The stare

A transgenderist and two transsexuals took a canal boat holiday. No, that’s not how we describe people now, but it was how they would have described themselves, then. They were on a lock, water flowing sedately through, boat rising slowly, unhurriably, and people on the tow-path were staring at them. The TSs were getting more and more uncomfortable. So eventually Janett just stared back, and turned her wig around.

Passing through the speed of light-
I said, “I met this hurting woman. I so want to absolve her!”

Well, they would stare. Women on a boat like that would not be wearing skirts, probably not make-up.
-certainly not matching shoes and bags.

I found when in the supermarket in a ball gown I wasn’t stared at, generally.
-Perhaps they were frightened!

You said you were a feminine man. What do you want?
(Oh buggrit, let’s not talk of reverting.) I kindof think my current compromise is OK. I am readably trans.

People stare, people don’t stare. The stare can be a threat, of mockery or violence. Mockery is a threat if it raises echoes inside me, if I think I am laughable, ridiculous or disgusting. It could just be curiosity. We are curious creatures.

I want to be stared at, as actress-provocateur. I could not make sense of this…

I am never enough, I never see in time

What do you want? Where do you want to be in five years’ time? What do you want to have or be or do?

If I don’t feel safe, it is reasonable to want safety. You see I am absolving myself. I have always done my best. If I feel a failure, if it has always seemed been too difficult for me-

You said, Readably trans. How does that work for you?
Well, it’s where I feel capable of being myself. I don’t shock and provoke. My presentation and people’s first impressions of me do the work I want them to do.
Does that not depend on their level of understanding?
Well, the authoritarian won’t like me as a feminine man, a trans woman, anything. As best he can he perceives who I am. The Liberal will accept, but not be surprised.

I was read in Bewiched as lower class. I was looking at the Guardian, and someone offered me the Express. I said, “I’m left-wing”.

The curious stare bothers us because we fear the other will see what we don’t want them to see because we don’t want to be like that.

This is who I am…
Stop fighting it…


So. Absolution. Stop fighting it. This is who I am, I have always done my best, if I am where I am it is because it has not been as easy as I hoped. “Passing through the speed of light” means stopping fighting it, deciding what I must do now to escape and forcing myself to do it against all my lack of motivation and even revulsion and just accepting. This is where I am. I might then find something I wanted to do, and do it, and I might not. I can’t want it from this side of absolution.

Or something.

I read this morning in the NYT about procrastination, exactly as I had seen it- the procrastinator is smitten by the perfect picture of that which is yet to be born; he falls under the spell of all that purity and splendor [but]… is fully aware that all that has to go… [He must] be the one who defaces the ideal and brings into the world a precarious copy. Non-inclusive language. Possibly I should not link to something that writes like that, but the writer expresses it as I had. So my attitude changed: No, if I do it, it will just be wrong. Everyone will judge it and find it wanting. However simple it ought to be.

I judge myself harshly.

So stop wanting to do anything. Hello. This is me. Where I am.

The Kiss

Stories we tell

After his brain tumour was removed, Steve could no longer feel emotion. He could remember what emotions felt like (like a blind person having a mind’s eye) but not feel a response to events now. His wife divorced him.

There is an experiment on responses to risk, in the form of a gambling game. You have a notional $2000 to start with, and can click from a choice of four buttons, which will either add to your fund or deduct from it. Two give small rewards but smaller losses. Two give large rewards but larger losses. It seems like a rational decision, which to click, yet most people will avoid the larger loss buttons before they work out the effects, consciously, and the game is set to give them a gain. (It is notional). Steve, however, could not work it out, and made a loss. Emotional responses to the experience guided most people to a gain, rather than conscious rational calculation.

Yet we state reasons why we take action. I listen to a woman tell me why she does something, and it sounds to me like rationalisation; she is projecting her own discomfort onto other people. I want her to feel safe. She has had a hard time, a blow some would find crushing, and now she is picking up the pieces I want her to feel safe and to trust, so that she can rebuild.

I am thinking of another person who may be projecting and as I type it becomes clearer that I am writing about me. I have a strong aversion to work. I have had some ghastly experiences, so I avoid actions which remind me of them. In that case, I might be better feeling less, so that I could go into the situation which has been so painful in the past- go in, trustingly and openly, rather than fearfully shielding myself from pain, as my fear invites rejection. There is the aversion, not necessarily a good indication of what is a threat, now.

