Transphobes in distress

Beware those who know they are righteous.

There is a thread on Mumsnet where transphobes claim their mental health is affected by trans women’s human rights. One feels she is comparable to Sophie Scholl, who was executed by the Nazis for distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich. Ugly Bag claims she suffers from PTSD and GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) after abuse from men, and now is unable to use changing rooms because there could be men (trans women) there. Over 50 had a psychotic episode she attributes to “gaslighting” by trans women on Twitter, and fears being physically assaulted as Maria McLachlan was. Floral Bunting grew up in a fundamentalist church, where she suffered enforced maternity and an inability to earn. Doing It says she shut down her twitter account. Floorplan says she suffers cognitive dissonance when people claim men are women, which hurts her brain and makes her drink too much.

Ova recognises she is unlikely to meet a nefarious male-bodied individual, but is angry about a multi-faceted attack on women. Cleg rages to such an extent it is bad for her. Formally says it is like “verbal rape” and paraplegia. XXRoar says science-deniers rule against the greater good. Skeptic feels steath trans women would violate her by their mere presence. Beee has stopped using youth hostels. Hippie is tearful and hopeless. RaggyDoll is drinking, smoking and self-harming.

They are martyrs, in a “massive battle for the safety of women and children”. Joy compares trans women to Trump and Brexit, anticipating “something bigger on the horizon”. Block fears self-ID will make her lose her sense of self. 67th calls trans women totalitarian science-deniers. Moveable compares trans women to Nazi Eugenics. Ereshkigal (queen of the underworld) is triggered.

And I sympathise. I get it, completely. We should not be enemies. I am frightened of Trump, Brexit and something worse, and do not want anyone tearful or hopeless, leave alone self-harming.

The problem is how they set themselves against us trans women. I could quote trans women who feel equally damaged and hurt, who feel it is the gender critical feminists mocking, blaming and inciting hatred. Human rights law is clearly on our side, and so the Murdoch media empire is using them against human rights law. We should not be fighting. No-one looks less Nazi than a trans woman. The Nazis killed us in death camps. Transition is what we do to ourselves.

I don’t see us coming together. All I can hope for is the end of the consultation, and the mad battle to go on to something else.

 ♥♥♥

Sajid Javid is wrong not to insist on guarantees that Isis suspects will not be executed by the US if we aid their extraction and the case against them. I had the perfect phrase to argue that: “We show we are better than them”. My right-wing facebook friend had the phrase on the other side- “What about the human rights of their victims?” Both certain of our moral superiority, we could argue past each other. How can we come together and hear each other?

Pain on the Train

On the train: “If there was a general election tomorrow I would vote Labour, but that goes against my views on Brexit, because Labour are against Brexit”. Huh. Remainers do not agree with you. He thinks Corbyn is being sat on, waiting for it all to blow over, and say what you like about Thatcher she always shouted what she thought.

He had been on the Trump demo, his first for years. His mate is going to do a sketch on stage as TweedleTrump, with- whatsisname, Rocketman-

– Kim Jong Il?

and some protesters.

-yeah, that would work.

At the bus stop the woman had stayed at Westminster Abbey. Her brother’s partner is a canon, who has a house there with a front door ten yards from the tourist barriers and access to a large garden. It is a pain when you have had a bad day, having to smile for the tourists.

At Sheffield, the railway system appears to collapse. I should have got to Edinburgh at 3.30 and writing now I am on a train at 7, hoping to get there by 8. No Rembrandt exhibition for me today. I got a train to Doncaster, then a bus to York, then a bus to Newcastle where the first train to Edinburgh was packed with people standing.

A woman who does HR for Hilton hotels had set out for York, only to be stranded just outside the station for five hours. She had done no work and got the bus back. She tells me there’s a power cut at the Hilton in York, over an hour so far, and I speculate about cyber attacks. It’s race weekend, and the hotel is full, charging top rates. Fortunately most guests were at the races.

I also met S, a PhD student working on maths and statistics, considering how to gather data for drug trials- when to take samples to see the drug levels in the body. This takes huge amounts of computing power, say twenty cores running for two hours. A colleague uses drones to film the movement of flocks of sheep, with the farmer playing the role of predator, before modelling it. We wonder if we are living in a computer simulation. She is atheist, but believes religion can be useful to build community and help people behave morally. She talks of seeing a car accident and her desire to give worthwhile help- getting someone out of a smoking car before seeing they were just waiting for services, and driving on.

