What conversion practices should be unlawful?

It should be unlawful for a priest to preach that gay is sinful, if a gay person is present.

I consider the effect on the gay person. They may have been traumatised by prejudice, which makes it more difficult for them to resist that lie. The priest- imam, minister, whatever- has power in the community, and ostracism from community hurts. I would not make it criminal, but I would enact that any gay person present during an anti-gay sermon after the law came into force could claim damages for it, and allow such claims for twenty years after, rather than the accustomed three, because of the time it can take victims to recover and realise how harmful such preaching is.

Praying away the gay should be criminal. A figure with any religious authority who tries to “heal” a gay person or counsel that gay person to be celibate should be charged with a criminal offence. The gay person is never wholly voluntarily in such a situation, as they are affected by general societal homophobia or the specific homophobia of the religious body.

Note that the religious body attempts to change who the person is, not just how they act. The faculty of being sexually attracted to other humans is part of the person’s very essence. More people are bi than the culture admits, and prejudices and fears might prevent someone acknowledging an attraction, but the attraction comes from our very nature. Some people are mostly attracted to male or masculine, some mostly to female or feminine.

It’s not what you call that attraction that is the nature of the person. If you think they are a man, and they are attracted to men, you call them gay, but the attraction does not change if in fact they are trans, really a woman, and they transition. They may still be attracted to men. They may admit more attractions, as they are not suppressing their essence after transition, but even if the words we use for them, heterosexual rather than gay, change, their truth, their nature, of being attracted to men, does not.

So it is completely ridiculous to call transition “conversion therapy”. It is a complete fabrication. Unfortunately, some people hate trans so much that they are putting forward that argument- either in a hategasm where they cannot control themselves, or in the cold, deliberately deceiving way that they and their ilk might use denying climate change or evolution by natural selection.

On 15 May, Janice Turner told this lie in The Times, claiming that parents might try to transition a gay child to avoid the stigma of being called gay. She appears to believe that there is no stigma in being called trans. This is divorced from reality.

Worryingly, she claims that the government plan to include compelling someone to transition in the definition of unlawful conversion therapy. The idea that a parent could, or that even the medical professional most committed to children being able to transition would go along with it, is ridiculous. That is the lie she tells, though, in an attempt to smear Stonewall and Mermaids.

So what should be unlawful conversion therapy for trans people? The religious figure preaching against it should be subject to paying damages. The religious figure praying over a trans person should be criminal. What about psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists?

The definition here is simple: attempting to change who someone is should be unlawful. Exploring who someone is should be permissible. Robert Withers, who pretends to transphobes that he can cure trans, should never be allowed near trans people, but a therapist should be able to help a person presenting as trans to get to know themself better.

Sometimes it will be subtle, but the therapist should be aware when they are putting pressure on a person. If they are unaware, they are not qualified to be therapists, because the therapist in a position of authority can damage people by suppressing their nature, in all sorts of ways apart from LGBT. Professional bodies are capable of investigating and disciplining such therapists.

Criminal sanctions will only be available when the pressure to change is clear beyond reasonable doubt. That is enough to protect any therapist helping a client explore their relation with their gender and gender identity. So the definition of criminal conversion therapy could be quite simple: it is an offence for someone in the position of therapist to attempt to change someone’s gender identity. However much some might attempt to obscure it, there is a clear line between attempting to change someone’s nature and helping them explore it.

Becoming the whole self

Trying to make a man of myself was a betrayal. How can I heal that trauma now?

Quakers will be considering trans rights in August, and I am optimistic and pessimistic at once. Possibly we will have a revelation, as we did with equal marriage in 2009. And Quakers can be conflict-avoidant and arrogant, imagining we know best and we can reconcile conflicts. So some well-meaning Quakers might try to find a reasonable middle line between trans people and the anti-trans campaigners. And some Quakers are anti-trans campaigners, imagining themselves good and righteous and wanting all trans women out of women’s spaces, and all treatment for trans children to cease.

I must convince them trans is real.
I fear nothing I can say will be enough.

