attention

I’m special
so special
gonna have some of your
attention
give it to me!

And why would I want that?

Oh, it is poison! Man as master, woman as slave, woman feels and man understands feelings through her, woman’s state is from upbringing so I can never be a woman- and the mutilation is so appalling! It’s six in the morning, and I lie in bed, my fragile sense of self reeling before your obsidian judgment of me- not a reflection! Not a reflection!

You wrote of this middle-aged porn user, “Jim”, who told you his wife did not know of his habit, and of your disgust at how this might affect his role as a father and grandfather, in such a way that he might be identifiable. Beware the stranger to whom you confess. You consider using my name in your writing.

and I fear, and come back to that desire. Attention. What good would that do me? Some make a career of it, successfully, but the motivation comes before seeing that. And I flee attention- Philip said I “wanted to blend into the background in the most eye-catching way possible”. Bad thing with bad words like drama queen- for male or female. Though perhaps a “drama queen” is one who seeks attention, inexpertly, as a “nag” is a manipulator who has been noticed.

It is a childhood desire. My mother’s story:

-What do you want to be when you grow up?
-A conductor.
-A bus conductor?
-No, an orchestral conductor!

She loved the- contempt?- as I said it.

I know myself through other’s eyes. Or at least, I know myself but seek confirmation through other’s eyes, to make it real for me. I would prefer applause, and note the idea that children crave attention and act up to get it.

Children. Not mature, adult, independent- though humans are not independent- some are more than others-

you writing of me is tempting, even though you might- would- almost certainly- excoriate me more than- gosh, I hope “Jim” is a pseudonym-

mirrors- I need you to see me so I may see myself, rather than to be that I may see myself in you, which was how I understood that essay on Hegel. You know, as I write this I don’t know if I am extracting myself or digging myself deeper. I feel powerless, but powerlessness- to this Judge- is not an excuse. If I am flailing about seeking answers, I may heedlessly trample others-

I don’t want to hurt anyone. I want reconciliation before all else. I am soft, gentle, peaceful, and that opens me to this Judgment, as a deliberately cruel man might trample that too. It is not affirming of him so he ignores it.

It’s all about them, say the commenters on your article. Men confess. After too much porn, they can’t get an erection from ogling a short-skirted woman in the street! No absolution from these women- so trampling on them is the only way to self-regard.

I begin to understand Miriam Afloat. That’s the blog allegedly of a trans woman who parrots radfem rejection of trans women. Possibly, it really is a trans woman, accepting that judgment, for it is how she can be good.

Thesis, antithesis
synthesis?

 ♥♥♥

What Jim the porn user wanted was absolution. Not priestly absolution with repentance and amendment of life, but liberal absolution- yes, you might think it a bit yuck, but lots of people do it, it’s nothing to be worried about. In the hippyish, liberal place you met he might have expected that. He did not get it. There is so much anger here: a commenter said, Given the level of sexist hate crime in families, it might be helpful to give his female family members a heads up so that they have informed consent whether he stays in the house or not …? It is possible “Jim’s” wife may be aware of the article and, because you used your own name, have identified her husband. You risk breaking their marriage.

I tend to feel my sweetness and charm will win people over, and if that does not work sympathy with my hard life and suffering might help. Not with these people, for whom I symbolise all they rage at.

I wrote to the break, then went to see Richard. “Of course you are a woman,” he reassured me. “Do not listen to her.” And as you might see from the writing, I am reassured. I always feel ill after meeting you, and yet I feel your particular perspective may help me know myself, which is my main desire. I want attention as well as absolution, as well as to hide away, and want to know what that means. I want to stop being at war with myself.

And I want to accept the hostility. I am arrogant for deciding how I dress, because that harms women, someone I thought moderately friendly told me. It is just there. It is from hurt, and righteous anger resisting the hurt even though I hurt too and do not cause their hurt. Just accept it. It is there.

The Suitor

Collage by Kathy Grieb Kennedy.

Gender recognition II

When I sought my gender recognition certificate, I needed the reports of two doctors: one the psychiatrist who had diagnosed me, and my GP. I needed to state what surgery I had had. My word was not good enough for them: I needed documentary proof, such as wage slips, that I had been using a female name for two years. I needed to swear or affirm that I intended to live life long in my new gender. It is all a matter of policing. The State needs to ensure that I am not frivolous- as if frivolous applications for gender recognition could ever be a serious problem.

When I got my passport, the passport office asked if I had had surgery, though at the time the guidance was that they should not. I needed a letter from my GP.

Why should I need a psychiatrist? Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness.

