An enmeshed relationship

A woman feminises her son against his nature, subjecting his will, because of her own emotional disturbance. A court rescues him, and places him in his father’s care, where he develops normal boyish interests. These demonstrate the harmfulness of the mother and the rightness of the rescue. That is the story you get from Mr Justice Hayden, who ordered the new care arrangements. It justifies greatly restricting the contact the mother has with the child- they must be supervised.

How would the mother, referred to as “M” to preserve anonymity, get her child J to wear a pink headband and nail varnish, leave alone present entirely female, unless J is a trans girl? Why would she?

CAFCASS, the children and family court advisory support service, investigated, and recommended that F[ather] not have contact with the child, as it would cause M and J “potential emotional harm”. Social services had anonymous referrals saying M was mentally ill and that J might access the skunk M smoked in front of him. The social services child and family assessment, completed in January 2015, concluded that there were no evident concerns suggesting that [J] was at immediate risk of harm. [M] is very clear that she is supporting [J] with whatever choices [J] makes and she presents with a good understanding of [J]’s needs. There were no concerns from the social worker regarding [M]’s approach to [J]’s gender presentation, and had appropriately taken on board support from the charity Mermaids. Upon completion of the assessment, no further action was taken by Children’s Services.

The judge finds this irrational and unsustainable, and draws attention to the schools’ concerns, that [J] behaved no differently than the other children but they felt that [M] was unwilling to accept this and on occasions she reduced a teacher to tears due to her ‘forceful and confrontational’ manner…in class, [J] doesn’t display any differences to the other boys.

What constitutes “difference”?
Who judges, and what are their expectations?
If J tries to conform in any situation, rather than following his own unconstrained wishes, what will he do?

One referral to social services said M was unwilling to accept help from local child mental health services.

The judge condemns social services strongly, saying the cry for investigation went unheeded. Social services combine both naivety and professional arrogance. However, social services reported those concerns were in relation to [J] presenting as a girl rather than concerns in relation [J]’s welfare and the care that is provided to [J]….the manner in which [J]’s gender identity is responded to by professionals could also cause emotional difficulties, as had been evidenced in research around gender non conforming children cited earlier. It appears that [M] is genuinely attempting to protect [J] from the impact of this.

M has accessed support from the Tavistock Centre, the child gender identity service. The judgment shows no evidence from them, only from psychologists. The first, Jean Sambrooks, refers to J as “she”, but the judge dismisses this, though he says that It is entirely counterintuitive to suspect that a boy who is consistently presenting as a girl may not truly wish to do so and may have been forced or induced into performing such a role by his mother. He draws attention to her concerns about the way M communicated, though Ms Sambrooks considered that the impact of these concerns was most likely to have alienated professionals to the mother’s genuine concerns.

The judge finds M highly manipulative and controlling with strong opinions, prone to exaggerate and distort, even “oppositional”. A mother defending a trans child from disbelief might need such qualities. He says As I have heard this case I have noted that these illogicalities often characterise M’s evidence. Nobody has doubted that M is both articulate and intelligent and so the reasonable inference is that she must recognise some of the illogicality of her own statements. I consider that she has learnt that by creating ‘confusion’, to use Ms Sambrooks’ word, amongst the professionals, she generates a situation in which her own distorted beliefs gain greater traction and are able to prevail with less effective challenge.

There were delays, which the judge reports were caused by M’s unjustified challenges of lawyers involved, and refusal to communicate. The family court transferred the case to the high court because lack of information of the child’s whereabouts raised concerns for his welfare. In November 2015 Mr Justice Hayden made a variety of highly prescriptive orders, reinforced by a Penal Notice. J, then five, was living in stealth, all the time presenting as a girl and registered at the GP as a girl. M said the Tavistock centre had advised this, but the judge says Though I was by no means certain, I very much doubted that the Tavistock would have given this advice in respect of such a very young child. I am amazed no-one asked them. Instead, the judge sought their file.

There was a hearing before Mr Justice Hayden where he ordered that J be delivered to F. He portrays M as controlling. What was perfectly clear however and requires emphasis is that M was determined that J should live entirely as a girl. At only five years of age that did not strike me as offering J choice or even the opportunity to express any ambivalence or confusion. I was also entirely satisfied that whatever choices J made and however he presented, he would be loved and cared for and his choices respected in F’s care.

