Presence in dialogue

File:Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea - Project Gutenberg eText 15250.jpgIs it possible to discuss something of importance to two people, where their views are opposed? I could talk to Christians who believe gay lovemaking is sinful, but I have questions for them first.

Gay people tell you we cannot change our orientation. Do you accept our testimony, that it is true at least of the people who say that, if not of others who claim otherwise for themselves?

Second, if it were not “clearly God’s will as revealed in the Bible” that gay sex is wrong, is there any independent moral argument that two people who so swear that they cannot change their orientation should not form an exclusive loving and sexual relationship?

Is it possible for this other to see my point of view? If the other says that I tell myself comforting falsehoods so that I may continue in my sin, he has me neatly boxed. But then, I say that he has a false idea of the nature of God, so I have him categorised too, in a particular idea of the basics of his Christianity.

Why those questions? The first, because we cannot change, and if you do not accept that you cannot see us- but more, because the idea that with only a little more self-control I could be a married man with children gnaws at me even now. I know that is not true, and if I sense an echo of it in another’s judgment, the anger and fear of it grasp me again from within. I have unhealed pain from before.

Um. I have no respect for them. They cling to something worthless because of their stupidity.


What of the “radfem”, who’t stand my kind? I might enter imaginatively into her perspective. She grows up with a constraining ideal of femininity which she does not fit and which restricts her life choices and chances, and by great strength and some luck overcomes it. Then she finds men, the privileged ones, who pretend to be women, and caricature the worst aspects of the femininity she despises.

A tool of her rebellion and self-acceptance is the knowledge that gender is a social construct and that femininity is defined by patriarchy. Her loyalty is to women, that is, people born with female sexual characteristics, because that is the only thing in which, for her, differentiating male and female is not an oppressive lie. She cannot hear me say “I am born feminine” without derision.

That rebellion I can respect. The “Christian” who does not rebel but becomes an oppressor himself, I despise, but the feminist whose rebellion cannot take account of me-

Oh! I despise the Christian because I did not want to rebel, I wanted to fit in and be normal. I rebelled because I could not do otherwise. It still feels in part like the slippery slope down, not climbing a mountain. I despise in him what I despise in myself.

I could say that if one of them speaks of me, it is her stuff not mine. And vice versa. It shows me what my baggage is.

Can I sympathise with a person-
aged 46!
-who still has baggage?

Bad treatment might not have survived NHS treatment of my gender dysphoria, had that private route not been available, which the General Medical Council now seeks to close down.

In 1998, I saw a consultant who wrote to my GP, “Mr Languish is not transsexual”. He is clearly wrong, in hindsight: I have been transitioned ten years. He put back my transition at least three years, and that harmed me. Could he really not have spotted that I am trans, had he not been unduly prejudiced against the possibility?

In 2001, I saw a gender psychiatrist. This was 8 months after my GP’s referral, which is an abnormally short delay. He made no diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and told me that I could not get hormones until after I had changed my name: that is, after I had taken the plunge, gone full time as female.

Separately from those decisions, the consultation made me so upset that I could not bear to see him again, and went private.

I wanted reassurance that I could make a go of transition, and support in doing so: voice training, facial hair removal, hormones. He gave me nothing. So I went to Russell Reid, who gave hormones, I found a speech therapist and electrologist, and transitioned. Of these doctors, it was Reid who was investigated and found guilty of serious professional misconduct. He retired.

He sold his practice to Richard Curtis, who now is also up before the GMC with similar complaints.

Far more people are hurt by refusal of treatment than by wrong treatment. But the ones hurt by refusal don’t matter. They are only trannies, after all. The important thing for the doctors is to avoid anyone for whom the treatment is wrong, getting it. And for the media: “tranny refused treatment” is not a story, probably not a real tranny anyway- but cutting the breasts off someone who later objects is a hugely salacious story. Any psychiatrist should be capable of diagnosing my condition: it is easily described. But we must be referred to gender psychiatrists.

I do not know why people revert. I was capable of making my own decision, I knew I would be permanently changed and infertile, and I had no psychosis or other condition which might make me falsely believe I was trans. So Dr Dalrymple told me. I did not know I could make a go of it but I knew I had to try. The two questions:

Am I transsexual?
Will I be happier if I transition?

may have the answers yes- no. If you revert, there may be huge pressure to find reasons why transition was wrong in the first place.

One I know who could not afford to go private transitioned before me, and may have her operation this year, ten years later. No. That is not shocking at all. It is only strange in that she is actually getting her operation.

I hate the salacious, prurient Telegraph article, especially in giving Curtis’ former name and the area he lives in; but it reveals he is “non-homosexual“. One of my lot.