That’s over eleven hours of travelling.

Going back, I see a sign saying, “We want everyone to have a great journey, so please consider others around you”. I love passive-aggressive “please don’t be a dick” signs, and this is a choice sample. I am at rest, as I write two days later, hoping I will be half an hour later than expected so I can claim another refund. The train in front on this electrified line was not connecting to the overhead wires.

I felt sad to leave Edinburgh and am glad of it, feeling it shows both a better relationship with my family and greater sensitivity to my own feelings, accepting my sadness.

A woman who has just graduated in psychology wants more experience before deciding whether to take up forensic psychology or child psychology. From this she could just be interested in how people tick, but I imagine she wants to feel she is doing something useful.

Actually I was 1½ hours later, and it was wretched.

Fat-shaming and Healthism

Fat people can be as uncomfortable walking down the street as newly transitioned trans people- as vulnerable to abuse, and as hurt by it. Fat-shaming does no good: the advice “You’re too fat. It’s bad for you. Eat less, exercise more” sounds good, but everyone knows that stuff. It is a hurtful way of blaming fat people for their problems.

Don’t tell me the answer to my problems, it just gets me to self-blame more. I know what I ought to do, but cannot believe I would succeed, or motivate myself to try.

Though I noticed in my teens that my father would make helpful suggestions, I would dismiss them, and six months later be doing what he had proposed. I transitioned. It involved a lot of work with no certain end, over months, and I was motivated so I did it. Some people lose weight and keep it off.

I am swithering here. I need hope, and belief in possibilities. And I work on other things. But saying it is up to a traumatised person to deal with their problems creates a huge burden for them. Society should work to deal with our collective traumas.

The Guardian had an article against fat shaming, and the comments were almost all dismissive. Most upvotes went to dismissive comments:

-So being fat is an identity now?
-And medical advice is offensive.

“They know that stuff”, I commented. Someone replied, “So why do some people choose to ignore it, then?” “Sounds like common sense to me.” These decent, ordinary people don’t realise they are being hurtful, or perhaps believe they have to “be cruel to be kind”. “Normalising an unhealthy lifestyle is a ridiculous thing to do.”

Comfort eating does not tempt me. I do not overeat. A friend with a long apron and years of variable but too great weight would have a whole packet of biscuits, and “joke” to me about it- “You can’t have just one.” This was a person retired from a highly paid professional job. So I work my way into empathy: I know I have my own self-destructive avoidance behaviours, which I perform because they have value for me. They give me relief. I recognise the harm, and crave the relief. I have many problems, and am working on them, and do not need someone to point out just one and tell me, in a condescending manner, that I should work on that one in this obvious and simple way. And, I take that belief into myself: that I have not dealt with my problems better is a sign of weakness in me. I condemn myself, and my powerlessness increases.

Being fat can come from two distinct causes: comfort eating, an addictive or trauma-suppressing activity, and poor environment with lack of choice. And other things.

I am a taxpayer. Some of that tax goes to the NHS, which includes the profession of dietician. Dieticians give advice on diet and exercise to patients, especially when newly diagnosed with diabetes or other diseases, but also overweight. I like to think that the NHS has ways of promoting health. I hate to think that the work of dieticians might be useless, that they might not get the fat person healthier after all. Thin is not always healthier. Muscle is heavier, by volume, than fat.

And we have a pervasive cultural idea that keeping yourself in shape is a moral issue, and doing things which might hinder that are sinful. Eating cakes is “Indulgent”. I was fascinated to come across the concept of Healthism. It is a belief system that the pursuit of personal wellbeing is an individual moral obligation. Like other belief systems, it seems obvious, just common sense, to those within it. Each individual has the obligation to stay healthy, and some even argue that medical treatment should not be given to people who bring their problems on themselves.

What causes non-communicable diseases such as hypertension? Healthism explains it by diet and physical activity, but research shows racism increases hypertension. If instead of calling diabetes a non-communicable disease we call it a power-related disease, affected by the powerlessness and oppression people suffer, we see better solutions, which might actually mitigate the disease rather than blaming it on the sufferer.

Lack of control over your own life, as in a zero hours contract, causes stress. Racism, trauma, fat-shaming, loneliness and misogyny damage health. Exposure to pollution in air or water or substandard housing reduce life expectancy. Lack of power causes disease. Patriarchy imposes disease on its victims.

Lifestyle, from “bad choices”, is not the main cause of ill health. Oppression is. The answer is a social response, being kind and caring to each other, tackling the problems of pollution and oppression together as a society. We have an “obligation to help amplify others’ voices”.

