My car’s broken

I took my car for its 10,000 mile service in Cardiff, and the man¬†phoned me up to say I needed a new exhaust. The whole thing. That’s a bit steep-¬†he offered to take payment in cash, so I would not have to pay VAT. I was tempted, and I would probably¬†not get caught, but it would have been dishonest, so I refused that offer. File:Daewoo Matiz.jpg

I went round to pick the car up, and found the exhaust they had got was too short. If it was just an inch, the mechanic said, you could bolt it on under tension, but not that far. I went under the ramp, and saw it was indeed too short, so I went away again. The first replacement was even shorter. They got another exhaust system, and fitted it by the following evening.

As I drove away, the engine management light was on. Well, that is useful. “There is something wrong with your car”. What? Something. I should have dealt with it sooner, but previously when I had had it read, the reading machine could tell when it had been activated, but not what fault it indicated. Not useful. The dealer could read it properly, but then the dealer had told me I needed a new sump and brakes for ¬£800 the last time I went there, and another garage had shown me that¬†was not true.

Eventually, with my fuel consumption rather poorer than before, I got round to sorting it. Things have moved on with engine management systems, and the garage in Swanston could read it. I liked the way the man came to me in the car-park and asked how they could help.

-Have you noticed anything wrong?
-There is a deeper note to the engine noise, it sounds like a larger engine.
-That can’t be bad.

I would rather it felt like a larger engine. They find that the sensor by the exhaust which tells how much fuel to put into the cylinders. With the sensor broken, it put in too much fuel. Like driving around with the choke out, I said.

-Yes, in an old-type car.

That is my second “In my day” moment this week. The first was the posh frocks shop selling “Prom dresses”. In my day it was the school disco, and we did not particularly dress up. I’m too young for “In my day” moments!

Oh, and though the garage in Cardiff had charged me £125 to fit a new cable for the bonnet release mechanism when it broke, the man in Swanston tells me that there is no bonnet release catch. It is not there. There is only the secondary catch to release by touch.

So I won’t be going back to that garage in Cardiff. Or the dealer in Cardiff.¬†My only slight consolation is that I get to moan to you about something other than transsexuality.

It has done me well, lasting nearly eight years so far. I hope to pass my half-lightsecond in it in a few months.

Cui bono?

At the tender age of twelve, I was a Thatcherite.

Is fracking for shale gas dangerous? The Spectator says not.

Fracking is not a pretty process: it involves drilling a large well and then pumping large quantities of water and sand down it in order to fracture the appropriate strata of rock. Once the rock is fractured, gas can seep into the well and be forced to the surface. But it isn‚Äôt anything like as hazardous as environmentalists ‚ÄĒ in a repeat of the fantasy and exaggeration which characterised the campaign against GM foods a decade ago ‚ÄĒ like to claim.

What about cost?

kilo¬≠watt for kilowatt, energy generated from shale gas emits only half as much carbon as coal ‚ÄĒ the energy source which it is already beginning to replace in many American states. It is estimated that $4 spent on shale delivers the same energy as $25 spent on oil

So why do environmentalists oppose it? Because they are hysterical liars and puritans who want everyone to suffer:

The energy-scarce world of their dreams has been put off for a couple of centuries at least; instead we are staring at a future of potential energy abundance.

OK. Turn to Potomac Upstream, a blog I rather like. Here I find fracking described as the end of our World. So I asked her for sources, and she referred me to Salon. What do they say about the dangers?

In every fracking state but New York, where a moratorium against the process has been in effect since 2010, the gas industry has contaminated ground water, sickened people, poisoned livestock and killed wildlife.

And on cost of production, it refers to Wikipedia, which, citing the New York Times, states:

The degree to which production is economically viable remains uncertain as only high prices resulting from high demand can support the increased cost of production

What particularly irks me about this is the statements of fact. I have a degree, and the ability to understand complex concepts, even research them a little, but my specialism is restricted, and I cannot find for myself what is the cost or carbon footprint of fracking. These two sources tell me opposed things. Even if there are statistics which each can rely on, one at least is not telling the whole truth.

I love the Spectator’s slogan “Don’t think alike”. However, it seems to be strongly in favour of regimented thinking. At the tender age of 12, in a strongly Tory household,¬†I was a Thatcherite, and reading the Spectator recently has caused my final break with the Conservative party. I could not bring myself to vote for my current MP.

