Trans* blog

george-elgar-hicks-portraitI have various purposes for this blog, but most people come here for one thing. 66% more popular than any of my pages is Tucking, on a technical issue of interest to transvestites and pre-op trans women, which will make many men blench. It started as a post about trans in the wider culture, and a “radfem” lie, but people came for the how-to guide, and those pictures of girdles get a lot of clicks: many times more than any other picture. So I have rewritten it, and the original is now re-posted in the comments.

It is popular, but does not introduce people to the blog. I linked to Lace, about getting a bra fitting, which I would have thought would interest the same people, and that has had four clicks in three months. I could design a sidebar specifically for that popular post, linking to other things, as I have written on going out in public for the first time, and being accepted in ordinary society, but I could not write a blog on the trans scene, giving make-up and passing tips, as it does not interest me and I am not particularly expert. My post Tranny blog, though it attacks those obsessed with us rather than pandering to them, got huge interest for some reason in June and July last year and this year, and little in between. My post Not just another tranny blog, about how I wanted to blog on other stuff, had a burst of popularity in March last year and this, because it’s my most popular search term. Again, I altered it, adding pictures to entice people to look further, with little success.

circc3a9-nights-sweet-rewardGeorge Elgar Hicks - The Goldfinch 1875Far less popular but still getting the search hits are my art pages, particularly Woman’s Mission and John Martin. I am not sure why middle-brow British painters of the 19th century should be more popular here than Klee, say. Durga was hugely popular until October last year, though the pictures were hotlinked rather than embedded here. Perhaps search-engines started giving greater weight to Indian sites then.

I am pleased with my page Gay Christians, which summarises the best scholarship on the clobber passages in the Bible and gives links to explanations in more detail. It has had 2.5% of my total page views, though I publish daily. No Christian has an excuse for claiming that the Bible condemns homosexuality or loving gay relationships. I also give enough to refute the theory of Autogynephilia, with pictures by Goya and links to experts.

Then there is Luke Skywalker, which had eight views this year, yet tells of an encounter with an impressive human being. So does Magic train, with just seven page views in total, though more will have read it on the homepage. Few want to read of conversations on trains, which I most like writing about.

Here I have another picture from CircĂ©’s Art, which may of course be why that post is so popular in the first place. Seeking to build on my strengths, my search-bait invisible tag line is art, transsexuality, spirituality, autogynephilia.

Alan Turing

Oscar and BosieAlan Turing should not have been pardoned for his conviction for gross indecency.

“Gross indecency” was a new crime in 1885. Anal intercourse had been a capital offence until 1861, but the difficulty was proving it: how to show the anus had been penetrated? “Gross indecency” was easier to prosecute. It was any sexual activity between men. It was a blackmailer’s charter.

In 1967, sexual activity between men was partially decriminalised in England. If two men, both over 21, alone together in a private place had consensual sexual activity, this was lawful. This reads like an exception to the rule rather than a full decriminalising.

Discrimination at work on the ground of sexual orientation became an actionable wrong in 2004, and equal marriage is expected on 29 March in England. That is what vindicates Alan Turing: we accept that there is nothing wrong with gay lovemaking. Pardoning Alan Turing because he is famous, or because he shortened the second world war, or because of the Turing Test, implies that we accept that the anonymous gay men whose lives were ruined by prosecution between 1885 and 1967 were rightly prosecuted. It also implies that someone thinks driving Turing to suicide is somehow made all right by a late pardon.

We know that the law in the past was monstrous. The Law of England, except in a few comparatively unimportant particulars, Kenneth Williamsappears to come almost as near to perfection as can be expected in any human institutions said the Real Property Commissioners in 1830, when women’s property was in the custody of their fathers or husbands, and there was slavery in the Colonies though not England itself. 306 soldiers shot for cowardice or desertion in world war one, 16m deaths in total, all bad, pardons don’t really make it even slightly better.

Meanwhile, there are 50,000 men in Britain with a criminal record for Gross Indecency for acts which would not be criminal, now, such as sex below the age of 21 or 18. There, a pardon would make a difference.

Sentimentality about the war is the reason for it, that fabled time when plucky little Blighty were unequivocally the Goodies, alone against the darkness, who triumphed at huge cost: debt higher as a proportion of GNP than now, as well as all the deaths.

