Resilience

Keeping going is what humans do. “KBO”, said Churchill, Keep Buggering On. Now, with Covid, people keep going, put up with the ordinary things which were bugging them last year, as well as the restrictions now, the lesser social life, and worry about covid. It’s lovely to zoom socially, then I hear someone’s relative is in hospital with it. Brexit is coming: I am stocking up my larder anticipating the snarl-up in the ports in January. Will we have fresh food in the supermarkets?

So we keep our heads down, and KBO. I kept going until I stopped, and I wonder if I am still in keeping going mode, part of me trying to grimly press on even though it doesn’t reach the controls any more. I remain desperate for self-improvement. That is the point of all these churning speculations here. How could I keep going better? How can I improve myself?

This long period of not working could be relaxation and replenishment, and I still feel stressed and tired. Is it that I am not truly relaxing? I am stopped, sitting watching TV, but resenting it. I think I am getting close to an idea but not fully there yet. In some way I am not relaxing, but instead trying to press on with something which is not supporting myself but is meeting some needs.

The need is to be better, or at least see myself as striving to be better. That is the way to cope with the shame of never being enough. So I KBO, cycling or reading for self-improvement, and beat myself up because it is never enough- so I am still stressed.

When we put our heads down and get on with it, we benefit by achieving what we want to achieve. Human beings die, mostly within a century of their birth, and spend ourselves, whatever we do. So a lone parent struggling to support their children, keep them well fed, get them educated, may have little time to relax but the spending is worthwhile.

One thought I had was that to KBO you have to numb yourself to the pain of it. KBO is simply what you have to do, even if it shortens your life. Some unconscious part of your brain wants to resist, and some other part has to stop you hearing it. But the part stopping you hearing or feeling does not only numb the pain but other things too. To have a full emotional life you have to feel the pain.

This internal conflict does me no good. So I wondered, could I do anything I do because I know I want to do it? It is not, I ought to do this, but this is behovely. That however means accepting all the sadness I feel at my current predicament and the way I have got here. What I did, the self-improvement by reading thinking writing or cycling might be much the same, but the internal conflict, and so the effort of it, would be less.

Being in touch with my full emotional range might increase my power. Menis Yousry said to me, “Speak from your heart and you will touch others’ hearts”.

It also seems that it might increase resilience. I am so fragile, I have such difficulty in KBO, because I have so much to suppress.

Then I read this Atlantic article about a man whose mother kicked him out of the house when he came out, and what has happened since. It made me weep, not because I am a prodigy of empathy feeling his pain, but because of my own.

I ministered at Pendle Hill. In childhood I learned the most important thing was to deny my femininity, because it must on no account be seen. Now I am learning to value myself, “every part hearty and clean” as Walt Whitman says, and that work is worthwhile. I feel a lot of shame, including at not working for money now, not being resilient enough, and now I assert that work is worth all my time, right now.

Of course I saved the chat. People loved what I said, and said so. And Ken Jacobsen shared his prayer:

oh men,
setting out again with your rifles
this hunting season,
what is it you are trying to kill,
is it some hurt, some fear you are trying to kill?

oh men,
what if the fear does not go away?
how will you heal your hearts now?

I love these paintings by Jean-Claude Bonnefond: the pictures are still yet full of tension, potential, life and change. What will happen next?

Sabina, known as Sporus

Great trans women in history: Nero castrated Sporus, gave her the name Sabina, and married her as his Empress.

The historian Dio Chrysostom (it means “golden mouthed”, or eloquent) says that she wore her hair parted in a feminine style, wore women’s clothes, and young women attended her when she went for a walk. Nero offered riches and honours to anyone who could make Sabina a woman. Dio comments this is as impossible as flying, another miracle of the 20th century.

Suetonius records that Nero too enjoyed dressing as a woman in public, appearing in operatic tragedies in the parts of heroines and goddesses, wearing masks modelled on the face of his mistresses.

At their wedding, attended by the whole court, Nero treated Sabina as his empress, with a dowry and bridal veil, dressed in the clothes and the jewels of the empress. They rode together in a litter to every Greek assize and fair, and through the Street of Images at Rome, amorously kissing.