The parliamentary committee recommend self-declaration of gender. In place of the present medicalised, quasi-judicial application process, an administrative process must be developed, centred on the wishes of the individual applicant, rather than on intensive analysis by doctors and lawyers.

I went through the procedure because it had to be done. Given that the law could recognise that I was female, I wanted that, so I was happy to do what I needed to, to achieve that. I knuckled under. So it is wonderful to read of the healthy resentment of the witnesses campaigning against this scrutiny: it is humiliating to have your gender assessed by someone else. You are the only person who can come to that realisation, not a panel. It is an outdated system. So Ashley campaigned and petitioned, and her actions are part of the pressure which has achieved this promise of change. I had had the operation, so was OK, but the gender recognition panel has insisted on really intrusive levels of detail about the surgeries that people have undergone or their intentions for future surgery, and is incredibly pedantic about any perceived inconsistencies in the medical reports.

The Council of Europe resolution calls for quick, transparent and accessible procedures, based on self determination.

I had my passport and driving licence changed before I had my GRC. I would not have wanted to use a passport saying M in those two years. That has been a problem for others, since the Gender Recognition Act. Yet I could obtain a passport immediately on change of name, saying “F”- I would hardly have wanted to change it, if I were going to revert. It would have been practically unusable. My very desire for it proves it is right to give it, and if it was not right, I bear all the loss.

Degas, after the bath

Thinking emotionally III

Anger is sad’s bodyguard.

“What are we going to do, me always late, you getting angry?” But I am not angry, I insist. There is no point in expressing angry resentment of your lateness, it just starts the encounter unpleasantly. I am aware you are always late, and came fifteen minutes after the time agreed and brought a book. I appreciated the charm of the bar, tried to guess if the rugby on the telly was league or union, and relaxed with a glass of wine. I enjoyed my sense of anticipation.

It could be a power thing. I would get angry if it would do me any good- not fight or flight, but flare up or give up. I made the best of it. I analysed the situation with the intention of pacifying any resentful or angry feelings. I might have been angry if lateness had been a surprise- or just relieved, depending again on expectation. So thinking emotionally and rationally dance together.

-I would like you to be on time.
-Now you’re guilt tripping me.

No- not my intention- I am still not expressing myself well, not saying this: I know you are working hard. It would be a gift you could give me.

She met a lesbian couple. One was butch, with short hair and bovver boots, now taking T to bulk up. She found her bulky enough already. The other- the woman-

They are both women!

-the femme, long hair, very pretty, make-up. She could not understand how she could be attracted to that particular style of masculinity in a woman. Well, just accept that she is. They are a couple. It is a common way of being lesbian, the butch/femme couple, but that could just mean that it fits particular personalities rather than it is a cliché to which they conform.

I can accept my friend’s distress if she can keep quiet about it generally. Or, I can hear her confession- “I find this weird”- as long as she does not want me to endorse it. People are queer. I want others to accept my weirdness, so have to accept theirs.

golden girl

Transgender Equality III

Should a spouse be able to insist that a trans person dissolve their marriage?

The spousal veto allows a spouse to withhold consent to gender recognition, until the marriage or civil partnership is dissolved. The spouse might want the marriage dissolved; but if the trans person takes steps to dissolve it, the trans person may feel responsible for the break. Both parties are responsible, when a marriage ends- though neither may be guilty, as people grow apart- but people commit to a marriage, and the symbol of who breaks it matters. And while financial and other matters are sorted, until the marriage is dissolved, the trans person’s gender is not recognised.

I might not want to take the action to break the marriage- it would be admitting it was my fault, because of my transition that it ended- though the refusal to recognise my gender might be the Wrong which motivated me to end it, and so ending it would be empowering.

In the Parliamentary Committee, the Gender Equality Office evidence was that straight and gay marriage are different. Some people marry a person, some a man or a woman. Some couples marrying do not know the other, or themselves- it is easy for a middle aged woman to say that, with my hard-won self-knowledge. GIRES put it clearly: Trans people are the only group that can have their civil rights delayed by another. Dissolve the marriage after gender recognition, if you want. Why would that be so hard?

A domestic violence charity said, The spousal veto is extremely concerning and potentially dangerous for trans people who are experiencing domestic abuse. It is known that abusers will commonly try and prevent a trans partner from transitioning, and trans people may experience honour-based violence in response to their wish to transition. Abusive partners will typically be highly controlling and have a
sense of entitlement. The spousal veto gives abusive partners a tool to foster the sense that they have ownership and authority over their partner’s body and identity.

The committee decided that marriage is a legal contract which cannot be changed without the consent of both parties, and recommended that the government should find other ways of addressing the problem where an abusive  spouse used the power to withhold consent abusively.

