Getting to Yes

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.

– Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

My “No” has been good for me, and it is not enough for a life. Rejecting what is poisonous to me is all very well, but I wish to find and delight in what nourishes me. My No has protected me when I needed to protect myself, but it has also restricted and inhibited me where there is no threat.

So I wish to examine my No, and restrict it to actual threat. Where does it come from? Is it an overreaction? And examine my Yes, and nurture it. I am Yes to life and experience- find where, or where I might be.

In part my No comes from upbringing, the sins of the fathers. It is my oldest habit, older than me. I hide away without any real clue of what I hide from, because that is the default, unthinking mode, and so that is the most useless and damaging part of it, the unexamined reflex no, no to something which I have no reason to suppose is harmful.

Otherwise, No can only come from history. No, trying to be “normal” does not work. Then, finding a way to fit in which seemed sort of acceptable in society also does not work. What is left?

Being completely and uncompromisingly Myself

whatever that might mean
does it not work if it is self-conscious?

comes to mind, and I don’t know what that looks like. That Giacometti quote- the broader I wanted to make them, the narrower they got- could be conscious and unconscious at war, and conscious shellshocked, rather than a “Don’t Question My Art” or a paradox.

Therefore the first part of Yes has to be Yes to unknowing. Plans only look like the past, always include some unknowing as the past does not repeat itself, and, well, make a virtue of that.

I am too beautiful and generous not to share Myself with the world.

Yes to generalising from good experiences. Quakers are mostly, though not all, pleasant people and friendly enough. Then, ooh look, so are the Green Party. And now, the Labour party. Fourteen of us went out for curry on Friday night. The blether was quite fun, though I don’t understand these strange English folk: I think there was a class divide.

Generalise- human beings are mostly OK, not particularly caring about the things I want desperately to hide from them. This goes completely against my Primordial, habitual No, so needs a lot of repetition before it can become habit.

Recognise my Yeses, in the past and as they happen. Every Yes is a win.

My New Age friend said, human consciousness affects ones reality, as shown by the Double Slit experiment. If you imagine a positive future, and experience it with gratitude and joy, you bring it into existence. As you manifest heaven within, you create it without. Well, she was looking for questions, so I took the opportunity of asking.

Bringing to consciousness what I want may be useful too.

Testosterone overdose

Men in the US increasingly take testosterone supplements. This can lead to impulsive decision making. Hypo-gonadism, causing low T levels, can make a man fatigued, and uninterested in sex, which can be cured with T; but men with ordinary T levels are taking T. What is the effect?

Men and women were given the Cognitive Reflection test, which is a series of maths or logic puzzles with an intuitive, wrong answer and a need to think carefully to get the right answer. Eg, a bat and ball cost $1.10, the bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? Not 10c.

Men and women given a testosterone boost are less likely to analyse carefully. They care less about what other people would think. They are more likely to think they outperform others. In simulated asset trading, they were more likely to overprice assets, and slower to recognise that prices were falling.

I got all that from the NYT, and recall a factlet from something I read some time- after watching a football match, fans of the winning team had increased T levels, and fans of the losing team had decreased T levels.

More impulsive decision making could be worthwhile in a leader. Where are the mammoths we need to hunt? If our best way of working it out is magic with mammoth bones, it’s better to just guess. We need a decision and it almost does not matter what that decision is. Other people will be grateful for leadership.

In the more complex modern world, good decision making takes account of a wide variety of expertise, and a testosterone-inspired random plumping may be sub-optimal. The problem is, only the women notice.

If high-T males rampage through life damaging things, and women trail in their wake, fixing the mess, the man might never realise he had made any false steps. However the research does not prove that high-T is a bad thing, just that a sudden change in hormone levels can discombobulate a person. I knew that already.

I am the Monkey-mind

It seems to me that I am conscious and rational, and that I make decisions. The illusion is so perfect, it is hard to see how anyone ever sees through it. You want to believe, and can rationalise almost any evidence against, after the fact.

So, I became aware of the emotional being underneath this conscious self, and still thought I could make the decisions. I just have to cajole it a bit. I am, after all, the adult. Rather than telling it what to do, so that it goes in a huff, I would persuade it, show it why, and it would come round.

