Partial inclusion

When I am not accepted, often I am tolerated. When I am not wholly valued or cherished, I may be partially included: I pretend to be a normal person, and am allowed to be that normal person in the group. So naming the way in which my difference is rejected may be a threat to me: it draws attention to my difference, so maybe my pretence at normality has been seen through, and I will be rejected. No, no, it’s no trouble, I say. Please don’t worry about it.

Though I am depressive, and need a lot of acceptance before it gets through to me; and I am hypervigilant for any sign of rejection. And, that could be seen more positively: particular aspects of me are appropriate for this group accomplishing this task, and others can come out at another time.

Our liberation is bound up together. If I can take off my masks, I can accept others without theirs, and even help them to remove them. We shall stand together naked and unashamed, but conscious and aware. Jesus says: “When you strip yourselves without being ashamed, when you take off your clothes and lay them at your feet like little children and trample on them! Then [you will become] children of Him who is living, and you will have no more fear.

This is a spiritual process, among Quakers. My Friend asked, What would it take to enable us to live in consciousness of peace, love and joy so that such issues as these and many others are resolved spontaneously? I think we need practice. I don’t know we will ever manage it spontaneously. I replied, For me, that is a continual process of emptying myself of my requirements of others and my false perceptions, and appreciating what is around me and within me. It is not instantaneous- noticing something and welcoming or emptying it, as it also involves things I desire or need to explore. There is love in me. I have blind spots where I do not notice- logs as well as specks in my eye- and it is a matter of seeing. I am pleased that I said there is love in me. I can acknowledge my goodness. Not everyone can.

Trans people are bound up in the concept of a real self, a kernel which is unchanging, which is the sex not assigned at birth. That might be a chimera. I can imagine a person’s self-concept being exhaustively defined, all the things they think they are and ought to be, but not the organismic self because it is an organism. I am an organism that reacts to circumstances, taking in ideas, responding to stimuli, so I cannot know how I will react until I am provoked. As the world I am in changes, I change.

How comfortable are you? There is a Quaker booklet, Owning power and privilege, which considers how some of us are advantaged, and the first voice in the text is a “white, middle class, educated, affluent” person who calls himself a “typical Quaker”. My voice comes later: For many of us, understanding power and privilege will be a matter of seeing both sides- how we are simultaneously disempowered and empowered by social structures and deep, embedded cultures. I am white, middle class by origin at least, educated, and I have refused policemen peremptorily demanding to come in to my house, unlike that typical Quaker who acknowledges “police attention bypasses me”. I know he is a man, from the pronouns he uses of himself. I think he’s straight. He does not mention being a straight man in that list of privileges. Fair enough, it’s a toolkit for recognising privilege in onesself, but the most privileged person is heard first.

Though the toolkit’s epigraph is by an “Aboriginal” activist, Lilla Watson: If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time… but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. She could be educated, too.

How comfortable are you? Bud Tillinghast has started a blog on the Roman Empire as a way of understanding the Bible. He quotes an English publication: August is named after Augustus Caesar…[who] brought peace and prosperity to the Roman Empire… The extensive network of Roman roads made travel much easier and thus [helped] the spread of Christianity. He points out that “peace” was in the interests of the Roman elite, at the expense of the rest, and that those roads helped soldiers march easily to places the Pax Romana was threatened. Tacitus said, They make a desolation and call it peace. If we think of that “peace” as a good thing, it is because we think of our own imperial adventures as beneficent, spreading order, rather than rapacious.

The way to equality is owning our power and privilege. It might help us get people of colour in if we recognised our privilege, as part of the emotions, attitudes and prejudices in [ourselves] which lie at the root of destructive conflict, the things we can’t see because they are so normal and expected. This is just how things are. This is not how things should be.

I am seeking my own liberation here, not just as a trans woman oppressed by the Patriarchy but as an educated white person oppressed by my education, which blinds me to other perspectives. When the least of us is free we are all entirely free.

5 thoughts on “Partial inclusion

  1. Hi Clare,

    I fully understand tolerance vs. acceptance. When I moved to the Seattle area just over a year ago I had a wide variety of regions to select from, some, like in the San Juan Islands, I was really drawn to. At one point it dawned on me that although I felt sure that I’d be generally safe everywhere that in some areas I’d merely be tolerated, and i knew that for me that would be a disaster. I need to feel welcomed, like anyone else in the local society. Thank goodness I had the epiphany and thus am living in a wonderful city with delightful neighbors and friends.

    You wrote above, “…I am depressive, and need a lot of acceptance before it gets through to me; and I am hypervigilant for any sign of rejection.” That describes me accurately too, especially along the last year as I transitioned not only my presentation to the world but so many things. I still thrive on external affirmation! But I’m better able to handle others when at times they raise eyebrows at me, or whatever. I try to just walk tall, smile, and move on. The hurt doesn’t linger the way it used to but I’m hyperaware of it and afraid of the depression it might lead to. Here again, though, my depression seems to have largely left me thank goodness.

    I collect lots of writings and sentences that I refer to from time to time as a boost. A good lesbian friend of mine loaned an older book to me, “Stone Butch Blues,” which I read and appreciated. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it as it was quite emotional and violent at times. But it provides great context for what trans people used to go through in the States (many, of course, still do). I noted the following from it:

    “Someone once told me that being brave means doing what you gotta do even though you’re scared.”

    “Wherever I was going, I knew I was headed there alone.”

    I don’t think there are any magic bullets nor any cures to depression. I believe that if we’re lucky and open to it that we can gradually find ourselves on the other side of it.

    Best wishes, always,


    Liked by 1 person

    • I must read Stone Butch Blues. I too collect quotes from books.

      I think a lot of people like external affirmation and need it more than they might like. We are a social species- the whole order is social, that’s 63m years of evolution.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your use of the word, chimera…..a wonderful pun, whether intentional or not. 🙂

    I very much dislike being merely tolerated, whether for my gender expression or anything else. I would much rather be rejected outright than to be tolerated in the name of political correctness. When I sense that a person is just tolerating my presence, I usually say something that may mess with their mind enough to, at least, make them see me as a human being who has more to offer than what they see in my gender expression and presentation. There is no need to be didactic, explaining my trans status. I feel like it’s taken more as an excuse than an explanation – not that I am obligated to provide either. For those who reject me outright, I simply give a smile, in hopes that they may, eventually, come to tolerate me. Then, I can go to work on them.


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