not knowing

He recognised the anger and angst that Abigail suffered and fervently hoped that she would be able to love herself. Perhaps he will pray for me. I experienced him, despite his protestations, as hostile, but it is bracing to see oursels as ithers see us.

His career has been successful, and it seems to me our gifts are opposite: he is not terribly bright, though good-hearted, and has been enabled to prosper by self-belief arising from a privileged upbringing. Actually, I make progress on loving myself. I see, intellectually, that I am lovable, and though I more often am frustrated with myself I see the point of nurturing myself, and seek better ways of doing that. Sometimes I even accept emotionally that I am lovable.

Anger and Angst. I thought, Wangst– there I go, pointlessly harsh on myself- but yes, anger, anger is my ground bass. I am sitting in the Quaker meeting thinking of various instances when someone has said, wonderingly, “You’re so angry!” to me. Like that time with the council careers service, keeping me standing outside their door where colleagues passing on their way to work round the corner would see me, rather than letting me in for my appointment. Some irritation was appropriate, possibly not the anger she discerned. The anger I discerned is against myself, mostly, and out of proportion too.

I have been on the edge of deciding that transition is a complete con, that having tried to make a man of myself and failed that trying to make a woman of myself is just the pendulum swinging, as distant as ever from being my natural self, that no-one should transition. And it came to me in meeting that I could not possibly know, because I judge my own decisions so harshly. This was what I wanted more than anything else in the world, and possibly it was just me groping in the dark- from wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves- and possibly I could trust my own decision more. I don’t know if it was the best decision. I can’t. Either I am committed to it, as it has involved such an investment of effort and energy, so I can’t admit to myself it could be wrong, or I despise myself so completely that I cannot admit to myself it could be right. I want to know, I want to understand, I want a world map with which I can navigate my world and make decisions based on accurate prognostication, so it is tempting to plump for one of those opposite positions- worst ever decision or moving forward into fulfilment- to have a position on the question.

I can’t know. I am not equipped to judge, certainly not rationally, and as for how I feel about it, that changes under the influence of other things. Therefore I can’t know I was completely, self-destructively wrong.

I told the person sitting next to me I had had a blessing in meeting, and they said they knew. Not something to minister about, though, just for myself.

Living unapologetically

Karis Wilde will appear in a film called “Make Love not Walls”. The genderqueer dancer and model oscillates elegantly between conventional male and female gender distinctions, in one clean fuck you to so-called norms. She likes both male and female pronouns. He says,

It was very difficult being as queer as I was- there was no hiding it.

What would that mean? I hid it. I was not popular, but I was seen as nerdy rather than queer. So, I am less queer than Karis, or more suppressed? I think more willing to suppress, less able to tolerate my real self.

I think I just started living my life unapologetically. For a while I tried to be a little more masculine – that was a bit of train wreck – and then I tried being a little bit more feminine but nothing felt genuine. Nothing felt right, so I just ended up choosing to be myself.

I tried to fit in as a man, and transition was yet another attempt to fit in. If I can’t manage being a man, perhaps I will manage being a woman. But-

But it was very difficult – even a lot of gay people don’t think outside of the box, they just think in a different box.

Gender queer. Just be. It is far more difficult than those two words appear- we follow tracks, of normal, queer, exuberant, boisterous, how we are supposed to be, bothered when others look surprised.

Aged 21, he found very open, loving and accepting people. As I have said, I have some faint hope for my fifties.

I don’t think people respect anyone who is insecure about themselves. I think it’s just built into them to stomp on weaker people. So once you start being comfortable with yourself, you command respect, and it’s a different way that you carry yourself. That was definitely true in my instance. I felt a shift in not only how people viewed me but also in how I viewed myself. I think everything changes in that instance.

Why would you do anything? Is it because you like it, or to curry favour which will not be given anyway? Even if not “stomp”, we do not like weaker people, or want to be with them. There is the-

how could I start that?
Am I ever like that?
Is it just that I notice the lacking conviction, trying to fit in me, and not the-

It is as if I am shut down, and trying to reactivate myself. One learns these things. Being and seeing, trusting or knowing that I be and see…

I think everyone is so raw and hurt right now that when you actually speak about love it hits a different tone. People are starting to feel very alienated and very forgotten so I think that the word love has taken a deeper meaning.

He is a campaigner for social justice. I feel such envy.

Karis Wilde interview.

