My problem is not that I am trans, though it never makes anything easier. Writing on Trans- a memoir, the Guardian shows how the difficulties of transition may be overcome, how a trans woman may pass simply as a woman- though that is a bother, as she gets cat-called in the street- and how trans moves on, and young trans women are finding their own way not following the paths of those before them.
Clearly. Outing now is a complete taboo. Mischievously, I asked my friend if she knew other trans women in our social group, and watched her embarrassment. “Well, er, there’s that lady who…” she stumbled. “Juliet,” I said, definitely. “Juliet…” she said, still embarrassed. Ordinarily I would circumlocute: “Whether there are any other trans women who are Quakers, I could not possibly comment.” And yet, there is nothing embarrassing about it, is there? My friend is not ashamed of being diabetic, and showed off the electronic device which calculates exactly the speed at which continually to release insulin. That thing, penetrating her body, is arguably more personal.
These things move in fashions, understandings flow across the culture, the way we do things morphs but is always quite definite in the moment. Channel 4 has a programme of excerpts from 1980s programmes, and warns of casual racism and homophobia “from the start and throughout”: so often, the movement is improvement; and yet it is so constricting!
My problem is not that I am trans, but that I have been taught so well to devalue, despise and hide my femininity that even now I loathe it, deny it and see it as weakness. My first question is always “How am I wrong?”
And, I doubt myself so completely that I procrastinate everything, imagining that I will just get it wrong. These come from childhood and adult experiences.
The problem is not who I am nor how I may act, but my attitude to it. I can change my attitudes, a bit; and yet I get that letter and just feel fear.
Paintings now: details from The Temptation of St Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch.