Genuine trans women II

How many trans women have genital surgery? Do trans women generally have surgery?

I thought I’d look at this because of an article suggesting that no matter how cultivated their ‘feminine’ outward appearance, ‘trans women’ (as opposed to transsexuals) have penises. I don’t know what the writer was thinking. She holds herself out as an expert on trans issues, and speaks about us, and then writes this stunningly ignorant thing. Few people call ourselves “transsexuals” nowadays, just as few people identify as “homosexuals” rather than as lesbians or gay men. The word sounds scientific, a classification from outside. We are all trans women now.

This is the final end of the “genuine trans women” argument. When the current campaign was getting going in Summer 2017, there was the pretense that the trans-excluders were not against “genuine” trans women, but wanted to exclude men who would use a liberalised gender recognition law to access women’s spaces. The definition of “genuine trans women”, whom the excluders swear they do not hate and do not want to harm, gets stricter and stricter until it disappears entirely and they call us all “men”. They want to feel good about themselves. They’re not hostile to trans women, just the bad ones. But it gets more and more difficult to find a “good” one, in practice rather than in theory, who does not experience hostility from them.

Those seeking to inspire fear and hatred of trans women, or to justify their own, suggest we don’t have surgery, and that having a penis in some way makes us dangerous. Well, in a loo you don’t expose your crotch until you are safely in a cubicle, where no-one can see, so it hardly matters there. It only matters to us and to our sexual partners. But I’d thought I’d check. How likely is it that a trans woman has had surgery?

There are huge waiting lists. A friend said that she had been waiting twenty years for surgery. I don’t know when she dated that from- ceasing to present male, or seeing a doctor about it, perhaps. Waiting lists are growing. In January The Sun claimed that the waiting time was nine months for adults and about half that for children, but as the NHS does not provide gender surgery for children that is confused. It published the report under its heading “Fabulous”, which covers fashion, beauty and celebrity “news”, pinned onto something about Caitlyn Jenner, deadnaming her.

You have to have a referral before you count as being on a waiting list. Women often talk of trying to get treatment, and the refusal of the psychiatrist. “It won’t grow back,” a psychiatrist patronised one I know. Of course. We know that. We know what we want.

Gender Identity Clinics are a “tertiary” service, that is you need a referral from a psychiatrist, rather than from your GP. There is delay at all stages: the GP might delay before referring to a local psychiatrist; then there are three waiting lists, for the local psychiatrist, the GIC, and the surgeon. The GIC waiting list is around three years, and then it requires a second gender psychiatrist to give an opinion, a wait which can last a year; and each expert can decide to see you again (and again) before making the next referral. You don’t count as being on the waiting list before you get the referral. You wait years for surgery. That begins to explain my friend’s twenty year wait, though I hope twenty years remains exceptional. Another person I knew waited about fifteen. There are 7,500 people waiting for a first GIC appointment.

The Guardian is more trustworthy than The Sun. 60% of trans women referred to Charing Cross GIC sought genital surgery. So yes, that trans woman you see in the loos might have a penis, but that does not mean she is not genuinely trans. There is clearly no moral difference between a trans woman who has had surgery and a trans woman who wants it and is waiting for it, as far as access to women’s space should go. Having an operation does not make you any more of a woman. And the trans woman with a penis is no more of a threat than a cis woman.

I am against surgery. I don’t think it does us any good, and I think we seek it to be seen as real trans, rather than for what it enables us to do. Gender dysphoria need not be body dysmorphia. Yet delay is not the answer. You sit in limbo, unable to get on with your life because you consider this thing you are waiting for to be the most important thing on Earth. It is a paradox that as the transphobes talk of “genuine trans women” they put pressure on us to have surgery, even though they decry it.

I wanted to produce some statistic about how many surgeries there are. From 2000 to 2009 there were 853 NHS surgeries though many, like me, went to Thailand or had private surgery. In the government LGBT survey, 16% of trans respondents had gone abroad for “medical treatment”: what else but surgery? To get a percentage of trans women who have had surgery, you would need to know how many are expressing ourselves female, and how many have had surgery (and are still alive) and these figures are not available. I don’t accept that you need to have or desire surgery to be a “genuine” trans woman, but anyone who suggests you must should not spread falsehoods about how many do.