I want to read to know about the World, not to reinforce my current prejudices, or get an emotional kick from anger at lying environmentalists or lying corporations. People need jobs. I get that. And NIMBY is not a good argument, so people may pretend to more general environmental concerns. But when I ask Who benefits? I think the corporations have a greater interest in distorting truth than the campaigners. I dislike not knowing, but need to admit when I actually do not know.

Iago

File:Caravaggio - Taking of Christ - Dublin.jpg  Why a picture of Jesus? Because he did what he thought was right, and was always entirely himself- and he got killed for it. I really do not want to draw attention to myself, because it will be hostile.

OK. That makes no sense at all. It is not my experience. At the office where I volunteer, a man gave me a box of chocolates because what I did with him came good. That is grateful, rather than hostile. However it is a reason why I wear a mask.

This maskedness produces a deep self-loathing- I am a coward and disgusting hypocrite.

Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

-“Iago”, Othello, Act i scene i.

Here I am in a quandary. How to be, what to do, now? I do not like this way of being. I do not think it sane or healthy. How may I ameliorate it?

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Here’s what to do:

I asked, How do we take the step? What about- by fearing not taking it more than taking it?

Singingbones replied,

yes, or you could say, by taking yourself firmly in hand and finding the courage inside to do the thing you are fearing. Once I was about to do something which I wanted very much, and also feared very much. I couldn’t sleep that night, and called a wise friend to ask for advice. She told me to imagine the worst thing that could happen if I went ahead and did the thing. And once I could see through my fear all the way to the end, I saw how it was a huge illusion that I was fearing. That was good advice which I have used many times since.

What’s the worst thing that can happen? There is a far greater threat from not taking a risk than facing it. As she says, “Life is challenging and constantly demanding courage, forgiveness and patience”. What she says is simple, and with my learning style I still benefit from her giving a concrete example. And “see through the fear all the way to the end” is beautiful.

So that is what to do. Take risks. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

However, a variation. I am going to respect the depth of the problem, and the courage I have shown so far in facing it. I am going to celebrate the risks I have actually taken, and those which I take- for I habitually discount any virtue in myself, and I need to acknowledge the virtue. The steps I am taking are the steps I am taking. I have the time to take them in.

Getting to know myself

I saw two swans flying. This is rare, because they can normally get where they want to go, by swimming. They aid each other, one flying in the other’s slip stream. As I watched, they changed places.

As the laws of attack govern those of riposte, to avoid being harmed by the asperities of my character, all my servants adopted in their own the same withdrawal tactics, and always at the same point; in compensation for this, they took advantage of the gaps in my defences to gain ground there. Of these gaps I knew nothing, any more than of the ground gained in the spaces they left, precisely because they were gaps. But my servants, as their faults became gradually more apparent, taught me of their existence. It was in the defects which they invariably acquired that I learned of my own natural, invariable defects, and their character presented me with a sort of negative proof of my own.

-Proust, The Guermantes Way

How can I get to know the bits of myself which I deny? The first step was realising that such bits exist in the first place.¬†When I first saw Johari’s Window in the 1990s, it did not really speak to me. It was a great revelation to realise, in about 2000, that I lie to myself because I want to see myself as a Good person. One thing I sought to do then was find other motivations I might have to lie to myself.

A strange thing about this lie is that it still applies, though my principles have moved from a Daily Mailish morality to ideals around personal growth and spiritual maturity, it is still easier to tell myself I have done some healing or growth than actually to do it.

Another task was to find out what I really wanted, and to compare my belief of my wants to my acts. If I really want something, I should be motivated to achieve it. In come the lies again: I want to protect myself, and wear a mask when I interact with other people, so I do, but do not realise it. I tell myself I want the things I have learned I ought to want, but don’t. So I seek them out, and wonder at my lack of motivation and energy.

Also, at some deep unconscious level I wanted my own survival and healing, towards a self-actualisation that, consciously, I could not have understood, or might fear and hate. These factors have brought me Here, to a place where I might do that healing.

Inching forward

The coach of the UK Cycling team said,

Focus on the process and the outcomes will take care of themselves

How wonderful to have such a scientifically designed and personally tailored training programme, that all one needed to do was follow it. How wonderful to have such a calling, that that was what one Wanted, to have the single minded determination to follow it. How wonderful to have that calling recognised.