The February hearing was very stressful for M. However what struck me forcibly, both then and indeed at this final hearing, was that M spoke of J only in the somewhat opaque and convoluted argot of social work and psychology. She offered an impressive, intense and highly articulate evaluation of the problems faced by children with gender dysphoria but she conveyed no sense of J’s personality, temperament or enthusiasms, notwithstanding frequently being encouraged to do so. Repeatedly she struck me as a professional witness giving evidence about somebody else’s child.

I was also left in no doubt that M was absolutely convinced that J perceived himself as a girl. M’s case on this point has not always been either consistent or coherent, but my overwhelming impression is that she believes herself to be fighting for J’s right to express himself as a girl. She has told me how J ‘expressed disdain for his penis’. I think it accurately summarises her position to say that she perceived it to be her responsibility in the face of widespread public, professional and indeed judicial ignorance to promote J’s choice of gender.

Why on Earth would M want to manipulate a child who was not trans into presenting as a trans girl? The judge does not say. How could she do that? Continue reading

Was this child trans?

The Press Association reports that a child living with their mother, as a girl, has been removed from her care by a high court judge and given to their father. Now, they is settled with their father. The judge says,

“I am entirely satisfied, both on the basis of the reports and [the father’s] evidence at this hearing, that he has brought no pressure on (the boy) to pursue masculine interests. [The boy’s] interests and energy are entirely self-motivated.”

The boy’s mother “told me that [he] was ‘living in stealth’ by which was meant, she explained, that he was living life entirely as a girl”, said Mr Justice Hayden. “He dressed, at all times, like a girl and, it transpired, had been registered at a new general practitioner’s as a girl.”

The judge added: “I was also left in no doubt that [the mother] was absolutely convinced that [the boy] perceived himself as a girl.” Hayden said his “overwhelming impression” was that the woman “believes herself to be to fighting for [her son’s] right to express himself as a girl”.

She said they had expressed disdain for their penis.

The judge heard reports from a psychologist and social workers. “I consider that [the mother] has caused significant emotional harm to [her son] in her active determination that he should be a girl.” 

The father had started litigation because he had not had contact with his child. They had been registered with a GP as a girl, but not referred to the Tavistock clinic: instead, the GP had requested that a social worker visit.

The Sun’s angle was that social workers were incompetent, rather than underfunded. Hayden J: Concerns were dismissed on the basis that it was the other agencies who ‘did not have a full understanding of gender non-conforming children’. In fact, it was (social workers) and senior managers whose understanding was lacking.

The mother had taken the child out of school.

All the papers refer to the child as a boy, with male pronouns. Having read the reports, I tend to agree, so now will too. I hope the judge was open to the possibility that the child was a trans girl. There is no mention of the child’s own opinion, but as he is seven it appears the judge has relied on reports.

I hope he has got it right. The Sun reports concerns about the mother’s mental health, from some source it does not name in a report to the police. Other papers do not mention that: it appears they think impugning her mental health is not justified from the report. I would go to the source, the Associated Press, but it does not makes its reports freely available.

Children are malleable. They can be forced to present as the other gender. But we don’t know: why would the mother be certain her child was a trans girl, if he were not? Is she charged with abuse or neglect? Would a child, taken by the court from her mother and given to her father, be able to assert she was a trans girl even if she wanted to?

I want to post this quickly, so will google more, but have been reading a Daily Mail report from 2012. Lorraine Candy, editor of Elle, allowed her son to dress as a girl until his fifth birthday, but then told him this must stop- because she thought he would be ridiculed. “He was mildly upset but not unduly worried”, she writes. How much cross-gender play by children goes to gender clinics? How much do parents influence it?

I am certain we would be better off if children were encouraged to play as they wish, including cross-gendered. Putting on a dress does not mean your son will have a vaginoplasty later. Why restrict children at all?

I summarise the court judgment here.

Donald Trump respects women

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.” The word of such a prominent man should not simply be dismissed. In what does this respect consist?

Natasha Stoynoff alleged he had stuck his tongue down her throat. Mr Trump’s response was, Take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. And you tell me what you think. I don’t think so. So judging women on their looks is respect.