Here is a trans woman expressing regret about surgery.

A response to self-righteous trans-bashing

How can you justify attacking innocent people? By pretending to yourself you are the victim.

Here’s an article from Spiked. Spiked is a highly problematic site, linked to oligarchs and sowing division. This article follows that agenda:

The Ministry of Trans Truth: The language of transgenderism is designed to silence dissent.
by Heather Brunskell-Evans
5th December 2018

Topics Feminism Free Speech Politics

Clare: No, the language of transgenderism is designed to allow us to live with ourselves. I transitioned because it was what I wanted, more than anything else in the world, because it allowed me to express myself more congruently than I could before. The language allowed me to conceptualise the issue and move towards a (partial, imperfect) solution: the best solution I could find.

Article: I’m fascinated by the way that concepts apparently arise from nowhere, take hold in the popular imagination, then become naturalised and beyond question.

One such idea is that individuals can be ‘born in the wrong body’, so that men can be women. Since there is no scientific evidence, neuroscientific or otherwise, that an unambiguously biological male can in fact be female, how can society have arrived at a stage where people who question the claim ‘trans women are women’ are routinely labelled Nazis, bigots and transphobes?

Clare: There is some evidence, though not conclusive and bitterly disputed, that there are differences in brains between men and women, and that trans women conform to the female type in some areas. AI shown scans of trans women’s brains can thereafter pick out which brain scans show trans women. Against persecution and prejudice, people have been transitioning for centuries: the Emperor Elagabalus proclaimed themself “Empress”, and was assassinated shortly after. Many trans people would object to the old phrase “trapped in the wrong body”- we find it problematic.

Article: A new nomenclature has arisen which bifurcates women into two groups, ‘cis’ (biological women) and ‘trans’. This performs a linguistic sleight of hand that enables the idea that some men can actually be women. But no matter how cultivated their ‘feminine’ outward appearance, ‘trans women’ (as opposed to transsexuals) have penises.

Clare: That’s not the difference between “transsexuals” and trans women. People don’t generally use the term transsexual, because it is a scientific sounding classification, made by outsiders, just as people identify as “gay” rather than as “homosexual”. 60% of trans women seeing medical services want genital surgery, and after waiting up to twenty years often get it, many privately. So many identifying as M-F “transsexual” will have a penis, and many trans women will not. Someone holding herself out to be an expert on trans issues, writing books and articles and speaking on the matter, should know better. It is a sign she does not care what we think, which is a weakness in her: it prevents her from understanding.

Article: The concept that ‘trans women’ are women, and that we must believe this is so because they affirm it, is further translated into the idea that ‘trans women’ are even more oppressed by the patriarchy than their ‘cis’ sisters. Progressives routinely turn with vitriol on women who challenge this newly minted ‘Truth’, labelling them ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’ (TERFs), no matter how moderate, thoughtful, or indeed trans-friendly those women are.

Clare: You complain that you are being reasonable, and treated with “vitriol”. Many progressives are aware of the hatred and prejudice we still suffer, and seek to mitigate it. However many progressives are anti-trans: even the Guardian prints strongly anti-trans articles, and articles briefly alluding to trans women get comments denouncing us, which get the most “Likes”. You are not in a minority, even on the Left. And, while some of your friends may be trans, other trans women will judge you by what you say publicly, not by those friendships. And this is how you live with yourself: you imagine you are the victim. If you are the victim, any action you take against others is justified.

I think she imagines herself trans-friendly because she can tolerate someone post-op in a woman’s toilet, though probably not other women’s space. That makes it impossible for us to try out expressing ourselves female. The operation is the end of a very long process, so it is unfriendly to those pre-op, and unworkable as no-one will consent to a groin inspection.