I wondered what the Street of Images was. Was it one of the great streets of the city, one of temples perhaps? But the only references I can find to the Street of Images refer to this story.

David Wood suggests that Nero married her because she resembled his former wife, Poppaea Sabina, whom he had kicked to death. Wood suggests he thought Sabina (Sporus) was descended from the emperor Tiberius, so marriage to her strengthened his claim to the throne. Nero dominated the descendants of previous emperors, in the same way as he had sexually assaulted Britannicus, Claudius’ son. However, Suetonius appears to believe Nero loved Sporus. Wood quotes M. Griffin suggesting that Nero had loved Poppaea so much that Sporus was an art project or dramatic conceit, so that Nero had the image of Poppaea in his palace, acting and appearing like the original. Griffin claims that Nero ‘may only ever have pretended to have sex with his Poppaea-substitute’.

Wikipedia goes further, suggesting that Sporus was fictional. Suetonius wrote during the reign of Hadrian, and Mary Beard has suggested his work is propaganda rather than history, written to discredit earlier emperors. However Hadrian was gay, so might object to Suetonius making up an allegation of sex with a “man” being uniquely defamatory. Suetonius was Hadrian’s chief secretary.

Wikipedia suggests that the name Sporus is intentional mockery, meaning “seed”, which can be used to mean semen. The name is an insult Alexander Pope used to mock Lord Hervey. Nero called her Sabina, so I will too.

We have no idea what Sabina looked like. This portrait bust was formerly identified with the original AFAB Poppaea Sabina, but her hair is worn curled.

The Praetorian prefect Nymphidius Sabinus persuaded the Praetorian guard to forsake Nero, and took Sabina to wife, calling her Poppaea. He tried to become emperor but was killed by his own guards. Nero was succeeded in the year of four emperors by Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian. Otho had been married to the AFAB Poppaea, and now took care of Sabina. Vitellius wanted to kill Sabina in a gladiatorial show, so Sabina committed suicide, perhaps before her twentieth birthday.

Three men loved Sabina. They saw her as a woman, and we should too. See also Elagabala, proclaimed as Roman Emperor, who proclaimed herself Empress.

What were those regalia of an empress? Roman women would wear a sleeveless tunic, then a stola, like the one the Statue of Liberty wears. Over this they would wear a palla, a woollen shawl up to 11×5’, fastened by a brooch. Livia Drusilla here wears a stola and palla.

Stephanie Hayden

Stephanie Hayden won a significant legal victory for trans people in February. When Kate Scottow abused and doxxed her on twitter, she was prosecuted, and found guilty of “persistently making use of a public communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience and anxiety” to Hayden. That this happened is testament to the courage and persistence of Hayden. Scottow had used the alias “Busted Wench” to abuse Hayden, but Hayden discovered who she was. Scottow established more than one twitter account, each of which was used to abuse trans people and our allies. Scottow had to pay £1000 costs and had a “conditional discharge”- that means, she must keep good behaviour in future. Hayden said, “I wish Mrs Scottow all the best for the future and hope that she will learn from this experience”.

Hayden continues to campaign and tweet. Maria MacLachlan sent her a Friend request on facebook, apparently by mistake while searching for a photo of her, and if you google Hayden McLachlan’s account is on the first page. McLachlan is abusive and mocking, of course. Hayden sued Helena Wojtczak, and Wojtczak raised £10,255 on a crowdfunder to defend the action. Wojtczak omitted to mention that Hayden claimed Wojtczak had doxxed her and other trans rights advocates, and this was a breach of data protection. Merely being sued was enough to get Wojtczak the money.

Also searching for Hayden, I found out about her conviction in 1999. She was in a confrontation in the street, it escalated, and she was sentenced to 150 hours community service, but varied to a one year conditional discharge. As she said, the conviction is long spent, but haters still write about it. Because of a human rights case, it is likely the offence would not be revealed by a DBS check.

Hayden has another action, against a freelance journalist who has been published in The Times, Mail, Telegraph and Express. She claims to “focus on news/investigations on transgender issues”, but this is from a perspective hostile to trans rights. It’s a profitable career move, as lots of propagandists want copy against trans people. I won’t name the journalist, for reasons that will become clear.