Telling not showing the waiting room, the snow makes us talk. It is compacting on the pavements, trying to lie on the road. “In Canada or Germany we would see it is beautiful, be used to it, just get on with it” says a woman. It is warmer in Portugal, I say. She does not like Portugal. Why not? She knew Madeleine McCann’s grandfather, so she was put off it. She used to like the Algarve. She is less willing to say, when saying something less happy.

She loves Germany. Does not like France so much. She has been to Paris.
-Well, you have to go to Paris.
She prefers Brussels. I want to be in the conversation, I say how much I love the Magrittes, but she is away, with her story to tell. She went with her nephew on a four day coach trip to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. He had only wanted to go to Paris, it is the city you know is magical. They saw the sights in the evening and morning, and travelled in the afternoon. He did not want to get much, he only bought a key-ring of the Manneken Pis. That was what he wanted, it would appeal to a thirteen year old boy.
-Yes, I knew of it when I was a teenager.
When the tour was finished, the driver from Antwerp asked him what he had liked best. He said Amsterdam, then Brussels, then Paris. What did he think of the Eiffel Tower? Glorified Blackpool tower, he said.

The other woman went to Venice once, and did not like it. The gondoliers were on strike. I am called up to the dentist, who tells me how well I have been brushing.

Slip and slide on the steep pavement to the bus stop, just in time. Woman says how beautiful the snow is, and I agree. “It should have been snowing at Christmas”. On the bus, I hear her phone call. “How can you keep my children in care when they would be better off at home?” I am listening, and I could not write it. There it is, so expressive, and I could not convey it to you. Or at least, not as quickly as I am writing now. She is on the phone from Swanston to Downley, and I wonder at the social worker not ringing off.

“I can look after my children better! They were losing their hair!”- What do you mean, environmental factors? (Nothing, of course. If he said something concrete, it would be refutable, it would leave space for engagement.) What the fuck? That, of course, gives the opportunity for the social worker to rebuke, I wonder if he took it.

Some problem or other. The bus stops, the bus driver gets out and messes about a bit. A howl comes from upstairs, and a youth, hood up, hoodie with “No Fear” once in large letters and repeatedly in tiny letters comes down, loiters a bit on the lower deck, then goes back up. His agitation perturbs me. Getting off later, he thanks the driver. Everyone does.

Scott Lively

Scott Lively is the leading American conspirator behind the Ugandan “Anti-Homosexuality Bill”, and at last Sexual Minorities Uganda is bringing him to account. They have filed  a statement of claim in a court in Massachusetts.

This is not a matter of religious belief or freedom of speech. Lively is entitled to express his belief that freedom of speech is a bad thing, and that advocacy for gay rights should accordingly be criminalised. He is entitled even to lie that the Nazi rise to power was a homosexual conspiracy, ignoring the 100,000 arrested for homosexuality during the Nazi regime. The court action against him is for his actions, not his words or beliefs.

The wrong is conspiracy to commit a crime against humanity, namely persecution, defined in international law as the “intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity.” The conspiracy succeeds according to Lively’s wishes: even before the passing of his Bill gay men are murdered and lesbians sexually abused by the police. Organisations which speak for them are proscribed, and human rights NGOs which might speak for the LGBT community will not, in case they are removed from the country. Gay people are refused AIDS treatment, and a clinic set up to treat gay AIDS sufferers is threatened with closure.

It is not that gay people are safe if they are quiet and pretend to be straight. They are named in the press, and their address details given.

This is what Lively wanted. He whipped up hatred of gay people with this precise purpose. He organised and spoke at a conference for legislators and others in 2009, where he told the lie that gay people seek to recruit children to homosexuality through pederasty. He incited those politicians and others to the hatred and violence they now pursue.

People die because of Scott Lively.

He is proud of this. He has been working in Uganda to create this situation since 2002, and wrote, my host and ministry partner in Kampala, Stephen LANGA, was overjoyed with the results of our efforts and predicted confidently that the coming weeks would see significant improvement in the moral climate of the nation, and a massive increase in pro-family activism in every social sphere. He said that a respected observer of society in Kampala had told him that our campaign was like a nuclear bomb against the “gay” agenda in Uganda. I pray that this, and the predictions, are true.

What is that gay agenda? Not to convert children, or harm society, but to live in peace and be treated like human beings. A nuclear bomb is not a proportionate response.

Directly because of Lively’s activities, gay people and gay organisations in Uganda suffer severe deprivations of fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly, and the press, and the rights:
– to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention;
– to be free from torture, and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
– the right to respect for human dignity;
– the right to privacy.

