The Tranny Threat

The tranny threat. Would you want one of us sitting beside you in an aeroplane? What if that tranny is a terrorist? In Canada,

5.2 (1) An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if …
(c) the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents;

In Canada, one of us cannot get a passport with the correct gender marker unless s/he has the Op scheduled within one year.

Now, I can just about imagine going to check in and saying, what do you mean I do not look like a man? Dressed as girly feminine as I can, I take off my wig and putting on my baritone, I say, “Do I look like a man now? No, I don’t like the M on my passport either, but what can you do with a homophobic government?” But I cannot imagine doing that three months after I started to live full time. Before I transitioned,¬†while I holidayed in the UK¬†expressing myself¬†female, when I went to Italy I presented male, because I did not want any hassle. Is there any particular reason why I should not have gone to Malta in 2002? It was only just after the Twin Towers attack.

On second thoughts, can Stephen Harper really be a bigot, when he allows himself to be photographed shaking hands with a black man?

In Britain, I got a passport saying F as soon as I changed my name. My GP had to write to the passport agency saying I intended to live female life long. In Australia I read one can get a passport marked M, F or X for indeterminate; X is not open to transgender people, but that will come. The US has dropped the surgery requirement for giving a correct gender marker on the passport.

We are no threat to anyone. Like people with schizophrenia, we (and other people) are a far bigger threat to us than we to others. I now know why to oppose Mr Cameron’s desire for a British Bill of Rights to replace the European Human Rights Convention. He wants a land safe for bigots.

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Then again, imagine trying to leave Canada with my current passport, and not being allowed to board the plane because some attendant thinks I look like a man?

Humble Access

Each week, whether from habit, or custom, or need, we encountered the heart of Christianity, a ritual with the power to cleanse all human beings, even atheists. Confession and Absolution:

We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we from time to time most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation upon us.

And then the Absolution, and then the Prayer of humble access:

But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy.

I read that it is by Archbishop Cranmer, with no Continental reformation source.

Am I pupating? Or are mine the twitchings of a fly whose wings are removed? Beware New Age types talking quantum physics, but my best analogy is that I am both, like light being a wave and a particle. My choices have got me Here, and when I look about myself, seeing past the illusions which have appeared to make my path bearable, I see how bad the situation is. And I have Now, this moment, to start again, to try new things, with God dwelling within me.

Julie, a¬†Quaker, found her Anglican worship far too busy.¬† Kneel, then sit, then stand, then kneel again, all these words. The vicar says “Let us pause for a moment” and the silence lasts five seconds. But then she did only do it the once.¬†As I lived¬†with those words, sometimes drifting off in a reverie, and memorised them so that they might come to mind, I saw different facets of that truth. Now, returning to it, I find beauty in it, and truth, and hope.

It really does depend how you look at it. What is bad at the moment? That, and that, and that- Misery and dismay. Or, I stop looking, and drift, and the days pass, somehow. The other way I still find difficult- what is good in this situation? This is more painstaking, more difficult. It is my only way out of where I am now.

Quakers have a different focus on our worship. We sit in silence listening for the leadings of God- God within, just as Cranmer recognised. Then with the guidance and example of the Quaker community, and testing our own leadings within that community, we grow in God’s work, building the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.

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Strange how the New Age can so closely parallel rational scientific academe. Shokti explains the Mayan calendar. He cites authorities, a Swedish biochemist who must, by that job title, be trustworthy. He then explains a great deal of precise detail, going back 16.4 billion years (2.7 billion years before the Big Bang, as currently understood). One age started 41 million years ago, with the first monkeys. Shokti writes,

The ancients drew up calendars and astrological systems after long and detailed study of the patterns of the universe, patterns which repeat through all things including us and the details of our lives.

All these ages, not just the latest, end on 21 December 2012, just as a week, a day and an hour end in the same moment. Shokti discusses how this knowledge has been used to make predictions: but predictions of alien contact during the Galactic age were in error because these ages mark advancement of consciousness and spirituality, rather than external events. At the end of the ages, all life may know its oneness with all things- as Blake said, for everything that is, is holy.