It depends what you think the default is. She might think herself trans friendly because women’s space should strictly be women only, and she would grudgingly allow some trans women. But trans women have been in women’s spaces for decades, without problems. You haven’t seen us, perhaps, because there are so few of us and we try not to be noticed. My psychiatrist encouraged me to go about expressing female, to check whether I could hack it, and that involved going into women’s spaces. I had already been there.

Article: This new definition of womanhood is having bizarre effects on our political institutions. The Labour Party now admits men who identify as women on to all-women shortlists, without any necessity for a gender-recognition certificate. A number of these men have successfully applied to the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme.

Clare: It’s by the Equality Act. Trans women who have transitioned male to female are treated as women, unless it is “proportionate and legitimate” to exclude us. That was the law by a statutory instrument before the 2010 Act, which consolidated older equality legislation.There has never been a need for a GRC, except to get an earlier pension age, or to change the gender marker on a marriage certificate. Trans women have had passports marked “F” for decades, and still have, without GRCs. That’s one of the main lies of A Woman’s Place and other campaigning organisations, that something new is happening. You are seeking to expel us from where we have been for decades.

Article: Then there’s the misogyny. Labour continues to support Lily Madigan in the role of women’s officer for Rochester and Strood, despite his bullying of gender-critical feminists and other women. One of his latest Twitter missives states that TERFs ‘can go fuck themselves’, and he is allowed to say this with impunity not only by the party but by Twitter itself.

Labour also (briefly) appointed the ‘trans woman’ Munroe Bergdorf to an LGBT working group. Bergdorf had recently been quoted in Grazia saying that many feminists are biological essentialists, because we apparently ‘summarise women as walking vaginas… a similar approach to that of misogynists’.

Clare: This is inflammatory. You quote two offensive remarks. There are all sorts of offensive remarks. Your collaborator on your book, Miranda Yardley, was excluded from Twitter for among other things a sustained campaign of bullying against Lily Madigan, and has been shown on TV twice shouting “Fuck that shit”. You continue the attempt to dehumanise trans women by endless harping on about penises.

Article: A kind of informal Ministry of Truth has emerged around the trans issue – or rather, a Ministry of Propaganda, since it is responsible for the falsification of historical events and biological facts. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry creates and then spreads ‘Truth’ through the new language of ‘cis’ and ‘trans’.

Clare: What is the truth? In all sorts of cultures people with testicles seek to be seen as women, and vice versa, with varying degrees of tolerance. Except in the rare cases where it’s a sign of being a shaman, it does not increase our status, and may lead to persecution or murder. Still we do it. We exist. You can’t foreclose the debate by saying females need female spaces and males must be excluded. You are arguing that the grudging tolerance we have experienced should simply be withdrawn. You may be able to justify that position, but should not take it as read.

Article: And in a chilling twist, it is now feminists who are the alleged extremist misogynists, purely because they don’t allow human beings with penises to control the political narrative. The statement – both mundane and tautological – that women don’t have penises is now considered inflammatory. When a feminist group distributed stickers making this observation recently in Liverpool, the police opened an investigation.

Clare: They vandalised Antony Gormley sculptures. “Opening an investigation” simply means recognising a crime was committed. You minimise the wrongs on your own side, exaggerate the wrongs by others. That’s the divisive rhetoric poisoning public debate.

Article: A cold wind of authoritarianism is blowing through our allegedly progressive, liberal-democratic society. When telling the truth becomes hate speech, when oppression becomes ethics, when non-facts become Truth, we all better look out.

Heather Brunskell-Evans is an academic philosopher and spokeswoman for FiLiA. Her latest book, Transgender Children and Young People: Born In Your Own Body, is available now. Follow her on Twitter: @—

Clare: Who is the authoritarian? I would say, the ones who want to exclude trans women are the authoritarians, and the liberal left includes trans people- see Labour Party policy, for example. The article is part of a gender-critical campaign to mock, vilify and dehumanise trans women, and to pretend that we are a serious threat to women or to women’s rights. I am no threat to women, and my living my life in peace is not a threat to women. I have no wish to discuss my operation status with strangers, and pre-op and non-op trans women are not generally a threat either. You could bring up Karen White, I suppose, the rapist briefly in a women’s prison; and last year a man screamed at me “I’ll kill you you fucking poof” in broad daylight in a town centre.