Hayden tweeted two photos of some prose which looks like a newspaper article, with headline then lede in larger print, and the final sentence “[the journalist] was unable to be contacted for comment”. However this prose has not appeared elsewhere, as was clear from the headline “Gender critical activist journalist threatened suicide in desperate bid to ‘take down’ Stephanie Hayden”. Also, though the lede referred to the suicide threat, the story should still recount it before commenting on it.

Hayden obtained 1204 pages of a transcript of WhatsApp messages, including apparent threats of suicide, which she quotes.

I love Stephanie Hayden’s courage and persistence. And revealing a conversation about suicide crosses a line, however brutal the treatment she has faced. On Twitter Hayden calls herself a “lawyer”, though I understand she is not a solicitor or barrister.

Meanwhile a man abused trans women at Leicester Square tube station, shouting rudely about their genitals, and they assaulted him. It’s one assault, like hundreds of thousands of others not worthy of reporting, but because it is trans women accused it got into the Times and Mail. The judge, perhaps seeing the journalist, commented about as sympathetically as he could:

I accept that had it not been for the alleged victim in this case there probably wouldn’t have been an incident. The four of you then were subjected to extremely offensive transphobic and racial abuse. Had it not been for that there would have been no violent disorder. However that does not excuse what you did, you went far too far in your reactions, but of course transphobic issues are particularly sensitive. It is a sign that the so-called victim realised how wrong he was by refusing to cooperate and not make any statement. I do not in any way condone your behaviour but I accept that what happened to you at the beginning of the incident was entirely wrong and people like you should not be subject to that abuse in the public domain or anywhere.

They “walked free from court”, clichéd the Mail. Of course. If all such assaults resulted in prison terms, the prison population would be ten times higher, or more: Scottow, a “mother” (a term to evoke sympathy) got the headline “Mum spared jail”. The main shocking thing about that assault is that it happened in Summer 2018, and is only being tried now. This is a result of Tory cuts to spending on justice, which afflict the guilty, innocent and victims alike.

Mental states

How could one not be “present in the moment”? I have no time machine. Humans cannot simply “be”- we are always doing something, even if only breathing and taking in sense-perceptions. When we sleep our brains are making connections. It seems there is a “spiritual state” I would call “present in the moment”, which makes me think there are other states, somehow less than that. Moulded or traumatised, I live in such sub-optimal states; or, well-adjusted, I flit between states, choosing the one appropriate to my surroundings or task.

My ideal, now, is to “flow like water”, as the Tao Te Ching has it. In that state I am doing something without consciously controlling it.

I read that spirituality is not about “states”, but of course it is. An analogy: having learned the piano I can play scales in 24 keys, but there was a time I could only play a few, and had to learn the others.

Presence is not simply immediate experience without language. I know what a “table” is, can recognise or use it, because of the word. I cannot divorce experience from language, but there does seem to be a time when I am classifying and assessing verbally, and a time when I am relating. Relating seems better to me.

Colouring in these pictures was called “a quiet mindful moment in the spirit of self-care”, where I would call it a sensual activity undertaken simply for its own sake. Such activities are a way of not doing what one has to do. They may be recreational, in which case, choose the recreation which most delights you, or addictive, in that you use them to avoid pressing duties. Cleaning your house can be self-care, showing that you deserve it.

There is rumination. Like a cow, I return to old thoughts, and chew them over again. I tend to feel there is always some progression when I return to old thoughts, but then cows ruminate to digest grass. Things recede into the past.

There is paying attention. I look at an art work or listen to music and it occupies my conscious mind. There is worship, when I pay attention to the situation I am in. Sometimes, then, the ministry which is only for me comes to mind, a new realisation, which is unconscious processes making connections.

Or I just keep clicking through the same websites for dopamine, and the less dopamine I get the more desperately I click. I don’t know why I would rather read articles than books. I want to know.

Sometimes a physical need overwhelms me, and sometimes I am conscious of it, I pause to do something else, and the need gives me an extra kick to get my obedience. Different parts of the brain seek different activity, and strive for dominance.

I pause for a moment to check what I feel. One feeling recently seemed to deserve its very own German compound word- anticipation of delight, where the anticipation was so strong it was painful. Freudeangst.