It’s like riding an elephant, except I don’t know if I am the Mahout, fully in control most of the time except when the elephant gets Really Annoyed and stops responding to the reins, or just riding along. Like a child in Mummy’s car, with a toy steering-wheel, imagining I was driving the car.

Or the elephant is God. Sometimes it deigns to explain things to me, and sometimes it just expects me to work things out, and does nothing about it when I fail, because I will work it out eventually. Forty years later I begin to work it out, and it welcomes me; because it could not give me any clues, just will me to succeed. It was doing its best to look after me.

I am still planning and scheming. It will do what I want, I know it will, there must be some magic reins or steering wheel that actually work, I have the brains and the intelligence and the silver tongue and the command of language and the persuasiveness and the sane ideas of what it ought to want so that I can get it to DO MY WILLLLL

Possibly, it is in control and gets me to think something through occasionally. That could be my purpose. Here am I “thinking”, all the time, much of it just rehashed stuff from before and irrelevant stuff about all those bits of the world I know about but will never see or affect, or imagining future heavens or hells which have not the slightest chance of coming to be or connection to reality, and then it wants some Slow Thinking done, and it gets me to do it. Or that is all subconscious too, and the words in my mind are just the echoes of it.

I am the monkey-mind! I am as much use as a pet monkey?

Which part, conscious or subconscious, is the Writer? I like to hope it is both of us.

Men and women communicating

Men talk to men, and women talk to women, she said. She meant on facebook, but it is true IRL as well, with parties sometimes dividing between men’s groups and women’s groups. Of course it is not a hard and fast rule, but there are ways people communicate, illustrated there.

I tend to get far more Likes and comments from women than men. I asked for reassurance- “Am I charismatic?” The seven likes, and eight of the comments, were from women, all affirming. The man who commented challenged me: “Unusual Quaker enquiry,” he said, then changed the conversation- There used to be an Essex based religious movement called the Perculiar People. Maybe a case for revival. He refuses then blocks the reassurance I crave.

I shared, Too hot inside to sleep, so I went to recline outside and watch the stars come out. I think the two brightest were wandering stars. Then the Bear appeared. But I could not relax enough to sleep there, so came in. That got no response from men, seven likes and ten responses from women, including one tip- sleep in a wet sarong. Previously she had only had to do that in India.

I share on politics, and one on Brexit had more men commenting than women. Two men directly challenged me: You’ve just backed Brexit by campaigning and voting Labour; and, Does lack of seats, or more accurately your desire to be on a winning side interfere with your thinking in terms of right and wrong? I responded to this accusation of immoral behaviour circumspectly- I said I don’t think so, and have reasons for my decision. It might be masculine to just reject it as an insult. I find men more confrontational, women more co-operative.

I shared a puzzle: I want to make a three dimensional jigsaw of arrangements of 1cc cubes, which has two solutions: one solid cube, and one larger hollow cube with the faces each 1cm thick, with no 1cc cubes left over. Is this possible? This appealed more to men, following the stereotype: unusually, more men commented, though women got the answer. (I may reveal the answer and reason in the comments, if you attempt the puzzle.) They went quite deeply into the mathematics, and introduced me to Wolfram Alpha. Women got it right first, though.

One share on equal marriage had 24 cis folk liking, and only comments from trans women, but that might just mean that most of my queer fbfnds are trans.

A fbfnd from Texas shares a lot on US politics, from the Left. I am not doing research, this is mostly anecdotal, but she seems to have more female responses than male, and the confrontational responses are from men. A man from Corby who shares jokes and political stuff has both men and women commenting.

I feel you can tell the difference between men’s and women’s comments, though this could be because of nature or inculturation. Here is a test: I chose a way to find five comments from men on my posts and five from women, so that I did not choose any particular comment, as that might have biased the responses. I have randomised them. Can you identify which come from men, and which from women? I think you can tell the difference, even though some are quite difficult. What do you think? Comment below.

1. I like “who cares wins”!
2. this is us today, campaigning for Sophie Cook.
3. Was that through a letter box ?
4. Fantastic Abigail and thank you!!
5. Love it ( apart from hate tyrants…let’s learn to love everyone)….
6. Hate tyranny.
7. !
8. Yes, it will be very interesting to see what happens if Labour manages to win the majority. I can’t imagine that Corbyn wants to have anything to do with The Donald at all.
9. Dog must have seen red
10. Ouch xxx

Here am I, being charismatic. Three people hang on my every word. The exception is the radical feminist, who was alive to how men speak and women listen, and felt it still applied to me.