Note, though, that he does not expect to be believed: rather than simply denying the allegations as beneath contempt, which they would be were they untrue, he needs evidence to persuade you he is telling the truth: the alleged unattractiveness of the women. The dignified response would be simply to deny the allegations, but instead he abuses the accusers, as “horrible”, “sick”, and “phony”. This is his level of respect. He claims he has lied before: his boasts of kissing women without consent were “locker room talk”, he says, at least implying that they were not true. So his assault of Natasha Stoynoff is “respect”.

That boast- wanting the “respect” of a television presenter, wanting to appear to be more violent with women than he now claims he is, shows his pitiable situation: he wants to appear to others as something he imagines they would respect. He wants to seem, rather than to be, respectable, and his concept of respectable is wholly governed by context: he imagines Mr Bush would “respect” a man who grabs women between the legs, so he claims to do so. Later, with people he imagines would not admire him for assaulting women, he claims not to. He has no conception of what respect is. He has no belief in his ability to earn it, rather than frantically grasping after it with false boasts. Seeking respect he believes he is not entitled to becomes a constant battle.

His situation is pitiable. He does not see that the position of major party nominee, a notable achievement, is by itself worthy of respect, so referring to Mrs Clinton walking in front of him he said, “believe me I wasn’t impressed”. Not seeing the respect due to her means that he cannot see the respect that his position would entitle any other person to. Generally people treat others with the respect we have for ourselves.

His respect for women is also shown on the issue of abortion. He would let states regulate it. Mrs Clinton considers it should be a medical rather than legal issue, for the woman and her medical advisers. He does not respect women enough to let them make their own decisions. He prefers the decisions of elderly Republican men.

Mr Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party for the President of the US. Not every senator or congressman of that party has distanced themself from him. His name adorns tall buildings, indicating the respect the business community holds for him- for the point of calling a building “Trump” is to profit from the business good-will accruing to his name and brand, which he values at several billion dollars. He has been a television personality. The respect he is held in indicates the level of respect a wide swath of American society has for women.

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody,” he asserts. There, he was not blustering, not showing any consciousness of not telling truth. He is in the right. Any woman who accuses him is in the wrong, many of them “crazy”. He can only lose the election if it is rigged. He has done one service: everyone has seen what “gaslighting” is.

Trying to see me as a woman

A one-time friend, who is not obviously wicked, looks at a trans man. He writes,

I don’t have any issue with this person cross dressing, or going further if they want.
Nor that they want to call themselves a man, use a man’s name…. want to identify themselves as a man, (i.e. if they look in a mirror and say… “that’s a man”)… and want to play being a man. I don’t see any issue.

Unfortuntely this person also wants me to experience them and identify them as a man.

I would dearly love to, as it means much to them, and it (i can see) would make them happy.

Sadly… I just don’t.

It’s not that I can’t experience them as a man (it’s not about ability),

nor that I won’t experience them as a man (it’s not about will)

It’s just that I… don’t.

M shows minimal levels of tolerance. “I don’t have any issue”- you’d better not. Objecting to the trans man using a man’s name, etc, is like objecting to a woman wearing a mini skirt, or flats: imposing his own standard of morality on how the trans man expresses himself. Some trans people like neutral pronouns, but if the man wants to be called “he”, using “them” is below the standard of courtesy I would expect.

However M uses “they”. Why? Both to honour their preference to no longer identify as their birth gender, but also and at the same time honour and validate my own experience (when I don’t experience someone as a gender other than their birth gender). Oh, God. He claims the right to define the other.

I am not sure I understand M’s lines about ability or will. If I look at a black man and see him as different to ordinary people and then feel intensely uncomfortable around my own racism, and seek to treat him reasonably and suppress my seeing him as different- the conscious effort to accept, while better than intolerance, is still racism. I can control how I respond, to an extent. I can avoid voicing objections.

M would accept a black man, I assume. I don’t accuse him of racism, even the smallest internal vestige of it- but he is forced to say this is different. The trans man is not a man, so we should treat him differently from men. Or M suffers some loss: “This has changed the safety of the [men’s] space for” him. Aha. So now we have a conflict of rights, rather than a failure to accept another human being as he is. See the winsome way he expresses that: I’m not threatened by the person. I do feel that the person’s presence in that space has broken the nature of what I had previously gone to that space to find.