Imagine that everyone in the world wishes you well. Here we are, all doing our best under difficult circumstances, and generally it pleases us to see another succeed. Not everyone, there is envy and jealousy and schadenfreude and people who don’t care at all but it gives most of us all other things being equal a little pleasure to see someone doing well. So those judgmental what will people think voices in my head are wrong- people don’t bother or would rather I succeed, on the whole. “Good for her,” they would say, appreciatively. “It couldn’t happen to a nicer person.”

I went to the tit-squeezer today. Yes, a mammogram. It was painful. I was squeezed between plastic rather than metal, as Josie had said- she complained of the cold, it wasn’t unpleasantly cold- but it pinched. “Stop breathing” said the woman, which though I am attempting to relax and co-operate isn’t easy. It was so uncomfortable that I wondered if she were being hard on me becoz I is trans. Perhaps there is a trade-off between squeezing tightly and getting good clear scans. I hope I don’t get a false positive, though that will change if I get a positive.

Compulsive sceptic

How my father lost his job: the education authority had the idea of teaching primary school children to care about others, and see they could do good, by getting them all to donate a bag of rice to poor people in a famine struck area. Rice would be imported, unloaded, bagged up into 1lb or 250g bags, distributed to wee Argyllshire food shops, bought by doting mothers, taken to school, put in boxes or crates and somehow delivered to the fashionable famine area. My father, as head teacher of at-CHOO primary school, said this was silly. You should collect money, and buy food for them locally. One thing led to another, and as this was not the first time he had failed to co-operate with the idiocy of his bosses, he was made to accept early retirement.

It is a pain refusing to comply with the delusions of ones bosses, especially when one can see the arguments for those delusions. That’s why I stopped volunteering, but also why my friend can’t carry on as a teacher.

Thinking about these matters, I distilled how I wanted to start my counselling session to:

I don’t want to work because I can’t believe in my ability in a job to accomplish anything worthwhile.

This felt like an insight. I could think the words, but not say them to Tina. So I wrote them down, and then could say them. What do I want?

To preserve a view of myself as-
so far as possible, to be
cultured, educated, compassionate, articulate
in my own mind.

That would be something I could value. The problem is not being it, or being it but not seeing that.

What do I do all day? I watch a lot of TV, which makes me feel intense feelings. There’s the hide-and-seek suspense- why do people wander into dark multi-storey carparks, anyway- with the music telling me this is exciting, or there’s the moment where our heroine, having imagined that a colleague is on her side, finds evidence to show he may be one of the ones out to kill her. Here am I despising the false emotion lazily imagined and forced onto me, and the moments I choose to tell Tina about are genuinely affecting. I despise myself for wasting my time like that, but the moments I tell of are worthwhile.

Or I blog. I blog a lot, practically every day. I missed a day or two in August. I want to value myself, understand and make things bearable.
-What is unbearable?

She lets me have the silence, where I luxuriate in my Sadness. It is lovely.

I look at the Quaker Studies Handbook, dozens of essays at an undergraduate level about a subject that interests me- and would be of value to me, as Quakers is my main social group, and I think it would be good to read it, and I can’t be bothered so I don’t even buy it and not read it…

I despise myself. This perplexity! I am amused by it, and as she observes profoundly distressed by it. I want to analyse and explain. I manage to get her laughing.

I dump the jigsaw on the floor. One piece or two:

We will all die!

-we might as well confront the whole thing-

It’s after the hour’s end, and we carry one skyping. I say what I feel about this to show my analysis. I should stop it, because this is the end of the hour- that’s the boundary, that’s the rules, following the rules makes me feel safe, I should not go over, or this is me exerting control (bad) or caring for her boundary (good) but I could let her give the gift to me and care for me- self-valuing and accepting, good- Appearance v Reality, and Really being the Goodperson is Heaven and trying to appear it is the blackest pit of hell-

You judge yourself dreadfully, she says. Yes.

We can’t hug over skype but I can imagine a hug. SO what would be good to discuss? Not “What do you want, however impossible you imagine it to be” but “What do you see as the problem?” perhaps. Ooh. Lots of stuff.


The following day I have a feeling I find hard to describe. You know that feeling when you break a tooth, and your tongue explores the unfamiliar hole. Imagine a similar sense of wonder, but at sudden wholeness rather than sudden loss. I don’t want to seem. I had always wanted to seem to be that good person; but actually I want to be the empathetic, compassionate, gentle being. I want to feel what I feel. I want to run towards something, rather than (as it always seemed) away from it.

