-I find you very attractive. Would you like to go to bed with me?

I was nonplussed. Even were I not gynæphile, I doubt I would find Steve attractive. I found myself saying I would not completely rule it out, but we had only just met at the house of a mutual friend. I don’t know, now, why I might want to let him down gently. I felt disrespected. I am beautiful.

Six months later I find myself thinking about that. My thought could go in different directions. I am vulnerable: just because I am trans does not mean that I am available to any passing bloke, however unattractive, in need of a quick shag. Resentment that I be seen in that way, and fear it might happen again, combine in a miasma of depression.

I could argue myself out of it. He took my no in good part. He did not force himself on me-
-Take it as a compliment?
-No, just no, it really isn’t, but
it is not that bad an experience…

I could picture him as pitiable. Poor man! What an endless round of humiliation and desperation his life must be! But that is not quite it-

The only way I could deal with this is Love. I wish him well. I recognise that I am unharmed. I have felt so vulnerable, yet so little has happened to hurt me. I love, and wish him well. And care for myself by getting away as soon as possible.

This Love is who I am. I was burgled, and after I found burnt matches lying about my box-room. The thief had found his way by match-light, not having thought to bring a torch, and seeing them burned down to the end thought, Oh! He burned his fingers! I thought of the fear he would feel.

Love could be my protection from hurt and resentment, just as it has been with my mother. And, perhaps, honour: I am not sure what honour is, and will consider it.

I had a lovely morning at Stanwick Lakes with Lisa: a coffee, a stroll, an ice-cream. I met her lurcher, a rescue dog she thinks was rejected by travellers as insufficiently aggressive. I heard of her lovely relationship with her daughter aged 17 and her cancer. She had been to the house of a major collector of Bacon‘s paintings, and seen several on his walls. Then I stood entranced by the colours of the water, how so soon the bottom became invisible, the ripples on the surface. There is so much beauty, and however hurt one is beauty heals. I stood and looked at those lovely bullocks, and they looked at me. I wondered about petting the one near the fence. I love the pictures, but they illustrate Steve perfectly.

bullock, not long for this Earth

bullock and barbed wire

Pacifism and World War Two

After the VE Day anniversary celebrations, can a pacifist argue that the second world war should not have been fought? Yes. It was not necessary.

WWII did not prevent the Holocaust. It killed sixty million human beings. It involved atrocities by the Allies, such as the fire-bombing of Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo. Nuclear weapons were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, starting the nuclear arms race which continues today.

The world war is not clearly better than any imaginable alternative. It depends when you start: had Germany not been humiliated and impoverished by the Treaty of Versailles, it might have developed other leadership.

Well-prepared civil resistance in the countries Hitler occupied could have made his control extremely difficult. Norwegian teachers refused to teach the Nazi curriculum. Dutch and French citizens hid Jews. Do not dismiss the possibility that a well-prepared population could defend their rights and freedoms, and protect each other non-violently.

Gandhi wrote, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent”. How might a population resist?

One of the reasons for the death camps was that troops’ combat fitness is damaged by mass murder of unarmed civilians. The Nazis had already used gas to murder disabled people, before this was halted by protests from the German public. Oppressors, and particularly their lowest-ranking soldiers, lose the will to kill. The Solidarity union protested, and could not be put down. Eventually, the people took the Berlin Wall down, when the troops would no longer fire on them; though many were murdered before that day.

In the Occupied Territories, International Accompaniers witness life under occupation and give publicity to human rights abuses. While the English-speaking world was free, Nazi oppression of occupied countries would have come at a cost.

Here is the Berghof Handbook, continually updated articles and resources for those engaged in transforming violent ethnic conflict. Conflict may arise over scarce resources, quickly polarising different groups: here is the Wajir Story, of how inter-clan violence spread at a time of severe drought. A group of women, seeing that their market trading had become impossible, got together to ensure peaceful trading could be resumed. Inspired by this, clan elders agreed to prevent the violence of their own clans, and brought it to an end.Sword into Ploughshares

People flourish when we co-operate. People can be brought to see that. All this comes from the wonderful Swarthmore Lecture by Diana Francis, Faith, Power and Peace, also in a book.


Taking up my cross

Julius is a satanic figure, while Tallis is represented as Christ-like, since he absorbs suffering while Julius sows it….evil is propagated in the world by the transmission of suffering from one person to another, and that it can only be stopped by someone’s being willing accept the suffering without passing it on. -Wikipedia on A Fairly Honourable Defeat.