I thought, if I can show trans people cannot be other, are not making a lifestyle choice but expressing our essence, then they might accept trans rights are at least of equal importance to others’ rights. If we could be other, I would be. I fought to make a man of myself. I paid privately for aversion therapy. I asked a priest to lay hands on me to heal me.

And I am weeping helplessly, wordlessly, convulsed in my pain and grief, screaming and moaning. I fought like that to make a man of myself because the fear of death was in me.

There is a me that just wants to survive
That, with hands round my throat holding me underwater
will do anything.
There is one goal.
What I preserve of myself there is mere life.
Everything else is stripped away.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is a metaphor. Being drowned is the only metaphor that captures the fear for me. It is the small child, dependent on parents, distraught when love is taken away. And, to forgive the betrayal of ceasing to express me, becoming the male-acting automaton, I need to fully acknowledge the threat I experienced. I was forced, and it was not my fault.

That was when I was broken, as a horse is broken.
After, I would do anything to avoid being underwater.
I worked it out, so I did not need telt.
I forgave my mother’s, and the world’s, betrayals:
there is nothing to forgive.
The betrayal I cannot forgive is my own.

I want to be Perfect-me,
that being that does everything I ought to do,
want to do,
would like to do
have to do to survive
effortlessly.
Without perfect me
all I have left is failure and betrayal.

There is no perfect-me. My betrayal of myself was under pressure I could not have borne.

I take a postmodern view of Wisdom-sayings. If it has some meaning or value for me, I accept that, and I don’t care if that is its “true” or “original” meaning. If it’s a proper wisdom-saying, I doubt it could have one true meaning. If it has no meaning for me, I can let it go. Sometimes, when I loathe a wisdom saying, it can be particularly fruitful. I can’t get my head round Jamie’s idea of the “walking permission slips”, being ourselves and allowing others to become themselves too.

I know I am myself
interpreting a statute
comforting a friend in tears
cycling uphill and downhill
confident and assured, or doubting and fearful.
Always there is the sense of threat.

And there’s something there, of being fully aware of the feelings, of being in the doubt and fear without regressing to the traumatised child, who felt fear and shut down. Fear must not be a switch, to turn me off, or to beat me. It must be integrated into my adult self. So there’s another bit to my verse which is true but difficult. I don’t want to say it and it is just cheap consolation.

Oh the beauty and wonder of it
It is too much for me to bear
and it is all glorious.

The glory comes if I can feel the feelings fully, and still function. The glory is in being fully myself, feeling all my feelings. It is not easy.

Then, to a Zoom group. How is S? I saw his email. He is detained in a mental hospital, and desperate to get out. I am pretty sure he needs the anti-psychotics, and he hates them because they mute his spiritual experiences. Right at this moment I sympathise. Feeling the full range of feelings seems insane: people will be shocked and disgusted. I feel disinhibited, tempted to behave inappropriately. I want to stop twitching.

A Black woman went to Kenya when she was twenty, in a gap year, and saw a picture of Jesus Mary and Joseph. She could see it was them, the haloes proved it- and they were Black. It was the first time she had seen such a thing, just in a souvenir shop, hunting at the last moment for tatty souvenirs. It touched her deeply, and she expresses that. And I am feeling all the sense of liberation I imagine could be in that moment. I am remaking myself, closer to the image and likeness of God.

All glorious? I want to insist on that. Everything that is. All of humanity. And one says the larger the church, the more evil can hide in it. Yeah, s’pose. Possibly the glory is me, the full feeling self. And I am not alone.

This is not for everyone. My colleague was born again, and felt liberated from a life of drunken sexual promiscuity. The rules felt protective. She wanted something formal, secure and comforting. And I want something more: the Glory of God, the full glory of my whole self. To be the whole human, and give permission for others to be whole too: answering that of God in every one.

Sunday 16th: before worship, I read various stuff on conversion therapy, including a transphobic lie. I am wound up. Then in worship Dugan quotes QFP 2.12. Suddenly

I am the light. I am the Fullness.