Healthy eating

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I have been reading Michael Pollan’s account of the science of nutrition, and how it has been hamstrung by politics. The result is that scientific advice mediated through journalists has less value than what your grandmother taught, because she had access to cultural knowledge about food, which had kept people more or less healthy.

“Eat food” rather than “edible food-like substances” in the supermarket, as processing reduces nutrients, but foods may then be fortified. Better to eat whole foods. Drink whole milk as a low-fat diet with high sugar or carbohydrate may be worse.

Research cannot say what is useful in a diet. Mediterranean diets are thought healthy mainly because of a study from Crete in the 1950s, when people ate lots of olive oil and little meat, but also far fewer calories than modern Americans. They did a lot more physical labour. Other lifestyle matters may skew the results. Pollan thinks little of the Women’s Health Initiative, a long term clinical trial tracking over 49,000 women over eight years, which found no link between a low fat diet and heart disease or breast cancer rates. The Control group does not change its behaviour, the Intervention group does- in this case by reducing its intake of fat to 20% of calories. But now, we differentiate good from bad fats, but then they were not aware of these distinctions. And people lie about what they eat: women weighing over twelve stone claimed to eat 1800 calories a day, which cannot maintain that weight. The US produces 3,900 calories per day per person, and people claim to eat 2000. Not all the rest can be wasted.

The questionnaires were impossible, asking far too detailed questions. If you ate yams, were they fried, and if so in what kind of oil?

Studies control for all but one item, in an effort to link that item to an outcome. However different nutrients interact in a diet. If you drink coffee with your steak you will not absorb the iron in it.

We may not get all the omega-3 fatty acids we need from our diet. Fish get them from green algae, we get them from leaves, but our diet has changes from leaves to grains- which last longer, but contain omega-6 fats which fasten to the same enzymes in the body. 19th century diets had about the same amount of omega-6 and omega-3, modern diets about ten times as much omega-6. They perform different functions in the plant and the animal. Increasing omega-3 through supplements may not do good without reducing omega-6. So I should eat more leaves. I hardly eat any.

In the 19th century, food was understood as protein, fat and carbohydrates. Then beri-beri was found to be caused by removal of rice husks in Chinese labourers’ diet, called a “vitamine” by its discoverer. Since then, more and more active molecules in food have been differentiated.

A US Senate committee on nutrition in 1977 found that as people ate more red meat and dairy and less leaves, they suffered more heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They recommended that people ate less red meat and dairy, and the red meat and dairy industries were enraged. After that government advice shunned plain talk about whole foods, instead talking of nutrient parts such as “saturated fats”.

He recommends eating whole foods rather than processed or fortified foods, and less meat, more leaves. Eat more species- the wider variety is more likely to include what you need.

Trusting instincts: your body craves what it needs, and imagines the whole food which will grant it. Studies cannot identify the particular part of the food which you crave.

His explanation of the interests of various groups one might trust to give useful advice flummoxes me: whom might I trust?

Michael Pollan.


Shrine co-ordinator

In the coffee shop, as we are leaving, S gets chatting to a woman she knew in the prison. Donna is a shrine co-ordinator. Oh, what’s that then? A great deal of work and difficulty she says. I press her.

She tells me of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. In 1531, the BVM appeared to Juan Diego, a poor man whose clothes were woven from cactus fibres. She told him to start a shrine to her, but the bishop said no. So she told him to go to the top of a hill, and pick flowers there. It was December, but he found Castilian roses, native to Spain rather than Mexico. As instructed he wrapped them in cactus cloth, and took them to the bishop. When they unwrapped the flowers, there was this image on the cloth.


The image is miraculous. There are no brush strokes visible, and no identifiable pigment. It has been analysed by NASA. Cactus cloth would normally break down in fifty years, but nearly five centuries later it is pristine. In 1910 there was a bomb taken into the chapel where it is kept, in a bunch of flowers (Mexican revolution, I presume) which blew out the windows but did not hurt anyone or damage the relic at all. In 1979 the Pope ordered two hundred digital copies, one for each country in the world. They are- I am not sure of the technical term she used, something like “effective relics”- looking on the copy gives the same blessing as looking on the original. She hands me a small piece of card with the image on it. They also have prayer cards and banners. She could send me one.