The word “healthism” helps me see the belief system of personal responsibility and the solution of holding the powerful to account. It improves my self-worth: my situation is not solely my fault, a sign of weakness. Still, the chance of improvement is mostly down to me; but no-one has the right to impose that responsibility on others.

Identities II

I feel powerless with doctors, and wanted something to communicate my value: how can I show that I am a worthwhile person, and should be treated well? This shows a lack of trust in the medical profession. Well, I have had particular experiences with doctors.

My medical practice wrote to arrange a medication review. I take prescription hormones, and wondered about just ignoring it; but they might not give me a repeat prescription. I have a named GP but don’t like him. He did not know what it was when I described my retrograde ejaculation, and did not seem to care. So I did not want to see him again. I made an appointment with the first GP available, a woman in her forties. The male GP then got the receptionist to phone me up: I had been discharged from the gender identity clinic, was I happy with that? Yes, happy enough, thanks for asking two years after it happened. Then he wanted my blood pressure taken. I was happy to see a nurse to do that but did not want to go twice to the practice. We established that the female GP could probably do that.

She has a small fan just directed at her, but barely strong enough for the airflow to be noticeable, though the whine was. The motor had overheated. So that it just points at her is incompetence getting a decent fan in this heatwave, not discourtesy. I am a middle class person. Don’t fob me off. I was delighted to notice the booklet from “All too human”, a Tate exhibition, lying about her room. I said how much I loved the show.

She started telling me how much she had enjoyed it, especially the Lucien Freud. I loved the- can’t remember the name, Cookham man, entirely different view of him. [Stanley Spencer, of course.] She knew a woman who had curated the — gallery, which had done a retrospective of David Bomberg and showed a lot of the Jewish artists who escaped the Holocaust to London. After, I thought, yes, Germanic surname, Biblical first name, she is Jewish, I would not have considered it but for what she said. Is that why Jewish artists specifically appealed to her? Freud could be the greatest artist in that show. I would be interested in a Quaker artist, or a Scot, there.

Later, I thought of what I might have said- that Jewish refugee immigration did a great deal of good for this country- something I believe, something that fits with my attitude to refugees now, something that might have built connection there. I want to build connection. I sympathised as the fan died. She did some standard tests for why I might be TATT (Tired All The Time) from physical causes, and noted my blood pressure is within normal range. Under 140/90 is OK.

I started it, and am not sure she should have been so open to small talk. She wants to be able to relate to me, as well as I to her. I liked her as a human being and want her as an equal. I went off to the phlebotomist, who had to hunt for a vein, waggling the needle inside my arm. Piercing the skin was the most painful bit of that.

Truth and post-truth

Following a concern from Southern Marches AM, Meeting for Sufferings has invited area meetings to send relevant minutes for further discernment on “The post-truth world and Quaker response”. Finding the term “post-truth” meaningless, my AM clerk felt unable to bring the matter to AM, and asked the Deputy Recording Clerk what it meant. Perhaps the headings of minutes should be as carefully discerned and phrased as the minutes themselves.

Whether or not Juliet Prager would agree, to me “Post-truth” indicates a worry that there is less respect for truth in public life, and echoes “post-modern”. There has always been falsehood in public life. Worshipful discernment whether Quakers are called to specific action, individually or corporately, in the service of Truth- or alternatively Quakers expressing our distress that truth is disrespected- may have value. Falsehood may be emotionally satisfying.

In the garden, I found a cardboard tyrannosaur and a pretty pink sparkly thing from the nursery that provides much of our meeting house income. I hoped both were the playthings of boys and girls equally. My Friend, from a position of academic and professional training, said the first human priority is to belong, and children will echo the sayings of the group, and perhaps find another group if the first is uncomfortable. The truth about nature and nurture is so complex as perhaps to be ungraspable, and for me, a trans woman, it is intensely important that little boys (or even I myself) should not be shamed for playing with pretty pink sparkly things.

I have felt shame at being trans, and wished not to be even though I realised this meant wishing another was in my place- someone the ignorant might call “normal”, who might be happy. My courageous Friend Lucy Aphramor, currently acknowledging her self-harming on stage and Virgil to my Dante, illustrates the liberation for ourselves and others in speaking our secret hurt. Post-modernism concerns power: what stories may be heard?

It is like my experience of God: experience comes before words. I find theoretical understandings unconvincing, but note that I wanted more than anything else in the world to express myself as a woman, appear to be a woman and use cultural forms assigned to women.

My local meeting has a Friend who has spoken at public events organised by Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) and a member of Quaker Life Central Committee tasked with considering issues around trans people. He might express that differently; I checked the correctness of my language with the Sufferings minute but have nothing in writing from Quaker Life. Even if I had, I may convey a misleading impression by what I choose to emphasise or leave out.

Is WPUK transphobic? Speaking from my partisan position on one side, I could point to a video on their youtube channel in which a woman claims it is brave and right to challenge people like me in a public toilet, because of the risk that trans women are violent or sexual offenders. I consider she exaggerates that risk.

A letter in The Friend pointed out that a WPUK meeting had had a trans keynote speaker, omitting that that trans woman is widely despised by trans people for speaking against us. From any collection of details about this issue, Friends might gain a misleading impression. Is it possible to say anything without trying to persuade?

I regret having surgery. Many people who regret begin to campaign against it, feeling cheated, wanting to rescue others from the damage they feel they have suffered. I note that a recent study showed regret levels for surgery below 1%. I remember the delight I felt as the psychiatrist recommended it. Now, I could blame myself for being a fool, for not realising I might regret it later; but I made the best decision I could at the time. I expand my own view to see the competing desires and interests of other people involved.

I wonder if respectful discussion on gender recognition is possible in Britain after I received a bomb threat- “now we have your address”. I hope it is for Friends. Those of us who care have to worship together and hear each other, for Truth includes all our perspectives. The others will hold us in worship. Then I might find what is Right for other interests beyond mine. I expand my love and truth to include all. Threshing might be worthwhile, but people feel unheard and our views of what it is to be human in society may be incompatible: even if we use the same words we may mean different things by them.

Friends with a particular interest in this argument have strong convictions which tempt us to make unfair or untrue statements. We need disinterested Friends to hear us and hold us, to speak as moved in love. Perhaps we share words, but do not mean the same by them, so we are condemned to talk past each other. It is too complex for me to understand, but I will understand as best I can. My interests get in the way, and I strive to put them aside.

Can our meeting house be a “safe space”? Wrestling in Meeting with my own shame and self-loathing, remembering that I thought myself a ridiculous, perverted fantasist, I think of the terror of the man called Legion meeting Christ’s eyes, and do not feel safe. When “transwoman” and “trans woman” mean different things, Friends might despair of understanding the complexity, but I know this to be true: I am Abigail.

Consciousness

Lucy’s technique to be embodied is to name ones sense-impressions. I feel the velvety fabric of my sofa under my fingertips, the pressure of my weight on the chair which includes a cushion at my back and much of the weight on the back of my thighs. Dropping into presence, I am aware of my surroundings. I might take great interest in the dust seemingly suspended in mid air, as I cannot see the spider-thread holding it up.

I am a body. I can feel the movement in the soles of my feet as I walk.

Trauma can make us disembodied. An unwilling sex-worker might refuse ever to kiss: her lips and mouth are her own. The person bullied into compliance so that there is no conscious resistance or selfhood left has to suppress consciousness of embodied feeling. I am that frontal lobe, seeing the interests of the oppressor and following them. Other feelings and sensations are suppressed by the survival instinct.

Returning to the sensations of the body is liberation. I find my own desires and responses, and follow their guidance. I am there now- I can feel my wrists leaning on the lap-top as I type- but Lucy says naming that may even form new connections in the brain, connecting the sensations directly to the verbal centres. Then I can speak and explain my truth. If the concept of new dendrites is too specific yet too hypothetical, at least I know that practice improves ability.

I feel intense emotions, such as the mix of relief with the ability to admit quite how bad my pain has been, when I have had to deny the pain to survive. I thought I was a disgusting, worthless pervert. That was just normal. Now, I feel horror at the pain of it, relief at the end of it, and tiredness at struggling out of the pit of it. There is mourning and celebration, delight at seeing myself more truly, delight in my gifts and value, and pain at the imposed self-contempt: as if I was winded by being punched in the stomach years ago, yet only now can draw breath and feel the pain of the blow.

I can name and describe those intense emotions, and want to describe my current emotions, to name them, bring them to consciousness, integrate them as part of my motivation for action, and so get moving rather than merely resisting. My feelings can be short-lived, mercurial, conflicting. What now? Curiosity. Commitment to this task- what am I feeling?

