I in danger walking down the street, can I do something I find worthwhile, all these things matter. One of the most exercised transphobes is not likely to recognise a trans woman in a loo, and I am unlikely to have anyone cause a scene when I use one. There is an ugly, feverish argument on social media with a tiny number of people spending a lot of time on it, and probably very little will come of it. I would be better to find something beautiful to contemplate. Here’s a Kandinsky.

Gender incongruence

Is the ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases) redefinition of “Gender incongruence” a progressive change to the medical treatment of trans people? No. It claims not to be a mental illness- good- but then makes desire for physical alteration the diagnostic criterion. To be diagnosed with gender incongruence, you need to want rid of your primary and secondary sexual characteristics, or to want those of the opposite sex to your birth gender.

This is the definition: Gender incongruence is characterized by a marked and persistent incongruence between an individual’s experienced gender and the assigned sex. Gender variant behaviour and preferences alone are not a basis for assigning the diagnoses in this group. Gender incongruence of adolescence and adulthood is characterized by a marked and persistent incongruence between an individual´s experienced gender and the assigned sex, as manifested by at least two of the following: 1) a strong dislike or discomfort with the one’s primary or secondary sex characteristics (in adolescents, anticipated secondary sex characteristics) due to their incongruity with the experienced gender; 2) a strong desire to be rid of some or all of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics (in adolescents, anticipated secondary sex characteristics) due to their incongruity with the experienced gender; 3) a strong desire to have the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the experienced gender. The individual experiences a strong desire to be treated (to live and be accepted) as a person of the experienced gender. The experienced gender incongruence must have been continuously present for at least several months. The diagnosis cannot be assigned prior the onset of puberty. Gender variant behaviour and preferences alone are not a basis for assigning the diagnosis.

So thinking you are a woman, though you have a penis, would not fit this definition. The desire to be accepted socially as a woman is not enough, even though most people only show off their genitals to sex partners. There is a separate diagnosis for childhood, but it too requires dislike of ones own sex characteristics and desire for the target gender’s.

Gender Incongruence comes under ICD-11 17, conditions related to sexual health, which includes physical illnesses but also paraphilic disorders. It uses “desire” as a diagnostic criterion. So how might that desire be assessed, except by a psychiatrist? Might there be a similar desire which was a mental illness, such as a psychotic delusion? I can’t find the appropriate treatment in ICD 11: it does not exclude an attempt to reconcile the person to their physical characteristics.

For me, the role, expressing myself as a woman, was more important than the physical changes. It liberated me to be myself. I now believe my passionate desire for the physical changes came from social pressure, the idea that the “true transsexual” wanted these changes, and only “true transsexuals” should transition. I regret my physical alterations, probably in part because the operation was not as successful as it was in others I have talked to. I have had a significant loss of sensitivity.

The Guardian correctly reported that GI no longer comes under “mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders”, and quoted Lale Say, co-ordinator of the WHO department of reproductive health and research, who said, “We think it will reduce stigma so it may help better social acceptance for these individuals”. I am glad not to be called mentally ill. That is a relief. I am concerned that there might be greater pressure to have surgery and hormones. I am not convinced they are necessary, or that they would improve our happiness if we were not told they were necessary.

There should be two rigorously separated approaches to gender incongruence. One is the medical approach: really, those of us who want to present in the other sex without surgery or hormones should not need to see a doctor, so that reasonably concerns itself with medical treatment, but some might like reassurance from a psychiatrist without any assumption that they will have hormones. The other is the legal/social approach: those of us who transition, intending to live life long in the acquired gender, should be treated like others of that gender. Those who intend to transition or manifest as non-binary should not suffer discrimination because of it. As long as the legal definition does not require medical diagnosis, people may not be pressured into unnecessary medical treatment.

It is necessary to define a medical condition to say what a health service or health insurance should pay for, and what doctors should do. The desire to alter your body in this way is not a mental illness. The health problem, for those who desire the changes, is that the changes are necessary.