You don’t have to like everyone but disapproving of their way of dressing, or not recognising their change of name, is claiming a right to define them in a way they reject. If you want to define another person you had better have good arguments why that is appropriate. I include refusing to accept their choice of pronouns in that right they have to self-define.

Do you want other people to see them in the same way? On Friday night I discussed a man over the phone. I had not met him, but my friend warned he behaved in a disconcerting way around older women, and I take her suspicions seriously and feel she has a right to tell me. If I meet him I will make my own judgment. But again, if you warn others against a person or want them to feel the same way about that person, you should have a good reason for that.

There are times when I DO experience someone as other than their birth gender (usually through error but sometimes because they are more successfully presenting as their transgender’d self than some do and haven’t yet outed their own previous “status”). i.e. I’m convinced and have bought into their presentation. This is passing privilege. We can be accepted as we are as long as we give no clue of our history- so we can never talk of it, never use a male voice for emphasis or provocation, we are constrained into the cliché way of being a woman. Once outed, we trans women are known as men. Then you judge us on the way we look, and feel deceived if you find us out.

M says he wants to see the trans man as a man, but just does not.

This trans man wants to go to a men’s group. What does a men’s group have in common, exactly? If M is happy to have me there, it has to be something which I share: perhaps a Y chromosome, or some experience, or lack of it. Women’s experience of patriarchy might bring them together: what brings men that includes me? And- why do men attend a man’s group? For practice recognising man’s emotions, or expressing in a man’s way- for stretching that expression? Learning how to be a man now, or unlearning old lessons?

Maybe I should try a men’s group. I don’t see, though, how the trans man can alter the group’s nature in a way that I can’t- in the things people say or do, in the arguments or feelings- except that his going changes the definition of “man” from one not recognising the reality or value of trans, to one that does. It changes M’s definition of “man” to a broader one M has not consented to.

I said I would blog about this. We had been messaging back and forth. This surprises him. Well, like everyone else I am trying to navigate the impossibility of “being myself” and “fitting in”. I can’t be certain it is more difficult for me than for anyone else, but I know from experience my own desperation to fit a particular kind of Manliness- it certainly felt taboo to permit myself, as a man, the feelings I felt- then the feeling that my way of being was grudgingly accepted when I call myself by a woman’s name. I got a passport saying “F” when a doctor certified I would probably present female for the rest of my life: if I fitted the State-defined idea of “trans woman” I would be acceptable. But M does not accept that. I feel erased. It feels like we are discussing his right to erase me. It does not make it any better, from my perspective, that he wants to make the trans man happy. I am trying to be reasonable and respectful, but I feel intensely uncomfortable.

It’s all about him- his perceptions, his feelings, his loss. I find it hard to see that he has a loss beyond a slight discomfort at the man’s presence in his man’s group. He has made much of it, but really could just say, “Oh, OK then” and think of something else. Any man in the men’s group may change its dynamic in ways he dislikes. We are never in control, and that might make him more eager to exclude the trans man- just in this moment, when he can make some sort of rational-sounding argument, he can exclude the trans man, exercise some sort of control, and feel better, however bad he makes others feel.

To an extent, I don’t care for myself. I am a man- a woman- both- neither- whatever- Clare. I don’t need you to see me in a particular way to feel good about myself. But others of us do. It can really hurt. And he could behave courteously to trans people. That he does not feel the need enough to actually do it is unpleasant.

Barriers to spiritual growth

Life is difficult. So I read in The Road Less Travelled, around the late 1990s when I started being conscious of spiritual growth. Yeah, yeah, I thought. And now, my latest blistering insight:

Life is difficult.

Well. And, life is easy. Life is OK. Life is manageable.

A barrier to spiritual growth is that I imagine what I will look like, after it. I think of spiritual growth as a way to become Perfect me, who has no problem doing what I ought to do, or never feels unpleasant emotions, or has mastered the gifts The Serenity Prayer asks for.

Or, I imagine that it is growth towards a particular way of being rather than life-lessons, which may appear paradoxical or contradictory, which I may forget and need to re-learn again and again. So, life is difficult; and life is easy. Right now, I don’t have to go outside my front door if I don’t want to. I can spend as much time writing on my blog as I like- with minimal revision, just changing the most poorly expressed bits, and no judgment by editors.