Karis Wilde is wonderful, and then I saw this other quote here: You may suddenly decide you’re part of all these groups, but the world has its own idea of who you are. They won’t let you just get on with that. Some manage, some do not.

Resisting V

Globalisation is inevitable. Politics in the west is the choice between liberal elites, which will preserve some regulation to protect workers, consumers and the environment, and the most rapacious of the moneyed elites, who will deregulate capital, but regulate the little people- unable to cross borders, our social media use monitored- in a survival of the richest world. I tried to imagine what goal they could seek beyond their own increasing wealth and power, what good they could imagine for humanity, and wondered if the moneyed elites’ more forward thinking members and hangers-on desired war and famine to cut back the human population to more sustainable long term levels.

When I was a small child, “Centrist” politics meant the mixed economy, with nationalised heavy industry and transport. Denationalisation was hard-Right. Considering nationalising other industry was Left wing, but centre-left rather than hard-left. Now, those who would privatise parts of the police call themselves “centre-right”, and though they are exaggerating, political discourse and what is possible has moved steadily rightwards, decisively last year. We hear of the incompetence, violence and horror of privately-run prisons, but do not bring prisons back into public service. Now, those who preach hatred of immigrants and foreigners call themselves centre-right. Hatred is mainstream. When Martin Mcguinness died, a fbfnd expressed disgust at an “IRA murderer”. I feel his contribution to the peace process deserves some credit, even if he was solid Republican until death. I want nuance, sympathy, recognition of all the good there is. That fbfnd wants black and white morality with hatred and fear expressed freely.

It is possible that the President of the United States is a traitor, conniving with a foreign power to subvert the US election. There, some people pay far more into health care, some receive far more than they pay, just as here, but there is a cruelty and capriciousness about the division of spoils there which is not here. Someone without insurance but with a hernia, with a fairly simple operation would become fit for work, but languishes because no-one will pay for it. That benefits no-one.

What can you do? My friend tweets, gives to charity, and signs petitions. You can join demonstrations and contact elected representatives, though the vile man who killed five people including himself on or around Westminster Bridge achieved far more publicity than any demonstration. Even though he has never been to the US, my friend is filled with paralysing, ineffectual rage thinking of the GOP-care bill, and gets depressed. I am not amused by it, but feel that if I distance myself from strong feelings, stay aware with satirical disdain for the vilenesses of the “centre-right” I might be more effective when there is something I can actually do. Others ignore it- people are happier if they listen to music rather than news while commuting- or indulge the fear and anger that empowers the British Prime Minister to betray the “just about managing” people whose votes she courts.

Freedom and control

Ours is a free society, and we are controlled. Trans folk are free to be ourselves, mostly, and some people get angry about that. Why are we free to be trans, and how are people free and not free?

Why would humans not be free? There is economic freedom- I am not free to go out this evening because there are no buses and I do not have a car, and find taxis too expensive. I can go out for the evening, but it needs planning. There is imaginative freedom- I cannot do what I do not imagine possible. And there is social control. I read that in Prague pedestrians expect to pass right shoulder to right shoulder on the pavement- it prevents pavement dancing- and will be irked with you if you do not know and do not follow the rule.

There is social control to avoid fear. Are those noisy young men over there “boisterous” or “threatening”? If we feel there is an unwritten rule that people should be quiet here, the breach of the rule is threatening. Music leaching from folks’ headphones on the bus may be most irritating because you feel it is discourteous, another breach of a rule, something you do not expect. There are many distracting or unpleasant sounds or sensations on the bus. Your freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose, but it is rarely that simple- whose rights come first is a matter of status, boundaries are pushed and tested, and I feel I have personal space and do not want your fist within two feet of my face, at an absolute minimum.

Moral compliance can be a matter of status. “I don’t mind them being gay as long as they don’t rub our noses in it,” perhaps by holding hands. Sexual morality has moved from a set of rules to a matter of obligation- in some circumstances people have a duty of faithfulness- and possibly a matter of moral hygiene or exploitation or more subtle wrongs. In the Am Dram group, F who was in her forties- fabulously old- took M, in his teens, to her home, and I saw how he was looking at her after, and she did not seem to care. I did not go to her house. And now generally gay is OK, because it harms no-one and that is enough.