I am the light, noticing, accepting, loving. Rather than descending into that part of me which is wound up, and stewing in it during meeting, or attempting to suppress it, I am the Light, aware of it, noticing, accepting, loving it. Noticing, accepting, loving, all of me- body, thoughts and feelings- and being in the Love. It makes me think of George Fox’s instruction to dwell in the power of life and wisdom. Ministry moves on to the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. It is hard to hear this in love. Now, there is my reaction and the other person as well, to hold in awareness and to love. Finally there’s the sound of a music keyboard through someone’s zoom account. That’s against the rules. What is he thinking? Still there can be the other person, my reaction, and me in the Light, noticing, accepting, loving all. That would be a dwelling-place of tremendous power. It is something to practice. It is a religious experience this morning, an hour of fabulous wonder, and I want to take it out into all of my life, so it becomes my normal state. I ministered, explaining some of this.

Recovering from internalised transphobia

Perhaps only the unexamined life is worth living. You are brought up by loving parents, you grow up, find a job and a partner, have children, contribute to your community, help bring up your grandchildren and perhaps meet your great-grandchildren before you die. Each life has heartache, puzzlement, difficulty and loss, but that would be a life well lived. I envy it because I have no children.

I wanted to do a meaning of life post. I wanted to articulate the value of my life, because it has value. My start was with the life I do not have. Communities can be oppressive, and can change so completely during a lifetime that someone in a strong supportive community at marriage could be unmoored by old age- I have both an intense desire to be Normal and resentment that I am not, and a desire to attack that Normal as illusory even for those who most approximate it. Starting writing helps me understand who I am, and find what is behind my conscious thought.

A woman who had been bleeding for twelve years touched Jesus and her bleeding healed. Jesus turned, saw her, and said “Take heart, daughter: your faith has made you well”. Matthew does not mention it, but Luke and Mark say Jesus felt power go out of him. Someone explained this: a woman seen as unclean, so outcast, who had no business touching anyone, acts as if she is not outcast, and is healed of her outcast status.

No, that wasn’t how he explained it. That’s me explaining it in a way that omits what is the most important thing about it for me now: when he explained it, I felt a weight was lifted from me: I am that woman. I have outcast status. Come into my full humanity or power and I have it no longer.

In that moment I felt a weight lift from me. A day later I am trying to recapture the feeling. I want to make it permanent. Loving acceptance helps: then I was with people, now I am alone. I was on Zoom, but that counts.

This is a blog. I am allowed for my thoughts to be inchoate, to start typing, find my thoughts wandering, publish it anyway. To struggle towards what would be the first sentence of an article. To reassure myself that it is true, and I mean it, and bring myself to write it, and note the process:

The meaning of my life is recovering from internalised transphobia.

Or, possibly,

The meaning of my life is recovering from my ingrained sense of worthlessness, a lot of which is internalised transphobia.

If I can do this, see how I am doing this, and communicate it to others in such a way as they might see their own value, then my life has value. If I can do this, only a little, even so I do not fully step into my power, even though I tell nobody, no one sees, and no one else benefits,

my life has beauty and meaning and value simply because I exist. Everything that is, is holy, as William Blake says.

I am not sure I have that first sentence yet.

And, how does the story help anyone struggling with self-rejection? I don’t want to make a dogmatic statement about that, but a suggestion. There is a power of Love which loves and values you. Possibly if you are completely alone you can access that love within yourself and heal yourself. Possibly some other person will love you, and communicate that so it gets through to you. I am thinking of an observation a woman made, that changed my perception of myself for the better, and my friend was talking about that particular story and not particularly addressing me and I took what he said and applied it to me-

I am just getting more confused.
Take from this what you will.
Recovery from self-loathing is difficult.
Recovery from self-loathing is worthwhile.

Others have said things which I have seen the value in, but not seen the value in for me. Years ago a hypnotherapist told me to say “I am loved, loving and lovable”. I have only really accepted that intellectually. Periodically I get the phrase out and consider it.

I want to heal myself.
I want to heal everybody.

I saw two wise men, filmed, talking of wisdom, and I thought, I want to be the third there, talking equally with them. I wanted it more than anything.

British Government to ban conversion therapy?