I feel I ought to want more. I am not motivated to seek more- to write for publication, to seek stage time, to apply for a job, even to read an improving book- because I do not see it as improving my situation. Old immature understandings poisoned by Perfect me get in the way: I should get to a place instantly, the effort should not be overwhelming, I should see exactly where I will be. What step do I want to take today? No idea. I would rather watch silly telly.

I don’t know where to go from this. Perhaps someone really will rescue me. Perhaps I will see something I feel I can do, and go for it. I do, after all. I have been AM clerk. At the moment, though, enjoying where I am- with time to watch TV, whatever- can’t be that bad.

What do I want? Not this! I want to want more than this! I want to build something! Well, if the road to fulfilment is what I want, then right now this is what I want. Stop wanting things because I was told to.

What I want VI

What counts as winning an employment tribunal? A lawyer who charged claimants directly might say, a decision that there was an unfair dismissal was a win. However, that can be made without compensation: the dismissal is technically unfair if certain procedures are not carried out, but the tribunal may award no damages if it considers the claimant would have been dismissed if there had been fair procedures. I would say you do not “win” unless your winnings cover your legal costs, and a reasonable amount for your time effort and stress in pursuing the claim. Claiming is effort, and if you don’t get money for that effort it is wasted. A decision that you were unfairly dismissed shows potential employers that you are a trouble-maker.

So there.

This has been running in my mind for a week. I could not persuade a particular claimant that their employment tribunal is ill-advised, and why would I want to? Because I would be doing her a good turn, perhaps. Caring for her. I won’t even tell her the argument, even though it is so clever and so clear. And yet, I think of it.

What do I want? I want to acclimatise myself to the slowly cooling weather so that I can spend less on heating but not be too uncomfortable. I want to scroll through facebook and check my blog stats. I want to watch television. What about a job? No. Really, really, No.

Whitman, for example, was the prophet of diversity. The point is not for all of us to approximate a single model or a fixed pattern of living. Instead, “the supreme goal of democracy is to promote the uniqueness of every individual” — for each person to be vibrantly distinct.

Democracy isn’t a political or legal bargain. It’s enchanted like romantic love, but on a larger scale. Each democratic citizen receives the love of her fellows as a gift to which the only appropriate response is gratitude and love in return. How might I find that vibrant distinctiveness in me? What I want, perhaps. I was groping for this quote- where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet– and my google attempt was where the worlds need and your heart’s deep hunger meet. Mmm. Gladness.

One thing that pleases me is to do something I consider generous or altruistic, and I like that characteristic in myself. It seems good for social bonding, and an appropriate characteristic in a social species. Then I read somewhere that it might arise from abuse- the beaten-down child tries to make the abuser happy, because that might make her safe for a moment. OMG!! My winsome characteristic just became a symptom?

Does that make it less winsome?

I sit here thinking, “What I want” does not seem to get me going, how can I coax myself into something better? Could I persuade myself to try small goals, to build belief in self-efficacy? Richard says that revulsion prompts him to tweet, blog, or sign and share petitions- that internet activism which anyone may dabble in- and a large proportion of people will vote for one Presidential candidate because they hate the other. That does not work for me. My basin is dirty. Yuck, I think, and turn away. Belief that it could be clean might attract me. Or, Reality. You have to get this clean- or this vagina dilated- and it takes as long as it takes as often as it takes. Get it clean or don’t, but don’t tell it that a particular amount of effort ought to be enough. “Sense of entitlement”.

Stop thinking, and do. Someone said law graduates with ordinary degrees were better, they got on with a task while the Honours grads sat and thought about it. Stop analysing in words and do what you want. Words might not get me from Who’ll be my role model? to angels in the architecture.

Work through the anger and grief and thereby come to Acceptance?

A stranger comes to the Quaker meeting and behaves suspiciously. You need not sit so close when there are so many empty seats- is he coming on to the older women, with that huge charm? Could he be preparing for a con? So we take reasonable precautions, recognising the possibility that he is bona fide and hoping precautions will not blind us to that, thinking it through. Sitting so close.

I hope that my slow thinking might make my fast thinking more useful.