The small piece of card is enough for me, I say. I am not into devotional objects. My Angels at Mamre icon is quite enough. I find the card, on my side-table as I type, disturbing.

Her friend talks of the nuns at Nupton: they ran a care home, but have just been disbanded and sent to other communities all over the country. She shows a photo on her phone of the Bishop in full garb standing in front of a group of nuns at their last mass together. She then was guided to the death-bed of a woman, who was able to reach out from under the covers and take her hand. Anyone would find this moving, but she finds it Providential. She has just been to Medjugorge, where the BVM appeared in 1981, prophesying a terrible war.

I say I know S from the Quaker meeting, but have no interest in devotional objects, and a Richard Dawkins objection to talk of miracles. This shuts her down, and is too strong- I am interested in people’s beliefs, and can see that the relic may give someone reassurance or consolation- but is a measure of how disturbing I find talk of such things, as if they were true.

Her absolute certainty of the miraculous provenance of the relic is like the absolute certainty some Catholics have of the wrongness of LGBT. I hear the certainty of the relic, and wonder at its spiritual value for her; but such certainty can be poison.

Trans children

No child should be sterilised unless that is clearly in her/his best interests, and medically indicated.

Trans folk would pass much better if we did not go through the wrong puberty. Trans boys would not grow breasts. Their hips would not widen. Trans girls would not develop male pattern body hair. Their voices would not break. Surgical alteration of genitalia is easier with a child. And- some children who identify as trans grow up to identify as cis lesbian gay or bi. It is not clear that children likely to grow up trans can be identified.

Puberty can be blocked; I read that tends to be a “one way street”. Children whose puberty is blocked so they can decide for themselves at a more mature age tend to transition. This may be because puberty blockers are only prescribed in extreme cases. Even blocking puberty has an effect on the child.

Why tell children that they are boys or girls, anyway? Why tell them that boys and girls are different? We are different in our reproductive system, but our characters and abilities overlap so much that there may be no other difference between all males and all females.

For me the answer is to dump cultural gender. If Stephen wants to be called Clare today, that is a choice the child should be allowed to make. The same goes for clothes, pronouns, gendered behaviour. Let them play and experiment, that is how they learn. Let them be inconsistent: Stephen insists he is a boy, while wearing a dress. Next day s/he is thinking on something else and does not want to be bothered with gender presentation.

!!!!!!!!!!THIS DOES NO HARM AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!

(Breathe. Yes, I know. Shouting. I am intensely distressed about this.

Onywye. It has to be such a big deal. You identify as trans, see doctors, socially transition. That means you can go to school with a name you like, but still only one name, only one presentation. You can even be gender-queer, but still have one name, one painfully-negotiated rule about which toilet you use.

Hormones and surgery are a big deal. Names and clothes should not be.

There are people who do not fit gender norms. “Boys don’t cry” is untrue and damaging. Gender norms are still enforced. I want it open for children to express by gender as they wish.

No-one feels in a vacuum. We are influenced by others. We see what it is acceptable to feel, what feelings we can express or act on. We learn from parents and people around us. It is comfortable to have similar opinions with a group. The child J may have been unable to express feelings separate from his mother’s. So we shut down feelings because these are inappropriate for our gender.

Children should be given a completely free choice to take, or not, football, ballet or both. It is hard not to influence. Do they want influenced, they want to be shown what will be acceptable? Only if they have been hurt before, only if some feeling has been taboo and they have suffered for it. We need support, not constraint, as we learn to navigate the world, society, and ourselves. Children are cultural sponges: They absorb the mores that surround them — how to dress, what to eat, what to say. This is a good thing, all in all, since a major function of childhood is figuring out how to be a proficient adult in a particular society. This means picking up on social norms. These norms, though, need not include constraining gender norms, which cut across human nature without benefit to anyone.

This idea cares for gender non-conforming children across the whole range, from football for girls- which only gives the most conservative the slightest frisson- through gender non-conforming, to those who will have surgery and hormones for the rest of their lives. Only surgery and hormones require medical intervention.

How kids learn prejudice, New York Times.

The Christian Legal Centre

Attempting to gain publicity, the Christian Legal Centre have rushed out a press release just after the story of J broke. After a boy was forced to live as a girl until rescued by the legal system, they are supporting parents to force a boy to live as a girl. Christian family fear gender-confused daughter will be taken away unless they bow to social workers’ name change demands they trumpet.