Good news

Angel in GreenThis is a security announcement. You are under the threat of imminent death from terrorist attack. It is your duty to report anything suspicious to the armed police who patrol this station for your safety. If you stray more than two feet from your handbag it will be subjected to a controlled explosion. Mind the gap between the train and the platform. Because of bad weather we are providing a reduced service today: you are advised to check our website before travelling. [Not the most useful announcement in a station.] And may God have mercy on you all.

A series of IT disasters and other fiascos have wasted hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. The UN calls the Conservative government racist, and the Tories call the UN hysterical. Terrorists are coming into the UK through the Common Travel Area with Ireland. Nick Clegg, asked how he wins people over in debates, said I always try to keep a good sense of humour, and if I have an argument with someone, to keep the argument about what the argument is about and not allow it too often to become sort of personal. I make one exception, for a man named Ed Balls”: the headline is Clegg v Balls: it’s personal. Not, oddly, Clegg prefers to keep debate to the Issues.

The Times is the paper of record, neutral between the main parties: stories are matched, Mr Miliband’s incompetence and Mr Cameron’s uselessness. Disaster stalks the country: Gatwick investigation after ‘Third World’ chaos.

What of this? The National Grid pays “constraint payments” when it does not buy electricity from particular suppliers. Power demand is subject to peaks and troughs, and so generating capacity has to be on call: where it is not used, suppliers are compensated. This is the kind of technical information which would make me nod wisely and pass to the next thought: I don’t want great detail. But The Times reports this as a “huge bill to leave turbines idle”. It is a “record” amount because there is an increasing number of those beautiful, majestic wind turbines. Tory Peter Lilley calls it “taking money from the pockets of poor people to subsidise rich landowners”. Beware Tories speaking up for the poor against the rich: his real target is green energy. The Times starts with the Anger at the Waste, and only at the bottom of the column is the allusion to balancing costs, which I have supplemented here from my own knowledge.

The Opinion pages have a Christmassy article- the irrelevance of the Church of England- and how the Tories pardon Alan Turing in order to appear Modern even though they have jettisoned their green policies and incite hatred against Benefit Scroungers and Immigrants. They criticise negativity while indulging in it- as do I.

A waste of brain-space?

File:González Velázquez, Zacarías - The miracle of Saint Casilda - c. 1820.jpg“Well, it is a matter of taste. Some like Jungle, and some like Classical.”

I raised an eyebrow, and said: “If music is a tree branching near the base, one branch Classical and the other branch Popular, the Popular branch only begins to reach the same girth if we include in it all Musicals since Cole Porter, all jazz and blues, folk, Mediaeval ballads and anything anyone has ever danced to apart from Ballet. Jungle is a small twig, soon to drop off.”

I didn’t, actually. I stared at him. One becomes a writer so one can always have the last word- but why should that remark come back to me, many times over the last fifteen years? I have crafted my put-down. I could perhaps think of alternatives, but it hardly seems worth it. The opportunity is past: I will never get to give a put-down in that situation.

One third of the way across the field and five minutes from home, having to watch my feet so as not to slip in the mud, it did not distract me particularly, but I felt I could have been aware of the birds, or the patterns of the sky. It seems a misuse of consciousness, and when I am unconscious of the memory what is it doing in the depths? It pops up apparently unprovoked, I feel a moment of old resentment, and perplexity that I should still think of that. What good might it do?

It might be a by-product of a useful trait. It does no good, itself, but the brain is evolved and works well enough.

I can think of the incident again. Jason’s line was a microaggression, a put-down, but I do not need to rise to it, and a put-down only has the effect on me I allow it to have. It had a great effect, which was enough to be the only memory of the man I can recall, now; the resentment burned itself in; and that lets me play with the incident. Imagining not rising to the bait, and being unperturbed, may be as good as actually being unperturbed. I give myself permission to be wound up by anything- I do not need more opportunities to beat myself up- but recognise the possibility of rising above it.

File:Caravaggio - San Giovanni Battista che Nutre l´Agnello.jpg

Christmas II

Opening the presents

First, a Poem:Adjusting the balls

Please give way to the cyclist, cos the cyclist is me
I’m a squishy, breakable cyclist, and I don’t want to die you see
It’s fun to be a cyclist, in the sun with the wind behind-so-
Please give way to the cyclist, if you don’t mind.