There’s so much that I love here. “Your deep gladness” even if I thought it your heart’s hunger; the idea of distinct individual vibrancy growing and maturing in love; finding fulfilment through desire. I went looking for a George Orwell quote, my idea of it too vague for Google to find it. Something about the vast majority of people finding scraping a living all they could manage in life so that they wanted no more. I found this by Jack London:

The great mass of the working people was separated from the land. The old system of labor was broken down. The working people were driven from their villages and herded into factory towns. The mothers and children were put to work at the new machines.

Looking for it I found two other Orwell quotes:

If you live for others, you must live for others, and not as a roundabout way of getting an advantage for yourself.

And there is another feeling that is a great consolation in poverty. I believe everyone who has been hard up has experienced it. It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs–and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.

Ann said my thinking and analysis get in the way. Just be. Are you a visual person? No. Not at all. I am a verbal person. Thinking and analysis is what I do.

Anne suggested I had “grown up” more than she, which surprised me- what she identified was not wanting things. Something like ambition ends, and there is acceptance. Finding “what I want” might be a good aim, but not a panacea. I want a panacea, I want it to be easy, I want to understand, I want to be comfortable and not feel unpleasant emotions, I want conflicting things, I am here, now.


You are a perceptive introvert. You are a very thoughtful, reasonable, reliable and quiet person. You seek balance in life and you are very content being alone. You love reading books, learning new things, challenge yourself and have a good one-on-one conversation with an inspiring and knowledgeable person. People around you love your wise aura and enjoy seeking advice from you!

Mrs Clinton’s silence

After Mr Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, Mrs Obama has made an inspiring speech against him, but Mrs Clinton has changed the subject, talking of insults to other groups,  even of watching cat gifs. “But we’ve got a job to do, for people and for cats“.  Mmmmmm. It is good to see her drawing laughs.

If she brings up Mr Trump’s assaults, she risks her husband’s use of political power to gain sexual favours being brought up, and her response to allegations in the 1990s. It was not pretty. He paid $850,000 to Paula Jones who alleged he had propositioned her and exposed himself. Ms Jones’ lawyers sought to show a pattern of behaviour to make her testimony more persuasive, and asked him about Monica Lewinsky: he denied having “sexual relations” with her, and her semen-stained dress was shown in evidence for the attempt at impeachment. He was not impeached because insufficient Senators voted for it; should he have lost the Presidency?

One issue is respect for the office. Garrison Keillor has pointed this up, claiming Mr Trump is not human, and desiring him to show his belly-button to prove it. Some allege Mr Trump was sniffing because he was on coke. He calls for drug tests before the next debate. The political landscape has been coarsened by birtherism; but still it is disrespectful to demand the President’s birth certificate, or that the candidates be blood-tested.

That means that certain possible wrongs will not be brought up.

Should Mrs Clinton had left her husband? Some say infidelity breaks a marriage. I don’t believe in hard and fast moral rules like that. It is a relationship. Two people decide what they want and can bear. There are grey areas.

We talk of views “evolving”. The US has equal marriage, only a little after England won it. Equal marriage is clearly right, so President Clinton’s policy in the US army of “Don’t ask don’t tell”, where gay men could serve (and get training, and worthwhile careers) if they kept quiet about their sexuality, is monstrous. Yet before he brought it in, on 28 February 1994, men could be ejected from the army for homosexuality. It was a move forward. Possibly more might have been politically possible, but the policy lasted until 2011. The world’s view has moved on since then, despite the hate groups.

Powerful men should not exploit that power for sexual gratification. Sex should be consensual. This is clear. And, Republicans should not have been able to undermine the democratically elected President because of it. These things are murky, but I absolutely support her staying with her husband and fighting on his side at the time. And it makes it difficult for her to criticise Mr Trump. Mr Trump’s boastings are far worse than anything proven against Mr Clinton, but such comparisons are disgusting.

Mrs Clinton does not need to refer to Mr Trump’s sexual assaults. Others can do that for her. She can “go high” on this one. She is qualified to make the decisions a president must make, and it is clear he should not. Completely clear: so his tweet, Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail. Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election, does not seem threatening or dangerous to me, but pitiable.


Why would I want another operation on my genitals? Why would I even think of it?