What is the result? My own work is on balancing the value of intellect and feeling within myself, and Shokti’s is wider:

This involves giving the inner world of feeling, thought and imagination the same importance we give to the outer experience of relationships, work and commerce.

Actually, if rebalancing I need to give more importance to the outer experience of Relationship, and I do not gain this idea from a Mayan carving. But because I believe in the human result, the possibilities of spiritual growth and understanding, I can be gentle rather than dismissive with the doctrine, precision, and understanding of causes.

Robert Bringhurst

The review said that Robert Bringhurst is a great Canadian poet, not previously published in his own book in England. I had to get the book.

File:Robert Bringhurst.jpg

Picture credit: Jason V

Instantly I am plunged into a strong masculine vibe. The Beauty of the Weapons:

With the truncated butt
caught in the cocked
elbow, the trigger
falls exactly to hand.

Bringhurst addresses the male/female divide. Though I do not imagine that the “Poet” in These poems, she said is Bringhurst, rather than an aspect of him, it rings true to have a woman tell him that “These are the poems of a man who would leave his wife and child because they made noise in his study.”

I love Deuteronomy. This is not a comforting Bible story for children, this is fear and unknowing and uncertainty and urgency in the Desert. Miracles are played down, and the Voices could be madness. And at the end, the task accomplished, tiredness, not fulfilment.

Can words describe the World? No, because they cannot mean the same to two different people, and they cannot encompass the whole nature and variety of the simplest thing, a grain of sand or a wild flower. And yet they are all we have. In Hick and Nillie, a poet talks to a god, of words turning false, until

Silence, like clear speaking,
washes words. In time they will
come true again. But then, of course,
they will be different words.

It is the poet teaching, and the god listening.

Elegant idiocies

The otherbugger will get on your back if he can.
That is all the advice you ever need to give.
If he’s on your back already, it’s TOO LATE!

That was sent on a postcard to the Citizens Advice Bureau where I worked, and it fascinated me. It pictured a world where each human being was locked in war with every other person, seeking advantage, and all comradeship was a lie. Everything we did was worthless: if that really were all the advice we needed to give, it could be given with a poster on the wall, rather than forty-odd people inside, beavering away, thinking they were doing something useful. It fascinated me because it was so far from the truth, yet so coherent and so beautifully expressed.

So I started collecting such phrases.

Don’t compare your sin to my skin.

Here are people of colour firmly in the Kyriarchy, busily oppressing others. “Christians” who believe that gay people, rather than being part of the wonder and diversity of Creation, are sinners who choose to be disgusting, and do not deserve “Civil rights”- in fact the comparison of their campaign to that of Martin Luther King is wicked. I can imagine people¬†repeating that phrase to themselves,¬†thinking how clever¬†they are, making themselves even less open than before to the need and¬†hurt of others: in the words of Neil Peart,

quiet in conscience
calm in their right
confident their ways are best

The evil in the phrase is focused and intensified by the elegance of its expression.

Who would wear a T shirt reading “I hear voices and they don’t like you”? It could not be expressed better, and it is a foul sentiment.

My favourite explanation of Astrology:

As above, so below.

Well, of course it isn’t. The orbit of Neptune does not affect my destiny, at all. The value of Astrology is in being a repository of wisdom about how people are, and a way of bringing these characteristics to mind whose randomness actually enhances its usefulness. In the hands of a skilled practitioner it has value. She says something about me which she thinks may be true, but her choices are constrained by the framework, which means she must be more creative herself. Then the thought sits in me and matures, either attracting or revolting me, and so teaching me. Just possibly, belief in the doctrine may help in this.

And finally, a sentence which is the opposite of elegant, but equally striking, in the circumlocutions half-concealing the basic idea:

Apart from a few comparatively unimportant particulars, the Law of England appears to be almost as near to perfection as can be expected of any human institution.