A phone call. “It’s only Lucie”- sadness, pity, anger: it is clear to me that “only”, the self-deprecatingness of it, is wrong. Don’t wheedle me. She wants to bring our appointment forward, as someone has cancelled, but first she starts explaining to me why it would be good for me to see her earlier, “if you can manage it”- the heat intensifies during the day, she says. I am sad. I see that it is convenient to have an appointment then return to her office, and want to exercise my generosity. I do not need persuasion: if I felt I really couldn’t make it earlier, I would say, and could then find a way forward for both of us.

I want to be seen as this loving, creative, generous person. From perceiving and naming feelings, I can feel and name desires. There is frustration and hurt here too. I do not know how to communicate myself.

What is- that feeling. Is it determination?

And, later: “How do you feel about that?” Two things at the same time. It could be possible, it could be rewarding, it could be worthwhile; and NO NO NO I CAN’T IT WOULD BE AWFUL I CAN’T BEAR IT NOTHING GOOD COULD COME OF IT IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. Someone looking at me would see me go quiet, close my eyes and shrink a little. I want to believe the positive voice, and the other is loud.

Gender justice

There is another world where there is gender justice. There, a 5’2″, curvy young woman in a leadership role can issue a clear instruction and have it heard and obeyed, rather than having to persuade or even coax or wheedle. There, a 5’16” barrel-chested man can be a nursery nurse and no-one turns a hair. In the world of gender justice there is gendered expression but it is not linked to sex. People play with gender, and find new ways of expressing it, separately from expressing sexuality. I could signal my gender in man’s clothes, for my gender would be instantly accepted, no need for someone to think about it, no-one surprised by such gender in a man.

It is not Britain now, but it could be Britain in the future, and should be, and I want to work towards it. But how? And how could we be just to those oppressed by gendered expectations now, so that we may be most fully ourselves? Possibly the most difficult question is, can I imagine a way towards gender justice that fits more people than just me, and others I care about?

In such a world, would anyone suffer bodily dysphoria? I think not. Breasts would be great, for women and the people who love them, but there would be no need for binding, top surgery or implants. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Breasts would mean femaleness but not femininity.

It is crap, sometimes, being trans. Today Will, pronounced Wił, got chatting to me at the bus stop by asking if I was one of those trans women. He followed this up by complimenting my bravery and saying I look better than some real women he knows. Some trans women he knows look awful. They should make an effort. What’s it like? I think he was also asking whether I had had the operation, but being coy about it. He’s a scaffolder, aged 46, and he’s spent five years in Amsterdam, which he finds lovely. No-one turns a hair. You can just be yourself. Others have told me this, that men can be unaffectedly feminine there, and there is still about 1:3800 transwomen. 4,432 trans women visited the Amsterdam gender identity clinic between 1980 and 2015, and most recently 65% of them started hormone therapy within five years. 75% of those had gonadectomy, and only 0.6% of them were identified as regretting it. Some data could be missing, but the study is happy to conclude “the percentage of people who regretted gonadectomy remained small”.

Even if men can be feminine, they felt the need to transition physically, and did not regret it. I regret it. That puts me in a small number. I have little sexual sensation or response, and I have heard before that others have better results, and that regret is linked to poor results. So, seeking gender justice now I should not oppose GRS because I personally regret it. I might say data is missing, and some people could not even admit to themselves that they regretted gonadectomy, and some became happily asexual, without feeling romantic attractions, but not as many as 50%. However some might find the idea of gonadectomy repulsive, could not imagine how it could be right for anyone in any circumstances, and conclude that it must be discouraged in every possible way.

However, now, it is encouraged. Non-trans people seem to have more respect for people who transition than for people who play with gender, sometimes presenting male, sometimes female. My neighbour stopped saying hello after he saw me dressed female, but started again after I stopped dressing male. The Equality Act protects people who intend to transition to the other sex, but not people who are non-binary. There is social pressure to transition, and to have surgery: Will’s way of asking would only get a response if I would feel ashamed of not having it, proud of having it, and would claim to be true transsexual. Like asking a Scot if he wears anything under his kilt: if not, he will probably tell you, because that is the approved way.

Similarly, a person should not use her feelings of horror and disgust at the thought of someone having their breasts or gonads removed as a way to decide that no-one should have it done or anyone who has it done is necessarily deluded. It is a thing people do, in this place without gender justice.

Regretting, I am crippled with self-blame.

How could I be so stupid?

Fortunately, Lucy, Virgil to my Dante, has the answer:

It was the best I could do at the time.