The desire to transition may involve mental distress- can I manage it? How will work, family, community react? Am I deluded in wanting this? Psychotherapists could be part of helping a trans person resolve these issues. Gender dysphoria- that distress- exists and is mentally debilitating. Mental health services have a role in helping with it. The mental illness is not a deluded belief that you are part of the true gender. The mental illness is the difficulty you feel realising that, given the social pressure you suffer to conform to the assigned gender. Gender dysphoria, discomfort with gender role, exists and is debilitating, and one cure is transition.

The document will be sent to WHO member states, and will take effect from 1 January 2022 if adopted.

Weird London

It is always lovely to go into London. With time to kill, I wandered down south of Euston Road towards the British Museum. First to St Pancras Church, which has two huge sculptures temporarily displayed in the narrow patch of grass between the church and the pavement. One appears to be two men wrestling, with Rodinesque muscly bodies, until you see they share the same head. Inside, the church was dim, like a hall, but has two organs, one against the West wall and one, moveable, near the Sanctuary. There is a notice, do not touch the organ without express permission. In a chapel in the north-east corner, there was a Madonna icon in which the child was off to her left, and low down, and tiny, and seemed odd, but it was the only thing in the church I found beautiful. Some men passed through the chapel, glancing briefly at me. In the nave, a man stood, then ran suddenly a few yards west, then stood again, then ran back. He was still there as I left.

South through the University. I wandered into The English Chapel. It was built by the Catholic Apostolic Church in the neo-Gothic style in 1851-4. I like fan vaulting, but find it pointless- church architecture should have moved on by then. They believed Christ had appointed twelve further apostles, and were a worshipping group until around 1905, when they did not appoint a successor apostle. So now it is a trust owning property, and part of the church, the West chapel, is let out to Forward in Faith for daily services. There are no pews. A man knelt near the west-facing altar. The priest came in from his office and spoke to me, though I said I was half-touristing, half-praying: using the beauty as an aid to contemplation. The stained glass windows, replaced after being destroyed in the Blitz, are lovely. He explained that around the stalls carved into the walls are the heads of English monarchs. One wears a wimple. They were out of fashion when Mary became Queen, and I asked him who she was. Matilda, possibly? He did not know. I spent some time contemplating the carvings, then walked on.

At Friends House I met someone about Outreach, then had lunch downstairs, where I recognised several people. Should I say hello? Someone I know, to my shame, only as “X’s partner” said hello, so I joined her. She has been researching in the Friends House library, and came across a 19th century classification of beauty in three classes: active sublime, passive sublime and “sprightly”. “Your necklace would be ‘sprightly’,” she told me. Well, it is irregular blobs of blue/green glass, so yes. A certain kind of tree is “active sublime”, a certain kind of owl “passive sublime”. Possibly “active” in the kinds of feelings aroused in the beholder. I don’t want to know the classification, it would just be another way I judged myself- I must spend more time with Active Sublime, even if I preferred Sprightly.

A paid worker was kindly eating with a volunteer.

A man talked at me for half an hour about something which stressed him, which was not really why I had wanted to see him, though I had wanted to get to know him a bit. Because I was trying to get a word in, I was much blunter than I would otherwise have been: “Why did I not get an interview for that job?” He gave what would have been an off-the-peg defence to a discrimination claim- because I did not fit a particular essential criterion. Because of discrimination, the selection has to be completely objective and it was, he told me. But, I was not making a claim, just asking.

Signs on the railings said “Please do not smoke in this area or sit on these steps.” Guess what someone was doing. And I saw this sign, which looks official but is a stencil, a graffito stating hope not reality. Those metal gates did not look welcoming. The area is beautiful, but not welcoming.

A friendship

Why would a trans woman be a friend to someone who speaks for “A Woman’s Place”, a transphobic organisation? I wrote, “I hope this evening goes well for you,” when she was off to speak to another such gathering. Does this make me a Quisling, aiding and abetting the transphobes?

