I was in Hell, with Dante: his hypocrites march in circles, wearing cloaks made of lead, plated with gold; so they shine in beauty but each step is an effort. Appearances mattered far more to me than reality. In any action I wondered, what will people think? However my estimate of that must have been formed in childhood, because it was nothing like what people actually think.
The cloaks are lead, a miserific weight, because there is no joy in seeking to appear well. So many people never realise this, said Serra. Oh, you warm me!
There was that Quaker thing. This is confidential; but without disclosing details, Quakers value what we call “Right ordering”, doing things in the proper manner. Right ordering is for the committee I convene to produce a particular result. This was not possible. Box-ticking might just have been possible: we would simulate the result, and exert whatever moral pressure we could to get people to comply. It is a horrible thought, and though moral blackmail had worked for me temporarily in the past, it wasn’t working now.
Quakers gave me the self-confidence to transition. I was a happy Anglican, then I decided I could not bear to worship God disguised as a man. And my vicar said, “Do you want to look like that, all the time?” You know: makeup a bit of a mess, stubble, poorly-chosen wig, dress sense even worse than now-
A realisation. Yes. I would rather pass, but when these were the choices I WOULD RATHER LOOK LIKE A FUCKING TRANNY than look like a man. That rage, that desperation.
So I had this huge loyalty to Quakers, and demanded the same of the others. But it is not what they feel. I have been checking out my escape route- going to another meeting would mean cycling to the station then getting the train, using most of Sunday. Or I could rejoin the Anglicans. H, on the border, could go to a large anonymous nearby meeting easily. “Meeting must be sustaining,” she said, and I thought, yeah.
So, rather than getting a result which appeared to tick the boxes, but did not really, and would be a pain for everyone concerned, I sought a process which took into account the needs and feelings of the people. There is no result, not yet. I am living with an uncertainty which some more involved in the issue than I find distressing.
Box-ticking does feel safe- until it’s not. Reality is more important. I see that now. I see the people and the situation better. This does not mean that I can protect them from hurt, for I would gather them as a hen gathers her brood under her wings– though they would not be willing. It might mean we can reach a solution together. The journey might be worthwhile. Unknowing is safer than the Appearance of right.