I don’t believe in consciousness after death. My Self is so bound up in this physical being, and so influenced by the physical world, that I cannot imagine anything recognisably me in a Heaven with different physical laws and some sort of “perfect” body. At best- and Paul is worth reading– there is something quite different, in the common analogy as different as being out of the womb from being in it. A wise Quaker told me our atoms leave us and move through the world, in other people or in the Earth, and we live in the memories of those we have touched. What will survive of us is Love. As this was exactly my view, my belief may merely be following the fashion.

So, Heaven is here, and I seek to follow Christ, taking up my cross.

My friend Carol, who put me up last year, paid me no attention whatsoever. She had her house presentable and had a programme of entertainments, she cooked well and was the perfect performance of the attentive host, and she talked endlessly of her achievements, difficulties, luck and cleverness. I hated her by the end, and yesterday she invited me again. Absorbing pain is sometimes beyond me: I told her how I had loathed her before I left. She will phone again, though I never phone her: so I do, generally, give her relief.

I could absorb pain in the CAB, listening to people’s woes and earthing them: they left lighter. Then again I got into fights, when I felt I was in the right. I absorbed my mother’s pain, perhaps, when young.

I did a blog post this morning, showered, then encountered my inner critic. I amplified her diatribe, to drain the pain from it: I must do my washing right now, and hang it outside, or I will miss this bright dry day and break the rules and prove my utter uselessness and badness

gosh that’s liberating, satire like that. The point is most of my anger is aimed at me not others. And I did my washing so my clothes and towels would smell better.

Now, I am retreated from the world. On 7 May I got a letter from the Department for Withholding Payment: give us all your bank statements by 14 May or “you may lose benefit”. I posted them, and as I write this got a brown envelope with the familiar type-face: even though it says I am awarded benefit, I felt washed with anger and fear at the threat I had weathered. And it passes over. I will not inflict it on another.

In the park, I played at being Christ-like by exaggeratedly walking out of people’s way. I can play, and analyse the feelings. If I did it, I would have to be without egotism.

knees of Jesus

Hate and love

My thought that someone was more intelligent than I provoked amazed disbelief. So you’re very very very intelligent and she’s- pause to count the veries- very very very very intelligent? Yet I got a 2:2. I did not want to do the work. Or I wasn’t clever enough, or not engaged and interested, or had other desires, or-

it is important to see these things clearly-

“Have mercy on yourself!” said Menis, and “You are very hard on yourself” said Andy. I judge myself harshly. I did less and less voluntary work and job-seeking until I withdrew, and still half of me was kicking the other half in the kidneys shouting “Get up Get up DO SOMETHING!” Now I am still frightened of the future, frightened of possible homelessness, yet with little motivation.

I have no partner, children, house, job, savings, pension. I am alone and vulnerable.

I have been so ashamed of who I am. I was Worthless, only of value for what I could achieve, yet wanting to hide away because anyone seeing my Shadow (most of me) would be revolted. In Carl Rogers’ terms, my self-concept and organismic self felt separate. Then I found my Vulnerable Bit, soon renamed Real Self, and more recently as I come to accept my shadow, I feel ashamed of denying it for so long, and ashamed of hiding away now. Shame is my Iron Maiden.

And I am beautiful. All this in me which I have denied and repressed is beautiful. Because I have repressed it, I have no partner, children, etc…

So from hating and despising myself for not being other than I am, more intelligent, with more energy and motivation, I could move to hate my parents for screwing me up quite this badly, except that they always did their best, and I have first “forgiven” them then Accepted them, delighted in their struggles and strength.

And I could move to hate the World. It has Oppressed me! All those evangelical Christians, and the unthinking despising of Queers and anything not Normal, which came from Victorian times and lasts, in pockets, even now; those Evangelical “Christians” or Catholics who write that LGBT is “intrinsically disordered” or Against God’s Will, the Tories wanting to repeal the Human Rights Act…

I have met people more intelligent than me before, but two men stick in my mind- the one who came to CAB about his pension, had read the regulations and tried to explain them to me repeating incessantly “Are you wi’ me, are you wi’ me?” I wasn’t, but did not realise that until later, I wanted to be the one explaining. And, more tragically, a big man in a thick black coat, stinking of- probably urine- a mass of anger almost unable to speak, radiating


An anti-role model. A place I might yet not avoid.

I want to transmute it into love. As with my parents I see their strength and struggles, so with the World: to see all its beauty, all the support I get- for while my life has never seemed easy, it really has been- all the progress, Good, Healing.