The answer to the “free speech” argument is so well known as to be hardly worth rehearsing- but the writer does not try to answer it, so I’ll say it again. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. No-one cares that you think a trans woman is a man, only that you want to exclude trans women- it appears from your writings you want to foment fear of us. But if people are offended by your opinions, they are entitled to judge you for them, and you are not entitled to a platform for them. So you go and get a platform from the Koch brothers. Ask yourself why they would want to give you a platform.

Or ask what they think of feminists. About a year late, Spiked discovered the false controversy over gender recognition, and called on a feminist to hate on trans women. But even on 9 February their assistant editor it was calling for “An end to feminism”, calling contemporary feminists deluded, narcissistic, wilting wallflowers not achievers, and accusing them of insulting the Suffragettes. She said they are “determined to row back some of these hard-won freedoms”- and that’s just in one article. Spiked is using Dr. Brunskell-Evans, whom it despises almost as much as it despises me.

Do not worry about transphobes

How much attention should you pay to transphobia? Very little.

There is street transphobia. It’s weird to think that someone who has never met you and has no knowledge of what you are like as a person really hates you. You are a symbol for him of all he despises. The worst last year for me screamed at me that he would kill me. Well, maybe he was having a bad day. Yes, there are people like that. They rarely do you actual harm. You need to know they exist, but should pay no attention at all to the details of their abuse.

What prompted this post was an article in the Daily Telegraph, which was shared in a trans group on facebook. Church of England’s plan for transgender baptisms outrages bishops was the headline. Well, the Telegraph is a transphobic publication, so when it reports on transphobia it exaggerates it. There are two errors in the headline. Some bishops support the measure, so it should say “Some” bishops are outraged, rather than implying all are. The other error is that no-one has proposed transgender baptisms. More than half the population of England has been baptised, and the ceremony is a reaffirmation of baptismal vows. No church will rebaptise people. If the headline is filled with error, the article will be too.

In fact “ten” bishops “criticised” the ceremony. Few bishops would confess to “outrage” in public. There are 41 diocesan bishops and around 75 “suffragan” or assistant bishops, so a tiny minority has condemned it. Analyse the article, and you see the transphobia is less widespread than the writer would want you to think. The writer makes a desperate attempt to list all the transphobes to make it sound like they are important, but his scrabbling shows how few they really are. They include John Fenwick, a bishop of the Free Church of England. I hadn’t heard of that, so googled it: it split off in 1844 and has nineteen congregations in England.

I mean really. Should you care what John Fenwick thinks? Of course not.

Haters gonna hate. The Telegraph wants its readers to hate trans people, and that is a bad thing. So does the Times, as both are hard-Right publications busily dehumanising various hate groups. Oh, and the Daily Mail, but you knew that. The risk with reading the Telegraph article is that it might discourage you. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid”. It’s full of detail, and if you read the detail and the various horrible things transphobes say, they appear more significant than they actually are. People get assaulted for being trans. We get mocked and vilified going about our ordinary lives. Most people are not like that. They don’t care. You will encounter prejudice, but mostly you will be able to live your life.

Sometimes it is worth checking out the nuances. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said: “The church should be compassionate and sensitive towards those who experience gender dysphoria, but its fundamental teaching must be based on a revealed truth and objective biology and its relation to social structure.”

Compassionate and sensitive. That is a clear rebuke to those who would express or foment “outrage”. That journalist made a ranty headline, and from ignorance quoted the answer to his bigotry at the end of the article. “Objective biology” sounds pretty rejectionist- saying trans women are “biological males” or something- but I see a glimmer of hope in the words “its relation to social structure”. Socially, I am a woman. He does not merely discount me. He recognises social structure is relevant. Biology is not a complete answer.