There are things going on in my brain and body of which I am not conscious. I so want it always optimised. I never trust it is. I do so little because I rarely believe it will be safe.

Suzanne Moore and Harry Styles

“I have left the Guardian. I will very much miss SOME of the people there. For now that’s all I can say.” So tweeted Suzanne Moore, a transphobe. Is Catherine Bennett considering her position there? “Gutted” tweeted Jess Phillips, who is not a transphobe.

This is a transphobia row. The Guardian welcomes transphobia, but also has articles standing up for trans rights. Moore published the names of employees of the Guardian who complained about her transphobia. Obsessive transphobes started abusing them.

In replies to Jess Phillips’ tweet, there is a lot of abuse. Some of it is from the Left, attacking her as a right-winger. Some of it is from transphobes, such as this from Loulabelle:

I don’t believe you. Prove it! Be brave and fight for women and little girls. We need more voices otherwise we won’t have any. Our speech, words, experience, rights will be gone. Then remember the part you played.

That would be heartrending, if it were related to reality. She imagines trans rights means the end of women’s rights. But some calls Phillips out on transphobia:

For someone who continually claims they are pro LGBT rights, why are you yet again, tweeting in support of a transphobe?

Then there are little squabbles about the different tweets. I wondered if Phillips could use them as a poll- count up the tweets and the Likes, and decide which side was stronger. Unfortunately, the replies seem mostly from phobes. Phobes are energised by such tweets. They get to shout their hatred. Trans people will be discouraged. It’s personal for us, our lives are afflicted by transphobia. We will retreat first. We need allies to stand up for us. And nuance is impossible in a tweet reply.

I would rather Moore had ceased her transphobia. She wrote other stuff as well. She never said anything original about trans rights, just repeating the same old boring lies arguing that trans rights in any way conflict with women’s rights. She can always go back to the Daily Mail, she never seemed uncomfortable there, writing for the “Femail” pages. The Daily Mail will allow her to write transphobia in every column if she likes.

Moore’s second-last article in The Guardian could be read as transphobic, but I read as confused. She tells her miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy stories, as these things should be generally known, not kept private and shameful. She writes,

It is not transphobic for women to name our experiences as females and mothers. To insist our bodies matter and our losses are real. It is a matter of life and death.

Well, I would not object- unless you name them specifically to score a transphobic point. Yet she also says, “Women and trans men have periods. Why not just say that?” Indeed. “Women and trans men” is one way of doing inclusive language, an alternative to “pregnant people” or “people with cervixes”. She seems to be expecting to be called transphobic, and railing against anyone calling anyone transphobic, and only being transphobic in that she is expecting people calling out transphobia to be completely unreasonable. Or, she is writing about something she does not understand.

Meanwhile Harry Styles wore a dress on the cover of Vogue, and the mad Right got angry.

There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men.

These right wing commentators seem to have an idea of a masculinity, proper to men, which can be taught, and can be subverted. All men must fit that narrow masculinity. Women must be feminine. But such masculinity is under threat, such that a singer on a magazine cover can damage it.

I love masculinity. I read the Letter from a Birmingham Jail yesterday, and it is beautifully masculine. Following the example of St Paul, Martin Luther King writes simply, “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here”. He will stand up and oppose it. And I want men to be able to say, with Styles, that “real friendship stems from being vulnerable with someone”- being your true self, without masks, including the imposed mask of permitted masculinity. Meditation has helped him be more present. It changed his life, subtly. He wants to evolve, and finds the fearlessness (a good masculine quality) of David Bowie (in presenting nonbinary gender). Such fearlessness is anathema to the Right- fearless of its incomprehension, hatred and ridiculous rules- but Vogue’s male photographer observes of Styles, “It’s a good thing to be nice”. “He’s really in touch with his feminine side because it’s something natural,” says a friend.

Trans women are women. Harry Styles is a man. Ben Shapiro shows his ignorance on Twitter again, gets owned, and Vogue gets more publicity. Suzanne Moore gets into a nasty war with colleagues, loses her job, and all the transphobes erupt, whining and hating. We don’t fit gender roles, and we cope as best we may.

Transphobia and hate crime

The report on transphobic hate crime in Britain 2020 makes horrifying reading. Of 227 respondents, 42% had experienced more than ten transphobic incidents in a year. There is usually no accessible support for trans people facing hate crime. Hate crime has severe impacts, stunting people’s lives.