She is not transphobic herself. She has several friends who are trans. Some of these speakers have a phobia, showing distaste for fellow human beings, but not she. She is excellent company, charismatic, witty and with a wonderful intellect.

It is good to see how other people think. I thought, we have so much in common: she is as distant from the gender stereotype as I am. Unfortunately, she sees it differently: I think I am unusual, she thinks everyone is different from the gender stereotype. It is merely oppressive. I could put arguments, such as, how would it arise if it were merely oppressive? If it bears some resemblance to how people are, it is more easily sustained, and it is being sustained. I will not convince her of that. Possibly, I may not convince her even of incidental, comparatively unimportant points.

A tiny number of people care very much about this indeed. Trans women, and gender critical feminists care, and are divided, though not strictly as trans women for our rights, and gender critical feminists against. A wider section of the public realise, thank God, that trans women are mostly harmless, that we should be accommodated and not frozen out (though gender neutral facilities may increase, where there is single sex accommodation we should be where we identify), that any of us who are not harmless should be judged as individuals, and that this is a human rights issue. The leader of the Labour Party and many prominent female Labour MPs have said publicly “trans women are women”.

Because I care so much, it would be easy to radicalise, spending time on the web with my side, finding reasons to condemn the other. I am aware of the writings of the broad coalition who condemn us: gender critical feminists, and the more publicly extreme right Tory MPs and Tory publications. Spending too much time reading about their antics could shove me down their rabbit hole, or into depression. I want the debate not to be radicalised, and it seems the only person I can deradicalise is myself.

That involves keeping up this friendship, even if it is under strain from this disagreement. The friendship is more than the disagreement. It gives me a sense of proportion. Whatever is the case in ten years’ time, it will have little to do with what we are debating now. And, I enjoy the friendship. There is more to life than trans issues.

Extremists

There’s an A Woman’s Place meeting in Hastings on Thursday. Someone tweeted a bomb threat.

Then on Sunday the man said oh, it was not him: No Threat Was Made ~ Waz Made Aware OF A Threat & Want No One To Get Hurt ~ I Merely Nom On KFC. Then: Dis Iz Not A Threat Am Aware Of A Threat A Tranny Made. I can’t find his original tweet.

This is a man with nine followers on Twitter. On Saturday, someone on Mumsnet blamed me (and my allies): Yet when someone reads hears this shit, that Clare and their allies come out with, believes it and plans to bomb us, it isnt Clares fault. Note the sarcasm, the poor grammar, and the weird way the mindless, repulsive and wicked tweet has become a “plan to bomb”. I wondered if “Keem Arkwright” was a Russian troll. They want to radicalise internet debates- for shits and giggles, or to undermine Western democracy and the liberal international order, or something- and “Hyppolyta” fell for it. Arkwright’s use of the word “tranny” is clearly a fiendish plot to distance himself from trans women. Or, “I can think of another group of people more likely to have done it” said a trans woman. Nudge nudge, the transphobes are threatening themselves with bombs in order to radicalise people against us, in that person’s deranged imagination.

Honestly. No-one bomb-threats themselves. That trans woman’s comment is the stupidest thing I have read on this, and I have been on the Mumsnet thread about it.

Anyway. A few tweets from a vile idiot, and dozens of people are pearl-clutching. He should note that threatening a group with a bomb is a crime under the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006. That tweet could be an imprisonable offence.

I can think of few more intractable conflicts than that of trans folk and gender critical feminists, but perhaps the Palestinian-Israeli one counts. The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign hired a room in a Quaker meeting house for Thomas Suárez to discuss his new book, State of Terror: How terrorism created modern Israel. Depending on who you ask, this is either “a meticulously researched work” and “the first comprehensive aand structured analysis of the violence and terror employed by the Zionist movement” or lies and distortions. The Board of Deputies of British Jews requested the meeting house to cancel the booking on the grounds that the speaker had repeatedly made “offensive” (not the same as inaccurate) statements. A blogger, Jonathan Hoffman, phoned and emailed the meeting house repeatedly about it. The meeting decided to cancel the booking. In The Friend, the warden asked, “What exactly is the truth, and who can we trust to tell it?”