Update: In December 2014, the US First Circuit Court of Appeals denied Lively’s attempt to have the case against him thrown out. It will proceed to trial.


Triggering is good. Triggering happens when some part of Kyriarchy which had seemed so normal I was barely conscious of it impinges on consciousness like feeling returning to a numb limb. Then I am scared and angry and paralysed and I may start weeping- I will not react with that calm which I prize- or else, I go back to numbness which I can notice later. I once thought this meaningless jargon. It is part of the healing process.

I found Diva magazine in WH Smith on Leicester station. Is it for me? It is trying: its “Great big lesbian dictionary” has “MTF: Male-to-female transsexual. Better known as trans woman. Or just woman. Trans women can be lesbians too.” Should that need saying? On facebook, they asked, “Would you date a trans woman?” and had some objections, which firm up my view. Saying you would never date a trans woman is like saying you would never date a black woman, or at least saying you would never date a woman with a particular physical condition. I am a woman.

The January issue has an article on transphobia in the lesbian community. It is by a trans woman who says she is “hetero-romantic”- she dates men. That triggered me. On what other subject would they ask a straight woman to write about lesbian issues? How dare they? It brings up for me all that stuff about being a “secondary” transsexual for being gynaephile.

The article is almost entirely negative. The author spoke at Dyke March London- a strong acceptance- yet barely mentions that. Instead, she writes of unpleasant experiences with individuals. She interviewed a couple, one trans and one cis. They would have mentioned their joyous experiences, and are quoted on their bad ones. That facebook thread had a lot of positive comments about us, and only a negative one is quoted: we try too hard to be over-feminine, apparently. Julie Bindel “seems to have accepted that bullying trans people is no longer acceptable”- muted cheers for Julie Bindel- but talks of a “war raging” with feminists. This is really not what I want to hear. Why not write how the couples met and how they love each other?

The fashion pages show the “rock chick” look- check shirt, t-shirt with a skull on it and grey jeans, in one photo- and that orange thing really does nothing for their cover girl. There are tips on finding a therapist as you might find in any woman’s magazine. There are interviews with lesbian musicians, and a note of “The Trans Comedy award”. I would read it if they treated me like any other lesbian. They are not there yet.

My poor enemy blogs say homosexuality is against God’s will, and I go on them to inoculate myself. These things trigger me. I get angry, and my anger ties me up inside. I have withdrawn in fear and terror. I wish to be able to hold and accept my own anger within me. I want to be aware of where I am in the moment- how triggered, how angry, how fearful of my own fear- and hold my ground and function. I would like to do that face to face. Blogs are a practice-ground.

Paul, in his comment here, says gay people cannot have a loving relationship. It is not Love, any more than paedophilia is. Then he says Your side has won the culture war, that should make you happy. Christians are the only group in our society that it’s OK to hate. Mmm. Paranoia and self-pity.

I hear the pain and hurt in his words.

What is he defending? The right to feel disgust at another person, merely for who he is. The right to cling to disputed interpretations of the Bible, when in our lifetime Biblical arguments against the mixing of the races have finally been laid to rest: our understanding of the Bible improves, as our knowledge of God improves. The right to feel better than gay people, to despise some outsider in order to feel better about himself. A cat to kick. Mean, horrible things.

File:Lucas Cranach d.Ä. - Christus am Ölberg (Tokyo).jpgDefending- himself, or at least his self-concept. A shared understanding of the World. A community where he can feel at home, because people think and feel the same way he does. It is because they suppress their other thoughts and feelings, and it is supremely uncomfortable for those so different that they can not suppress, but it seems comfortable enough for most. Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

I can sympathise with that. I find reality, other people, my ain sel, difficult. Jesus challenges that comfort. Matthew 10: 34-39:

34 ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

‘“a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law –
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”[c]

37 ‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

A man is set against his father because the world moves on, our understanding grows and deepens, and all must separate from their parents and find their own person. This is painful and difficult for both.

If we know our separateness and difference, we can come together, worship together, work together. If we suppress it, our hands are tied behind our backs. Coming to this acceptance of the world as it is, and others as they are; shedding comfortable falsehoods, feels like losing our life- but it is for Jesus’ sake.

Suzanne Moore storm in a thimble, miles away, which need not affect me at all, and I am in tears of rage with it.

I feel like a child talking to a teacher. She started it! My long explanation of precisely how bores her and breaks down, so before I am finished I am the one getting the strap, and it is not fair. The teacher is The Guardian itself. It is supposed to be progressive, and should not insult trans people.

Onywye. Suzanne Moore wrote in the Guardian with the throwaway line We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual. Irritating but not lifethreatening. Some trans folk objected, and there was a twitterspat.