Wow. We’re so good that if we said it straight out we¬†would risk being¬†accused of self-worshipping blasphemy. One wonders what “comparatively unimportant particulars” the¬†Real Property Commissioners, delivering their first report in 1829, had in mind: perhaps the fact that someone¬†might be executed for stealing something worth less than two weeks’ wages for a skilled artisan, or the rule that no woman could own real property: it was held in trust by her father or husband.

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Winston Churchill said,

You create your own universe as you go along.

Now, I happen to believe that. My perceptions are not the same as reality, but from within my own brain, and my moods and past experience affect my perceptions. The struggle to make them closer to reality is painful and difficult. However, have a look here at the context. Or here. It seems from the second link that Churchill takes a naive realist position- he knows things exist because he senses them- and from the first, that he believes in Christian doctrine because it gives him comfort, and he wants to believe it. The quote is a straw man. So to quote it out of context is to misrepresent him and to cite him as authority for a belief he derided. And yet a quick Google shows it is often quoted in Law of Attraction sites, without context. Picture: public domain.

Einstein is quoted often as saying,

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.

Wikiquote disputes the citation. Again, from Google, it is frequently quoted on Law of Attraction sites.

What matters is not who said it, but whether it is true. Perhaps the quote has such value as it has not because he wrote it but because a particular Facebook friend chooses to share it. However imagination is much richer than that. I hated one of my psychiatrists so much that I had revenge fantasies about him. I would be horrified if they happened, but they were a safety valve for my feelings.

‚ÄúEverything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.‚ÄĚ I have seen this attributed to Confucius, but since I cannot find where he is supposed to have said it, your guarantee of its truth or value is either your own experience, or your faith and trust in me.

Situation, Thought…

Situation- Thought- Emotion- Behaviour is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy trick which I have found helpful. An example, slightly exaggerated:

Situation: I lose an appeal.
Thought: Oh God! Someone has lost his entitlement, and it is All My Fault!!
Emotion: Despair
Behaviour: Go on the sick with stress.

Situation: I lose an appeal.
Thought: Well, the evidence was not particularly good, perhaps he did not have a strong enough case, I could have done that bit a little better.
Emotion: brief resignation, before moving on to the next thought
Behaviour: turning to the next piece of work.

STEB illustrates the strength and weakness of CBT for me. CBT treats emotions as dependent on thoughts, but I, governed by old emotional patterns, found those patterns too deep to be affected by the thoughts. Yes, I knew Black and White thinking- either everything is perfect, or it is disastrous- is irrational, I could see that, I just could not take it into my heart. The CBT tricks, techniques if you insist, did not address the deep patterns.

Then the emotions can be manipulated, and are a bother to be managed, rather than an evolved way of responding to Reality. Unfortunately this has been true for me, with emotional responses to past situations rather than current ones getting in the way. But I feel that I can heal my emotions so that they work for me- I trust myself more than CBT theory does.

However, STEB did show me that I can see a situation and make assumptions about it, and it may behove me to step back for a moment and think about how accurate my perception is. How might I make it more accurate?

I want my emotional being and my intellect to be working together perceiving situations, and there may be times when one or the other should take the lead. Ideally I want to flow between the two as the moment requires.

The little people

Inequality in the UK declined steadily from 1918 until the late 70s, and since then has climbed, under Tory and Labour governments, until it is approaching 1918 levels. Having said that, the 1% are a large group, 600,000 people in the UK, and their income goes down to £120,000 a year. I have socialised with some. Some are friends of friends. Above £120,000, incomes and wealth shoot upwards exponentially.