Dave asked me how the jobhunting was going, and I started to cry. I don’t know. Hormones, something. My eyes are watering, my speech quavers, daily. Dave was sympathetic, and perplexed- he is a man I would go to for practical help with a practical problem, but not the first I would choose for a shoulder to cry on. And I- I was unhappy, but also a much wider, richer brew of emotion. I was quite clear that everything is alright, I was content; and fearful of the future; and rueful about getting visibly emotional; and possibly other things too.

Not in work, and not looking for work- how do I feel about that? How do I feel about others knowing it? Ashamed; and rueful. But then, it is like being transsexual. I care what other people think, I think other people disapprove, in so far as I feel shame myself. I project it onto them. Generalise from that. I feel others will disapprove, because I am ashamed myself. And- I think Dave was perplexed, but not disapproving. “You like to have a lot to do, don’t you?” he said, and that might be projecting too.

So then, am I ashamed? Yes I am ashamed. I am ashamed of my fear and anger. I am ashamed of being unemployed, of not doing anything about that. I am ashamed of being hurt, of not sorting that out and dealing with it. I should have dealt with all of this by now! Ashamed of my illusions, and frightened that I have not found them all, for how can I survive in this world with blind spots? I will just be hurt and humiliated again. I have an idea of what health might look like, so why am I not there?

Feel the shame, and let it go. Yes, I am ashamed. I have been doing my best.

As Fritzfreud says,

Emotional problems tend to come from avoiding emotional discomfort.   So discomfort is the price of recovery.   Accepting our limitations.  Taking risks.  Becoming honest.  That sort of thing.

Gregory House said, “It’s not easy, but it is simple”. Now, I devote myself to accepting my limitations, reducing the illusions and fantasies, accepting myself as I am. So rather than “inching forward”, I am moving forward at my own pace.

I like “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay” on Single Dad Laughing.

LGBTIQQ

My mother was a midwife, who said that surprisingly often it was difficult to tell, from a first glance between the legs, what sex a baby was. “Dress it in a kilt and call it Frances” was her Consultant’s joke. On surgery to approximate genitalia, he said, “It’s easier to make a hole than a pole”. Of course it was necessary to make one or the other, as otherwise the child would be unable to fit in to ordinary society. So easy it was to fashion a gender identity. Now, intersex people oppose infant genital mutilation, being unhappy with the results. They want the child to make the decision whether or not to have surgery, and if so what, when of an age to make an informed choice. In Australia, a passport can be marked X for indeterminate, rather than M or F. Rather than a medical condition, to be “cured” or made “better” by approximating the person to one or other sex, some see intersex as a “variation” in ways of being human. One might choose surgery to achieve a particular aim, but not simply to appear “normal”. So Intersex people have a similar history to LGBT folk of a movement from being forcibly made normal (even more intrusively than the rest of¬†us)¬†to being accepted as variant.

Nevertheless, pointing out that an intersex variation is visibly physical, or genetic, should be a complete answer to the most bigoted person, assuming they have the intelligence to understand the concept. LGBT is a coalition of people who face bigotry from others who find us and our choices disgusting, and think that we have chosen our way of being. We can say my behaviour is my choice, it is the expression of Love which harms no-one; and this is the way I am made. But intersex people should not face such bigotry.

Having been excluded from an “LGB” group “because they did not want men making passes at the lesbians” I do not want to exclude, but I do not want to colonise either- so I would welcome intersex people to use LGBT space, but not use the phrase LGBTI without the lead from intersex people.

The longest statement of the rainbow coalition¬†I have heard is LGBTIQQ, which is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Intersex Queer or Questioning. Queer is¬†a word being reclaimed- I am happy to call myself Queer, others dislike it as a bigot’s word to condemn us. I would like to add in A for Allies.

What of transsexual people saying we are Intersex? Well, I say that myself. I am not a man. I think “man”, as well as testicles, involves¬†the brain. If I were a man, I would be unable to bear presenting female for any length of time. Seeking to explain, I will say I am intersex as a metaphor, to win over the person who criticises me. This is who I am.

This argument cannot possibly hurt any intersex person. A bigot may not admit that my brain is female, but should admit that certain chromosomal states are not simply and clearly either male or female, and certain physical states have characteristics of both. It is not too complex. The intersex person should be safe from all but the stupidest and nastiest bigots, who would find excuses to pick on anyone.