The truth is a balanced account of the conflict, giving due credit and blame to both sides. Nothing else will do. Anyone could state facts which were true but unduly blackened one side and praised the other: that would not be “The truth”. Truths can give a misleading impression.

What does a bomb threat mean, exactly, especially where it is almost certain there is no bomb? It means there is a wicked fool who finds amusement in scaring or revolting people. It says nothing about anyone else. Possibly he is an extreme outlier, and no-one else is approaching this level of vileness, even though possibly the level of vitriol in the debate is such that bomb threats are not much more of a step. “Hyppolyta” blames trans people because trans people have written some vile things; but blaming trans people may offend some who would be open to the gender critical case.

More extremism: an ornithologist took a specimen for research, and had to leave his job because of the vitriol heaped on him. Kirk Johnson in the NYT makes the case that killing one bird was proportionate, enabling a great deal of good to be done. An article in the journal Science says sample collection can contribute to extinctions. These are complex matters, not reducible to a tweet. There’s a subtle article in The Guardian about equality and diversity, after Lionel Shriver picked on trans people, among others, who might benefit from diversity programmes as “incoherent, tedious, meandering”.

Some people deliberately provoke anger to rile or cow the opposition, or to encourage or radicalise their own side. That only produces an equal and opposite reaction from their opponents. Trans people and gender critical feminists need to reduce the anger, and should be extremely careful over allegations against the other side.

Here’s a real bomb incident. It got no further than the Northamptonshire press. I wonder what the police meant when they said, the item of concern was finally determined not to present any danger to public safety. After a controlled explosion, I would have thought any “device” would pose no further threat, and a journalist’s witness said there was a “huge” explosion.

The beauty of young people

As I grow older, I delight more in the beauty of young men. I am sensitive, and this is a gift for me; I would so love that it was a gift for others as well.

The British Museum has a grand plaza in front of its grand colonnade. Walking through it should be a delight and preparation, anticipating the wonders within. It is mine, a place of beauty and learning, of all the cultures of the Earth over five thousand years, to expand the mind, developing empathy as well as understanding. Even though much of it is plunder, and much of it is Orientalist, and that grandeur is a bit Imperial for me, it is still mine, for the liberals and not for the Authoritarians.

Unfortunately there is a suppurating sore at the south west corner of that plaza, the tent where we have our bags searched. The Tates make do with a desk inside the doorways, where two guards wave their useless wands over the bags, but the BM has a marquee, too permanent-looking for my taste, and we are made to walk down a path between moveable barriers. Other barriers are placed across this path so that we slalom gently as we walk there. It is ridiculous as well as humiliating, everything undignified is. I hated the searches at first, but now thought I was reconciled to it. Yesterday in the Tate I said good morning to the hapless searcher, and my bag was unzipped ready.

Outside the tent hieroglyphs instruct no photography or recording, and inside there is another zig-zag where we shuffle towards the two searchers. It is dim and unpleasant, but I would be glad of it were it raining. There are spaces for more behind a long bench, but only two searchers are on duty this morning. “Next Please!” they shout, commandingly, as soon as their last fellow-victim steps away. Behind me, as I approach them, is a young man whose short hair might be aiming for the Army lieutenant look, though he is a security guard. “Be ready for the bag check! Have your bags open!” he shouts, for all the world as if none of us were tourists.

Is there anything sharp in here? “No,” I lie, and they do not spot my Swiss army knife. No handbag should be without a Swiss army knife. I think I am done, but a woman directs me to the second of four booths at the north end of the tent. In it, a young woman behind a pane of glass or plastic recites a script about how the British Museum depends on donations from the public. She has a slight foreign accent. She could be pretty but instead looks worn down. “No,” I say, shortly, and exit.

That young man was beautiful.