High status people can be more free than low status people, and low status people might resent that our former even lower status no longer applies. Higher status people have taken from them their right to look down on us, and on anyone “foreign”. Unprincipled politicians like Mr Trump or Mme LePen know that desperate people will give a lot to be allowed to look down on someone. If they are free to blame immigrants, LGBT will be next.

Arguments against trans acceptance are transphobic, where people have an unreasoning disgust or abhorrence for us, or perhaps symbolic. For a certain kind of feminist we are a symbol of their gendered oppression. They loathe our freedom as they claim it conflicts with theirs. Yet we are completely harmless, more a symbol of gender than a tool of oppression.

Do you like my new coat?

Stating the problem IV

Like many pop songs, it has just one good line, but it is a very good line:

We are, we are driving
we are driving too fast
we are, we are driving
we will crash

There’ll be fire
fire when we crash
There’ll be fire
fire when we crash

Skype counselling session. I have my love intimacy sexuality weekend coming up, I am going to see someone I have not seen since about 2001, and tell her not to transition, and I have lunch with Quakers tomorrow.

I love the Human Awareness Institute. I will find their weekend distressing, useful, challenging, wonderful. My aim is to pass through distress to enlightenment, to bring my repressed unconscious to consciousness. I love their slogan, “Creating a world where everyone wins”.

I will tell Hannah not to transition. Long term, it is a mistake, though short term it is wonderfully liberating.

I will ask those Quakers what they expected- that I would just vanish? I cycled on Sunday for 55 minutes to Kettering, about 55 minutes back, because Quakers are my main social outlet. I am sociable, and today my longest conversation has been buying apples, lettuce, grapes and plums at the fruit and veg stall. I want those, he wants £4.09, no other chat took place.

Life now is as good as I can imagine it. This is the best I can do. I don’t want to work, even though not looking makes me more vulnerable to the biggest threat in my life, losing my benefits. My life is in Limbo, and a kick up the arse might do me good? No, this is the best I can do. Work would be some of the time horrible, most of the time just unpleasant and dull.

I am in the best situation I can imagine, though it is not sustainable. In the future, when my benefits stop, the best will be worse than this- some horrible job- but all I could do is embrace that worse now, and that makes no sense.

-How do you think people will react to you turning up as a man?
-Some will think I’m an arse, some will see how beautiful and fascinating I am and like it and express that.
-Will you hear them?
-Yes. I am beautiful and fascinating.
-Why so distressed and angry and frustrated?
-Because beautiful and fascinating is not good enough, and I can’t achieve better than this.

Now, I am distressed, frustrated (in Limbo) and frightened, and I think of Rebekah. She lives in Tel Aviv. I met her in London, for less than half an hour, and at her suggestion we facebook friended. Most of her shares are in Hebrew, and pre-AI translate is poor, but she posted some wonderful pictures of her in a wedding dress, feeling delighted, and looking wonderful. She is paralysed and needs a motorised wheelchair but she is blissful.

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

-I am beautiful, fascinating, highly intelligent, creative, loving
-Unloved. I wish we had another hour to go further into this, she says.

We make another appointment. Perhaps work so revolts me because the only authority figure I can conceive is my mother: unjust, unyielding, capricious and wrong.

An open mind

How could you know if you had an open mind? If something disproves what you believe you know, could you change your opinion, or would you just ignore it?

I still debate with young-earth Creationists, mainly on Violet’s blog. I listened to this fascinating programme on the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum. About 56m years ago, over a period of about 1,000 to 20,000 years, vast amounts of CO2 were emitted into the atmosphere, by volcanoes and burning coal deposits, and the temperature of the planet increased. There were forests at the poles. Global temperatures increased by 5-8°C. Different assertions will have different levels of dispute or certainty, and for the educated layperson a scientist might elide certain details for ease of explication, but the broad outline is clear. I find it wonderful how the evidence is recovered and interpreted, the care and precision of the investigators, the wealth of evidence. So I recommended the programme to two YECs, hoping that they would be as inspired by it as I was.

Sadly, Tiribulus wasn’t. He did not intend “sneering derisive dismissal”, he said, but accused the scientists of “spectacular intellectual dishonesty”. He claimed to understand their “claims”, but also their “method bias and out of hand pre-conclusions”. All unbelievers have similar bias, he says.

His response makes me miserable. The language of “bias”, formulated to enable us to see how we misinterpret evidence and help us perceive more clearly, he uses to write off something which challenges his view. Unbelievers cannot think properly, he says, as Jesus quoting Isaiah predicted- He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.