If I see the World as it is
there is nothing I can do but


Renoir, Patineurs au bois de Boulogne


I was happy.

It is strange thinking of it 24 hours later, tired, a little hung over. I wondered at the time why the thought “this can’t last” comes to me more insistently when happy than when depressed. Initially I said I was high, but then thought, no, happy. Because of that. Such small encouragement! A friendly email!

Still, crikey! Happy! Enjoy it while it lasts!

No-one has agreed to be welcomer at the Quaker meeting, so I pop out to get milk, put flowers on the table from the garden, and stay outside to welcome late-comers- none, within ten minutes. There are seven of us. I am concerned for my meeting. Have we the people to keep it running?

I think of a time working in Swanston, at a Children’s centre, trying to do a claim for child benefit on the internet. In theory simple, I ran into complications, first having difficulty connecting there, then with the website. I felt I appeared demanding to the centre staff and incompetent to the claimant. At the time I felt I was botching, disorganised, incompetent, and now I feel I was


Struggling courageously on as best I could.

Godric ministers. Our ancestors came down from the trees. Why? Trees are lovely at this time of year. He wants to return to the Blake quote he has shared before: .we are here a little time, to learn to bear the beams of Love.

Just before the end, Marion and Karon joined us. Marion wore the jacket she wore for their wedding one year ago. How can I put this? The first real wedding I had ever been to, none of this tedious heterosexual stuff.

It feels it was a good meeting. I served the tea and we chat happily; there is always more energy after a good meeting. We go outside to take photos of Marion and Karon by the meeting house.

They sing “Happy Birthday” to me. At one point I would have been embarrassed, now I enjoy it, and bask in the Love. “Because I’m worth it”- there is wisdom in the strangest places. Then Marion sings the Findhorn birthday song, which I find lovely. A large group singing it as a Round, she says, is really special.

To you we sing
And happiness we bring
To celebrate your birth
An angel here on Earth

I have nothing planned for my birthday, so Peter offers me lunch. We talk until ten, with wine, and he offers me his spare room to spare the taxi fare. I would have got a taxi, but now accept the gift, and the friendship. And writing this morning, feeling the frustrated desire helps me strip away the overlay of fear of the feeling, for the only way I can bear it is to allow it to be, and pass through me.


After the Gender clinic

This is a serious Trans post, which will give all my other fans warm fuzzies about Self-Acceptance and Personal Growth, even though the title is yet again click-bait for t-central. After counselling, I went to the Tate.

I loved Sculpture Victorious, and after eating my packed lunch in the sunshine went for a tour. The Tate is deserted for the Chelsea Flower Show, and I talk back to the guide: she asked if I was an art student, I don’t think sarcastically. We end with the base of a crucifixion.

-You know about Francis Bacon?
-Didn’t he write “No man is an island entire unto himself”? I am on a roll today.

She gives her interpretation, then I give mine. “I want to give an LGBT interpretation.” There he was, Out when it was really dangerous, a Sodomite or Invert because “Gay” had not been coined, a “promiscuous homoSEKKKKS-ual” inspiring disgust in right-thinking people, who would fail to see his courage, and deny his humanity. These are self-portraits. They are he, they are I, blind, screaming, yet Not cowering away. They stand there and face outwards. I will not hide, or run.

Bacon said he wanted to paint mouths like Monet painted sunsets, she says, and if you look at the layering of the paint you will see he did just that. His father was an army officer, who threw him out of the house, so he went to Paris and lived with a sugar-daddy, she tells us.

She sends us off to see more Bacon. I am not sure this was the one she had in mind.

25 years later, these may also be self-portraits. To me, they are all in the moment of orgasm. Pools of ejaculate cover the floor! Again, he says, I AM HERE but in a more joyous manner, though still with something which a day ago I would have seen as twisted monstrousness. No longer.

She had said that in 1947 people hated the triptych, and I understand. Looking at a work of art or reading a novel I like to sympathise with the subject. Knowing that it will be impossible for normal people to sympathise, he flings this ugliness in their faces. I Love him, and I love these creatures.

Arted-out, I walk to the Tube. I told Serra that I want to fear less, but no: I want to fear more! I want to rejoice, exult, luxuriate in my fear, let it effervesce in me, for it is my vulnerable Power. Part of this is because of Mrs Mounter, whom the guide showed us. I see in her fear and confusion, yet she looks out at us or the artist, resigned. There is self-respect and even authority there.