Regretting, and wanting sexual intimacy terribly, and feeling it is impossible now, I have no-one to blame but myself. However, given my situation and my history at the time it was what I wanted more than anything else in the world. My surgery came from the way the world is rather than any inadequacy or wrongness on my part.

Transition is a way people cope with gender dysphoria. People should be able to transition. This is not the world of gender justice, and some people express their gender this way.

I suppose it is a separate issue how trans women should be treated. Given that this is not the world of gender justice, should we be humoured and agreed with- “Trans women are women”- or not? To me, I exist, I have feelings, I have needs, this is the way it has been, there is no great need to change that. This is the way I can be myself.

Do non-trans women need space which is free from trans women as well as from non-trans men? If there is no pressing need, but they want it, are they entitled to it? Various things are thought relevant to that: are trans women really dangerous? Are non-trans women reasonably afraid of trans women, and if they want separate spaces and services should they be accommodated? Given that women often feel pressured to consider others’ feelings, or shoved aside, should they be empowered by being able to exclude trans women? Given that trans women are vulnerable too, how should we be accommodated?

I feel that accommodating trans people increases gender freedom and makes gender justice more likely. My gender critical friend finds trans a ridiculous palaver: why not just be yourself? Why all this dressing-up and repulsive body-alteration? To me, it is the only way some people find to be themselves. People do it. “But that’s ridiculous” is no answer.

Some women, not all, object to me in women’s space. Balancing my rights and needs against theirs is difficult. I can’t propose a way to do that. It seems to me, if not to them, that the women who care most about this are the ones most scarred by gender as it is now. Pitting us against each other is the most damaging way. How could I want to hurt someone, who seems wronged in the way I am?

Trump demonstration

I had thought a lot of what to write on my placard. This was it:

Truth
Reconciliation
Respect

What do we need in public life? I started with phrases, wanted something pro-choice, and to be readable honed it down to individual words, so pro-choice ended up as “Respect”. I thought of writing the things I object to, but want to be positive. “Oh, that’s very good,” said someone, appreciatively.

I liked the Women’s Equality Party slogan: “From the bottom of our hearts, Thank you Trump for giving feminism a little hand”. Meaning he radicalises opposition. I signed the huge card they were going to send him. There were many references to small hands, and a huge Trumphair-coloured fist, with its middle finger extended. One printed sign read “Trump racist liar cheat misogynist bigot baby-jailor chimp”, lots said “Dump Trump”, or “No to Trump, no to war”.

I did not pose for a picture with my placard. My photos were taken from within the demo, seeing what I saw:

There were several camera crews. Should I speak to one? I could say something pithy and articulate. But they are American stations I have not heard of, and might be hard-Right propaganda like Fox or Sinclair Media Group.

I did not get to Friends House in time for the Meeting for Worship, but had time for a cup of tea with Michael and to write out my placard. Simple mistake: I wrote it only on one side, so had to keep turning it round. I had a stout A2 sized card, no need for a handle. There were photos in the FH garden. Then we went to the start of the march, where we were up against the barrier outside a hotel. Hotel guests with cases and shopping somehow got through the crowds: we were packed in, but we were nice people, trying to make way for them. Then we started, with ELO then David Bowie playing: carnival music for a friendly atmosphere. My favourite sign was Peggy from EastEnders, hands on hips, with the caption “Get out of my Pub”. British. Having a lark, not taking things too seriously, speaking up for truth and justice.

I saw signs condemning the president’s transphobia, and went over to speak to a trans woman carrying one. I do not want to get arrested on protest, and this is not that kind of protest. Tens of thousands of people, with the onlookers mostly supportive. Above, a helicopter circled; I wondered how high-res its cameras were. I read the police had facial-recognition cameras to identify us. I have lots of photos on facebook. Soon, demonstrating will really mean standing up for a cause.

There are speakers in Trafalgar Square, but when we get there I am tired, and Michael invites me to Westminster meeting house, where he offers cake and tea. I bump into Lucy, down with Unite the Union. I stay for the silence. The only cheap train ticket I could get was 12.15am, so I went to Tate Modern. North of the Millennium Bridge I had a bread roll and some fruit, listening to a cello and violin play Pachelbel, Bach, Vivaldi. I stayed until the gallery closed at ten. Here is its deserted corridor.