Please give way to the motorist, if you don’t want your frame all bent.
I don’t want to deal with the paperwork, but I don’t mind a scratch or dent
The roads have a plague of cyclists, all getting in the way-so-
Please give way to the motorist, if that’s okay.

H meets me off the train, having taken an hour to drive to the station. The rain is lashing down, and the forecast is worse storms, but people have still got their last shopping. At home, I meet her cats, who are completely gorgeous, and welcome me in. I love to be sat on. Then they jump off, busily opening the presents and rearranging the tree decorations.

Best present for the child, 7, is a motorised ballerina. Press the button and her tutu spins round like the rotor of a helicopter. Up she goes, bounces off the ceiling with her rubber head, drops about two yards then moves upwards again. Her arms out, she rotates in a stately manner against the direction of her skirt. I would love a skirt like that: I have the legs for it! So has C, now 15, in a skirt which looks like a belt: her mother told her she could only wear it with opaque tights, but after I tell her with her black eyeliner she looks like a Goth, her legs are bare. She got an iPad Air, which means she can be completely sociable and ignore all the people around her. She is Snapchatting, a selfie with every text: another social media site I had not heard of.

If the ballerina is knocked off the vertical, she becomes unstable and falls. “Don’t fly it under the light!” says Daddy, with greater emphasis on the DON’T each time. I am unsure. When it breaks, how much upset will there be? Once you watch it going up and down, how much more excitement can you get from it? It is lovely for me, though, spending a day with the toys. She brings out her hamsters, with their black eyes, and H and I cuddle and coo over them. They have hollow plastic globes: put one in, and it can scuttle round the floor and not get stepped on, or escape. The balls are more fun than motorised toys, but they have to be put away before Granny comes, who does not like little mammals.

I have been coming here for ten years, after my father did not want me there after his marriage. I met H at a dinner my trans email support group held, to mark the death of one of us who had killed herself after she transitioned and could no longer see her children.

To Cardiff

800px-Rain_Steam_and_Speed_the_Great_Western_RailwayI met a lawyer I liked!

The train from Paddington is fairly crowded, but we have a table between us. He is about thirty, in a rugby shirt with a neat beard. “That looks antique,” I said, approvingly, of his briefcase: it is thick stressed leather. It would not start a conversation unless he were happy to join in, but he is: he shows all the papers in it. He has a busy Christmas break ahead.

He clerks for a judge, and has files to assess before he returns to London: are there grounds to justify hearing an appeal? He finds that the cuts in legal aid may have increased the number of appeals: there are far more litigants in person. This saves no government money, because the cases take twice as long. On immigration cases, there may be more claims, as before someone might not appeal if legal aid was not granted, but now, knowing a few people who have taken a case themselves, they have a go. One woman had been housed in one town, near people from her country but not those who spoke her language or shared her Christian denomination. She wanted to move to join her community, but as her only ground for a challenge was “homelessness” her claim was hopeless. He sympathised, and wished that something could be done administratively.

Employment cases will be reduced, though, with the huge increase in fees for lodging a claim or fixing a hearing.

He loves London, and cannot imagine living anywhere else. It would just be too small. He had a year in New York, and imagines that he could get fed up with that; but in London you are in your own particular village within it, which has a human scale. He would like to use it better, more concerts, more theatre, and art exhibitions, but does not get round to that.

ParnaggiHe recommends Mahler’s sixth symphony. It is profound. It contains the three hammer blows of fate: the end of his marriage to Alma and his daughter’s death- and one other. G would go anywhere in Britain for a performance of it. He played the trumpet in youth orchestras. As a brass player, he has great affection for John Williams: other composers use brass as the fanfare section, but Williams gives the brass melodies. When about to go to university considered schools of music; but it is difficult to make a living and he judged he did not have the wholly exceptional talent needed to live well. As a trumpeter, given the choice of one night playing Shostakovich or six nights playing for The Lion King, he would have to pick the musical.

His phone rings. “Do you mind if I take this?” Oh, of course. I open my kindle intending not to listen in rather than covering up my listening in. I fail: his friend tells him he is getting married, and asks him to be best man.