On the train I chat to Izzie, who is 25 and teaches PE at a fee-paying school. She tells me how facilities in state schools are really poor, and how her class sizes are 15 tops. She has had a job interview which lasted from 9-5 the previous day. She got fed up telling different people the same things, but is not fatigued because she resides in the pupils’ living quarters, so is always on duty. Her best sport is netball, her worst tennis. She is not bad at Badminton, because like netball it requires a loose wrist.

At the bus stop four women and I pet a pretty, friendly staffordshire bull terrier cross, and chat to her owner. So much connection!

At the Gender clinic

To Charing Cross Hospital, to see my psychotherapist. Serra is a psychologist, who starts by taking a history: how do I feel? How have I felt?

Right now, wonderful. I met Ian on the train, and he told me a lovely story about increasing confidence in his daughter, who is 22. He is married to a Quaker, meditates with her, and proposed that we meditate together. With my eyes closed I was aware of the young grandmother’s banter with the toddler, and my passing thoughts, so varied, so unimportant. The train was over half full, and I asked someone to move to a vacant seat so we could sit together: I would not have had the courage to do that, at one time, but the man moved readily. I asked Ian what his mantra was, but he could not tell me, as that is part of the Rules and Ritual which give it meaning. He got it from the London School of Meditation, who will give him a new one when it wears out. As we walked through St Pancras, its bricks appeared brighter.

The waiting room contrasts with Serra’s. The whining air conditioning irritates. I eye up the bonny young trans men. The receptionists are disdainful: after, one asks me to wait for an appointment letter for next time, but finishes other work before printing it for me. I think of that Trans Privilege conversation: a week ago I saw it from H’s point of view, and now do not. I am twenty minutes early, and she is ten minutes late starting.

Serra is about forty. Her left eyelid droops: her right eye is on me all the time, but when her left eye looks up at me it has all the force of sudden eye-contact. She is friendly in a brisk, professional way. At the gender clinic, I can say “I have come to terms with autogynephilia. I don’t believe it, but I don’t need it to be untrue,” and “I have come to terms with how feminine I am, and how femme-phobic I have been,” and have that just accepted. She agrees with me about my trans privilege conversation that this is not privilege, and notes (with approval?) my comment “I did not see her and she did not see me”. I tell her of my Blessing. This will continue. She clarifies- I am unsure of the distinction between “will” and “shall”, but I am predicting, not stating a grim intention to cling on.

My main problem is that I am work-shy, or phobic. I had a series of difficult experiences (I said that to other-H, and she said “Doesn’t everyone?” I wanted more sympathy)

-Do I have to give the details?
-Tell me how you felt.
-I have to give the details. So I do. I felt angry, frustrated, out of control, frightened. Her face shows sympathy, twisting in pain at one point. This is a contrast to psychotherapy in 1998, when I found it difficult to recognise feelings and the man refused to treat further, saying the risk to my defences was too great. And I can be confrontational.

Do I want to come again? Yes. Eventually, I am tearful, but not too much. She asks me to set goals, which is a lot easier than last time:

  • To be less frightened
  • To support myself
  • To make a contribution

We will set more goals, she says.

I go to the Tate.

Sculpture Victorious

How wonderful to see a sculpture which so beautifully expresses my sexuality! It is at Tate Britain, their exhibition Sculpture Victorious whose last day is tomorrow (Monday). Here it is:

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 4

The description on the wall calls Hylas Hercules’ “beautiful boy companion”. Ha. He gazes into the eyes of his abductress in surrender, symbolised by his water-jug, lip downwards. I love her determined look. The other, abandoned, smells his hair. I note the position of their hands, restraining his arms, waist, neck and shoulder. I know his leaning slightly back like that is a wonderfully vulnerable position. I moved on to the rest of the exhibition, but went back to examine it: the depth of pressure of their hands, pressing into his arm or side, the curl of her hair flowing down her back, their postures; and drinking in that gaze. The commentary, “the obsession of grown women for a boy”, misses the point. I think of Simon’s meeting with Axel: I identify with the boy, and it is a gorgeous feeling. I have now (6 Sept) taken more photographs of the sculpture.