The British government is not going to ban conversion therapy. Instead they are going to start a consultation. They could look round the world at legal bans, or look at what expert bodies have published, but instead they are going to ask religious bodies their thoughts about religious freedom, that is, freedom to preach that LGBT is Abomination unto the Lord, and the usual nutcase transphobes about how trans medical treatment is “conversion therapy” against lesbian and gay people.

They are also writing, still, about “conversion therapy”. It is not therapy! Sometimes it is pseudo-therapy, aping some aspects of therapy- there might be a psychologist, talking to a person about their thoughts and feelings- but it is the opposite of therapy, as it seeks to prevent the person expressing their true self, and seeks to force them into a conventional understanding of what it is to be a man or woman. And sometimes, it avoids the appearance of therapy, as when a priest laid hands on me and prayed to God that I stop cross-dressing. That is an abuse of power, and should be criminal. The pretence that an attack on someone’s core being is “therapy” or “the Love of God” is one of its most damaging aspects.

It is anti-SOGI conversion practices. SOGI, sexual orientation and gender identity, should be clear enough for anyone to understand or look up. Call it what it is.

Liz Truss started with a lie: “As a global leader on LGBT rights”. Most advances on LGBT rights have come about under a Labour government, and equal marriage would have been defeated by Tory rebels without Labour support. Ten years later, the British government is definitely falling behind. So, no, it has not “always been committed to stamping out” anti-SOGI conversion practices, or it would have done so by now.

She writes of “the coercive… practice of conversion therapy”. I had two experiences, of having a psychiatrist and psychologist attempt to stop me cross dressing, and having a priest lay hands on me to cure me. I sought them out. In that moment, they were voluntary, not coercive. The coercion had happened many years before. My apparent free choice of conversion therapy was from programming. My recovery is proceeding many years after.

How will they “protect the medical profession”? The medical profession have ethics rules against conversion practices.

I am bothered about “upholding religious freedom”. Children are taken to worship, or to coaching by religious bodies, and when there are children present such religious bodies should not be inveighing against gay people or trans people, because they may damage gay or trans children present. Ideally, they should not be preaching a heteronormative family structure of Mummies and Daddies. The Rev Tina Beardsley explains some debate on conversion practices in the Church of England.

Even adults who have bought into religious structures, and find community there, or fear ostracism if they come out, are intensely vulnerable before homophobic or transphobic preaching. I do not want it argued that a gay man can decide to be celibate for religious reasons and is entitled to support in that from his church.

The religious bodies have the power, and LGBT+ folk are hurt. Where people realise they have been damaged by that religious power, they should be able to claim compensation for that damage.

When will this happen? After a consultation. The trans consultation was announced in 2017, launched a year later, and only this month the Government acted- to reduce the costs of getting a GRC, slightly, but keep the greatest cost, that of getting medical evidence. Then, “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. Don’t hold your breath.

Meanwhile Liz Truss and her rabble preach hate against trans people.

Abigail Shrier

It’s always good to read stories of successful transition. S was a tomboy, prodigiously athletic and daring. He wanted to be a boy when he was about four. He cut his hair with scissors. His mother wondered if he was lesbian. He tried dating a boy, aged about 14, but did not feel it. He had an athletic scholarship to an Ivy League university, had a crew cut and wore a suit and tie. He came out to his parents, and they opposed him, so strongly that he stopped talking about transition. He had to work in an unpaid internship, for a year, and then had some trouble finding work. His father suggested he should try “appearing less unusual”. But he got a job in legal services.

J had two lesbian mothers. He was talented at ballet, and found a troupe which allowed him to train as a man. He has had chest masculinisation, and says this is the best day of his life.

Both J and S have had to cut off contact with their parents. The stories are told as horror, of vanishing into an “oubliette” on line, of delusion and mutilation, by transphobe author Abigail Shrier in “Irreversible Damage”.

Shrier does not believe in trans. She claims only 0.01% of the population has gender dysphoria. This is wrong by an order of magnitude: about 50,000 people in Britain are on waiting lists for gender clinics or have transitioned, 0.1%. In 2000, it was about 0.01%, because other people were too frightened or in denial. These are adults, making our own choices.