He did a year of journalism school before being called to the bar, and appreciates a particular Guardian interviewer, who can put a character on the page. It passes all understanding. Later, I see he is a PhD candidate.

Looking at the Vavatch Orbital site, I felt envy. This is a man’s student site, and he has packed his third decade with interest and achievement. I choose to change that to appreciation. I delight in his enthusiasm and his good will.

Mosaic

Mosaic

Mosaic restored In the visitor centre, there is a Roman mosaic excavated here twenty years ago. It cost ÂŁ10,000 to restore. Now it hangs on the wall, and I went especially to see it. It is something the local wealthy walked on, 1700 years ago.

What I feel about it relates entirely to its antiquity. Were it new, I might note the effort taken to assemble all those tiny tiles, but find the design like a doodle: a bit repetitive. I would move on. Now my mind moves over its meaning to those who owned it originally, or saw it before it was buried in the ruin, or walked on it, and those who restored it, handling the same pieces as the original crafters. What matters to me, looking at it, is its value to all those different people and its survival. My awe is at the experience rather than the object.

———–

Horrible man said homophobic rubbish and got suspended. Boring. What do bloggers say about it?

GLAAD called it “far outside of the mainstream understanding of LGBT people.” Al Mohler picked up on that: So the controversy over Duck Dynasty sends a clear signal to anyone who has anything to risk in public life: Say nothing about the sinfulness of homosexual acts or risk sure and certain destruction by the revolutionaries of the new morality. You have been warned.

This is the objectionable bit of Duck’s rant:

-What, in your mind, is sinful?
Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there…. Bestiality… Er, no. Homosexuality does not lead to bestiality, and homosexuality is not the most serious sin of all, in Christianity. Do they not get it?

Imagine this: “Alcoholism leads to dealing crystal meth”. Duck also talks of desiring a vagina, as if a woman was no more than that.

If someone does not see this is offensive, how may we get through to them?

———–

Possibly, the answer is not to be offended. Duck believes the Bible condemns gays. That is the problem. Duck probably won’t change his mind, especially not because GLAAD tells him he is wrong. There are partisans who see Duck being condemned by gay people, so defend him noisily.

Billie-Holiday-1I had thought to end this with some way of getting along, of cleansing the boil, reducing the anger: something Christmassy, in fact. Turn the other cheek, or something. Though something must be done about white Louisianans saying the Blacks were happy under Jim Crow. Perhaps I can stand up for NAACP- those happy, singing black people would have seen strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees, or known someone who had. 

Alternatively, let me try to show why his expression of his views is not maturely Christian, from the point of view that gay sex is sinful. First, he says that a vagina is attractive, and an anus is unattractive. The point of sin is that it is tempting. Basic empathy says that gay men find gay sex tempting. Jesus starts from where the person is, and enters into our concerns. Second, Duck does not go beyond a dismissive stereotype. Stephen Fry has denied using anal sex: there is intercrural sex, and other ways of making love. There can be no love without empathy, and Duck shows no love.

From the other way: there are people who find gay sex disgusting, and believe it is condemned in the Bible. They see gay characters on TV, and are disgusted: their way of life is being threatened. They don’t see Duck’s comments as objectionable: they would not be more articulate, and so shutting Duck up is shutting them up. So they object, and I sympathise.

I can do no better than this. Merry Christmas.

This year

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/da/%22Florero_con_pl%C3%A1tanos%2C_limones_y_libros%22%2C_Juan_Echevarr%C3%ADa.PNG/417px-%22Florero_con_pl%C3%A1tanos%2C_limones_y_libros%22%2C_Juan_Echevarr%C3%ADa.PNGBeautiful day yesterday. Just after noon the sun was high enough to feel warm on me as well as blinding. I walked into the village, and with an unexpected twenty minutes to kill went into the library. There I find a sign from the Marsby Historical Society that Charles Weston, who has an IMDb entry but not one on Wikipedia, made films in Marsby at the start of the century, including shots of the High st, still recognisable in places. IMDb tells me that he killed himself having been unable to get work even as a strike-breaker.