Julie Burchill then wrote in the Observer a deeply insulting article- calling us “bed-wetters in bad wigs” was not the half of it. Well, I wear a wig, and with such a short urethra, post-operatively, I had some problems before I got my pelvic floor so strong. Lots of women have. The Observer has apologised and withdrawn the article from its website.

Then Suzanne Moore wrote a follow-up. To that teacher, who does not care about the subtleties, it might seem an apology. Suzanne has had friends who were transsexual, apparently.

But to me (subtly and out of the teacher’s attention) it pushes my buttons. It starts with the title. I don’t care if you were born a woman or became one. When does she think I became a woman? At my sex-change operation, perhaps? I have always been a woman. I have always been me. I have had one gender. Pre-transition self-identified trans women are women.

Then she says Some trans people appeared to reinforce gender stereotype going. People comment that I seem more feminine than most women- I am exquisitely attuned to surprise or disapproval in that. It is an old feminist trope for hatred of trans women, though Moore extends it to men as well. I do not wear lace-trimmed skirts to oppress women, but because I like them. If you don’t like being criticised for your clothes or appearance- I assume Moore doesn’t- then don’t criticise mine. Simple, basic empathy.

No-one can speak for anyone else, she says. Moore does speak for me when she attacks the Government. She thinks I should focus on that, and get behind her, so she may insult me with impunity. No. I happen to find the insults the most important thing in the article. Her telling me what I should think makes it worse. She could always attack the Government without attacking trans people.

I am just angry. It brings up my stuff. Someone links it on facebook, I read it (yes I know I should ignore it, but well, I read it) and I get wound up.

Oh and- Julie Burchill objected to being called a “cis woman” to distinguish her from a “trans woman”. It is an ancient Latin prefix, commonly used, and it is the only way to refer to a non-trans woman which does not insult me. “Real woman” “Born woman” “Natural woman” and the rest all include me.

Thanks to these bloggers for support and information.


18 January: I am coming round to defending Suzanne Moore.

She does not think we trans women are really women, that is the thing. She thinks we are castrated men. She thinks if we call ourselves feminist we are faking; she may dislike our “femininity”; she is not going to come round. Even in her latest piece she says something about not liking the word “cis”.

I like what she writes about the Government. She said initially that we should get behind her attacking the Tories, and actually, she is so good at that that I am willing to overlook the odd throwaway line about Brazilian transsexuals.

Yes. It is “trans women/ trans men/ trans folk” rather than “transsexuals”. Yes, omit the “trans” unless it is relevant and necessary, and yes “cis” is the only way of describing non-trans women that does not insult us- for yes, I am born female too. And I know how much people get hurt by these remarks. And, still, hooray for Suzanne Moore, giving Cameron another kicking.

Press Complaints Commission ruling exonerating the Burchill article.

November 2020: Moore “left” the Guardian.


In October 2011 when I started getting all emotional I put it down to the hormones. Now I go back to Dr Anne, and I don’t. She spent twenty minutes with me, and tried to build on what we have discussed so far. In 2011, I wanted referred to the Charing Cross GIC endocrinologist, because I hoped s/he would have experience of trans women on hormones and might make sure things are going OK. Anne thought I should be counselled by their psychiatrists, for whom I have little respect. I cannot bear the thought of reverting.

Nicola got rid of me saying I should have counselling within the surgery, and their counsellor has just retired. They have not yet replaced her. Anne thinks I am upset because of rejection. And I think, no, the acceptance is far more important. All the acceptance I have! Positive thinking, be aware of the positive, even when the negative is true it is not useful information. But no. I cannot just ignore the negative, because I have been hurt by it. All this stuff in my past. It hurt overwhelmingly, and still hurts. Rejection: by my father when I was most vulnerable, by my sister, by Quakers in a long drawn out, hideous way, by the CAB in large and small ways, the annual funding crises and the annual audit crises; rejection by partners and potential partners, and the original childhood rejection, after which I tried to make a man of myself. I need to see all the positive in any situation, and I cannot ignore this hurt, for I am still hurt by it. I am hurt so much that I stay in my flat and do not go out.

Then- Oh wow.

My resentment, anger and fear are overwhelmingly aimed against myself.

This was this morning’s thought. I am angry at that part in me- not, clearly, all my emotional being- which is frightened of getting a job, frightened of looking for one. So there is the fear, and the anger I feel at it.

And it is all my fault. I should have been able to cope. I should have been able to achieve. That should not have affected me. That supreme joy which absolutely blinded me to what was actually going on: my own joy is my enemy.

I need to forgive myself.