I discussed a colo-vaginoplasty with Phil Thomas, consultant urologist and the surgeon who does vaginoplasties for trans women on the NHS. He said I was unlikely to get funding, and in my circumstances the risks were unacceptable. However, he offered to stretch my vagina under anaesthetic. Eleven months later, the date for that, 17 October, looms.

If I had a colo-vaginoplasty, I could be penetrated. The stretch would not by itself make that possible. My opening is too small. It would need to be stretched further by dilation. I don’t know why he offered. At best, it is a step towards what I said was my goal, which he can justify. I don’t think he would fob me off. I loathed dilation so much I stopped, and the thought of going back to it now revolts me as much as it did. So the stretch would be useless. That makes the cost of it to the NHS and to me a consideration: anaesthetics are dangerous, it is a bother to go into London, it would be painful.

So I would have it done by the registrar, and the dates proposed were inconvenient (the first was just before Christmas) then she went off on maternity leave. Then I was offered this date. A nurse phoned up and I declined. She persuaded me to go ahead- the surgeon has recommended it, he must think it beneficial- and, weakly, I gave in. Then I had a letter giving the date, and still I did nothing. Then a woman phoned to check I had someone to take me home and look after me overnight afterwards, because I probably could not have a bed overnight to recover fully from the anaesthetic. Yes, I lied. And just before writing this, on Friday 14th, I phoned to cancel.

Why would I equivocate? I don’t know. Sometimes we pursue a wrong course until the obviousness of its wrongness becomes unignorable- and I can deny reality like the best of them. Or the authority figure, the surgeon and the nurse, say do it and I don’t consult my own wishes but my respect for authority.

Or I feel guilty about giving up dilation (yes) and hope against hope that something could be done.

So I sat in a funk, thinking that probably I would not go and so the decision would be made for me. To get to the hospital by 12 I have to get a train at whatever time, and not eating after 6am would be a pain. That is not behaving well to the hospital, but might be all I could manage. I have been depressed about this all week. The authority figure says do it. I ought to want it. I am still living with the guilt of giving up. And now I have decided not to do it.

Just not going, like a sulking person (I was going to write “child” as sulking is “childish”) is a way of avoiding what I do not want to do. Positively deciding and stating that feels more grown up. What can I achieve, or expect? What do I want?

Why would I want the “procedure”- they don’t refer to “operations”- is a useful question. These are emotionally significant reasons- hope, guilt, respect for authority- that have no relation to reality.

Meet the Jeannetts

How could anyone vote for Trump? Well, some consider abortion is the most important issue of the election. Two facebook friends resident in the US, both met through WordPress, were brought up Republican and in one case conservative Evangelical, but both will be voting for Mrs Clinton in November. However, through them I get to see what their friends say.

Andrew Jeannett shared a despicable video from a programme called Faith for our Nation, broadcast on the Believers’ Voice of Victory Network, Dish channel 265. Kenneth Copeland says, You’re going to be held seriously, seriously, to account by God if you don’t vote… You’re going to be guilty of murder, you’re going to be guilty of every baby that’s aborted from this election forward. God speaks to Copeland, and told him personally, I know my way around politicians, I’ve been dealing with them since Nimrod, and I’ve never failed yet… This is God’s nation and no body is going to take it away from him. Mr Jeannett shared this as a video from Right Wing Watch, commenting, fear fear fear!!!! guilt guilt guilt!!! hear it, see it, distance yourself from it. I say, The LORD will not hold him guiltless, who taketh his name in vain.

Not even all pro-life people take this view. Charissa comments, Y’all do not have the corner market on life issues. We are all equal in the eyes of God, from the unborn babe to the convicted killer…each life is exactly equally precious to God. […]What about the Syrian refugees who are literally trying to escape being starved to death or bombed or some other horrendous end[…] There is an incredible amount of false guilt that goes around Christian circles especially. When you have people in places of presumed authority and leadership telling you constantly that you are doing something wrong, whether or not you actually are, you are probably going to feel guilty. She asks what would lose Trump their vote?

One answers, only if he adopted Hillary’s platform. Another agrees: Mr Trump would have to change his publicly stated position on abortion and adopt Hillary’s. Yes, he may not follow through and stay the course once he’s elected, but I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. What choice do we have, after all? Hillary has already made it abundantly clear that she favors killing babies in the womb–even up to the moment of birth. Nothing–I repeat–NOTHING! could be more heinous than that.