He is defended against challenge to his falsehoods, because he has a great need to believe them- so that he can remain part of his community, so that he is not distressed by the falsehoods the community spouts, perhaps so that he can feel superior to outsiders, or ignore them, and possibly because he experienced his life before conversion as chaotic and “sinful”, and feels any backsliding from his current position means falling into similar sin.

He has threatened to recommend something to me, claiming “fairness” would oblige me to listen or read it. I might not spend fifty minutes on it.

How would I know if I were open minded? I am open minded on Creationism. I am aware of theories of the origin and development of the Bible, and how the story of the Flood was adapted from a Sumerian legend, part of the epic of Gilgamesh. As I pick up more about the detail and complexity of understanding of the geologic column, I am inspired by the beauty of it. But then my community does not require me to believe idiocies.

Why does he comment there? Because he sees unrepentant sinners, and wants God to “save us from our sin and give us a new heart”- Because you are fellow bearers of the image and likeness of our God and I care about you. 

Tiribulus believes he understands about the Bible and the errors of unbelievers, and that prevents him coming to the truth. I will not be open minded where I particularly need to believe something, or imagine I understand but do not. When I am not open minded I may imagine I am- for I could not know. I have sought out hints and subtle indications, and sometimes been rewarded.

Perhaps it is all a waste of energy. I grope for greater understanding, but perhaps those who are satisfied with their understanding are better off, devoting their attention to more important, worthwhile things. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. They might be more effectual.

The arguments for transition

It lets you be yourself.

You may become obviously a trans woman. You may become impotent and infertile because of hormones or surgery. You may spend a great deal on transition, on clothes finding a style that works, on hair removal, or on baldness treatments. You may suffer all of this. But it lets you be yourself.

You will still find it difficult to “be yourself” in certain situations. At work, you will probably do some things you do not enjoy doing, with people you do not like- not all the time, but some of the time. You will find places you can be yourself in your own time, such as Doctor Who cosplay, perhaps, channelling aspects of your character you cannot express elsewhere, or extrovert, even exhibitionist tendencies.

You should be able to be yourself with your family, but some families prevent this. Possibly most do, to some extent. That is how we develop blind spots, where we don’t know things about ourselves which others see clearly. We put up a façade to try to fool others, and even sometimes to fool ourselves, and there are parts so deeply repressed that no-one can see them. You should be able to be yourself with a partner.

I don’t believe I have a female spirit, soul or essence. I am a materialist. Professor Brian Cox puts it this way: CERN shows how particles interact. If there were spiritual forces interacting with matter, we would have observed them. Spiritual understandings still explain observed phenomena- “I have a female spirit” is a useful way of putting it, because people understand, but there are better ways of saying the same thing: “I have characteristics seen as feminine in my culture”.

I don’t have a female brain, and nor do androphile trans women. There are certain sex differences between brains, and trans women can have certain female characteristics in their brains, but it is not true that trans women before treatment have clear female sexual dimorphism of the brain, or that anyone does.

Patriarchy through culture oppresses women, feminine and gender diverse people. It is hard for a man to be feminine. So I suppressed my feminine self, which I could only express through cross-dressing, and otherwise tried to hide from everyone.

I am meeting someone for the first time in at least fifteen years, and will advise her not to transition. Don’t make the same mistake I did. “There was a door you did not see”. This is based on the above rational case; but people do not do what is in our rationally chosen best interests. It misses out the other argument for transition- that I wanted to, more than anything else in the world.

It is compulsive. It is sexually arousing. I tend to feel it is sexually arousing because it is compulsive, rather than the other way around, but still. I tend to feel it is compulsive because

It is a way to be yourself!

It is a way to be able to accept being yourself, to be yourself, let down your guard, know yourself, admit yourself, tolerate yourself, stop acting and pretending and feel less that you are wrong and inadequate. It is water in a desert, sunshine and flowers when you have been locked in a cellar. It is the best truth many people can find.

The masculine act is not you. Can you find another way to be yourself other than transition? Transition if, despite the consequences- mockery and prejudice, infertility, and cost and effort- it is the best way available to be yourself.

Say… something nice

To Stanwick Lakes, for the Doctor Who costuming group. Missy is my favourite fictional trans character. I could dress in her style with my own clothes, for she dresses like a trans woman.