I want this argument as part of my armoury. Really, I express myself female because it gives me pleasure and¬†harms no-one, so no-one has a right to object. But if someone will not accept that, I have the intersex argument. And if a trans woman is frightened of transition and frightened of What Other People Think, it is an argument I can use to¬†reassure her. A transsexual friend was fair pleased to learn she had Klinefelter‘s syndrome: she has two X chromosomes! We do not trust ourselves or our desires, we need external justification, and it hurts so much.

Variation

Much trans discourse¬†arises from oppression. When I first came across other trans women in the 1990s, all pre-transition, I heard of The Script, what we had to tell the psychiatrists. “I knew there was¬†a problem when I was three, and I knew what it was when I was five. Puberty was disorientating and distressing for me. At school, I could not understand why the girls were affirmed for certain behaviours, but I was condemned.” Actually that last bit is a quote from someone who, I think, meant it in all simplicity, but it would have been a fib for me. We told them that so we would get what we wanted.

Finding it unbearable to present male, even in a bigoted environment where I had to move house¬†because local kids scratched and dented my car and abused me in the street, I retreated to the box marked “transsexual” and the understanding my culture has of it. I sought more to convince myself than others that I was not mad to do this, that it was not a perverted fantasy, that I could really do what I Wanted, just because I Wanted it. I did this in part with arguments about the BSTc which may not even apply to me. When I realised I did not really fit that box marked “transsexual”, that was¬†a reason for me not doing what I wanted- I must be deluded.

The Gender Recognition Act, under which I have an extract birth certificate giving my sex as female, was a wonderful liberation for me. I felt accepted and supported by the law of my country in doing what I had done. Accepting my own transition, presenting female, liberated me to go further. The first symptom of this was resenting the classification. Under the previous law, I was called a “man” (Corbett v Corbett, orse. Ashley) and now I was labelled “woman”. Those were the choices. I am really something in between. Given what I had wanted, I could now rebel against that too.

A further liberation comes from the concept of “Variation”, for which I am endebted to L’Organisation Internationale des Intersexu√©-e-s in Australia via Angela Erde’s comment. It liberates me from the need¬†to justify to¬†my inner policeman how I behave. An Episcopalian priest discerned in me the desire to “shock”, but really I wanted to shock myself- the Variant part of me wanted to shock the timid, conventional part of me.

I care about¬†how others react to me. There are some who are simply hostile, because of their own hang-ups, to anyone who is not “normal”. Others, though, may take their lead from me- if I can gentle away my own fears, and accept my variation and my spontaneity, they will too. They will be as comfortable with me as I am. This is the working theory, anyway. Alternatively, they are always comfortable with me, and it is only my projection of my own discomfort. Right now I do not know which.

The word “Variation” also helps to¬†free me from being hurt by hate-filled Radfem nonsense about how trans women oppress real women, etc. They may express opinions about what I do, but they¬†have no right to judge who I am.

There are still boxes and classifications which I might find useful: neutrois, for example, or trans*. However, these are now opportunities rather than traps: I see what is possible, and expand my awareness of the range of choices, rather than beat myself up because I do not fit. I have done enough of that. After struggling for so long to be something else, I now struggle to release my bonds of fear, so that I may be only me.

Believe in America!

I believe in America. I’ve seen it on satellite photos and heard Aaron Copland’s music. People whom I trust say they have been there. Apart from a vacuous slogan,¬†the man most likely to come second in November¬†has some vacuous beliefs.

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices.

Mr Romney’s own website shows that he has worked hard to oppose marriage equality. This is not a religious freedom issue. Conservatives do not have to call the union of two women a “marriage”. They do not have to make friends with those women, or let them attend their church. But they do not have the right to prevent us from celebrating and naming¬†our unions. Your freedom to swing your fist ends at my face, and it really irks me when you start to whine that your fist hurts after hitting me. And I am perplexed that he would so badly misunderstand what judges do.

I am glad he is standing, though. Were it not for that, I would not have heard about temple garments. I have had other moments of shocked derision because the serious press is paying attention to Mormonism.

Shocked derision is my constant reaction more generally. Newt wants a moonbase by 2020, and his supporters cheered: why bother? You’re on another planet already. I have heard various excuses for this. The President as an embodiment of the Nation has to pretend to be an ordinary man. The constitution, as a way of getting Government out of the faces of citizens, elects second raters.

What does Newt have to say about marriage equality?