Currently, the age limit for gender recognition is 18. Sweden is going to move to a 15-and-over self-declaration, and for 12-to-15 it is going to be with parental consent; and in Norway a similar procedure, but from the age of seven, will exist. There are over a thousand children and young people transitioning, developing important networks of peer-support and enjoying formative experiences in their preferred gender, so overcoming one radical feminist objection, that we are socialised differently.

The committee recommend that those 16 and over should have the gender they choose recognised. They fear possible risks if younger children, even with parental support, could change gender, and believe the Government should further consider the possible risks and benefits.

Degas, after the bath

Thinking Emotionally II

What would “thinking emotionally” mean? “Reason is the slave of the passions” said Hume: feeling decides what I want, and reason gets me there. Yet we are stuck with older ideas, that reason decides what is good, which we then choose or not to pursue: that is free will. And so we rationalise our choices as the “reasonable” course. It feels that I have had my own desires so systematically disrespected that I have lost conscious awareness of them; I have had imposed on me other ideas of what is “good”, or what I should desire, and that when I first found my own desires, they were

  • to conform to that idea of “goodness”, to be a “good person”
  • to hide away and not get noticed, for any attention would be unpleasant to me.

This seems a crushing act of violence, and to be a main cause of my current unemployment. My own desire untrammelled by this has surfaced in my transition male to female- it was not “good”, it was simply what I wanted more than anything else I could conceive of- and in my No, when I ceased to look for work. I chose role models who were wicked, showing my deep discomfort with this, for I have been bound tightly to the role I ought to play.

I respect my feelings and desires.

Growing into that position, still frightened of my situation and with the nagging fear that what I ought to desire is the best way to my independence; and facing the further sanction of society, that without an income all I can desire is mere survival, feels like a massive act of self-liberation. I am the toddler facing the raised hand- but facing it, not cowering.

Hume- now Russell and Hegel! Bertrand Russell said he would rather his intelligent opponent than his less intelligent supporter expressed his ideas. H referred to Hegel’s “Master-Slave”: anyone who knew of Hegel would know of that, and I didn’t, just that Hegel first conceived dialectic, thesis antithesis synthesis. So I went to google and found Eric Steinhart, whom I will not summarise.

H says the trans woman can never be a woman. It is something like this: men are not supposed to feel emotional, and women are; men use their female partners vicariously to experience emotion, using her friendship circle and social life, perhaps using her as the mirror Steinhart refers to. I am socialised as the male user rather than the female used. I doubt I could ever persuade her that the WAPOW view, all trans women are a THREAT in women’s space, is unreasonable. She says she has never seen a radical feminist hostile to a trans woman: only they deny us their safe space, claiming it is not appropriate for us, and insist we are a threat- which to people as vulnerable as we, is very threatening. She resents allegations of transphobia, and expresses revulsion at the bodily adjustments we undergo. That I suffered such a crushing act of violence to my emotional sense is not my entrĂ©e: women’s space cares for victims of other violence.

Schlesinger, Hegel

Transgender Equality II

Trans women may be excluded from women-only services. This is only lawful if it can be justified- “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” in the jargon- but may deter vulnerable trans women from trying to access such services at all, because they fear exclusion. The Women and Equalities Committee considered this.

Women Analysing Policy on Women said, There are situations such as women-only domestic and sexual violence services where vulnerable women surviving in crisis find it very difficult to feel safe. Some of these women may feel unable to access services provided by or offered jointly to all women including transwomen; this produces a clash with the rights of transwomen to be treated exactly the same as other women. It is strange that WAPOW has no website. Here is their evidence to the Committee, which perhaps is their whole purpose. Discriminators seek to hide their discrimination. Note the sweetness of the language, referring to us as “women”, though I like a space in “trans women”. The whole evidence shows their determination to exclude us from all women only services, claiming that otherwise men would lie that their gender identity was female, to gain access to women’s services, and could not be excluded.

However they admit that Many women only services welcome transwomen. People who do not discriminate have no problem.Women’s Aid said, Women’s Aid is committed to ensuring that transgender people are treated with respect and do not experience discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of their gender identity. All they need do is explain, and work to support those vulnerable women who actually object, rather than claiming some might. And treat us according to what we actually do, rather than what they fear we could, or what some cross-dressing bogeyman did years ago in another continent.

WAPOW propose separate services for us, which is never going to happen. There is not the funding for women’s services as it is, leave alone for trans women.

Here is a debate from 2010 on removing the exclusion. Barrister Claire McCann said the explanatory notes to the Act were too categorical, failing to show exclusion could be proportionate or necessary.