Interviewing parents who opposed transition to such an extent that their children have cut off all contact, she hears that trans internet eggs youth on into transition, coaching them in what to say, and manipulating them with conditional positive regard, denouncing them as “frauds” if they act according to assigned gender stereotypes. Well, yes, we do discuss coming out to parents, including what to do if we meet uncompromising denial, but a young trans person in the groups writes,

It’s generally understood that everyone is going on their own path. I can think of several people who were/are questioning and may really be seeking more self expression or more agency in their lives. They brought a lot to the groups.

Oddly enough, we are not predators, seeking to ensnare and deceive cis teens into mastectomy. What could we possibly gain?

As Shrier’s sympathies are entirely with the denialist parents, she makes them look much worse than an objective witness might. The last mention of one couple is them ranting about how they paid for their son’s private school and university, rent, health insurance and phone charges, as if that entitles them to have him return their calls. Perhaps they saw money as a substitute for loving curiosity about their son’s needs.

Shrier is an opinion columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and much of her book “Irreversible Damage” is a standard conservative moan about how teens aren’t like they were in her day. Instead they “slip down a customised internet oubliette, alone”. She was born in 1978, and pities those born after 1990 for having different experiences: they must be in danger. She wants to limit sex education: I hear her sharp intake of breath as she writes of children who know what demisexual or nonbinary is. “They may even have learned these at school, from a teacher.”

The same horror, which she expects in her readers, is in this line: “As a ‘trans boy,’ G had friends- lots of them.” The scare quotes are of course hers.

Abigail’s stories are full of conservative moralizing. S’s brother was in a car crash, prescribed opioids, and when he was taken off them suddenly, he turned to heroin.

There is praise from the standard anti-trans campaigners: Helen Joyce of The Economist, Ken Zucker, Ray Blanchard and Michael Bailey. There is also Ayaan Hirsi Ali, beloved of conservatives for criticising Islam, branching out.

Shrier says she anonymises accounts by changing names and minor details so that the trans people can’t accuse their parents of treachery.

Shrier pays tribute to “genuine” trans adults, who, she says, are honest and courageous. She accepts their description of a body that feels all wrong, just not when younger people not yet transitioned or only recently transitioned give it. For the conservative, eventually the truth is undeniable, but she fights it every step of the way.

She distinguishes true trans from “trans activism”. Apparently you can’t be true trans if you speak up for trans rights. That makes no sense at all, for anyone willing to think about what she is saying.

Anything to prove trans is wrong will do. At one point she crows that only 12% of AFAB trans want phalloplasty, but later says the operation leaves some people with incontinence and permanent pain.

The Times, of course, gave a breathlessly admiring review: Shrier’s book is explosive, punchy, analytical and written with zest, and “controversial” even though it repeats the Times’ strict orthodoxy. Oddly enough the reviewer corrects Shrier’s statistic to 0.1% of the population being trans, but otherwise repeats her distortions.

Is transphobia as bad as racism?

What turns speech into “hate speech”? What should prevent it?

Ruth Smeeth wrote in the Times that an employment tribunal case had placed anti-trans campaigning in the same category as “dangerous extremism” which threatens society. She claimed anti-trans campaigning was not the equivalent to racist hate speech.

Anti-trans campaigning is often couched in terms of safety. But then so can racism be. 1960s America had unashamed campaigners for segregation, who would argue in terms of safety. Black men were lynched after being accused of sexual crime against white women.

Homophobia can claim to work for the safety of children too. Section 28 of the Local Government Act, which was in effect from 1988 to 2003, prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” and prevented teachers from acknowledging that people could be gay. This tortured gay children. Yet in 1999 in Parliament Jill Knight claimed that “children at school [were] being encouraged into homosexuality and being taught that a normal family with mummy and daddy was outdated.”

Prejudice is also couched in terms of difference. Racists argue that Black people are different from white people. That is the basis of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory. In the same way, trans-excluders argue that differences between trans women and cis women are in some way relevant, so that we should be excluded from shop changing rooms.