In a spiritual exercise, the speaker told us to pick an object, and become aware of it. I took my pocket-mirror from my handbag, noticed a mark on it, and began cleaning it. Unsurprised, the speaker remarked several of us were cleaning.

I would not normally clean it, I would just use it. It was still useable, despite the mark. Why clean it? Because, in taking time to consider the mirror, I saw the dirt and was ashamed of it. Or because I valued it. Because I feared judgment, or out of love.

Being aware of myself, there are things I might wish to clean away.

Old wine in new wineskins it. Don’t classify it then reason from it. This is not always advice I take.

I want to know where the feeling comes from. Is it from current experience (good) or a reaction because of past experience (bad)? My thoughts and feelings really are my enemy, they constrain me. If I could even now “make a man of myself” life would be so much easier, I catch myself thinking. What would that even mean? Kelley tells me how his class of 14 year olds resonate with the idea of not fitting the “Man-box”, the constrained ways of being a Man in this culture. In the story of Theseus, Procrustes forced people onto his bed, and if they were too small he stretched them, if too big he cut bits off. That myth’s meaning is so clear to me, though what the Greeks thought of it I do not know. Robert Graves links it to the Isthmian Games.

Something is not working here. I feel upset and find myself wishing for something impossible which I would hate if I could get it, or I would be completely different as a person.

I have been reading Hilary Mantel, and history books on the Tudors. A Catholic friend said with no hint of irony that Edward murdered martyrs, and Mary executed heretics. I like to think that now I have a more nuanced view, that I can see different aspects and issues, though I still think Elizabeth’s settlement best. Her Church of England accepted a wide range of Catholic and Reformed views, and had no allegiance to a weak politician at the mercy of foreign kings and armies, though it might have been better with less state control. Possibly this view is affected by 35 years as an Anglican. And- I can be open to new understandings, and so gain understanding. Brilliant. And- I need to understand my current situation.

It seems that I can say sensible things, that this job was a good place for me to be, or that defeat was no judgment on me but showed my integrity- and I do not feel that way. The world is not that hostile, I say, there are always positive things to see, the negative has no value, the acceptance is so much more important than the rejection- and something inside me does not believe it. So I break down in tears rather than do a job application, and cannot go out after a failed job interview. I like to think that is not merely my inner critic, as I hope it does not have so much control over me. So I imagine my rational self at war with my emotional being.

I could see it differently: I have managed to convince my rational self that I may survive in the World, and this is a good start, now I have  to persuade my emotional being. Even, finish persuading her, I have made a start.

Lao Tzu allegedly agrees- the internet never gives sources.


File:Albert-von-Keller-La-Descente-aux-Enfers-1912.jpgI have a hot bra.
-The padding is too warm for anything but winter hiking!

Actually, it is unusual. I thought my padded bras would get waterlogged in washing, and go out of shape, but they usually dry quickly, keep their shape, and are comfortable, not too warm, to wear. They even manage to look almost pretty. And, I have a lace underwired creation which manages to pull me forward, display me to my best advantage, and is (apart from the well-concealed wire) pretty gossamer. I was abashed, wearing it: it is hard to accept that my breasts might look attractive.

Kaspar Juul, spin-doctor to the Statsminister in the Danish political drama Borgen, lies about his father. He pretends that he is the son of a wealthy industrialist. He ran away after his father sexually abused him, and told him not to tell his mother as she will not understand, and will be angry with him (Kaspar). His on-off girlfriend finds out about his father’s funeral, and goes. Only the two of them are there. She reaches for his hand, and holds it.

She points out is not the funeral of a wealthy industrialist, and he snaps that he has fantasised a wealthy father. He has seen a psychiatrist about it. She says she could love him if he told her the truth, and he cannot tell her that he was abused, cannot give the reason for his hatred, rejection and lies. Watching, I think that she would understand if he did; and he is ashamed of having been abused, ashamed of being angry, of being unable to deal with it. He so needs his pretence of not caring.

I lied again last night. I found something embarrassing, so I pretended it was other than it was- and held to my lie, though I was still embarrassed, and embarrassed more at my lie. And the lie cuts me off from sympathy, because I fear mockery. And yet I imagine I could not tell the alternative therapist’s lie, “I am fixing X by a little pressure and a little pulling” which if placebo has any meaning becomes true in the telling of it, and is a valuable part of that placebo. Part of the performance.

I imagine my lie last night was transparent, as my embarrassment would show. I do not want your sympathy, because it obliges me to you- yet I delight in giving sympathy. Two things so close, a society of equals all standing up for themselves and a society of equals, all supporting each other, and the fantasy of the first stops the second from coming to be.

And my breasts can look good, with the right support, in the right light, to the right eye.