There are transphobes about, but there are allies. They will encourage you and make you feel better. When you feel better you will be more motivated and better able to take action. Perhaps Pink News should take that into consideration: many of its December articles on trans have been “Help help the sky is falling” articles about transphobia. Indonesian city Padang using exorcisms to “cure” queer people. Um. The most positive stories are Miss Universe pays tribute to Angela Ponce. The winner, Ashley Graham, said She’s smart, driven, beautiful…and nothing short of extraordinary. Well, yes. I find beauty contests problematic, but I am pleased with the final Peace-and-Love message. We need more of that. And Transgender boxer Pat Manuel has his first professional win. Half positive: a school teacher was suspended for telling trans boy “You freak me out”. Yes he was a transphobic bully: and the school dealt with him.

Don’t pay too much attention to the transphobes. There will always be transphobes. You will still find ways to achieve your aims and succeed as the person you really are. I have just not been taking my own advice, reading a boring and stupid Times article, which refers to “a powerful trans lobby”. I am glad they are trying to terrify their own side. Imagine poor little transphobes, terrified of expressing their bigotry.

Conversations at the Transvestite club

After taking my clothes off in front of you, how should I start a polite conversation? I only used the changing facilities, a cramped crowded room, once: after that, I always drove down dressed. I don’t think I thought about it at the time, it did not register as peculiarly unpleasant, and it felt a bit of a risk to be leaving my home dressed female, but I only used the changing room once.

I found the Ebstorf Map here, and it bowls me over. The header picture shows Scotland at Jesus’ feet, on the edge of the World. Sometimes I find faces in illuminated manuscripts indistinguishable, sometimes strangely expressive of I-don’t-know-what. East is at the top of the map, and Eden is East of India.

I think I met Barbara at my first visit to Northern Concord. A wonderfully generous, kind, and deeply hurt woman, she quickly became a friend. She proposed wandering the streets of the Village, and visiting the other pubs, and though even Concord, unfamiliar, didn’t seem a particularly safe space yet, I went.

Jerusalem was always at the centre of the World. It is just east of Italy: I can work out few of the names and the arrangement is strange, but I see Sicilia. Are those Greek islands? The Mediterranean is hardly wider than the rivers.

Others became my friends, all of whom decided to transition. I realised that we had approached friendship from an unusual angle: normally you would start talking about indifferent subjects, and the weather is the clichéd English choice, then what we think, what we feel, getting deeper as the process worked. At the club, we talked of cross-dressing, which was deeply significant for us, emotive, personal, and to make a friend we still had to do the work of building up a relationship. When her son was diagnosed as autistic, the minister was so relieved, as her wife had been accused of causing his strangeness by her coldness. She was not to blame.

I had an aborted conversation this week. The man was introduced to me as an author of science fiction. I said I liked some science fiction, and named Iain M Banks, though not Octavia Butler or Margaret Atwood. It was a weak gambit. He said yes, Iain M Banks is quite good. I drifted off. I have no idea whether he is internationally famous, or unpublished. So here am I talking of the Ebstorf Map, a thing I find beautiful and wonderful, hoping to entice you into concord. Don’t you find it fascinating? What do you notice in it? Here at the far South is Africa. I note the people there are naked, and pale skinned.

Though Jesus is quite dark, and the colours may have faded over eight hundred years. That’s His hand, over the encircling Sea. Conversation is a risk: We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.

I really enjoyed meeting you, in probably the worst way to start a friendship with my friend’s wife. I got undressed- that’s the best metaphor I can think of for a counselling session in which I decided to participate fully, showing my divided self, all the different voices within me, to someone who is pleasantly professional. Revealing herself would not be therapeutic. So now I may meet you socially, and have to find some way of making your acquaintance. I feel I am at your mercy, which I find uncomfortable, being a controlling person.

The Ebstorf Map, an alien and familiar way of seeing the World. Is it not glorious?