Trump is a liar, says someone. David Record (Uncle David) most pro-Trump here, says Trump hasn’t been a pathological liar over his lifetime… Benghazi… emails… He didn’t defend a rapist and get him off Scott free. That last line is an attack on American justice. A jury finds not guilty, but Record knows better, and thinks people he thinks guilty should not have a public defender- or that public defender should not do her job. He is incorrigible. So is Susan Jeannett Neal, who says I’m voting for Trump. I believe that he is God-driven and will restore law and order to this country and wipe out ISIS, which no one else has even tried to do.

Mel uses striking language to attack Trump. Where are his fruits? Where are his treasures stored? He is not your savior. He will hand you over to the Romans to be crucified.

Abortion is not the only lunacy prayed in aid of Trump. Open borders = 600 million people estimated to come here, what kind of life will it be for the children and grandchildren WAKE UP AMERICA! Hmm. Is that Poe or Godwin? I can never remember.

Dan sees it in apocalyptic terms. Israel was overtaken when it did not follow God. We could be too. But Keaton, whose evangelicalism I dislike- As I understand the Bible, those poor souls who are aborted would be ferried instantaneously to Heaven, bypassing all of the sin, pain, and ugliness of this world is unduly negative- nevertheless brings in climate change. Do not rape the planet.

I went to Susan’s page, counted twenty pro-Trump or anti-Hillary posts in one day then gave up. They include “I was the Clintons’ Hitman” by Larry Nichols, and a meme calling Paul Ryan a traitor. David Record’s page has a post calling Christians against Trump “Pharisees”, a Clinton Scandal video, and another calling Mrs Clinton the most pro-abort candidate we’ve ever seen.

I see what she says, but don’t understand why. She thinks abortion is the most important issue; she thinks Mrs Clinton is a monster; but I can’t understand why anyone would think like that.

Susan is deplorable, possibly; incorrigible, certainly. But not even all conservative Evangelicals will vote Trump. Thank God!

Then I found this in the Washington Times. The candidates are as bad as each other, says Suzanne Fields, and one commenter blames this on the MSM: Kasich could have trounced Clinton, but the MSM pushed the GOP to the Right, and promoted a candidate Mrs Clinton could beat.

The poker face

The old man only just smiling is the face that stands out. Before the selfie generation, he cracks a slight smile, though his feelings might be as carried away as the delighted younger people. Mrs Clinton appears to be getting the picture right, not quite ready to press the shutter. The security guards are massive presences. What of the young man on the left? He could be excited to be close to the candidate, but looks disappointed not to be in the photograph which would make it real.

I strip myself bare, here. You hear my feelings, as accurately as I can portray them, and my feelings flow across my face easily legible to anyone who cares to know. I give various reasons for this. Perhaps I just create a story I can bear, to make sense of randomness which is not comprehensible in that way- so the bits I miss out will rise up and bite me. Possibly I uncover parts I had not recognised. Possibly I delude myself by saying “I am X”- gentle, caring, whatever- so deny evidence against that.

Right now I am in a funk because something is looming, on Monday, and I can’t decide whether to duck it or embrace it, because both choices seem dreadful. How can doing something and not doing it both be bad? Because whichever I imagine, the possible positives of the other appear greater, and those of the chosen option appear illusory. No good can come of this.

I can’t imagine making my life better. I looked at the —– Studies Handbook, a fat volume of essays on something I have thought I am interested in and wondered whether I would like to read it; and the effort required seemed far greater than any benefit I might derive. I might start it then find it too much effort. Or I could apply for a particular job- Monday was the closing date, so not any more- but didn’t, because that would just go wrong. They would never recruit me. I might have an interview, and find just greater evidence of my own inadequacy.

I might be at the end of this blog, my experiment with the selfie generation, exposing everything, putting my life on line. I saw that old man, who is a “private person” as everyone was, and wondered, what is that like? Does he suppress feelings which blow up on him? Is self-efficacy the only thing that matters? I might be at the end of hiding away: however much I retreat I am still not safe.

Photo from this New York Times article.