Evidence showed the Act now creates passing privilege: we must all fear not passing. Discriminators might find people they suspect of being trans, and question them intrusively about their gender history, breaching their human right to privacy.

What of our employment? Women’s Aid, claiming a “genuine occupational requirement”, will not employ trans women. This policy is under review. Yet Miridul Wadhwa has worked in the violence against women sector since 2005 without any problem.

The committee propose forbidding employers and service providers from excluding trans people with a gender recognition certificate. But they consider that those without should still be excluded simply for being trans, rather than for what we do, if the discriminator claims this is proportionate.

Without a GRC, I would be terrified of going to court, or of being excluded. I would simply not access services.

Degas, breakfast after the bath

Transgender Equality

Now, I am protected by British discrimination law because I sought Gender Reassignment: being assigned male at birth, I decided permanently to transition to female. British MPs want to extend that protection to all gender identities and none.

Trans people are protected as soon as they make that decision, but it is the decision to change physiological or other attributes of sex. Generally, people think that means The Operation. The Women and Equalities Committee reporting on Transgender Equality say this is outdated and misleading, and the protected characteristic, the thing which makes bad people discriminate and the law protect us should be “gender identity”. This means that genderqueer people would be protected. This does not go as far as New York, where all variant gender expression is protected.

Don’t hold your breath. In 2011 the Government Equalities Office published Advancing Transgender equality: a plan for action. The committee finds this is “largely unimplemented”. “Within six months” it says the Government must draw up a balance sheet of the previous transgender action plan, confirm those actions which have been completed and agree a new strategy to tackle those issues which remain unaddressed. It must say who is responsible: but there is no time-scale for implementation, five years on. And there must be a wholesale review of issues facing non-binary and non-gendered people– a review, before any agreement on action.

The International Commission of Jurists Yogyakarta principles, and the Council of Europe resolution 2048, call for a universal human right to define your own gender- male, female or anything else, and to have this recognised. We should have access to medical treatment, no diagnosis of mental illness, and recognition with such surgery or hormone alteration, or none, as we deem appropriate.

Right now, what are those “other attributes of sex”? The committee says it is a misapprehension that you need to want genital surgery, and quote, from the explanatory notes to the Equality Act, the example of someone who transitions without any medical intervention claiming he is still protected. How you present is therefore an attribute.

Non-binary people are not protected. The committee obtained a legal opinion saying that some non-binary people would be protected, as the employer discriminates because it “perceives”, or imagines, that the person intends transition. However, if the person came out as non-binary rather than transsexual, they would no longer be protected as the employer would not have that erroneous belief. And, where employers are careful not to appear to discriminate, proof of an erroneous belief would be difficult.

Caroline Dinenage, the Minister for Women and Equalities, said that the case for non-binary people had been considered when the Equality Act was debated, only five years before, but that she would consider amendment “if a case were made”. And the changes would only affect those who chose a non-binary definition of their gender.

The committee seems to imagine it is considering a small number of people who transition and a smaller number who choose to express a non-binary gender identity; rather than everyone, for everyone is constrained by gendered expectations.

Degas, breakfast after the bath

Morality and contraception

Things happen. Human beings have purposes and intention. Things don’t.

Here’s the Catholic Church on contraception, taken as before from Rejection of Pascal’s Wager. John Chrysostom found it appalling: Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. Weird. Pius XI wrote, No reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything which is intrinsically against nature may become comformable with nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is designed primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purposely sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious. So a condom to prevent spreading AIDS was forbidden by John Paul II.

The current position: Wikipedia’s source claims condoms were permitted by Benedict XVI; but Francis dodged the question, claiming other problems of Africa were more important. Indeed they are, and indeed the Pope crying out against poverty is a good thing; but one word permitting condoms where there is risk of AIDS transmission is not too much to ask. Francis referred to the “openness to life of the sexual act”.

A single celled eukaryote ancestor of all flora, fauna and fungi produced a gamete requiring another gamete to produce a new organism. How this evolved is a mystery. The result is to permit the evolution of complex, multicellular organisms, but that was not the purpose.

Orangutan females have sex with lots of males. A theory is that they are aware of fertility, mate with the best male when he will be the father, and mate with the others so that they will not kill an infant which might be their own. Humans have sex when infertile. This has the effect of bonding people together. It did not evolve with that purpose, but arose at random, and flourished because it promoted reproduction.