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 6

The exhibition starts with two busts of the Queen, young and pretty then venerable, and an explanation of how busts could be reproduced in miniature with a machine. Softer materials were better for this: at one time between 3,500 and 6000 elephants were slaughtered annually for the British ivory market. We move into a room of church sculpture, and my disgust increases. A model for the restoration of the tomb of Philippa of Hainault has huge kings and waist-height angels. Of course, there were no portraits of Baron Saher de Quency, part of the Magna Carta putsch seeking power for themselves, so the face and figure are from imagination. The commentary notes the complex detail of his chain mail, but I see his noble manly yet modest face in his helmet, eyes downcast: he’s an ideal Victorian!

In anger and disgust I turn to the Eglinton Trophy. The Queen of Beauty, Lady Seymour, giving out the victor’s crown, is an exact precursor of a Disney princess. Nearby is a heavy silver top to a bishop’s crook, the very contradiction of Christ. What a wonderful start to the exhibition, showing the Victorian Values I so despise, showing how alien they were!

The next room has the Naiades, and the Paul Comolera peacock. I can’t imagine it being made now, but I find it completely beautiful, its jutting chest, its strong talons, its Colours! It is taller than I. On to the Greek Slave, her wrist restraints so delicate and tasteful, contrasting with the chains. She inspired music, poetry and obsession. Then there is the Abolitionist John Bell’s The American Slave, a contrast to it.

Finally, William Reynolds Stephens, a Royal Game. I love her erect carriage, and her legs, and note the complexity of detail on her dress, and her jewelled necklace. There is also a Burne-Jones, with the man silver and the creatures gilt. The picture here does not do it justice: he shines.

Friday was a day of magic, liberation, new understanding, amazement and delight. More on this tomorrow.

Mindfulness II

There are things I should do. The most important is walking in the sunshine; but first a phone call to the Samaritans. This time, she gave me an hour and I ended feeling satisfied of progress. I need to think about that job, but I called because I was crying over that.

I want to be Normal!
-What would normal look like?

A fair question. It has varied. At one time I would have been a solicitor in Edinburgh with a wife and two or three children: the eldest would have graduated by now. Now, I suppose I would have a job, which though it would have a share of drudgery, tedium and stress, would also have moments of pleasure, either in human contact or a feeling of having achieved something; a partner, so  I would not be so lonely, and a sufficient income.

The oil-seed rape is fading to green as the flowers turn to pods. It is still overwhelming as I walk though it, as some is neck-height and the path is through a slight decline.

Sunshine. Bird-song. Engine noise, not enough to bother me at any time.

Where a tiny stream drains over the path, some effort has been made to make it passable. Logs are dug in to make raised steps, and old planks go round the edge. Water is flowing though it has been dry; it would not be easy in a wet March.

Several times I stop to watch a bird fly overhead.

The borage is spreading. Is it overwhelming those nettles, or the other way about? No camera, of course, but here is a picture I took last year:

butterfly 4

That distinctive leaf. Sycamore? Oak, Google images tells me now, I am not good at identifying anything. Still, it has my attention.

At one time “normal” would have been a heavy mask, clasped to my face with tight steel bands, with bits of Real Me, or shadow, oozing out from behind- visible to everyone but me, subject to my desperate denial and feeling of utter inadequacy. From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves…

This ecosystem is 3.5 or 4 billion years old- I don’t keep up with the journals, I don’t know the latest understanding- and it has produced this wonderful creature, her soft, yielding femininity, her gentle kindness, her heart full of Love. It is so beautiful, even though oligarchical capitalism might be hard put to set a value on it.

Two or three years ago, the wardens built a den here out of willow cuttings. Well watered, the cuttings took root and their branches are woven together. The path suits someone under ten, but I enter, as I want the experience, once- I stand surrounded by the willow, leaning in but not quite domed over me.

A woman stands off the path, holding her black spaniel back. “Thank you,” I say, then notice the milky discs. “Oh! Its eyes-”

Yes, he’s blind, she confirms, smiling. She is a few years older than I. I love her loving care for her friend.

Oh! This awful life! Yet, no- it has wonderful moments, and is bearable for me. The main difficulty of it is my fears for the future, and my desires.

In part this is inspired by Louise. Her lovely account of some frustrations and tensions in, well, being normal- marrying and having children- and the way the family works together- brought a moment’s resentment, as so often I hate being queer. I do want to be normal. I would have blathered on about how my great-grandparents’ families have produced so few in the generation below me, as some sort of excuse, or rueful exercise on the way to Acceptance…

-childlessness is just one of my failures-

Going, I held my arms bent, above the rape-plants. Returning through that field, I relax them and let the plants brush them.

This creature is beautiful. This experience- yes, all of it- is beautiful.