Catching the intensity

Around 1.45 am, I cycle over the railway bridge. It’s one lane, at the top of a hill, so the car behind can’t pass me, but just over the bridge I am going down a little and it still isn’t passing me. Rather, it pulls up alongside, which is frightening. Then I notice it is a police car. The female passenger says nothing but the male driver says, “If you’re going to be cycling at this time you might consider investing in a crash helmet and a reflective jacket, because the drivers at this time are not always driving well”.

I looked at him and thought, I really do not want this to escalate, so said, “Thank you”. He has nothing to say to that, and drives on. I had LED lights, not technically legal but bright enough, the law has not been adapted from the time of Edison bulbs. Next day I thought, he was irked that I had slowed him up for ten seconds going over the bridge, and so he frightened a lone woman late at night. That just might have been enough to abash him if I’d said it.

When I was being weaned-

this will all come together in the end, I promise you-

my mother made something for me and I sang to her. She thought it delighted me, and was delighted by my reaction. Then she chopped some cooked chicken really small and forced it through a sieve, which must have been very hard work. “And you spat it at me,” she told me. I don’t know whether she told me that story more than once, but she told it to me when I was a child and it made an impression.

She was working very hard to look after me, and my sister who is two years older, and (in the way of babies) doing what one does unaffectedly and unashamedly and responding in the moment I spat it at her. I don’t know why, because I don’t remember the incident, only the story, but something had irked me or I didn’t like it or I wasn’t hungry. What I take from the story is that I flummoxed her when her hard work did not pay off. She was stressed.

However stressed you are, you have your Backlog to deal with. In the Quaker meeting I was thinking of my mother’s distress, and my distress at being burdened with that, and her fear and certainty that we must not be Seen which I took on from her. I felt that distress fully, and held it, bore it, perhaps healed it. Perhaps in part.

You are bold and brave and honest and open

On Friday I went to the Trump demonstration in London, and on Thursday I did not want to go out. I had to go to the Tesco Express a mile away, and also the GP. I have this online system to order repeat prescriptions and appointments, but it had broken down, so I had gone in to the surgery to sort it, that had not worked, and I had to go again. When I eventually went, the receptionist pressed me to accept the solution which had not worked the first time. Had I accepted it, I would have gone away- a win for her- so I had to insist. Right now it appears the something different I insisted on has not worked either. Anyway.

I did not want to go out.

The emotional part of me is completely in control. If the emotional bit does not want to go out I don’t go out, and that manifests as depression and lassitude if I am not properly conscious of it. I used to suppress it and bully it but can’t any more, and I’m not taking cajoling, wheedling, persuading or the false kind of sympathy which says I’ll sympathise if you’ll do exactly what I want you to do- not taking them from myself, from my rational bit. God that’s weird. And real.

It said I didn’t want to go out, and I listened, and I respected it. It’s kind of like marriage guidance. I can’t divorce myself, and I can’t fight myself any more, I have fought myself to a standstill.

I need to hear this traumatised part of me. I said that to the Samaritans, I said it to Tina, and now I am saying it to you and immediately I said it to Tina I went off on a tangent because I could not go deeper. I can hear the emotional part, even speak from it, but not for long. I have to be Rational. I am going off on a tangent now.

A friend phoned me on Saturday night. She is feeling betrayed, and she was so angry with me she had to phone me. Did I have anything to do with That web page? No, I hadn’t. Next day she ministered, a long affecting story, but what I took from it was that she was feeling alienated from Quakers, betrayed, because of our departure from the Truth, and the Truth is important to her. I find her wonderful, brilliant, charismatic, powerful and beautiful.

I want my Love, intellect and creativity to heal your hurt-
the difficulty of it perplexes me
The unknowing of the result frustrates me
I will continue, doing all I can do.
Forgive me my Hunger and intensity!

Trust me to see it emotionally. She tells the truth, to stop vulnerable children and adolescents from being hurt. She wants the truth heard.

If our friendship might die under this strain, I want to give her a gift. I believe the truth is other than as she sees it, and wondered if we had anything we might agree on, and she said we are so far apart we do not even have the same concepts and cannot discuss it. She will keep on fighting for Right as she sees it, I hope she has a small number of Quakers who will back her, and who knows where the Spirit will lead? I wanted her to be Heard, and I don’t know how to accomplish that. And, she may well do what she needs for herself.

I am bigger than our dispute.

In the Quaker meeting, I am dealing with stuff now, and with my backlog of pain- from fifty years ago!

Another wonderful person. She is about twenty years younger than I, so she has wisdom and understanding and a different upbringing and ways of seeing that I want to get in touch with. I need to learn the lessons of the young people.