Recorded hate crime has doubled in the last three years, but only one in seven trans people report our experiences. While much of the hate comes from the transphobia pervasive in the Patriarchy, nearly half of respondents were abused by people radicalised in trans-excluding spaces, who may imagine that they are feminist or left-wing. Online hate has real world consequences. The report refers to such transphobes as “transphobic ‘activists’”- I call them trans excluders, who may be physically violent, or troublesome by making vexatious complaints, rather than merely whining in their own spaces. It shows that whining trans excluders may become violent or vexatious. Their enablers and proselytisers cause great harm.

transphobia & transphobic gaslighting from family, even if it is less directly violent, can be devastating for young trans people’s sense of self and wellbeing… transphobia in what’s supposed to be your safe space, from those who are supposed to care most, is devastating.

Not just young trans people. I was 36. Family reactions had a lasting effect on me.

We also experience transphobia from strangers, LGBT+ people, colleagues, medical professionals, and “friends”. Twelve experienced it from police officers. I tend to feel my bad experience of the police comes from poverty rather than transphobia, but the police can be disrespectful.

Transphobia is not just hate crime. Abuse and harassment can be horrible to experience. When someone asks what I have between my legs I am demeaned. Someone treats me as if I am unworthy of respect, and I doubt that others will respect me as I deserve. I don’t get deadnamed, but that is a claim that how I see myself and present myself is somehow unreal, that others should be entitled to define me.

25 respondents had experienced death threats, 28 threats of sexual assault, 47 threats of physical assault, 16 physical assault and 14 sexual assault. But if we have any trans acquaintances, we hear about these things happening to others, and that can have similar effects.

More than half the respondents had contemplated self-harm or suicide. Nearly two thirds were unable to use public toilets, and half were unable to leave their house. Transphobia makes us insecure about our appearance and exacerbates gender dysphoria. It makes us less likely to trust strangers or open up to people, so that we become ever more isolated. 67 had panic attacks, 87 had trouble sleeping, more than half felt humiliated, more than half stressed, more than half afraid, nearly half hyper-vigilant. Transphobia drains our motivation. It causes symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD. Two thirds said the effect on their mental health and emotional wellbeing was big or significant.

Transphobia impacts our physical health, causing drinking, comfort eating and self-neglect. We might avoid exercise or avoid seeking medical help. One said they had developed twitches, and reading that makes me feel sad, but also reassured- it’s not just me.

Transphobia makes many of us us self-censor. We don’t feel able to speak up for ourselves. Transphobia intersects with ableism and other discrimination. Part of my reason for moving house was transphobia.

97 said transphobia had made them more active in trans activism, and 61 said it made them more open about being trans. These are healthy responses. Echoes within us, from our internalised transphobia, can make the experiences worse. We need Pride. However, being involved in the struggle had exhausted some of us.

Transphobia can distort the way we see ourselves and our gender. It prevents some from expressing their identity- I know people who put off transition for years. We are badly affected by ideas of what it means to be truly trans:

Every time I am not feeling crippling dysphoria, I am terrified that I am not transgender, and I have been told that I have to hate my body all the time otherwise I am not transgender.

Transphobia affects our relationships. We are less able to meet new people, and we get driven out of groups. 43 had experienced an abusive relationship, and our relative lack of power can make this more likely; and fear of transphobia may make us less likely to seek support. We lose touch with others.

I now assume everyone is transphobic until I’m proved wrong to avoid disappointment and ridicule.

So many of us fail to reach our potential.

The sheer amount of issues is staggering. I feel in a persistent state of battle.

Only twenty had gone to the police, and most had found the police unhelpful. Possibly the Samaritans would be more helpful, at least validating our feelings.

One officer said I left myself open to being abused because I “chose to be different”. Misgendering throughout the interview then told that the physical assault, death threats and threats of further violence against me weren’t strong enough to do anything about and maybe I should “go home, make a cup of tea, and dress ‘normally'”.