Powys county council puts this in non-legal language: professionals are very worried that your child is not being looked after properly and he/she is at risk. There has to be “significant harm” from the parents’ lack of care. This is not some trendy social worker enforcing gender orthodoxy against Christian common sense, as CLC would have you believe.

Even the CLC press release indicates that harm. Until he was 13, the child “Gary” was home-schooled with his siblings. He started to self-harm. He ran away. Child mental health services told the parents that unless they allowed his name change, their [son] would be at risk of suicide. That’s a quote from the press release. CLC’s blind self-righteousness damns themselves.

The family now face a meeting with social workers in November, in which it is indicated and believed that the social worker will be pushing for Bethany to be allowed to use the name Gary in school and the family will be pressured into allowing her to receive ‘therapy’ from the Tavistock Institute in Leeds for its ‘Gender Identity Development Service’. Aged 14, Gary is too late for puberty blockers, and too young for T injections. Therapy will be talking therapy. There will be diagnosis. Is the child trans? He might start to wear a binder.

Forcing an agenda

That’s their heading. They really don’t see. They want the parents to be able to control a teenager. The child will only be this intransigent when denied age-appropriate levels of self-determination. Until we leave our parents, we negotiate ways of living together. Only where a child is far too controlled in every aspect of life would she insist on self-determination in this way, against her own gender identity.

The thing which makes me pause is that Gary is in a relationship with a girl. His “Christian” parents would oppose the child being lesbian as much as being trans. It is just possible that the child thinks

Girl with girl relationships are not OK
therefore I am a boy.

Or, that given that the parents hate lesbians, s/he insists s/he is a boy as an act of pure rebellion. Any LGBT child will be confused, disorientated and damaged by such a “Christian” upbringing. May God show the parents, and CLC, the error of their ways! However, the Tavistock centre are the professional experts able to discern this. Children like Bethany need psychiatric help, shrieked Andrea Williams, CLC chief executive, yet she opposes the CAMHS advice and referral to Tavistock.

It is very unfortunate that the social worker appears to have jumped to the conclusion that Bethany is transgender without even waiting for a formal diagnosis from the psychiatrist, Williams continued. Well, all that the child can achieve now is a completely harmless name change. If they is not trans, presenting as male will be uncomfortable. The self-harm and running away indicates “significant harm” to the child, which arises from the parents’ dogmatism.

The Daily Mail has quoted extensively from the press release, without criticism. Here’s the press release.

Oh, enough of this! Inspired by this New Yorker article informing me that people say “No, totally” to mean “yes”, I have been writing doggerel again.

So let us praise, with verve and vim
this holophrastic contranym
Though no means yes, we’re not confused
No, totally, we’re disabused
Can yes mean no? Of course it can!
to sarcastic contrarian.

Here’s my Donald Trump verse- note the internal rhymes!!- to a Chuck Berry tune:

Mr Pence and Mr Trump
get ye hence. I’ve got the hump
Mr Trump and Mr Pence
I’d like to thump you, you’re so dense.

Michael P and Donald T
After that come “S” then “D”.
Governor and bankrupt man
They don’t really have a plan.

Donald has some business tips
Grab their pussy, kiss their lips
Speaker Ryan’s naught to say
wishes Trump would go away.

Donny’s polls are down the hole
so he claims the elections’ stole
Now he tweets a dismal wail:
“Hillary should be in jail”.

Debating Donny’s on the prowl
Lip is wrinkled, mood is foul
As she speaks, behind he looms
His campaign he totally dooms………


I’m still doing teenage here. Or mid-life crisis. If surgery or passing as a woman is just trying to fit in, which never pleases all the people, what is the way ahead? If the answer is self-acceptance, reverting won’t work.

Reverting is a symbol. I present male because I’m a man- I take an idea of who I am and find an off the shelf presentation which more or less fits it. No good. Just too difficult, for one thing. I have not done that for so long. It achieves nothing.

The Ruby Dolls sing

I have only one thing to do and that’s
to be the way that I am and then
sink back into the ocean

Everyone finds it easier to be with people like them. For some that’s their family, but we’ve never been close. I want to fit in, so I am likely to shave bits off myself or hide them even from myself for that. I want to hide. It is what I have learned from childhood and family. It isn’t working for me. It does not keep me safe.

I want to hide and I want to be noticed. I want to stand out. These are opposites I have not reconciled. Perhaps they cannot be. I can stand out until I want to hide again.