Thinking in meeting

“Thou should not have been thinking in meeting.” We all know the quote; I am pretty sure Rufus Jones told the story, saying he had been the speaker so rebuked, but I can’t find where. What else is possible? Waiting, knowing one might be moved to give a message to the people gathered; contemplation, of the Presence of God in our midst; awareness of feelings deep in my heart; “Sighs too deep for words”, addressed to God. Some might sit in calm awareness of the meeting as a whole, its worship and its people, and that might be appropriate for elders and overseers.

And, often, I think. Sometimes this seems clearly wrong, such as going through my shopping list for the supermarket after, yet even that could be something I am worried about, and I pay it a little attention to stop it nagging at me throughout meeting. Or I find myself “writing”, as another Friend put it: trying different permutations of a sentence to see which would be most forceful, or expressive, or seeking out the perfect word. Possibly, then, I am merely in reverie, but under the surface things are moving.

The Unconscious will always be unconscious, and consciousness makes little sense. Like the podcast I use to go to sleep with: it seems when it ends that I have heard all of it, yet I have dozed and wakened throughout, and my brain forms the bits I have heard into a pattern. So thoughts pop into consciousness and submerge again, and the stream of consciousness is cacophony.

And the unconscious is not all Light: the inner critic comes from there, and other things which hurt me. Test the Spirits, says Paul: some of it has value now, some has not.

And yet the Word of God may come up from the unconscious, and the Meeting is a situation fitted for the unconscious to become conscious. I have spoken in Ministry words I have never thought before standing that day, and I start with an idea which I was thinking before I stood. I am enjoined to ask, Is it for everyone, or just for me? I recently heard another question: Is it for now, or some other time? There is so much wisdom designed to stop us speaking and distracting others, and sometimes what is actually said speaks to another.

A thought may move through me for the hour and be full-formed at its end. The words move in my mind, they feel guided, they are a thought moving in words to greater clarity and understanding. Our divinity is our humanity emerged for me from Meeting on Sunday, and I have shared it since. The humanity and divinity of Jesus are mixed like wine and water, inextricably, not like oil floating on water separately.

A thought may emerge from the unconscious allusively, like a dream; the relevance takes time to become apparent. It feels this year that there has been a shape to my worship, a development, increasing blessing and healing.

Merry Christmas, with Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

Anticipating, slightly: the Epiphany is 6 January. I have not seen this tapestry, but found tapestries of his I have seen gorgeous. This fabulous thing is 3.77×2.58m.

Only his mother, in her maiden bliss
worshipped the Beloved, with a kiss

His Annunciation has the Angel descending from on high
and the woman not abashed

I note it appears to follow the rules of perspective found in the Renaissance, and the vanishing point is a star.

Merry Christmas with William Holman Hunt

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.

In my beginning is my end: the Resurrection.

Jesus in the Temple

The triumph of the innocents.

Paintings by William Holman Hunt. The Church Fathers discerned that Christ’s humanity and Jesus’ divinity were intermingled and inseperable like water mixed with wine; and so, therefore, are ours.

Angels and demons

Angels and demons are the same.

I fear meditation, as I meet my demons there. Yet my demons are there all the time, shoved below consciousness yet affecting me in different ways; and meditation is like a pentacle, where the demons cannot harm me.

Perhaps the demons can never harm me, not really. What harm can they do? They could pop out at inopportune moments, scare others and make them hate me. Perhaps that’s what the demons did, when everyone was taller than me and could pick me up, or ignore me. They threaten my extinction: as a parent can cease to communicate love, which the child experiences as an imminent threat to survival, so I still fear my demons will kill me.

-What’s the worst that can happen?
-I shall die.

But that cannot kill me, any more.

The demons cannot harm me, but they can stop me from certain things. They scare me into suppressing feeling, so I am not aware what my feelings are. I can no longer do that. Perhaps the oestrogen makes them stronger, or my resistance less. I still reflexively suppress, and my feeling bursts out. I realised over a year ago that it was like a toddler, pulling on Mummy’s hand, that will not be ignored, so the toddler eventually shouts for all to hear. Mummy really would be better to pause a moment and listen. The toddler will feel respected. Her perception has been received and honoured, and she can let Mummy decide what to do with it.