There are few positives to take from this report, published by Galop. One is simply that it exists, that work is being done to expose the levels of transphobia and the effects these have. I am glad Galop, which published the report, exists:

Galop is the UK’s LGBT+ anti-violence charity. For the past 37 years we have been providing advice, support and advocacy to LGBT+ victims and campaigning to end anti-LGBT+ violence and abuse. Galop works within three key areas; hate crime, domestic abuse, and sexual violence. Our purpose is to make life safe, just, and fair for LGBT+ people. We work to help LGBT+ people achieve positive changes to their current situation, through practical and emotional support, to develop resilience, and to build lives free from violence and abuse.

The report is timely and necessary, but flawed in that it does not make a clear distinction between transphobia generally, and transphobic hate crime. It is called a “hate crime report”, but includes things which are not crimes. Deadnaming may be part of a criminal series of actions, but I can’t see a circumstance where simple deadnaming is criminal, however hurtful it is. That does not detract from the report’s evidence of the effect transphobia has on trans people: it cripples many of us.

Agnes Zalewska

Should you participate in research projects on trans?

I found out about Agnes, or Agnieszka, Zalewska’s project “Illusions and realities. Transgender motivations and desires” on facebook, and people were wary. We don’t like the word “illusions” in this context. Some think the “illusion” might be our feeling that we really are of the gender we express. One would not go near it, based on the title alone. However we have illusions before we transition, of what transition will be like, both good and bad- I thought I would be sacked, and I was supported in work.

This is part of Mrs Zalewska’s Doctorate in Clinical Practice at the University of Exeter. She is an accredited psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and worked at The Laurels, the gender clinic in Exeter. Someone on facebook had seen her there, and found her professional and supportive. There are tales about the Gender Identity Development Service, of how some psychs left thinking it gave treatment too easily, but with that caveat I think this makes her an ally. Here is her crowdfunding page.

She is on twitter, but most of her tweets are retweets, generally fewer than one a month. She retweeted this from Marcus Evans, linking his article in Quillette “Why I resigned from Tavistock: trans identified children need therapy, not just affirmation and drugs”. Evans is hostile, and Quillette is a hard-right publication. Evans praises a discredited book. I don’t think a mere retweet shows Mrs Zalewska is hostile, though. She follows trans advocates including the Scottish Trans Alliance, and anti-trans propagandists including “transgender trend“.

Trans people exist. There are campaigners, desperate to portray us as a threat to women- trans women as male predators who should not be in women’s spaces, trans men as dupes being mutilated in a way they will regret. But that is based on a false understanding of who we are. In general I would say British academic research would give a greater understanding of us. Narrowly propagandistic work designed to show we were deluded or dangerous would not be ethical.

Mrs Zalewska is one of the authors of this article, “An exploration of the lived experiences of non-binary individuals who have presented at a GIC in the UK”. Only the abstract is freely available, including this recommendation:

for an affirmative approach that offers space for the non-binary individual to articulate their desires and come to terms with their identity. This exploration must take into consideration the person’s place within a social world that can be transphobic and limited in terms of potential medical interventions. Further research is needed to better understand this marginalised community.

I am not sure how far that takes us. Saying “Of course you’re not nonbinary” will just drive the patient away. Indeed the social world can be transphobic, and that might induce a nonbinary person to stay concealed, conforming to gender stereotypes. If a therapist was overly concerned about the transphobia of society, she might discourage a patient from transition.

Googling a bit, I was amazed to find this site: callforparticipants.com. If I wanted, I could search it to see if any of my idiosyncrasies was being researched atm, then pour my heart out to a researcher and appear in various obscure PhD theses. Everyone should have a hobby. Even though I reveal myself completely here, I find the thought distasteful- to be questioned and summarised.

“The aim of the study is to increase awareness of the people who undergo gender transition.” It will help people considering transition, Mrs Zalewska writes. People transition in considerably more hostile environments than the UK is in 2020. The study is self-selecting. I clicked the ohsotempting button marked “Take part in this study” and got a request for my email address.

I don’t think it can do any harm, to me personally, or generally. I am not sure it will do great good. It would help to understand experiences of transition, but that might be better in quantitative than qualitative research- a representative sample of transitioners. It can never be established if we are happier transitioned, because the groups to be compared- those who considered transition, but didn’t, and those who transitioned- can’t include a proper control.