Sex is not designed. It has effects, and people do it to achieve those effects; and we ignore the risk of other effects because that, too, promotes reproduction: this forgetfulness flourishes. Natural law theory fails because it confuses is and ought; and because in this case it chooses the troublesome, rather than the pleasurable, effect of sex as its purpose. Thomas Aquinas said contraception is a grave sin and to be classified as a crime and against nature- I sourced that quote from Father Hardon– so the Roman Catholic Church is stuck with facilitating the spread of AIDS. I find that immoral- but I judge it by results, rather than by considering the acts causing them.

Hagia Sophia mosaic of John Chrysostom

Rage II

Just one way the Government destroys savings, and drives people to food banks…

We do not have a benefit for people unfit for work. We have a benefit for people who score fifteen points on a very restrictive test, which may not include some registered blind, or even people incapable of living without a carer. So people unfit for work get refused ESA.

They go to the jobcentre, and are asked what kind of work they are looking for. If they know the game, they can say that there must be work they can find, and they will do anything they are qualified for, but they cannot walk 200m or stand for more than half an hour (which would have qualified them under the old Incapacity Benefit test, but scores no points now). They have to look for work, and will likely be sanctioned, but will get something.

But some say they are not fit for work, but cannot get ESA. They are then refused any income at all, because to qualify for JSA you have to be “actively seeking work”. They are sent back for another ESA medical, which may be delayed for weeks, and which they will likely fail. No-one has to tell them how the system works. This is how the system works, to pay people with no money nothing, so their debts will mount, and they may lose their homes.

S said she saw someone like this when she went to her ESA medical, and I feel impotent rage and hatred. She knows this, but I feel the need to explain it again. Such anger!

I wonder if my “thinking emotionally” is the effect of my powerlessness. The person with power makes a decision emotionally, then rationalises it, and has the power to put it into effect. I, having little power, go along with that, until I can go along with it no more, and have an emotional irruption. He then can show that his rationalisation, being “rational”, is superior to my emotional thinking. All I can do then is sulk, or fail to co-operate.

Not understanding my phone- why would the screen go blank, while I am phoning?- I failed to ring off, and have used seven hours out of five hundred minutes on one phone call. I am glad I found this before going to bed, or I would have had a large bill. I thought again of those people fruitlessly claiming ESA and cried a little over it.

It is my own powerlessness at which I rage.

I have chosen these Degas bathers because they look like still lives- especially the first, with that table slashing through the picture, and the jugs and brush which might appear in any other nature morte.

Degas, woman sponging her back

The Catholic Church and abortion

They are against it. They imagine they have moral reasons for this. Their method of moral reasoning is inferior to mine. My method of moral reasoning fits free people; theirs fits people following the rules of an oligarchy.

Catholic morality is deontological, following rules. Certain acts are considered sins, whatever the consequences: the end never justifies the means, they say. My morality is at least in part consequentialist: I look at the intended result.

Can a foetus be aborted to save the life of the mother, when if it is not aborted both will die? No, they say: Two natural deaths are a lesser evil than one murder. John Paul II wrote, The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. It is in fact a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and indeed to God himself, the author and guarantor of that law; it contradicts the fundamental virtues of justice and charity. “Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo. This is clearly not an argument: it is merely a reiteration of words, to be completely clear.

However, in the case of ectopic pregnancy, where the foetus has implanted in the fallopian tube, removal of that tube is permissible under the principle of double effect- the surgeon removes the tube, mutilating her and making pregnancy later less likely, in order to save the woman’s life, with the unintended consequence that the foetus dies. However, removal of the foetus from the fallopian tube, saving the tube, is not permitted, because that is the direct act of killing the foetus.

I analyse this situation by its consequences. This is named consequentialist ethics. Consider the choices:

  1. Remove the foetus without damaging the tube. The foetus is dead, the woman’s life is saved, she retains her chances of pregnancy later.
  2. Remove the foetus and the tube. The foetus is dead, the woman’s life is saved, her chances of pregnancy are reduced.

To me, clearly, the first is preferable. The church considers the second preferable because it considers acts rather than consequences. For me, the end justifies the means. For them, the need to avoid the wicked act of directly killing the foetus justifies mutilating the mother.

I cite the legal principle that a person is presumed to intend the consequences of their acts. The Catholic doctor knows that the foetus is implanted in the fallopian tube which s/he removes; how can it be said that the doctor does not intend to kill it?

To me, there are situations where moral rules are useful. Do not lie, do not cheat, do not steal; but it seems to me that I follow rules from virtue ethics rather than deontology: I am not the kind of person who does that. This makes me a moral agent, the judge of my own morality, rather than slavishly following rules thought out before consequentialist ethics was conceived.

Catholic position from The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager.

Benozzo_Gozzoli, the Triumph of Aquinas over Averroes