The David Tennant character has his hair like that all the time. Perhaps just a little more gel today. His friend is in the Sealed Knot, and they really take it seriously, live it for a whole weekend then pack it away in the car.

Queen Victoria, in her wheelchair, absolutely refused to play Davros. Victoria appeared in the story “Tooth and Claw”- she reminded me, and I remembered the story, including why the Koh-i-noor diamond was repeatedly cut, to be far smaller. Only repelling aliens could justify such vandalism. We chatted away, and her UNIT soldier stood by her without speaking, but when she got fed up with her lace cap and took it off, he folded it carefully and put it in a pocket.

Lisa as Sarah-Jane Smith had the hand of fear, which became Eldrad. It was the hand of a mannequin which she had spray-painted with rock-like paint. Someone else had badges which were given free with cereal in the early 70s: the set of six is £750 on e-bay. Lisa’s favourite Master was Roger Delgado, always failing, his mind control did not work because people were too strong, his allies were always betraying him. She did not like John Simm. We both love Michelle Gomez, and quote lines at each other.

I was sad their Peter Capaldi lookalike was not here. He tends to be more Malcolm Tucker than the Doctor when in costume. Ace’s baseball bat was signed by Sophie Aldred.

What do you do? Dress up and take photographs.

Missy would not be fazed by a cyberman. The voicebox produces a cyber voice too.

There are conventions most weekends. The actors come- Billie Piper was in Birmingham last weekend, “David Tennant” had met Julian Glover- so we reminisce about his episode, forging copy Mona Lisas to free himself from being shattered through time and space.

And- a female Doctor!

Femmephobia

Femmephobia is devaluing the feminine and only valuing the masculine, seen in those strands of feminism which work only for the interests of masculine women, in conservatism cutting the welfare state for dog eat dog survival of the richest, and my own internalised transphobia, my shame at being Unmanly. Where feminine is seen as wrong in men or restricting in women, that is femmephobia.

The feminine is the precision-engineered ball-bearings making the engine of complex modern society run smoothly, without which it will seize up. The feminine is the nurturing which gives people solid ground to walk on, faith in a secure, loving home from which they can venture out to strive, achieve and do good. Management styles seeking to develop a worker, increase their confidence and job satisfaction, and thereby get the best from them, involve feminine care to see the good and correct by praise not blame. Macho dominance does not work.

We are a social species, living together in vast cities, crammed up against each other in underground commuter trains, our faces inches apart. We need restraint and care for each other to manage this. Feminine delight in colour and beauty brings joy.

Why fear it?

Feminism recognises the devaluing of women, though often it conflates projecting femininity onto women, demanding femininity from them even where it does not fit, judging them as unfeminine, with that devaluation. If a feminist imagines patriarchy oppresses women in general, not just her, by imposing “femininity”, she misunderstands other women and comes to loathe femininity. Then feminism becomes a minority pursuit for unfeminine women.

Where men lack security, in our modern violent world, they conflate femininity with weakness. If he once rests or lets down his guard, like Samson sleeping on the lap of Delilah he loses his strength and is enslaved. In acceptance, femininity finds strength and resilience, the ability to bend where the unyielding will break.

When trans women are brought up to be Real Men, rejecting femininity as weakness, as Wrong for them so that they will always be inadequate, we fear it in ourselves and fear any sign of it letting others find out- for they will mock and deride and humiliate us. Even after transition I find it hard to relax into my femininity.

Only once be unmanly, and you have lost your honour forever? That myth prevents people from accessing their gifts, the anima in man, the animus in woman, from being the self that best answers each situation. It is like throwing out half the tools in your box, and using a hammer where a screwdriver is needed.

I find it hard to relax into my femininity, even though I wear a wig, make-up, and skirts. I am not manly, nor seen as such, yet still experience my femininity as a lack not a gift. Yet there are people secure in themselves who can use all their tools, men unafraid to be gentle, forthright women. Perhaps only those of us who least fit the stereotypes cling so desperately to them.

Mohammed is said to have written, Women are not created weaker but more generous than men. They are created more beautiful and less fierce, as beauty hates to hurt and harm others. That is why they seem weak to people, but in reality they are not. Angels are the strongest of created beings, and women are closer to the angelic nature than men, as they are readier than men to carry angelic light. It is the good manners and ethics of spirituality which they carry which makes them less forceful than men. If he had said “feminine people” and “masculine people” he might have been closer to the truth.