One might ask the same question about motivations to participate. What are your illusions, motivations and desires, and what is the reality? I can’t see any benefit to me beyond feeling I have given Mrs Zalewska, someone I do not know, a gift. However as the issues she considers with patients include transgender and sexuality, I may help those patients.

Only love is real

Only love is real.

I can only see the world through the eyes of love.

I can only see myself through the eyes of love.

At my core is only Love.

I float in love, breathe love, radiate love.

Ram Dass summarised his wisdom in four words: “I am loving awareness”.

People like my words:

-I love that smile
-You Goddess!
-I love you. I love seeing you in your wonderful chair of wisdom ❤️💜💛
-in times of difficult decision making , I try to remember to ask myself “What would love do?”

Trans in Game of Thrones

A voice inside her whispered, There are no heroes, and she remembered what Lord Petyr had said to her, here in this very hall. “Life is not a song, sweeting,” he’d told her. “You may learn that one day to your sorrow.” In life, the monsters win, she told herself.

All of A Song of Ice and Fire is bleak: mostly unsympathetic people have a ghastly time, then die. Very occasionally, courage is rewarded, but more often betrayal and trickery. One of the oaths sworn is “Grant mercy to our weak, help to our helpless, and justice to all, and we shall never fail you.” That does not turn out well, though. Some characters, such as Sansa, believe in honour and chivalry, even after seeing its opposite close to: “True knights protect the weak.” But this idea is mocked: “When you play the game of thrones, you win, or you die,” Cersei tells Eddard Stark. Life is harsh:

The Peaceful People, [Missandei’s] folk were called. All agreed that they made the best slaves.

What about the trans people? Brienne of Tarth is mocked so long as a freak she believes it herself.

Had Brienne been a man, she would have been called big; for a woman, she was huge. Freakish was the word she had heard all her life. She was broad in the shoulder and broader in the hips. Her legs were long, her arms thick. Her chest was more muscle than bosom. Her hands were big, her feet enormous. And she was ugly besides, with a freckled, horsey face and teeth that seemed almost too big for her mouth. She did not need to be reminded of any of that.

She does not see herself as trans, as the concept does not exist in Westeros, but she takes a man’s role, as a knight. She is hated for it.

The Maid of Tarth had seen such eyes before. Lady Stark had been kind to her, but most women were just as cruel as men. She could not have said which she found most hurtful, the pretty girls with their waspish tongues and brittle laughter or the cold-eyed ladies who hid their disdain behind a mask of courtesy. And common women could be worse than either.

Randyll Tarly is typical:

“Some men are blessed with sons, some with daughters. No man deserves to be cursed with such as you.”

Renly’s acceptance made Brienne forever loyal:

She was prepared for coldness, for mockery, for hostility. She had supped upon such meat before. It was not the scorn of the many that left her confused and vulnerable, but the kindness of the few.

Only Podrick Payne, who acts as her squire, shows respect, addressing her as “Ser, my lady”.

Possibly there is a trans woman, mentioned once:

Some of the dockside whores were vicious, and sailors fresh from the sea never knew which ones. S’vrone was the worst. Everyone said she had robbed and killed a dozen men, rolling the bodies into the canals to feed the eels. The Drunken Daughter could be sweet when sober, but not with wine in her. And Canker Jeyne was really a man.

Prince Doran’s brother Oberyn has bastard daughters known as the sand snakes:

Obara Sand moved first. Even without her whip and shield, she had an angry mannish look to her. In place of a gown, she wore men’s breeches and a calf-length linen tunic, cinched at the waist with a belt of copper suns. Her brown hair was tied back in a knot. Snatching the skull from the maester’s soft pink hands, she placed it up atop the marble column.

Like in real life, women can be soldiers, pretending to be men, possibly trans men, though they are seen as remarkable:

“Did Mance ever sing of Brave Danny Flint?” “Not as I recall. Who was he?” “A girl who dressed up like a boy to take the black. Her song is sad and pretty. What happened to her wasn’t.” In some versions of the song, her ghost still walked the Nightfort.

The warrior witch Morna removed her weirwood mask just long enough to kiss [Jon Snow’s] gloved hand and swear to be his man or his woman, whichever he preferred.

