Women’s space

meditation space

12 stepI was excluded from the women’s space.

Well-

I was excluded, but that was a different place, three years ago. And now I walk in, wondering if there will be some confrontation. I asked various people who all said there would be no problem, some know trans women, but it only takes one. So I walk in, nervous, and perhaps people pick up on my nervousness. If I am claiming to be “genderqueer” here, going without the wig in the heat, I have less of an argument why I should be entitled to be here. Oh, stop anticipating problems!

Here, I start conversations easily over tea. One woman, Canadian, works at a Buddhist retreat centre, of which there are dozens in the UK, and would consider marrying to get indefinite leave to remain. Well, the government is so nasty about immigrants to gain votes, and as they cannot stop EU migration they have to pick on someone many of their voters would not object to. Why should she not marry a friend? Romance is overrated. Er, because marriage is usually intended at its inception to be until death.

I drift into the workshop on non-violent communication. Here is a striking criticism of it: you can learn that the use of an empathic statement can get what you want from another person, sadly it’s surface empathy, the sort of behaviour that is associated with narcissism. One could see it more positively.

handcraftedThe group leader talks of how from Christianity we have the ideas of Original Sin and Judgment, so everything is either good or bad, in or out, and we judge ourselves and others continually. I challenge this, in a way: I say that there are other strains in Christianity, of love and acceptance, but that is a strong strain.

Therefore, there is a great deal of anger and unmet need, and people act as if what they wanted were obviously right, but do not state the emotions behind. If you can frame the outburst differently, state the emotion behind it, they feel heard and a lot of the pain vanishes.

Also, if you can state your desire more precisely, it might be met. The other women talk of their partners: one’s does not take enough notice of her. If you say, “I want connection”, he might get frustrated: “I give you connection”. If you are specific: “I want your full attention for two minutes without you checking your texts and emails” he might give it.

I start to weep. I have managed to create a space where I do not have these problems with others, I say, retreating from contact. It is an achievement, actually, it is me getting what I have wanted first, though it is not the whole way. Part of me is frustrated and angry: I see what I should do, and I do not do it. Part of me is wounded and frightened. She sees that I feel I have not been heard- perhaps it is that early childhood experience that really matters, friends listen to me.

Perhaps I could create a non-violent dialogue within myself, between these warring parts. It has been so difficult to value both, get each to value the other, through the anger and fear.

Later, I see her at the ceilidh, and she says hello distantly. My empathic statement is that well, you have empathised as a task, so deeply, you do not want to give more, now. Or perhaps she had someone else to talk to.

8 thoughts on “Women’s space

  1. I don’t think this is a place I’d want to be included in. But I’m glad you were able to participate this time, at least for the sheer principle of it.

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    • I have to ask, why not?

      It seemed that the principle of it had been won, or generously recognised. People had experience of trans women, and no-one questioned my being there- even without my wig, and some people read me as soon as I speak.

      I still think women’s space is a good thing. The men there were so nice it is a shame to exclude them from anywhere, but, well, doing things just with women is pleasant.

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      • I definitely like the idea of a women’s place and I’m so glad they included you this time. They were ignorant jerks for excluding you before. The conversations you described didn’t sound like they were with people I’d really like, though. And there’s something to be said, I think, for any space that would exclude anyone (whether it be for gender or ignorance).

        That said, I love going to places like Provincetown or Northampton. I just naturally feel at home. And I must admit I sometimes get a little mad when I go to NoHo and can’t find a parking space because of all the straight people there- like it was “my” town or something. 🙂

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        • I find I have not told this story here. I went to a camp run by Sufis, doing Dances of Universal Peace: a lovely way of spending time with people. There were Zikrs, and dancing, and also a Women’s Space. So when the Women’s Space was announced, I asked the person announcing it whether I could go in. I asked this for form’s sake, not thinking there would be any problem. She said, “I’ll have to ask the committee”.

          Next day I met P and her friend in the Moon Lodge to discuss this. They talked at me for half an hour: they wanted me to admit that it would be wrong for me to attend the women’s activities. When I got a word in, I tried to explain that I thought I should be allowed in, but would forego it, because I did not want to be the focus of discussions.

          On the Wednesday, another woman asked me to help her decorate the main tent for the Menarche ceremony. I was enjoying this when P got me and a man to lift down the sides of the marquee, to let the breeze through: a heavy, man’s job. I was so upset I walked off, and complained to the other queers when we met, and to my Circle, and generally.

          Various people told me that only P objected to me attending, and she objected “to protect vulnerable women”- not she, herself, of course she is entirely liberal. She probably believed that, but she was projecting. Other people, it seems, spoke to her pointedly about excluding me, and she came to hug me at the end of the camp. I think we both learned from the experience.

          You have another blog, besides the craft one, don’t you? Remind me.

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          • I only blog about my crafting at this point. I’m socially active, especially in regards to LBGTQIA issues, but I don’t really blog about it.

            LBG equality has seemed to be at the forefront of public consciousness lately, especially with DOMA, but I hope we don’t lose momentum on extending the same God-given rights and respect to the rest of the community. It’s people like the woman you mentioned who say they’re “liberal” themselves but just don’t want to offend anyone else who need a little wake-up call. I hope she got it in this experience. One of my favorite King quotes is “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

            It has been amazing hearing so many stories and seeing so many journeys in this blog land world. Keep sharing!

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  2. Hey I wanted to say that I totally relate on the “retreating from contact” comment. Actually, I had a bit of a wobbly moment by myself last night, when I really felt lonely for the first time in a long time. I’ve retreated from the outside world for a couple of reasons: firstly because there aren’t many who share spirituality in my immediate circles, and secondly fear of rejection on any level. It’s true that when there aren’t many friends or family around, there isn’t a lot of conflict. There aren’t many shoulders to cry on either! It’s tough. Big hug from me. I’d love to add some there-for-each-other-in-the-truest-sense friends to my life, and hope I’m taking some inner steps to welcoming them (scary as it is).

    Also, I’m so pleased you could take part in the women’s space this time. This festival looks cool, I wish I’d known about it sooner.

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    • Welcome, and thank you for commenting. I am delighted to find your blog.

      The festival was glorious. It will not be on next year, but there are others, and other places to camp: previously I have loved the Field of Love which I have written about here, and if you do not want to camp but like those things with no-strings sharing deeply, as we have only come together for a limited time, there is a lot in London: I wrote of Essence and HAI here, too. Also in London there are Quakers, Buddhists, Sufis, who share spirituality pretty deeply. Women’s space tends not to be a problem for trans women, I think: the big shift in the UK was ten years ago, and cis women are often dismissive or hostile to those “radical feminists” who are actually phobic about us.

      I am retreated because I have been hurt, repeatedly, and have given up: and in the time I have had resting, I have gained sympathy for myself, even acceptance. Blogging helps. I can notice that others are there for me, and accept me, only insofar as I can accept myself, and that improves. I would like the friend I could go to if- the test I heard was, if you have a body to dispose of. I tend to hope that I grow stronger, and may go out into the world.

      Hugs back.

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  3. I am delighted to find you also!

    Thank you SO much for the recommendations. I have taken a few 5Rhythms classes in London in the past weeks and have fallen in love. Shame I can’t make the 10 days in August, I would have loved it. I’m bookmarking them all.

    Not sure I understand the “body to dispose of” bit. Maybe I do. ❤

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