Who I am now

I am not a vegetarian. I know factory farming and the meat trade are cruel to animals and to people made to inflict cruelty on them, and do environmental damage, greater than that from arable farming; and I recognise that it is good to reduce demand for meat, and that I can do that. I craved meat after eating vegetarian meals, before, and that may be something to do with being accustomed to it, or to the balance of the meal- more recently, I have not craved meat. I know some people become revolted by meat, and that is possible for me. I like the taste and other sensations of eating meat.

I would need to do more work to become vegetarian. I would need to learn new recipes, and probably some information on balanced diets which I have not really looked in to. The omnivorous ape can get by on all sorts of weird diets.

I am not aspiring to be a vegetarian. That is a moral position which I judge would involve greater work towards it than I am doing now. It seems to me that I make decisions other than by such conscious means. Consciously, I might say that I want to be a vegetarian- but then, why am I not already? Because I see problems with it. I may never advance any further towards that goal. As I do not know whether I will advance further, I cannot say that I aspire to vegetarianism. However last year I started buying filled pasta without meat, rather than filled pasta with meat, and this year I started frying mushrooms more. I have two or three meat free days a week, except when I don’t. I may eat more meat in the winter.

I love the word “velleity”- it is a desire so weak you never act on it. I never got round to hang gliding, and probably never will.

I am not a writer. I might be writing my book, right now- I pour out words, I refine ideas, and I have written over a million words here, but I might never distil them down to 70,000 for a book, or have any way of organising them into a coherent argument or narrative. I don’t really have a conception that I like or accept of what that might look like. So I am left with something like Casaubon’s notes for his Key to all Mythologies.

I have a small pile of magazines in a book case, which have words by me in them.

Your transition may be going something like this. Your dress sense and makeup skills get better, you go out regularly as your true self, but you have not yet gone round a supermarket dressed female. You are experimenting with telling people, but have not told anyone at work. You know what you must do and possibly at some time you will do it, but you have not yet. You could make a timetable for yourself, perhaps. What about starting beard removal? Have you seen a psychiatrist yet?

It would be reassuring to make stories about these things, but all I have is the evidence of what I have done, and the failure of stories I had before. I am not the adventurous hang-glider. Or, I could hold contrasting stories in my mind- “I aspire to being vegetarian”. “I am aware of difficulties in being vegetarian, and with other difficulties in my life and my way of approaching difficulties I am not working on them right now.” Or possibilities- I may reduce meat consumption, I could explore other meals I could enjoy. Who am I now? I don’t know, or not in the way of these reassuring word-pictures, which disappoint so when they turn out to be wrong.

Of course I desire to be vegetarian. I would not be writing about it here if I did not, or even if I thought there was no chance of it. Nothing is certain.


Four people in a circle, chatting. Across the circle, we are not facing each other, but turned towards one of the group- three people are an audience to Her. It’s not just when she is speaking, and anyway in groups like that you tend to turn your head, not your whole body, to pay attention. It is that she is completely fascinating. That may be part of the strong hostility expressed about her by another woman. I have noticed this more than once with this woman, and in my own response to her. I want to spend time with her.

I fear I may have that quality myself. Charisma. People notice in others the qualities, good and bad, that we share. It can be a way of getting to know the Shadow.

I fear it because I also have this strong motivation to hide in the shadows away from scrutiny. Such as I have an understanding of myself which includes charisma, it is that charismatic behaviour was strongly discouraged when I was young. So I am self-conscious and second-guessing when I use it, and I do not have the experience to use it properly. And my presentation is not consistent- successfully charismatic persons tend to dress better than I can afford. People are used to a particular set of signals together, and one without the other surprises and feels wrong.

Charisma without other qualities backing it up is a problem. Rather than just being I think about how I may be.

Or, I have a delight in showing off without necessarily much to show off.

I spoke in a dominant (so objectionable) way. H suggested that people objected because they saw me as a woman. Women interrupt less, are interrupted more, and are objected to when they show dominant traits as they are supposed to be conciliatory. It is such a pain- I am only “treated like” or “seen as” a woman when that’s a bad thing for me!