The classic free speech defence is that wrong speech will be subjected to the light of truth, and be refuted. This ignores the question of power. Governments of the Right have encouraged racism and homophobia, and governments of the Left have moved to sanction them. Now, racist views are encouraged by the Murdoch media empire, because these views tend to preserve hierarchy and their own power.

Theresa May described her “hostile environment” policy- making sure immigrants without a current visa or right to remain could not work or rent, expelling them from homeless shelters, closing their bank accounts. This, combined with the Home Office’s restrictions on evidence and incompetence led to the Windrush scandal.

The Smeeth article is not an attempt to justify anti-trans campaigning or a discussion of the issues. It uses the word “dangerous” but does not say what the danger is. People who agree with it will be prevented from thinking: they will see the word “dangerous”, agree that danger must be bad, and so conclude that their anti-trans campaigning is unobjectionable. Smeeth uses the word to describe the ET decision- the danger is of restricting speech- but also dangerous extremism, where speech should be restricted.

At its core is an assumption that all good people agree “racist hate speech” is bad, but anti-trans campaigning is not equally bad.

Smeeth claims a right to say who needs or deserves protection. Minority ethnic people need and deserve protection. I agree. She claims, though she gives no reason, that trans people do not deserve the same protection.

Teaching pseudo-scientific claims of racial difference, even where backed up by selected data by tenured professors, creates a hostile environment for Black people in universities. It’s not a question of how language is used or whether it imitates dispassion. The cold hate of Jill Knight is as damaging as the hot hate of the Nazis shouting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville.

Racists, homophobes and transphobes can easily find powerful backers and ready audiences. They make money from their speech, just as climate change deniers do. Smeeth’s claim that trans people are entitled to less protection than racialised people or gay people makes it easier to persecute us, and drive us out from ordinary society. All transphobia, from debates in university common rooms and Quaker meetings, to assaults on trans people, is linked: it shares a view that we might be in some way dangerous, or not deserve protection, that we have less value than the normal people.

The Wedding at Cana

Jesus turned water into wine. The monks of the San Giorgio Monastery commissioned a painting of the event, eleven yards wide, to hang in their refectory. Napoleon stole it, and it hangs in the Louvre.

Here the miracle is demonstrated. The gentleman is painted lifesize.

They are a lively lot, but I am not at all clear what they are doing.

I doubt such Corinthian columns were in style in Galilee.

I think this is the happy couple. As Jesus is at the centre, they are shunted to the side.

People ignore or distract the musicians. They are not valued as they should be, and not by Veronese, either: a bow could not play that lute.

It hangs opposite the Mona Lisa, so most people pay it no attention.

Who is trans?

Are you trans because of what you do, who you are, or what you think you are?

What do trans people do? We spend at least some time, possibly all the time, expressing ourselves in our true gender. We seek medical treatment, hormones and surgery. We talk with other people about being trans. But most trans women can remember a time when we never expressed ourselves female- either before we did so for the first time, or between expressing female as children and expressing female as adults. Some trans children are accepted by their parents, and do not have this experience.

Some trans women, like me, try hard to make men of ourselves, and might deny we were trans while doing so. Now, I would say I was trans in denial at the time. So some people I would call trans, if I had a God’s eye view, would deny it.

I would call them trans because I don’t like the idea of becoming trans. It’s an idea transphobes use to belittle trans people, who they say “wake up one day and decide they are the other sex”.

So what do trans people do? Some of us live as trans taking hormones and have had surgery, and some of us live in the assigned gender and deny being trans. The behaviour is the same as the whole population, though the proportions are different. But statisticians can only count people who will admit they are trans.

They might also count people who answer that they are trans because they think it is a stupid question and they want to mess with the statisticians. Some of those may be trans in denial.

Transphobia affects all of us. I spent time trying to make a man of myself because of internalised transphobia, feelings of disgust and contempt at being trans. I still have some internalised transphobia now.