Style can be learned, surely. At Charney Manor there I am at breakfast in a sleeveless dress with large red flowers on it, and this seems to me a bit much for this douce crowd. And C wears a soft floral sweater. The levels of femininity I want but not so unusual. One of the problems with perfect me is that I imagine I should know all this. I have been thinking of other things.

And yet in that dress I stand out, which I want. I don’t want to look an idiot or a weirdo. I want to look striking.

to be the way that I am-

I feel I hold myself back. All that fear. All that second-guessing and analysis. So I want to play. I want to try things, not care so much about getting it wrong.

An enmeshed relationship

A woman feminises her son against his nature, subjecting his will, because of her own emotional disturbance. A court rescues him, and places him in his father’s care, where he develops normal boyish interests. These demonstrate the harmfulness of the mother and the rightness of the rescue. That is the story you get from Mr Justice Hayden, who ordered the new care arrangements. It justifies greatly restricting the contact the mother has with the child- they must be supervised.

How would the mother, referred to as “M” to preserve anonymity, get her child J to wear a pink headband and nail varnish, leave alone present entirely female, unless J is a trans girl? Why would she?

CAFCASS, the children and family court advisory support service, investigated, and recommended that F[ather] not have contact with the child, as it would cause M and J “potential emotional harm”. Social services had anonymous referrals saying M was mentally ill and that J might access the skunk M smoked in front of him. The social services child and family assessment, completed in January 2015, concluded that there were no evident concerns suggesting that [J] was at immediate risk of harm. [M] is very clear that she is supporting [J] with whatever choices [J] makes and she presents with a good understanding of [J]’s needs. There were no concerns from the social worker regarding [M]’s approach to [J]’s gender presentation, and had appropriately taken on board support from the charity Mermaids. Upon completion of the assessment, no further action was taken by Children’s Services.

The judge finds this irrational and unsustainable, and draws attention to the schools’ concerns, that [J] behaved no differently than the other children but they felt that [M] was unwilling to accept this and on occasions she reduced a teacher to tears due to her ‘forceful and confrontational’ manner…in class, [J] doesn’t display any differences to the other boys.

What constitutes “difference”?
Who judges, and what are their expectations?
If J tries to conform in any situation, rather than following his own unconstrained wishes, what will he do?

One referral to social services said M was unwilling to accept help from local child mental health services.

The judge condemns social services strongly, saying the cry for investigation went unheeded. Social services combine both naivety and professional arrogance. However, social services reported those concerns were in relation to [J] presenting as a girl rather than concerns in relation [J]’s welfare and the care that is provided to [J]….the manner in which [J]’s gender identity is responded to by professionals could also cause emotional difficulties, as had been evidenced in research around gender non conforming children cited earlier. It appears that [M] is genuinely attempting to protect [J] from the impact of this.

M has accessed support from the Tavistock Centre, the child gender identity service. The judgment shows no evidence from them, only from psychologists. The first, Jean Sambrooks, refers to J as “she”, but the judge dismisses this, though he says that It is entirely counterintuitive to suspect that a boy who is consistently presenting as a girl may not truly wish to do so and may have been forced or induced into performing such a role by his mother. He draws attention to her concerns about the way M communicated, though Ms Sambrooks considered that the impact of these concerns was most likely to have alienated professionals to the mother’s genuine concerns.

The judge finds M highly manipulative and controlling with strong opinions, prone to exaggerate and distort, even “oppositional”. A mother defending a trans child from disbelief might need such qualities. He says As I have heard this case I have noted that these illogicalities often characterise M’s evidence. Nobody has doubted that M is both articulate and intelligent and so the reasonable inference is that she must recognise some of the illogicality of her own statements. I consider that she has learnt that by creating ‘confusion’, to use Ms Sambrooks’ word, amongst the professionals, she generates a situation in which her own distorted beliefs gain greater traction and are able to prevail with less effective challenge.

There were delays, which the judge reports were caused by M’s unjustified challenges of lawyers involved, and refusal to communicate. The family court transferred the case to the high court because lack of information of the child’s whereabouts raised concerns for his welfare. In November 2015 Mr Justice Hayden made a variety of highly prescriptive orders, reinforced by a Penal Notice. J, then five, was living in stealth, all the time presenting as a girl and registered at the GP as a girl. M said the Tavistock centre had advised this, but the judge says Though I was by no means certain, I very much doubted that the Tavistock would have given this advice in respect of such a very young child. I am amazed no-one asked them. Instead, the judge sought their file.