Yet- fear it? It is a gift. It is beautiful. It is something to learn to use. As with anything else, suppressing it only creates malaise.

It is only possible, not certain, to me that I am charismatic. And it is a way of conceptualising my responses as Good independent of their effect. A person does not like my manner or what I say, and I say they are wrong, rather than my manner was ineffective. Or I should learn to better use that Gift rather than restrain that offensive trait. Tomorrow- how I am “ingratiating”.

I asked facebook, and friends reassured: “Am I charismatic, do you think?”
Ooh yes 🙂
Blimey not half!
Not half
Yes very
Uniquely so
Er, yes!
In a quirky way

This is the only Evelyn de Morgan I can recall seeing the original- now at “Queer British Art 1861-1967” at Tate Britain.

Weaponising “autogynephilia”

“Autogynephilia” is a discredited theory. “Female embodiment fantasies” fits how people think and feel so much better. Yet the idea of autogynephilia is still used to attack trans women, sometimes by other trans women.

Go to Urban Dictionary and vote down the third definition, which imagines two kinds of trans women: homosexual transsexuals, and autogynephiliacs. “Ashley has randomly transitioned from male to female despite being age 55. I think she’s autogynephilic.” “Rose just spent her children’s university savings on sexual reassignment. She’s in the throes of autogynephilia.” “I just danced all over Ally last night, and didn’t even know she used to be male. Her movements and voice are so femme. I don’t think she’s autogynephilic.”

It creates a complete dichotomy. No homosexual transsexual transitions over age 25. All gynephile trans women are autogynephiliac. Most laughs in the Urban Dictionary are snark, but even by their standards this is a strong attack. I wonder if the statistic that 90% of trans women are gynephile has any basis in reality. Most cis people are straight, so that could just mean that the proportions of gynephile and androphile trans women are the same as in cis men.

It seems to me that more people transition without GRS, and this is out of a desire not to be mutilated. Why should you have your genitals altered? What good does it do? People talk of wanting the “poison glands” taken away, and orchiectomy means you don’t need testosterone suppressants- it is less invasive in the long run- but possibly we are altered because of social pressure. We desire a woman’s role, and everyone said that required body modification. Or, possibly we gynephiles are sexually passive, and that means we feel greater dislike for male organs. Anyway, gender dysphoria was popularly understood to mean body alteration, and now many trans folk don’t seek that.

I did not have facial feminisation surgery, but have known gynephile trans women who did. It involves grinding away the bones of the skull. I find the idea horrible, but again it could be that there is not the same social pressure. You will pass better after FFS, and that makes life easier, however much we assert that people should be treated differently according to other criteria, and not whether they pass or whether they are beautiful. Passing privilege and attractiveness privilege exist. A trans woman with a clear eye to her own interest might have FFS rather than GRS.

The writer hedges his/her bets with the words “common” and “generally”. All generalisations are wrong; but either the dichotomy is real, or it isn’t. There is no rational basis to this hostility- if it comes from anywhere, it is the idea that we make them look bad, that people would accept androphile trans women if the gynephiles weren’t messing it all up by being so revolting. But no-one who is intolerant of trans women would think the difference mattered at all.

What of this assertion? Generally, the two types of trans women don’t associate with each other in any way. If you are an androphile trans woman, please leave a comment. I find that trans women do not associate with each other generally, whatever their orientation, particularly after transition.

Courage II

If you were not unemployed, would you have a car? Would you maintain the simple lifestyle?

“A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength.” We value living simply. “Oh, no, no, no, not at all,” I said. I would have a car, I would spend my income. I do not like claiming virtues. Would I hit anyone? No, but not for restraint or pacifism- for cowardice or confusion.

And yet now I am having more meat-free days, even three a week, as I experiment with various combinations of mushrooms, peppers, onion, tinned or fresh tomatoes with rice or spaghetti. It matters to me that factory farming is cruel, and abattoirs are cruel to the animals and to the people, too, who are paid little and desensitised to their heavy, stinking work; and meat uses more acres per calorie than arable crops. Not enough to make me vegetarian, says the inner critic, and I say, well, I am working towards it, I have to relearn to cook and to balance a diet. And I am not even thinking of giving up dairy.