The librarian has a short sleeved top and heavily tattooed forearms, surely showing that tattoos have completely lost all edginess whatever. She said hello as I went in, and though I felt uncomfortable in the heat, not needing my sweater, I said hello back, then admired the beauty of the children’s section. Those low book boxes reminded me of similar displays at Gartcosh Carnegie library: I had a sudden feeling of sitting on the floor, and how big and exciting they had been.

Beautiful day yesterday, dreich day today, but I was thinking of this post before being cheered up by the sunshine. My year has been unused, which is not good. I stopped volunteering at CAB last November, and have skulked around the house, mostly, since then. The blog has been my main activity. My resources have depleted, my CV got more ridiculous, and I have hidden away, not Screenshot 2013-12-18 20.10.34 (2)even getting emotional as much as I had, as I have excluded emotional stimuli.

I have not particularly grown in self-knowledge or self-acceptance. I still have the internal war between nagging myself and answering sulkily don wannoo. Then I thought, today, it is a failure of imagination: I cannot see how I can improve my lot, however much I dislike where I am, however lonely I am.

————

“It’s a horrible, incomprehensible world and I want nothing to do with it.” Mmm. Play with that a moment. I do not want it to be true. I think it untrue: I have no reason to call that librarian “horrible”, though my discovery that the Straights were as screwed up and ashamed about sex as us queers can be was. And- various things I have moaned about here before.

Kneel in the ritual space. I am doing this irregularly at the moment. I need a handkerchief, I might cry, though I am not doing that much either. I count breaths noticing my tendons are tight, but feel relaxed. After I stop counting, my reverie turns to saying something sweet, and the person asked if I was being sarcastic. Had I been, I would have been being particularly mean: I cannot now remember the context. That frees me to weep. Before, I had had the thought that weeping does no good. I am so concerned at one instance of miscommunication, where I am good with words; and while some people call me intelligent, I do not appear so to myself. One is good at the things one is most concerned about: perhaps my spurs and whip really benefit me.

————

All comment’s welcome!

Comments

Fallible humans

Do we want our LGBT characters to be heroes?

We are a minority, subject to varying levels of distrust and dislike in the general population, becoming more visible and visibly successful. In real life there are queer heroes and villains, those oppressed and disadvantaged by homophobia and those who transcend it, people of all levels of gift and accomplishment, psychopaths and empaths.

The Bechdel test asks, in this drama are there two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man? That is, does the drama have anything primarily for a female audience? There are films for queer audiences, romantic comedies of two women or two men, just as fifty years ago there were films for Black audiences in the US.

Oops. I was going to stick in a joke about black film noir, but this article says that there are still segregated films, even though Morgan Freeman and Eddie Murphy are mainstream: if the Whites are watching a Black film such a high empathy threshold would make the suspension of disbelief difficult and attenuate the pleasure of their viewing experience. Please read that word “mainstream” imagining distaste in my voice.

So we look at these dramas with a beady eye. Are the gay characters in some way clichéd, like Jack the camp one in Will and Grace?  Will, the main character, was straight-acting to be more reassuring to the straight audience. Oops. Cliché camp gay: bad. Straight acting: bad. Felix in Orphan Black is also ostentatiously camp: most gay men I have known have reserved their fully camp side, like a Scouser in London speaking with a modified accent. Is he cliché or role-model?

In Last Tango in Halifax, a married woman having a lesbian affair books a hotel for a weekend away with her girlfriend. Phoning a young male receptionist, she bottles it, and books two single rooms to the great disgust of her girlfriend who does not find out until they check in. Arriving to find a middle-aged woman receptionist, she does not correct her mistake.

I can believe she would be frightened about her relationship being known. I want drama to portray reality without pointing too much of a moral, so we can react to it as we will: but I would not want anyone thinking she was right to be ashamed.

People use the word “lesbian” of her, as if her marriage was a mistake. Was there never any attraction? I may be less offended by this than if I were bi.   Yet so many women marry then come out that we have the expression “Gold star lesbian” for those who have never had sex with men. We would not need terms at all if sexual fluidity was accepted, that it was equally normal for some people to feel attractions to the same sex, and act on them, and different attractions at different times of their lives: but would there still be straights who suffered that high empathy threshold and be put off?

I want the queer couples to get a happy ending. Straights do.