When I consider the Leveson inquiry, it is striking that commentary and rhetoric I read come at the issue from the interests of the Powerful against the Little People. The Press should be regulated, because they are in the ownership of the Multinational Super-rich, like Rupert Murdoch. Or, they should be left unregulated,¬†because they investigate what the Wealthy want to keep private, in the interests of the Plain Man. The Sun reports that the Ministry of Defence has spent ¬£7,440 on medical treatment ancillary to gender reassignment in the last thirty months, (nod to Jane Fae). Their line is that blundering civil servants are spending money badly, and that trannies are ridiculous, our “sex swaps” fake, rather than that the MoD has spent sensibly, in order to retain the services of valuable employees. They claim a decisive influence in our elections. It seems to me that the “Little people”- ie, me- will lose out whatever Leveson does. And while Captain Francesco Schettino of the Costa Concordia¬†has done dishonourable things, I dislike the focus of the media- BBC as well as the Murdoch press- on him rather than on the corporate culture and structures, or perhaps the sheer bad luck and accumulating circumstances,¬†behind those deaths. I distrust journalists picking on the easy targets.

In other ways I am incredibly prosperous and powerful, compared say to those maimed by American mines in Cambodia, or choking on the fumes of the Chinese factories which produce the consumer goods I buy. If the 1% is not the 600,000 in the UK, but the seventy million in the World as a whole, I have far more affinity, resemblance, and commonality of interests to that group, or the lower half of it, than to the bottom billion.

While I may have that affinity, not everyone in the UK has. Worship on Sunday was interrupted by a homeless man. B. gave him a mug of coffee and listened to him, but did not have one herself or invite him to sit down. He had walked seven miles from the night shelter, which is always full. He had slept outside and had a sleeping bag, clothes and the mobile phone his brother gave him to keep in touch stolen, he said. His former girlfriend will not put him up, but does allow him to launder his clothes at her house. There is no night shelter in our town, so people have to go sixteen miles, and cannot afford transport.

I spoke to a few people, and none of us have seen beggars in our town. One Social Services department I came across wanted to shut down the charity soup runs in the city centre. They said such services made homelessness bearable, and so prevented people from using services to get out of that situation. Perhaps the lack of services here drives the homeless elsewhere.

We do have a day centre for vulnerable homeless people (are there any other kind?). Angela is going to do a sponsored sleep-out this month, and they have got funding from Lloyds-TSB bank for three years, corporate funding in this isolated case replacing the funding the government is cutting. They do hot lunches, provide showers, and people drop in to socialise. They are open four days a week.

Despite the cuts, the Government is borrowing for public spending in a downturn, classic Keynesianism. The percentage of GDP they would spend is only very slightly different from the percentage in the plans of the Opposition.

Spiritual Guidance

We left the office and went to the pub. At nine, we were still there, so we went to eat something; and I got home after one, the taxi driver’s fears of my vomiting in his cab not having been realised.

About 2.30 I woke with words going round in my head, and I got up to write them down. I wrote my verse, “In a world of doubt and sorrow”, which is on my Verse page, and the following day I made only a few changes to it. I still quite like it, which is why I have published it here. It just seemed to flow into my head, as if dictated by a muse.

In the Quaker meeting, I have been “Moved to Speak”, and I had the feeling that I wanted to speak without knowing beforehand what I would say: a greater level of trust than sketching out a line of argument and some of the words, even though they seem to come to me and I felt lifted to my feet. The Ministry I offered on that day when I did say something I had not anticipated had the potential to be my deepest and most constructive, and the angry response to it was unquakerly, entirely human and in no sense Spirit led.

So I have an experience, of feeling moved to produce words, which feel as if they come from outside me, though a more rational explanation is that they come from my own unconscious mind or even across the corpus callosum to my dominant hemisphere. It feels to me like a valuable experience. I am open to the possibilities that it is the Movement of the Holy Spirit, or a material, brain-chemical phenomenon. I think one can observe the phenomenon, and know it is valuable, without a precise and accurate understanding of how it works.

Healing work does not just work by placebo, but by this Movement, by some accounted wise. For example, BodyTalk.

This Yes/No communication is also called neuromuscular biofeedback, which is similar to applied kinesiology. By understanding that your body has an inherent knowledge of itself, the BodyTalk Practitioner is able to quickly and easily ask your body what communication circuits have become compromised and in which order these lines of communication need to be re-established for the fastest possible healing process to occur.