I have craved a bacon roll after a veggie lunch with the Quakers, but I find that if I use a lot of olive oil I don’t need meat. I will proceed cautiously, as always, not identifying as vegetarian, perhaps as aspiring to being vegetarian. We discussed this in the Labour party campaign office- we are nice people, so we want to be vegetarian. One tells me you can do lovely curries with lentils. Well, I will get on to lentils soon enough.

It is not a question, for me, of how I am seen, but how I am. I do not like to be part of this system of cruelty to animals, so I am reducing my impact on them. I am doing it slowly and carefully, for that is my way.

Sometimes people say to trans women, “Oh, you’re so brave!” And we tend to deny it. It was what I had to do to survive. I would still say that, no matter how much I feel it would be better to live as a soft man, a pansy, than bother with all the effort of transition. It was the best course I could see at the time to be myself in the world, when my play-acting was becoming insupportable. Faced with two unbearable choices, I choose the less unbearable, and then work hard to make it work.

It would not have been brave to kill myself. It would have been a matter of icy self-control, against disgust and the survival instinct. And transition was brave.

I have tenacity. I keep thinking of getting that doctor sacked. It is one of the things I am most proud of. It took months. It took a lot of effort, and continuing through setbacks. Then the second one I did not proceed with, and I wonder about that, but what with transition and other stuff I was broken by the pressure. I kept on until everything was too much for me. I don’t give up until I am dangling on the end of a rope. In Cardinal, Canadian police drama, the sergeant observes that when told to stop investigating a missing girl, one officer will go home, kiss his wife, have a beer, come in the next day and work on something else; but Cardinal will chew on it and obsess over it for months. And, repeatedly, people say the conventional consoling thing, and the other dismisses it contemptuously- how can it be consoling if it is not True? In the end the woman sits with her son in hospital, and she is not full of gratitude to the police officer who saved him, but resentment that he did not catch the killer after his previous victim. The world is an unforgiving place.

My courage, tenacity and commitment to doing the right thing may not be enough. My understanding is great, and not always enough. And I have these qualities. I have achieved a great deal, considering the obstacles I have had to overcome. I will celebrate my beauty, and my every achievement.

Have a good solstice. In London, the day is seven seconds longer than yesterday.

Hero awaiting the return of Leander



Sweat beads between my breasts, trickles down my cheek, glistens on my shoulders.

I cycled to Meeting in the sun, in air brought from Spain by weather currents. It seems to me that I should calm my breathing, so I make that effort. If I can slow my diaphragm and heart, they will make less heat. Still, when I get there, my face is scarlet. It is as if a birthmark quite covered it, and I went to run my head under the cold tap. H runs marathons, I will ask her. Half marathons, at the moment, she corrects me. “I felt I was going into a panic.” You make a rhythm, of heart, breathing, stride all together. I like the island climate, a comparatively small range between our hottest and coolest. Today is 29°, which is unusual, and it is rare for several nights together to be below freezing.

Facebook. “I don’t like the heat,” she says. What? Why were you in Tunisia? “He does.”

So I wondered, do I like the heat? I don’t know. Yes could become a pissing contest- nothing lovelier than noon in Riyadh in July. I take precautions to keep my flat cool, drawing the curtains on sunward windows, closing the windows against warmer air outside. I could be happy on holiday, going round tourist attractions or jumping into a pool, enjoying time away from routine with friends. Or, it is pointless to complain about the weather, and I will not indulge in that. But the sensuous experience of being outside in the heat, simply for itself?

You could like the light. The sun at its highest, the brightness on the water of the Lakes. That it is also beautiful washed through mist, land across the valley getting steadily less distinct, does not mean the colour and the contrast of full sun is not glorious too. I could take my camera, but do not want to be thinking of framing images; I want to perform the experiment on myself. Do I like the heat?

I walk down and round the lakes. The mud is dry and cracked. The corn is still green, its long stamens turning into seeds. I don’t want to walk so quickly or so far as usual. I pause several times by the river, and try to connect with the experience, shorn of words or ideas about it. Do I like the heat? It is bearable; there is just enough slight breeze now and then, wafting my light summer dress, though the wig is a pain; but bearable is not pleasureable.