Of course in this analogy I am the toddler and the parent. The toddler can be perceptive, even wise, saying things Mummy needs to hear. I thought I was doing teenage, but in part I am relearning lessons ideally learned as a toddler such as how to sit with feelings and contain them, and act informed by them but not forced by them- “respond not react” my wisdom-addict friend would say. Life long lessons.

Demons become angels, I say, poetically, allusively, elliptically, even cryptically and when I painfully translate that to prose it becomes the feeling that terrified me so that I gave all my energy to holding it down becomes the motivation that lets me fly. And then qualifications come in, for we act with other people, and make mistakes, and see things differently, and encounter opposition, and misunderstand…

Still, the feeling was terrifying.
Still, the feeling is perceptive.
Still, it took energy to suppress and is better acknowledged.

Suppressing it makes me stuck, slow in response. Ceasing to suppress is the start of a whole new learning process, but a necessary step.

Demons guard doors. I slammed the door on something, long ago, too difficult to deal with, and all the fear of that difficulty stops me going there again, though now I might have the resources to deal with it.

Demons drive, and angels energise. When I work on something I give it my all, and my fear and rage drive me on.

Learn to trust what you fear. Love drives out fear.

Positive thinking: appreciating openings in the brick wall, light in the darkness, possibility in [oh go on I can’t be poetic all the time]. Hope in despair, found not by denying the despair or belittling it, but working through it so that my eyes adjust.

Transphobic hate

The “Trans cult” is driving you away, you say. There is a culture of untruth, and you pick on the word “Hate”. You are trying to protect vulnerable children. Ha! How can you be blind to the hate? Look to your own side!

It’s hate to construct a campaign against trans women around a minor technical legal reform which would have no effect on anyone else. The changes to gender recognition are long overdue, and in line with international human rights law. Probably no-one will get their gender recognised as female in order to access women’s spaces, rather than because they are trans, but if anyone did they could be excluded under the Equality Act.

It’s hate which has led to women of masculine appearance, cis as well as trans, being mocked and vilified and humiliated in women’s loos.

It’s hate to flypost stickers saying “Women’s rights are not for penises”. That is a classic dehumanisation tactic, referring to trans women as “penises”, just like referring to Tutsi as “cockroaches”. Go on. Try to make a moral distinction. The hate campaign has not led to a murder yet, in Britain, but the tactic is the same.

It’s hard right hate to work with David TC Davies MP and Rupert Murdoch. The difference between their argument against trans women and yours is like the difference between Newton’s and Einstein’s theories of gravity: almost no-one understands it or cares, and it makes no difference practically to people’s lives. An astronaut returning from the International Space Station is younger that s/he would have been, remaining on Earth; but only by milliseconds over a year in space.

Davies, having failed to enlist feminists against Muslims and immigrants, has at last succeeded with his next candidate for hate-group, trans people. Listen to lesbian feminists debunk him! With all these new feminist allies, he may be emboldened to make yet another attack on abortion rights.

It’s obsessive hate to make a feminist campaign around the almost notional threat from twenty thousand trans women when there are real threats to women’s rights. It was good to read Julie Bindel on femicide recently: she is obsessive about trans, and prone to dehumanising mockery of trans women, but at least she occasionally works on real feminist issues.

We are the victims of violence and hatred from all sorts of bigots, yet you bring up “male violence” when talking about us. That’s hate. The A Woman’s Place campaign seeks to foment hatred and fear of us, and use it against us. Do the reading! Lesbians and feminists are on the side of trans folk!

If trans children and adolescents cannot get the treatment they need on the NHS, they will seek it elsewhere. If schools do not accept them and crack down on transphobic bullying, no other child will be able to be gender non-conforming either. “Transgender Trend” withdrew its stickers, acknowledging that they were used for transphobic bullying- it is hard to imagine any other use for them. It is transphobic hate to post stickers in a trans child’s school saying “children confused about their sex usually grow out of it”. Of course, once they have been published on the internet it will be easy for hating bullies to get hold of them, even if they are no longer on the originator’s website.