Outside in the plaza I have to take a moment to collect myself. I am ashamed of being rude to the young woman, and ashamed of letting it get to me. I think of Etty Hillesum, feeling compassion for the Nazi behind a desk shouting at her, and wish I had her- control, actually, rather than compassion, I do not like letting it get to me. The authoritarians, having won Brexit, are trampling so much, tearing up our social fabric, but I have been living with this for a year. And they still surprised me, and they still got to me.

We won’t let the terrorists change our way of life, intone the authoritarians, solemnly. Ha.

Inside, I visit the Rodin exhibition. A friendly security guard goes and gets me a stool when I ask him, and I sit in various vantage-points around The Burghers of Calais, which has Rilke quotes about each one displayed on the platform. It is a Mahler symphony of an art work, worth twenty Henry Moores, and with it I forget the security. That man clutching his head- I think he is beside himself, Rilke sees him as taking a moment with his thoughts and feelings away from the surroundings. Rilke affords him dignity. I like that.

Speaking the Truth

I was in touch with my compassion.
I was in touch with my femininity.
I was in touch with my whole self.
I had never felt that way before.
It blew my mind.

That was February 1999, but this is now, speaking on the phone to Lucy:

I was in touch with my femininity, I said. I was in touch with my-

and the word in my head is “compassion” and I cannot say it. I was in touch with my-

it runs through my mind again. I pluck up the courage-

I was in touch with my compassion.

I am Abigail, and I am truthful. Andy Braunston observed in the 90s that I was very hard on myself, and I remain so. I could not say “compassion” because it is claiming a good quality and that is difficult.

And I had a vision of me as a small child asserting something to my implacable mother and being judged for it. My truth and value being rejected so that even now fifty years later I reject it myself, I cannot bring myself to utter it.

Yet I did utter it. It is getting easier. Especially, it is easier with her, I know she will affirm me.

I am Abigail. I am loving and truthful. I have the experience of gathering myself and saying something I know to be Truthful, with my integrity, with my whole being.

“I know you do,” she says. “I’ve seen you do it.”

Expressing myself female gave me permission to be myself with other people rather than attempt the male act. It freed me. I might now regret hormones and surgery, but I do not regret that.

 ♥♥♥

That conversation affected the whole week. I thought before, “The monster will get me”, and of granite statues judging me, and see more what that is. I was frightened of saying “my compassion”. I felt I would be judged for it. I had known that is not an adult assessment of what another individual is like, but a terrified child assessment of the whole world. When I make a claim like that, to compassion or some other good quality, I am a small child with my mother knowing she will deny it, even though I am 52 and she is dead.

I found myself able to talk of my compassion. I named it at Quaker Quest and in the Meeting for Worship the word “compassion” was woven through the ministry. I was in the same state of authenticity, speaking at Quest, and I named it- “I am there now”- though far less frightened, and less mind-blown. It is not familiar, exactly, but more known and trusted. I had thought a lot about what I would say and the stories I would tell, but in the end the words were given to me: “The truth will set you free”.

With H on Friday night, we discussed trans issues and were distanced, but the first glass of wine brought us together and I told her why I could not have spoken of my compassion, and now I could. I was crying again, I am so hurt by this. Awake early on Saturday morning, I phoned The Samaritans and told the man. I took a long time to pluck up the courage, once he had answered. The thought that it would sound ridiculous to him terrified me. After, I said “You heard how big a deal this is for me, didn’t you?” He assented.

This is a big deal for me.
I was in touch with my compassion. It is at the heart of me.
I will remember this, and claim my truth again.

Countering transphobia

You, and people you care about, are under threat.

Wicked people are telling lies, and their deluded dupes are harming children. Men are entering women’s spaces, as voyeurs and sexual perverts, in order to frighten, degrade and assault women. Decent, ordinary trans folk are under threat too from these bad faith transitioners. The government is pursuing a policy which is very, very dangerous for women and children and will affect all of us.

When anyone wants to arouse hatred against a minority group, they couch that group as a threat. They want to make action against the group appear virtuous, and people acting on behalf of that group deluded or wicked.