There was a hearing before Mr Justice Hayden where he ordered that J be delivered to F. He portrays M as controlling. What was perfectly clear however and requires emphasis is that M was determined that J should live entirely as a girl. At only five years of age that did not strike me as offering J choice or even the opportunity to express any ambivalence or confusion. I was also entirely satisfied that whatever choices J made and however he presented, he would be loved and cared for and his choices respected in F’s care.

The February hearing was very stressful for M. However what struck me forcibly, both then and indeed at this final hearing, was that M spoke of J only in the somewhat opaque and convoluted argot of social work and psychology. She offered an impressive, intense and highly articulate evaluation of the problems faced by children with gender dysphoria but she conveyed no sense of J’s personality, temperament or enthusiasms, notwithstanding frequently being encouraged to do so. Repeatedly she struck me as a professional witness giving evidence about somebody else’s child.

I was also left in no doubt that M was absolutely convinced that J perceived himself as a girl. M’s case on this point has not always been either consistent or coherent, but my overwhelming impression is that she believes herself to be fighting for J’s right to express himself as a girl. She has told me how J ‘expressed disdain for his penis’. I think it accurately summarises her position to say that she perceived it to be her responsibility in the face of widespread public, professional and indeed judicial ignorance to promote J’s choice of gender.

Why on Earth would M want to manipulate a child who was not trans into presenting as a trans girl? The judge does not say. How could she do that? Continue reading

Was this child trans?

The Press Association reports that a child living with their mother, as a girl, has been removed from her care by a high court judge and given to their father. Now, they is settled with their father. The judge says,

“I am entirely satisfied, both on the basis of the reports and [the father’s] evidence at this hearing, that he has brought no pressure on (the boy) to pursue masculine interests. [The boy’s] interests and energy are entirely self-motivated.”

The boy’s mother “told me that [he] was ‘living in stealth’ by which was meant, she explained, that he was living life entirely as a girl”, said Mr Justice Hayden. “He dressed, at all times, like a girl and, it transpired, had been registered at a new general practitioner’s as a girl.”

The judge added: “I was also left in no doubt that [the mother] was absolutely convinced that [the boy] perceived himself as a girl.” Hayden said his “overwhelming impression” was that the woman “believes herself to be to fighting for [her son’s] right to express himself as a girl”.

She said they had expressed disdain for their penis.

The judge heard reports from a psychologist and social workers. “I consider that [the mother] has caused significant emotional harm to [her son] in her active determination that he should be a girl.” 

The father had started litigation because he had not had contact with his child. They had been registered with a GP as a girl, but not referred to the Tavistock clinic: instead, the GP had requested that a social worker visit.

The Sun’s angle was that social workers were incompetent, rather than underfunded. Hayden J: Concerns were dismissed on the basis that it was the other agencies who ‘did not have a full understanding of gender non-conforming children’. In fact, it was (social workers) and senior managers whose understanding was lacking.

The mother had taken the child out of school.

All the papers refer to the child as a boy, with male pronouns. Having read the reports, I tend to agree, so now will too. I hope the judge was open to the possibility that the child was a trans girl. There is no mention of the child’s own opinion, but as he is seven it appears the judge has relied on reports.

I hope he has got it right. The Sun reports concerns about the mother’s mental health, from some source it does not name in a report to the police. Other papers do not mention that: it appears they think impugning her mental health is not justified from the report. I would go to the source, the Associated Press, but it does not makes its reports freely available.

Children are malleable. They can be forced to present as the other gender. But we don’t know: why would the mother be certain her child was a trans girl, if he were not? Is she charged with abuse or neglect? Would a child, taken by the court from her mother and given to her father, be able to assert she was a trans girl even if she wanted to?

I want to post this quickly, so will google more, but have been reading a Daily Mail report from 2012. Lorraine Candy, editor of Elle, allowed her son to dress as a girl until his fifth birthday, but then told him this must stop- because she thought he would be ridiculed. “He was mildly upset but not unduly worried”, she writes. How much cross-gender play by children goes to gender clinics? How much do parents influence it?

I am certain we would be better off if children were encouraged to play as they wish, including cross-gendered. Putting on a dress does not mean your son will have a vaginoplasty later. Why restrict children at all?

discuss the court judgment here. Read how the judge explains how, and why, the mother could force a cis boy to live as a girl.