Pseudo-scientific gibberish, but what¬†BodyTalk gives as well as the attention of the practitioner is a few minutes of silence, which may let the patient access her own feelings, wisdom, and subconscious. In the silence, seeking inspiration and in a situation where she is told her body will give it, not seeking to argue but only to feel, the patient may learn something which she could not have worked out rationally. Advices and Queries asks bluntly, “What unpalatable truths¬†might you be evading?” You know, even if you refuse to make it conscious.

If I seek to practise healing, I want to be able to convince my inner rationalist that what I am doing has value for the patient. I am strongly altruistic, and benefit to my bank balance is not enough for me. Access to their own wisdom, as well as the placebo effect, may well be¬†sufficient benefit for¬†the patients. Even that work where I seek my own inspiration, and speak as moved¬†to the patient,¬†may be worthwhile. “It is only cold reading”- no, it is cold reading, with all the empathy and perception of a trained human animal.

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Quakers began at the start of the Enlightenment, about 1650, and George Fox said “This I knew experimentally”- experientially may be closer to his original meaning now. It is the unity of thought and feeling I seek, valuing both and gaining from both, equally, the right tool for the right job. I do not think it matters whether one calls¬†the source of inspiration¬†Spirit, Muse, or Unconscious; what matters is whether what it produces is useful. It is my experience that it is.

Piskies

In 1560, as the Queen of Scots was pursuing her French interests, the people of Scotland reformed their Church (with English military assistance); and so it was a Presbyterian church, with diffused, local if not democratic, church government. King James VI looked to England with envious eyes, and in 1584, aged 18, imposed bishops on the church, so as to control it. The Presbyterians held their General Assembly in Aberdeen, and James declared all who attended it traitors. For him, the law of treason concerned personal loyalty to himself, and anything which might interfere with his personal control was treasonable.

In 1689 William of Orange and his wife Mary Stuart became monarchs of Scotland, and probably William would have liked an Episcopal church too, the better to control it. However the then Bishops had nice scruples about their oaths of loyalty to James VII, and told the new King they would serve him “as far as law, reason and conscience will allow”. So he reinstated Presbyterian church government, and in the “Rabbling of the Curates” most Episcopalian ministers were turned out of their churches.

In 1745, the Episcopal church supported Prince Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart in the Jacobite uprising, leading to further legal suppression by the Hanovarians. In 1784, as the Anglican church in the United States had no bishops, and no English bishop would ordain one, Samuel Seabury came to Scotland to be ordained, and therefore the Anglican church in the US took the name Episcopal.

Probably fifty Sundays a year I would worship in the Episcopal church until I moved to England, where I went to my local parish church. I was brought up with a peculiarly grovelling Confession:

We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickednesses, which we from time to time most grievously have committed by thought, word, and deed, against thy Divine Majesty…¬†The rememberance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable…

We do not presume to come to this thy Holy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table: but thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his most sacred body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us.

That change, from the grovelling to the assertion of God within each human being, is breathtaking. But I noticed that, getting ready to go to church as a child, I was particularly unpleasant to my sister, seeking out arguable moral grounds why I was more moral than she, in order to gain points. I noticed it, and I still did it. The appearance of goodness was far more important to me than its reality. My father still worships with this 1929 Scottish liturgy, though a new form was instituted in 1982. Scots Piskies can be so conservative. I have checked the text, but I wrote most of the above quotation from memory.

We lived in this strange moral universe, continually¬†bewailing sin¬†even if feeling quite righteous, actually, but with a God whose “Property”, or nature, was “always to have mercy”. Always.

And yet, though now a Quaker,¬†I still call myself a Pisky, because of such people as John Shelby Spong and Marcus J Borg- the latter’s striking arguments that a Biblical Christian is a Liberal, not Evangelical, Christian delight me. And in Scotland, Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh, and Derek Rawcliffe, former Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, the first Anglican bishop to disclose publicly¬†that he was gay, in 1995 (after he had retired).

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“Whose property is always to have mercy”- il est son m√©tier. I am so glad to have returned to these prayers.¬† The original reason I quoted them was a talk with a “Recovering Catholic”, who disparaged the grovelling as harmful. But there is a much wider moral picture here: it is true that we all fail, all the time, but forgiveness is available from the ground of our being.

