Comprendre est pardonner

Moonlight, a Study at Millbank exhibited 1797 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851So what if F refers to B, a trans woman, as her Dad, and even “he”? I know where my loyalty lies: to B, who is female, who is entitled to be referred to as such. Then I meet F, and what can I say to her?

B’s first wife left, and F lived with her Dad. Then B remarried, and the step-mother was so lovely that F thinks of her as her Mum; then S was born. Six months after Mum died, B transitioned. S had a nervous breakdown, and F was going down to Nottingham to take her to the psychiatrist. Then B was being harassed by local teenagers, and there was the problem of getting her moved to Wales.

Then B and J bonded. J’s family did not talk to her, and F did not like J, particularly. Any use of the word “Dad” was objectionable, leave alone “he”, and for F such words would, well, slip out.

You see I could get irritated. F tells me I am the most presentable of J’s [tranny] friends she has met, and I am uncomfortable with this: it ranks us as acceptable or less acceptable depending on how passable we are, and to me we are all acceptable. I am not particularly comfortable with being told how brave I am, either: because being trans is totally normal, and transitioning should be normal too. We can agree that people abusing me in the street- not for years, but when I first transitioned- are wrong; that it is nothing personal, but something going on in their own head, and that friends who accept me are far more important as evidence of my acceptability.

Now she is losing her Dad. So I hear the words “Dad” and “he”, and how can I object? J is losing her best friend, slowly and painfully, and of course she objects. Mostly, F says “B” and “she”.

Yesterday’s sweetness and light is qualified a little. On morphine, B can be confused. “I went upstairs for a shower”, she says, and F just nods. “We went for a lovely drive today,” says B. Still, as long as she is happy. Someone was bedridden and terminally ill for 18 months, and started having wine with breakfast. Well, why not. When F visited she would have a glass of wine too.

The pain is not completely relieved. There was additional painkiller for breakthrough pain, but staff insisted that B had to ask for it. The pain was so great that B was curled in the foetal position, in no condition to ask for anything. You get so much pain you retreat into yourself. Then B’s drip stopped working, and F could not get staff to restore it: though her shift had half an hour to run, one nurse said they had done the handover already.

No, I do not object to “he”, or “Dad”. I sympathise.

Mold Civic Society put up a blue plaque for the Mold Riots of 1869, where rioters sought to rescue two convicted miners being escorted away by police. Troops opened fire, killing four people.

10 thoughts on “Comprendre est pardonner

  1. Unrelated to your post: I HATE your title. My grandmother used to say that to me all the time when I was upset-and I’d say NO, NO, NO. It is NOT. There is no equivalency. Understanding can’t mean a justification. I understand but I do not forgive.
    BTW, I see the work you do putting out a comment here and there. Admirable. After I noticed you were doing it I’ve started trying to do the same thing- albeit, I’m slightly more abrupt and confrontational 🙂


    • I do confrontational. Nothing will get through to that woman, but she has no likes, and no other commenters.

      It is not so much being abrupt, as the angle of attack. You criticise from outside Christianity, I from within. You say Christian rules should not apply, I say Christianity does not really say that. It is a useful two-pronged attack- I have seen your comments. I hope it is demoralising when the two of us swoop in and tell the blogger how wrong s/he is, and no-one else reads it.

      Here it is not mine to forgive, and if F were clearly rejecting her- oh, the word “parent” is so clunky- parent’s transition that would be the most important thing, for me, looking at her, even in her state of loss.


  2. I get confused even just reading this post 🙂 but I think I get the gist and I say: one should be oneself no matter what and, oh yes, nothing wrong with wine for breakfast, especially not in a terminal state – that is a state, God forbid, when one should do everything one wants and can…


    • Yes. When terminally ill, do whatever will make you comfortable.

      At first, I used first names, but thought this makes the people identifiable. I could use false names: Beate, a trans woman, is dying. Beate’s daughter Florence did not adjust well to Beate’s transition, and saw Beate as a man not a woman. Beate’s close friend Johanna, also a trans woman, resented this. S is Beate’s daughter, Florence’s sister.


      • Thank you for Clare as I read the post I was tempted to get a pen and draw myself a map or diagram to follow better what you were saying but then I began to understand – I read the post twice 😀 and thought: Clare has a reason for referring to people by the first letter of a name so I stuck with it. It was actually engaging to try and follow your thoughts there


  3. I just love reading the comments. I’m still pondering your reference to the rioting miners, unless they were also dressed as tranny’s at the time. Seems odd for a miner, but I suppose once they scrubbed and shaved … yes, all right, it could work.

    In general, I think gender transition is accepted more … well, normally. Mind you, I’m talking about New York, Boston, Washington, etc. … the big East Coast cities (however, I hear it’s quite easy in Portland, Oregon). Anyway, people here seem to be transitioning all over the place. A friend of mine who is about to have his first operation, talks about it all night … and we talk about it with him. (By the by, I choose his clothes … and they’re perfect … as well as his make-up). He always squeezes my face and says, “Why can’t I have your non-existent pores?” I always say the same thing, “Retinol.”

    Good Lord, I’m rambling so far away from your post that I forgot what it was about. I was put on some new and stronger Post Traumatic Stress drugs recently, and they have temporarily blurred my eyesight … and I want to agree with the woman named something like Invulinika.


    • I put in the miners, because I saw the plaque and found it interesting. Here is George Orwell on miners, writing seventy years later about the dreadfulness of the job. They are proud of that riot, and rightly so: oppressed people resisting oppression.

      Given that your friend wears make-up, it appears that she is transitioning M-F, and so I would rather you referred to her as “she”. And you illustrate how hard this is for cis people, even accepting ones. Aaargh! I am rebuking you before finishing your comment: if the drugs are slowing you up, that is a sufficient excuse. I hear your love and respect.

      Ina Vukic. It is a Croat name.


  4. I always find it perplexing and heartbreaking when cis humans struggle with the concept of trans humans. I suppose its something to do with the idea of gender being so much a part of ones identity (for the most part) that they can’t imagine what it would be like to be trans. And of course it always gets more complicated when family is involved. It reminds me of an incident with a dear friend. About a year ago, our trans male friend graduated from college. We attended the party and were super confused when he was referred to as Sally when his name is Fred, even though we knew him and his cis female wife when he was Sally. It was a struggle for him, and it made him sad that his family could not come to accept him at face value for who he is, but to him it was worth the price to keep them in his life.

    My heart goes out to your friend as she deals with disease. And to all of you who love her, my thoughts will be with you.


    • Welcome, and thank you for commenting. Pagans are welcome here: because in my experience pagans have thought about, chosen and experienced their spirituality, and found a way to express it. I am glad to find your blog.

      At least my family do not use my old name. A woman I met reverted, to keep her children in her life. We make choices.


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