Tina said, there’s part of you that is very young, and you know it. With K there’s something about me being older but also about being younger in some ways. And I thought, no, it’s about being the less free, conscious, authentic one, but possibly she’s right.

Tina said, you’re still striving to parent yourself, going back to very young childhood, a part of yourself feeling profoundly distressed and disconnected and wanting your parents to be unconditional so you give yourself that now, you are unconditional to your emotional side. “I wasn’t heard, so I will hear me.”

Tina said,

That childishness that has got you into trouble a lot
but it also gives you a tremendous amount in terms of awe and wonder and appreciating beauty
you don’t want to stifle it and you don’t want it to lose its- sense of awe and wonder
It’s quite magnificent

And I changed the subject again. I have to be more adult with the Quakers.

-That’s your frustration with them. They’re supposed to be unconditional.

No, they’re not. They’re human beings. Clare and John Whitehead from Delph, whom I knew when I first joined, parented me quite a lot, inviting me over for dinner regularly then taking me to hear string quartets. I found out at Yearly Meeting that they had died, when I read the Testimonies to the grace of God in their lives. But now, my Quaker meeting do not have the energy to parent me and really should not have to. Not if I can parent myself.

I’ve been parenting myself. I have been sitting in Quaker meeting allowing the full weight of my feeling, allowing myself to be conscious of it, and catching the intensity. I have incredible intensity. I am not comfortable with it, but I am getting to know it better.

My mother messed me up very badly. Her lesson was Never, ever, show the intensity, because she was frightened and hurt and the most important thing was not to be seen. Part of me took that on, and part of me didn’t and has been breaking out and rebelling and causing trouble ever since, and the two will integrate eventually.

I read an elder or overseer, not from my area meeting, complain that s/he had to do so much work with the difficult or needy Friends that s/he did not have the time to get to know the others. In my last meeting someone had to do too much work with this needy Friend, and I am feeling regretful of that, for it broke our friendship. As a needy or difficult Friend it is incumbent on me to do all I can for myself.

I hope I can make a contribution sometimes.

Principled politics

“Principles are to be encouraged, because they make money for lawyers,” said my law lecturer, a comment which was too cynical for me at the time. I despised those who said “it’s the principle of the thing,” or that it was not for themselves they were fighting but other people in the same position who would come after them; but I noticed it kept them using my services.

Is my politics based on principle, or self-interest? When a member of the Conservative party, I was following my upbringing. My father was passionately Tory, and I had not separated myself from my parents’ mores. And I anticipated a solidly middle-class career, so Tory policies would be in my interests. It’s also, where do your sympathies lie? How imaginative are you? I can’t say why I thought what I thought then, I can barely understand my motives now. Now, without the solidly middle-class life, I support Labour. Certain evidence indicates self-interest.

Would self-interest be a bad thing? Let us band together with people who share our interests, and do what benefits us. That seems a Tory way: if you can convince the “just-about managing” that there are benefit claimants and immigrants who would take their jobs and waste their taxes, you can get them into the Tory coalition. So I can construct an understanding. Tories want to destroy the social fabric and hand over power to the wealthy. Where the people band together to look after the interests of all, the Tories look after the interests of the rich and try to pretend Labour will give your money to others, even when that is not true.

And together we can act in the interests of all. Workers’ rights help everyone except exploitative bosses. To state an underlying Principle, there are two ways the social species can be organised: to allow individuals to accrue vast amounts of power and wealth, so that they can control others in wage slavery, or democratically, where people band together for the good of all. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom did not describe the main road to serfdom, which is corporate greed. And only strong government can prevent market failures, such as global warming and externalising costs.

I joined the Green party because a friend did, and it seemed to me I could do something useful for it. Then I left it, and joined the Labour party because only they could defeat my dreadful MP. I now want to work for the party, to get to know people, I enjoy working together. Politics within the party matters little to me. After a Labour government, public spending will be slightly higher as a percentage of GDP. After a Tory government, it will be significantly lower. These things proceed incrementally. We are not going to have such revolutionary change as we had in 1945-51. Only the centre-Left is on offer, however anyone demonises Mr Corbyn.

How can I encourage other voters? By any means which appears to speak to them, though not with the hard-Right way, to point them at an out-group and encourage them to hate it. This is our community: you can be a part of it, and improve it for everyone. This can improve your life. Principles and interests, rational argument and feelings.