There’s a bit of female domination, by magic:

Melisandre spoke softly in a strange tongue. The ruby at her throat throbbed slowly, and Jon saw that the smaller stone on Rattleshirt’s wrist was brightening and darkening as well. “So long as he wears the gem he is bound to me, blood and soul,” the red priestess said. “This man will serve you faithfully. The flames do not lie, Lord Snow.”

Ramsay Bolton, Lord of Winterfell, threatens his creature:

“She has no handmaids, poor thing,” he had said to Theon. “That leaves you, Reek. Should I put you in a dress?” He laughed. “Perhaps if you beg it of me. Just now, it will suffice for you to be her bath maid. I won’t have her smelling like you.”

There’s a slave hermaphrodite, who fulfils a trans cliché- that we are freakish, and imagine that makes us interesting:

a willowy creature called Sweets who dressed in moonstones and Myrish lace. “You are trying to decide if I’m a man or woman,” Sweets said, when she was brought before the dwarfs. Then she lifted her skirts and showed them what was underneath. “I’m both, and master loves me best.”

George RR Martin brings forth the worst of trans experience: the mockery and disdain, the violence, but everyone in his world has a horrible time. He does not single out trans people particularly.

Let your God love all of you

Let your God love you means Let your God love all of you. I am ready.

I wrote, Anxiety is congealed fear. Sorrow is congealed sadness. Resentment is congealed anger. Underneath them is failure, repeated and complete, and self-blame. These are hard things to love. How can I love the daggers that I turn on myself? By understanding them. By slow, patient work. By allowing myself to be conscious of the hurt.

There are tempting views. This is not failure, but success: the life-journey which has brought me to the point of self-acceptance or self-love, which involves stripping away the denial of my nature that was my real problem. Or that Love makes me better able to achieve the goals my ego set: God’s love is that ego’s power, bringing it to the ego’s concept of success.

The failure is failure. I failed because I sought introjected goals, ego goals, not the goals of my true self, which I fled in terror, which set up a war within me. I must see the failure. I let God love me, and the love warms me, allows me to accept myself. Then I must love the world, because that is the only way to see the world clearly. Too often I hate the World, and resist it- ineffectually, as it just rolls over me.

Let your God love you, and here am I talking of what I will do to deserve it or make it real, or achieve-

There is only Love. Only Love has meaning. God’s love, my love- love for the whole world, all of it, and judging it as bad is meaningless. Judge not. God’s love for me, all of me, including the bits I judge.

Only love is real.

Love and healing are processes. We move on, not back.

Fear, sadness, and anger congeal because I denied them. I made myself small, by hiding parts of myself- this is the concept of the shadow. They were too frightening to be acknowledged. God’s love helps me process the anger.

As I write during worship, one speaks in Ministry. “Know, Friends, know that a million people are praying for you today.” She means it literally- on a prayer schedule, she prayed for “those who worship over the internet”. Mine is a lonely struggle, and there are others I can speak with, who help me.

And one whom I respect shared her songs:

The Elements of Love

The water of love will ease us through our grieving
The rock of love will hold us fast as we let fear go
The fire of love will purify our anger
And we will breathe the air of love
As we sing new songs of joy and we lead new lives of peace.
We will sing new songs of joy. We will lead new lives of peace.

If I only could open up my hands, feel these heavy stones and let them go.
If I only would open up my heart the the rose within would start to grow.
Now I find that I can open up my mouth and a fountain of song begins to flow.
Oh please help me to open all my self and let the breath of your love within me blow.
Now I find I can open up my hands, I feel the touch of your hands and now I know,
that I truly can open all my life and will go any way you bid me go.

I am on the path.

James Baldwin wrote in 1963, “Now if I were a teacher in this school, or any Negro school, and I was dealing with Negro children, I would try to teach them- I would try to make them know- that those streets, those houses, those dangers, those agonies by which they are surrounded, are criminal.” It is clear in his case, though many then would deny it; and some now would concede it in 1963 but deny it now. I have the feeling that my being crushed, and my mother’s before me, and hers before her, is also criminal, though fear I could never persuade anyone of that. So I resent. These are hard things to swallow, to love the resentment and the crushing. So I do the work with God’s help, offering up parts of myself I can hardly bear to look upon, to be Loved.