You encourage and empower bullies in your campaign against us. Look at your acts, and their effects!

Cross-dressing for comfort and pleasure

My friend, assigned female at birth, pronouns she/her at least for now, is wearing a packer. She likes the way it feels, how it makes her feel. She’s talking about it more, too. My idea of butch lesbian style had not moved on from denims and DMs, and a particular hair cut: I see the haircuts are more varied, and men’s jackets and ties are in. It is very close to dressing as men. I don’t think they are trying to pass as men, and the voice would make that difficult. You need T, and most people need chest masculinisation, to pass as a man: it grows facial hair, produces male pattern baldness, and alters the voice. Even with T, many would not pass as men before someone attuned to checking them out, as the voice and face shape can be distinctive, as well as physical size and waist to hip ratio. Facial masculinisation…

(pause to Google)

Oh gosh, facial masculinisation is a thing! Augmenting the adam’s apple, altering the nose, producing “a more chiseled and defined chin and jawline”, forehead and cheekbone treatments… “Since 2015”, the website says, and probably for a few intrepid and determined people before then.

Anyway. You can probably but not certainly pass, with extensive surgery and hormone treatment; or you can just put on a jacket and tie. You can change your name if you like.You should be able to decide your own pronouns.

I tend to feel that you will be accepted by others if you accept yourself. People will pick up on your self-consciousness or self-confidence, and often reinforce it; if you think you’re all right, others will too. Some people conform, and some cannot. Those who cannot or will not, if they have sufficient brass neck to face it out, others take them at their own estimation.

Regular readers know what I think about the “Some people are trans, and need surgery and hormones” argument- it’s doubtful. Trans people insist it’s “Dysphoria”- we get shirty when others talk of dysmorphia, which is a matter of dislike of body shape, as in BIID. People undergo surgery for self-acceptance, societal acceptance, and sexual performance. It’s a crutch. You’re not being yourself, you are conforming to an ideal you think people will grudgingly accept.

Surgery for self-acceptance is a blind alley. It will make you a “true transsexual” but being that is no improvement on being a feminine man or a masculine woman. I have the additional thing to accept: not just who I am, but what I have done. I paid to be castrated in a fruitless, foredoomed attempt at Acceptance. Some say they will tolerate a trans woman in women’s changing rooms post-op, and that means they will strongly object to a glimpse of a penis. I found swimming pool changing rooms less threatening after the op, but that is a high price to pay. Some people are more likely to tolerate you if you have surgery, but is that worth it?

As for sexual performance, everyone has to learn how their body works, and changing it won’t necessarily increase pleasure. You can still orgasm post-op, but I find that I do so far less often, and others probably do too.

So, what about just cross-dressing, for trans women? The more you do it, the more going back to presenting male becomes unpleasant, and at last unbearable. It is associated with sex in a way women’s jackets are not: high heels put you in a female courting position, while women put on make-up to please themselves, and to look good to other women, etc, etc, it makes them attractive to men; it is a turn-on, as well as a way of expressing your true self and relaxing. That we may be aroused when dressed female is used by our opponents to falsely suggest we are a danger in women’s space.

Someone I know wears skirts without any attempt to pass as female. Their pronouns are “They/their”. It is brave.

Or you could dress as a fop, or dandy, pushing or transgressing boundaries with a silk scarf.

It is hard being a feminine male. Society denigrates feminine characteristics, though everyone has them and they are necessary. I don’t have an answer here for anyone else, for I have not reached one for myself. Trying to be manly was a painful failure, as was moulding myself to a box marked “transsexual”: to be myself I hardly know how to start. When I say society should be more tolerant, it could be that I am projecting, that I need to tolerate myself better. Whatever, I am delighted that my friend is enjoying packing, and hope it does not mean she will seek surgery.