You are trans because of who you are, so in theory a psychiatrist could question a person and identify transsexual traits even if they claimed not to be transsexual. That happened to me. I saw the psychiatrist because I would cross-dress for a time, and then throw out all my women’s clothes. I thought it was bearable to cross-dress alone, in my home, as I had a stressful job and if that was a way I could relax, it is completely harmless. And I thought it was reasonable to think I am a man therefore it is shameful to cross-dress, and I will not. I could not bear oscillating between these positions several times a year. It caused me great distress.

That was the internalised transphobia. So, I would call anyone who cross-dresses occasionally trans, especially if they want the term. They may, later, become staunch transmedicalists denying the term trans or the rights of trans women to anyone who is not at least on the gender clinic waiting list, but right now they only cross dress in private now and then.

Or, you could be trans because you talk to others about it online, without any cross-gender behaviour other than that. I call such people trans if they claim the term. They are not expressing themselves in their true gender offline, or going into single-sex spaces. They are no threat to anyone.

You are trans because of who you are, but no-one might know if you deny it. So you are trans because you think you are. No-one who thinks they are trans is not trans.

Some people detransition. They remain trans. Something prompted them to transition. They may regret it, and particularly any medical treatment, but that does not stop them being trans. They may retransition.

A trans woman who only spends part of the time expressing female might go into a women’s loo when dressed female. She harms no-one else. She may be checking out whether transition is right for her- because transphobia is oppressive, and she may be unable to bear it. So I want everyone dressed as women able to use women’s loos. The ones who look most weird, or shifty, or mannish, are the ones who are most in need of kindness and courtesy: and because they are doing something so brave, the most entitled to it.

Real and conventional feelings

How does it feel, to be real?

I am scrolling facebook, feeling the things one feels scrolling facebook. At a joke I feel happy. At something moving, I feel moved. At something political, I feel the feeling appropriate for my tribe- anger or hope, derision or inspiration. Other tribes feel the same feelings at different stimuli. These are simple feelings I share with many people. It is easy to know the right feeling, and to feel good at feeling it. So facebook is a warm comfort-blanket, insulating me from reality. I could be plugged into the Matrix.

There is something I promised to do. Scrolling, I am only dimly aware of it. I will do that later, and that makes me feel mostly OK about not doing it though later never comes. The conventional feelings get in the way.

I close my computer. How do I feel about what I promised to do? I do not want to do it. I feel fear. I sit with that and discern underneath that is a feeling of hopelessness: I find myself creating arguments why doing it is counter-productive, and though I promised I would be forgiven for not doing it. And also self-loathing, at perceived uselessness, which is exacerbated by scrolling facebook. I am writing this today because I did what I promised, just in time. Yesterday I did not, because I got into arguing with a transphobe on facebook.

Doing it, I have fantastic things going through my mind and realise they are symbols or indicators of anger. The anger, now, is at something particular, and energy for the task I am completing. It is so good when that happens. I take care to complete the task: this requires love. Doing it at another time, I gave myself encouraging pep-talks. Do you still feel the fear? Yes. It’s not enough to stop you doing it, though. There is the feeling being and something else giving the pep-talks.

This is human. When I find myself bullying myself, that is probably a bad thing, but an inner dialogue, from two different points of view, can be advantageous: just as a group of people will make a better decision than individuals, so an individual may make a better decision having worked through different ways of thinking about a problem.

The only motivation is desire. If the desire is merely to survive, it wears us out. I need desire in my life that is more inspiring.

A Tory party leaflet, before the local elections. Vote Conservative because of the vaccine, it says! Ha! We have vaccine success because of public enterprise, with only a tiny input from business required by Tory ideology, because that particular public enterprise has not been Toried yet. Bribe-taking, body-piling, trans-hating, racist, lying Tories!

Looking for the art-work for this post, I had an experience I have not had since the last time I went to the National Gallery, over a year ago. With this Vermeer on my screen, I was overwhelmed with delight at the beauty of the pure colours, and their relationship to each other- that blue of the table-cloth, and the yellow of the sleeve, as an abstract composition before I spend time on the skin, and then the facial expression. It is ravishing. I get that experience with real art in galleries, and rarely with copies on screens. If you don’t get that with this picture, I hope you have it, somewhere in your life.