Going into shade of trees suddenly, I know that I like the shade.

I suppose I like experience. I understand life with words. I plan, analyse, conceptualise with words, and it is good to lay down the burden of words- I! a Writer!- for unmediated experience. I am here, by the river, sensing with eyes, ears, skin, open and not judging, and I like that.

It is good to be open to experience. I am in the heat, and it is not a horror I must shun, but an environment I can flourish in. I do not run from it, and that is empowering. It might create problems which I would deal with, different problems from colder months. I don’t particularly like to sweat. It is good to appear to be civilised, above that sort of thing, and it is a status symbol to not need to be troubled by it; but then I am an animal, and sweat is natural. I need not appear out of sorts.

I don’t see many people in the park. There are a few cyclists, and some families by the adventure playground, picnicking in the shade of trees. I will ask this woman, walking towards me by the hedge.

Do you like the heat?
-Hmmuhh? she says, surprised by the question.
-Do you like the heat?
-Yes, I suppose. Better than being cold. (I had her exact words in my mind, all the way home, but forgot them before writing them.)
-Thank you.
-Have a nice day! cries into the distance.


I have lunch with my friend, who is slowly and steadily making the preparations for transition: telling people of her true self, appearing in public, laying the ground. I notice the imperfectly shaven hair beneath the make-up. To my mind, her face, the size and shape of it, jowls and brow ridge, appear male, and the wig is wrong: its parting shows a cloth lining rather than a scalp. The clothes suit a woman of her age, but the dress sense is slightly off.

And this is me, not her. How often I have looked in the mirror and thought, “Oh God, I look like a man!” and at other times thought, well, actually, I don’t look too bad; and I looked the same, it was just the way I was looking at myself. I thought of telling her- “Don’t do it! It isn’t worth it!” but what would be the point? I do not know that it is not, for her; and I really want to tell my two decades younger self, but I can’t, and that younger self might not listen anyway. S/he had her heart and mind, her reality and nature, and if s/he would not listen to them s/he would not listen even if someone came back from the future. Or, perhaps, she is right and my doubts now are wrong.

And this is dissatisfaction, a nameless unease rather than a clear understanding of what might be better. If that’s all there is, let’s break out the booze and let’s keep dancing. In Tesco’s, two small children, below waist height, stared up into my face and said “Are you the bikey man? Are you the bikey man?” “I’m the bikey person,” I said weakly. Such clarity and definiteness from two so young is depressing.

Possibly the thought of defiance is the kind of illusion I would jump at in this mood. I shake my fist in the face of encroaching Night. It feels as if it might be energising. The febrile energy would be heat not light. What would I be defying? What would be better?

Possibly dissatisfaction is better. I am dissatisfied. Things are not as I would wish- this is the impetus to find what might be better. I would be defying the expectations of others, or what I imagined those expectations to be.


If that really is all there is, it is good enough, actually. I try to be a Real Man, and fail, because that is not who I am, and learn about transition. It fits me better than anything else I can imagine, so I do it. I could fit in, take a role which is almost acceptable. I could be me.

Years later, I look down at that child. It would be nice not to be laughed at, not ever, but it might not be possible. Good enough: I work out how best to be me, and now am still working on that, but more precisely.

Now I decide it does not fit, so create a new role. This takes a long time, but I get there. I see more clearly who I am, accept that, and can live it; less conflicted, resentful, but incrementally. Would that the work was done!

After meeting I drank with H, and told her I was populating the word “pansy”. It means effeminate male, but has no other baggage I dislike, unlike “sissy”. She said, so, you are identifying with masculinity? No, maleness. Definitely not masculinity. Masculinity is cultural, maleness physical. I should have asked her why she used the word.

Being a soft male is OK.
Being a soft male is OK.
Being a soft male is OK.

I don’t know what defiance would look like or what I would defy. I am happy with the names I use and the way I dress. If I can admit I am a “man” would the pointed scrutiny of that small child have less effect? What she sees, thinks, even says is part of the world I cannot control, which does not hurt me really.

In the pharmacy, I ask for “Prescription for Clare, please”. It makes me sound like a disease! To see it another way, I could be an elixir or universal tonic, inspiring merriment everywhere.