Le Puy en Velay

Le Puy en Velay is holy and beautiful.

The Chapel of Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe. I was walking around trying to find a good angle for a photograph rather than just appreciating the beauty, and so I blocked out the serenity. I had to¬†make¬†the decision¬†to put my camera away, so that I could enjoy the sight of it, rather than the challenge of contructing an image.

St Michel d'Aiguilhe- Christ in MajestyThe chapel, and Notre Dame de France:

Chapel St Michel d'Aiguilhe et Notre Dame de France

Our Lady blesses the Cathedral:

Our Lady of France blesses the Cathedral, Le Puy en Velay

Kneeling at her feet is Monsignor Joseph de Morlhon, the bishop who arranged her construction.

One may climb up inside her, and indeed see her face from inside.

The face of Our Lady of France from within

And- here is the ferry: the lines, angles, shadows, colour I like, though to have someone sitting behind that block, just the legs visible, would have been the detail to make it. The one that got away…

Vulnerabilities

I meet people, and a few I feel privileged to get to know. I see first a mask for a new acquaintance, a cocktail-party or professional¬†persona, pleasant enough,¬†then perhaps strength of will and a fierce questing intelligence. (Some say I am intelligent, though not intelligent enough for my liking- too often my “Oh, Right” moment is also, Oh, bugger.)

And then, as I see more, I hope to see playfulness. I find it hard to like someone in whom I see no sign of playfulness- it is a core characteristic in me as deep as seeking out community and connection, which I understand is a species characteristic- I was going to say characteristic of the Order, but I understand there are some solitary primate species.

And, sometimes, I see vulnerabilities, and this feels like a great privilege to me, a sign of trust. They are¬†real¬†even if¬†about nothing: “No, it is beautiful, genuinely. I see nothing wrong there.” In other groups, swapping vulnerabilities is a good way of bonding. A common one is Does my bum look big in this? If you tell me yes, you will make me very happy.

All this is very different from the benefits tribunal, where people say what they cannot do, and are judged, and may be found more capable- how horrible, to reveal your difficulties and be disbelieved! In my interviewing, I¬†am careful to show respect to¬†people so that they will open up and tell me their difficulties.¬†Sarah Breach, horrid chairman in Manchester, leans forward with an expression on her face like a visitor to the zoo who hates animals, and says, “Do you wet yourself?” The mental health ones, with the poor cripple surrounded by articulate middle-class people and with no paid representation, are nastier.

This is the same subject as last week’s Masks, though addressed from the opposite side. We soldier on, hiding our vulnerabilities, until in my case I could no longer, and I stopped, and have to find some other way of dealing with them. What I am trying is to realise that those things I am shy about are nothing to fear.

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Lovely comment- “your identity honours us all as women. xx”. Thank you. I am tempted in my old pattern of discounting such a compliment, and I will not. But my existence does raise stuff for people. That woman the other day really needed to assert that I was a man, did not like admitting that I am a woman, and apologised as ungraciously as possible. This brings forth dark echoes in me, of my own shame, which I work to reduce. But unless the bigot physically attacks me, his strongly or subtly expressed contempt or derision can only hurt me insofar as it is echoed within me. If I accept myself then it is actually true that “names will never hurt me”.

And my vulnerability is my shame projected onto other people. If I am ashamed of an aspect of myself I imagine that others will judge me for it. Very often they will not. Understanding that takes away that vulnerability.

My facebook friend unfriended me, because she said there was too much tranny stuff on my news feed. She does not wish to be associated with it. She does not object if the subject comes up, but she wants no cause for it to come up. She has left all that behind. She calls it a “birth defect”, I call it “natural human diversity”. I think this is sad: such thoughts stop us from associating with each other, isolate TS folk, and deprive us of the support our kind can give. A lot of us say, “I am a woman, I am not transsexual because I am not crossing anything, I have done that”. I still hang between.