With transphobia, though, some people see an ordinary, harmless trans woman and feel revulsion. Just as an arachnophobe feels revulsion from spiders, so transphobes feel revulsion from us. They want to justify it. They don’t like to believe they have an irrational prejudice against harmless people, so they produce rationalisations. They find places on the internet where they can radicalise each other, honing these self-justifying falsehoods to sound better, to exclude more. They dehumanise us, mocking us.

How can we counter that?

First, it afflicts me. I hear that transphobe self-justification, and it makes me feel frightened and ill. I fear that other people will believe it, and will despise me. Some friends tell me to ignore it, and some see that is not enough: I need healed from the pain and scars it has caused me. Some friends have seen how badly it affects me, and seek to heal me with acceptance and love. And, still, my attention is drawn to the threat, the transphobia, which seems so much stronger to me.

They can help me by clearly expressing acceptance and love. I can help myself by dwelling on the acceptance, seeing how hypnotised I have been by the threat, and learning to disregard it. First, I need to cure myself.

Rational argument may have a place. I have sat on a draft post for weeks, unable to finish it. I wrote it under rigorous self-censorship, not including any terms which might suggest trans women are a threat to women, not even to deny them. We’re not. Reading the words, even with refutation, can make them memorable, I understand. But that is the point: you don’t lose the ability to challenge or measure sex-based oppression, but it becomes more clear when you are arguing that trans women are dangerous or oppressive as a group. We’re not.

Reading it again, I see I am trying to get people to identify me with those they have sympathy with. For example, “Woman” means adult human female, but includes people who have transitioned. We are fewer than the number of women with disorders of sexual development, whom the writer would not have argued were not women. Intersex women, as well as “adult human females” with characteristics some people consider mannish, such as particular facial features or even being tall, can suffer from prejudice aimed at trans women. Those too zealous to exclude me will embarrass them. A culture of suspicion in women’s loos will help no-one. This would offend someone who is particularly hostile, but might win over someone who was swithering. “We are fewer”: we are not a threat, but I justify that without stating it. I gave up on that post, finding such argument difficult. I would rather address allies than opponents.

I feel non-violence is the most important way. I must argue with actions not words, exemplifying my harmlessness. If I can just be, people seeing me might see my harmlessness, if their hostility and fear do not get in the way. Harmless, but not vulnerable, because that may make them more implacable. Or something- groping here- vulnerability coupled with dignity, perhaps. Or, vulnerability in that I may be hurt, but not that I might retreat. Strength in vulnerability? Is it possible?

Blind spots

Why would I not know who I was, what I felt or what I wanted? Because it was too threatening to know.

In my thirties I decided I needed to rebel against my parents, and started teenage. It is a stage of development people have to go through. I wanted to know who I was, and realised that there were blind spots, where I could not see myself properly. One problem with a blind spot is that you don’t know it’s there: you imagine you have a complete picture. I cared. Truth was important to me. I needed to know myself, because otherwise I was at war with myself.

You act according to your own character whether you understand it or not. I had been reading Carl Rogers, so knew of the organismic self and the self-concept: who you really are, and who you imagine you are. The imaginary self was who I thought I ought to be, quite different from the real self. I wrote,

It hurt so much and it’s stopped.
Who I am is who I ought to be.
I can be me. I can be free.

I was not there yet, but I was no longer so invested in the imaginary self, the self-concept. I knew it was untrue, and I wanted to unearth the real me. I worked out the lies I told myself, and the first was I lie to myself because I want to see myself as a good person. That might help me see behind the lie. But I carried on lying to myself, because I did not realise I was doing it.

I lie to myself because I am afraid. I fear my own anger and fear, so suppress them until they will be suppressed no more.

I lie to myself because I make no sense, and want to believe that I do.

I know what I want when I see what I do: this is “Shadow motivation”. The shadow, the part of yourself which is not wicked or bad but which you cannot admit to yourself and see as a monster, works to achieve its unconscious desires.

I have to talk about truth, for around six minutes. This is an attempt to work out what I might say.