[gay marriage is] a perfect example of what I mean by the rise of paganism. The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors

Sounds reasonable. I like paganism, I have liked pagans I have met, I like their spirituality, and generally pagans are keener on equal marriage than Southern Baptists because pagans are more sane. Unfortunately, Newt continued:

but they are a fundamental violation of our civilization.

Oh. So. Two perfectly nice ordinary groups of Americans, mostly friendly and pleasant enough, are named as Enemies of Civilisation. The Enemy Within. We don’t have the Commie threat any more (many of those damn commies¬†were homosexuals) so Newt has to make do with homosexuals and pagans. Oops, don’t forget Muslims:

Remember, the Organization of Islamic Countries is dedicated to preventing anyone, anywhere in the world from commenting negatively about Islam, so they would literally eliminate our free speech and there were clearly conversations held that implied that the U.S. Justice Department would begin to enforce censorship against American citizens to protect radical Islam

I seem to remember a good news story from the Republican primaries. Wasn’t there an out gay Republican candidate? Someone more centrist and moderate? Oh yes, Fred Karger. How’s he doing, then? He has not secured a single delegate. And what does he think of the people getting involved in politics?

It‚Äôs great that we can express our political ideologies by dressing up as colonial revolutionaries and yelling about economic policies we don‚Äôt understand. But were the Tea Party and Occupy movements populist statements reflecting democratic dialogue, or did they serve only to undermine perfectly capable ‚Äúestablishment‚ÄĚ candidates?

Leave it to the professionals, in other words. After all, they have done brilliantly so far…

Good patriotic Americans might think that, considering I have never been West of Reykjavik, I should not involve myself in their private grief. But the Leader of the Free World affects us all, and my country has been to war twice, on his say-so, in the last ten years.

Ask you what provocation I have had?
The strong antipathy of Good to Bad.

The Googling to find this stuff took minutes. It is easy to find monstrous and vile things that these men say.

John Perrot’s hat

Part of the Quaker testimony to equality is a thrawn insistence on showing only the respect of an equal, even to the monarch. When a man¬†addressed a superior as “you” and an equal or inferior as “thou”, we called all men “thou”; and where an inferior would take off his hat to his betters, we took off our hats to no man, no Lord, no judge. Our founders were put in prison for this lack of respect.

Men worshipped wearing their hats, a custom we in Britain have dropped only in the last century. A friend wanted to get a Quaker hat, but the problem was that there was no one design: the Quakers’ hats and bonnets were visibly different from those of outsiders, but their fashions changed over two hundred years.

Fashions change in Ministry, as well. I have only ever heard ministry which is addressed to the gathered congregation. People talk of God, of right conduct or of politics with a moral slant; but I am aware that there is a convention if anyone in ministry prays to God. The minister in that case kneels down, and everyone else stands. And, when the men wore hats, they would take them off.

John Perrot, who still does not have his own Wikipedia article, wished to keep his hat on during prayer. He argued that if taking off the hat was no true honour to another man, it was no true honour to God either. George Fox imposed his authority, and Perrot was driven out of the Society of Friends.

Where we have ritual- shaking hands to end a meeting, or the guidance on what is appropriate Ministry- it helps that it is the same across the country. We seek the leadings of God in making our decisions, but the orthodox Quaker custom had evolved in worship and been affirmed by decisions made in worship. Perrot sought to go his own way on this.

My own refusal to obey authority led to a minute of disunity from my area meeting, condemning me. That minute was reversed when it was considered by wise Quakers from outside the AM, but  that process was incredibly painful for me. As a lawyer, I want to distinguish the imposition of authority on me from that on Perrot. When I made a stand against my friend being scapegoated, I was myself scapegoated, wrongfully. I absolutely refused the ultimatum imposed on me. I was always willing to meet in Worship to discern a way forward, and promote reconciliation between my friend and her persecutors. Fortunately, I am happy in my current area meeting, and I have a role in which I serve it.

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Ours is a Society without a hierarchy. We make decisions together, seeking God’s loving purposes: what is the right thing for us to do, here, now? Our Quaker roles, of Elder and Overseer (from Greek “Episcopos”) circulate¬†among the members of the meeting.

Retreating together is a powerful thing, able to build community, and that is why it is an excellent thing for Northamptonshire AM or Central Manchester LM to do, and in this case such a toxic thing for South Wales AM elders and overseers to do. It was in one of their retreats that they considered a conflict between one of themselves and a vulnerable but committed Friend, and decided to exonerate themselves, and scapegoat her. Seeing that it was a conflict between themselves and one Friend, H,¬†they should have sought outside help and reconciliation: but they did not see that. The outside helper already¬†involved was asking them uncomfortable questions, so they rudely told her that her assistance was no longer required, and started a sustained campaign of bullying and vilification. That has led, two years later, to¬†H’s exclusion¬†from the Society of Friends.

At area¬†meetings discussing this, where Friends are supposed to attend “with hearts and minds prepared”, elders and overseers have worked very hard to prevent the facts being known. Only their interpretation could be heard. They directly accused me of lying, behind my back, when I could not be present and had no chance to respond, and on the evidence of one witness, which was contradicted by her own writing. When I complained their accusation was false, they silenced me: I was impugning the word of the one of them¬†who called me a liar. One reason they gave for silencing me was that she was not present to answer me, a rich hypocrisy.¬†Thereby, they forced through¬†the minute of disunity with me, which was only reversed on appeal¬†six months later. Because I had moved, they sent a letter to my new area meeting. Perhaps fortunately, it condemned me utterly, and portrayed me in an entirely negative light: it was therefore belied by experience of me. I am accepted and happy in my Quaker meeting, no thanks to the liars in South Wales.

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The appeal panel overturned the minute of disunity, which is now void. They¬†specifically criticised South Wales elders and overseers for claiming that I alone was responsible for the conflict. Having more delicacy than I about the use of the word “lie”, they call this an “oversimplification”. In the meeting of the AM which received the appeal panel’s report, elders and overseers prevented this criticism from being read out. And so they continued their campaign of mendacity to force through the humiliation of my Friend H.

My current area meeting show their regard for me by appointing me assistant clerk. I am unsure of the current situation in South Wales and Cardiff Meeting. Sometimes, scapegoating and expulsion of an innocent victim, and the creation of an out-group, can make a community bond more closely. Quakers should have a more excellent way of building community.

Orthorexia

A woman in her late teens shuttled between two hospitals, being treated for anorexia. When she was brought physically in shape, she would be sent back to the mental hospital on the other side of the city. As there was no coordination of treatment between the two, her condition was managed rather than treated, until she died of it. Perhaps with my life and eating being controlled by doctors, I would lose the will to live.

Anorexia is a coping strategy. Often, people with anorexia will have other strategies, such as cutting- “cutting” is the word used by¬†many who have that coping strategy, “self-harm” is the word imposed by outsiders classifying them. If their cutting is treated too intrusively, they may reduce it, and turn to eating control instead. Anything for a quiet life. It is necessary to deal with the underlying issues, rather than the coping strategies which are symptoms of them.

If I want to avoid certain foods because of ethical concerns, or for my own ideas about my own health, that is my concern. “Orthorexia” is¬†a word coined by doctors to describe such behaviour, implying that it is an¬†eating disorder characterised by a harmfully rigid adherence to particular dietary rules. It may be linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, they say.

Honestly, doctors butting in all the time. These are ordinary coping strategies. Everyone is a little nuts, and it is as if these busybody doctors think alcohol was created for making sterilising wipes.

Synaesthesia is a condition where the senses affect each other. So particular sounds may cause someone to see colours, or words may appear coloured. Olivier Messiaen had the condition, and used it in his music, such as Colours of the Celestial City. While it is not “normal” in the sense that only a small proportion of the population have it, and arguably it is slightly maladaptive, as it is an additional way of perceiving the World as other than¬†it is, people with the condition generally are quite happy with it, so doctors can back off. No cure needed here, thank you.

Transsexuality is a natural variation of the child in the womb, through which girls are born with testicles, and boys with ovaries. While it might please certain people with overly tidy minds to convince those boys that they really were girls, and their ovaries were the most important thing for deciding that, from the inside it feels like who I really am, my identity, is the most important thing. I am female. I would be less “cured” if I was made happy presenting male, because then I would not be me.

So again, I think that the American Psychiatric Association, about to publish its fifth edition Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, can butt out. I am not mentally ill. Perhaps DSM 5 could include a diagnosis of psychotic pseudo-transsexuality, where there was a psychosis producing a delusion of transsexuality- but I am female, and my disorder was entirely physical. It was alleviated by genital correction surgery. I am not sure I particularly want screened against mental illness: I think the strain of transsexuality on a child might cause mental illness, rather than the other way round. I resent gender dysphoria being included in a manual of mental disorders, where it has no place.