Outreach

We have something beautiful, which people want and need. We should share it.

Often Quakers will say “We do not proselytise” as if that were a claim to maturity, or even virtue. Church Government of 1931, on visiting applicants for membership, advises Should the teaching and practice of another religious body appear to meet his spiritual needs, it is unlikely that his right place is among us. To me that indicates suspicion, which still lingers: will this new person dilute the Quaker magic? So people have difficulty finding us, may not know about us, and feel nervous about entering our door. Yet when some infant schools practise “Circle time” and the NHS teaches Mindfulness, when Buddhist meditation groups spring up around the country, we should not rely on “natural Quakers” seeking us out. John the Baptist preached, Change your life, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near, and people joined him, even becoming disciples, and were led to Jesus. We might not stand in the street offering leaflets like the Jehovah’s Witnesses do, but we could be more visible.

Someone in health services, knowing nothing about me, recently told me to start mindfulness and referred me to a blog post with six possible exercises. I find mindfulness, when unsupported, potentially dangerous, even retraumatising, bringing up matters from the past which we are not ready to process. A meeting could provide a safe and supportive space for exploration of inner spaces which are not all Light, rules on how we are when we are there, and others holding the stillness while we dive, which is reciprocal. After one Meeting we were joking about a possible slogan for Quakers- a good place for your midlife crisis. That sounds risky. “Spiritual seekers” is better. The incohate dissatisfaction of “There must be more to life than this” can start people on a spiritual path.

I found Quakers at exactly the right time for me. I realised I was on a spiritual path, that spiritual growth was important to me. People I knew helped me find places for exploration, where I found others who introduced me to their Meetings, and an Enquirers’ day, and I went to my own local meeting. It seemed to me like a leading from God, but others who might enrich our meetings and benefit from them do not find us.

Quakers stood in churches and interrupted the sermon- I have read the stories of my local instances in Joseph Besse’s A Collection of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers. Then we were tolerated, and local Quakers built a meeting house three miles from my home. They built a high wall because locals stoned them, and went quiet. Now we provoke indifference and incomprehension rather than hostility.

Action without resistance.

There is what you feel
then there is what you feel about what you feel.

Eckhart Tolle shows this in the woman he healed. He said to her, Can you see that your unhappiness about being unhappy is just another layer of unhappiness?… Find out if it’s possible to allow those feelings to be there.

And she said, This is weird. I am still unhappy, but now there is space around it. It seems to matter less.

I realised how I feared my fear. Before, I feared my fear and anger so much that I was not conscious of it. Then I was conscious of the fear and anger and I still feared it. Now, my feelings disappoint or irk me. They are proof of my inappropriate response to everything. I, that is the I of consciousness and language, call that part that feels the “Real Me” even the “Inner Light” and disdain it.

It seems to me that defence mechanism could be useful. It is a flatness of affect, consciously being in the intellect. Underneath it (while I fail to defend myself from myself) I tie myself in knots. If I could be in that place while accepting and allowing my feelings to flow, being conscious of them, it would be a good place to be. I am only overwhelmed by my feelings when I resist them.

Resistance and action are not the same.

I want the world to be other than it is. So I resist it. In doing that I resist myself.

There is a flow, where the creature, the whole-I, acts in its own interests (which are loving and creative) to achieve what whole-I wants to achieve. And there is resistance, questioning, “What will people think?”, fear of myself, confusion. I “think” about what I should do instead of doing it, and so become divided. My thinking produce decisions which resist how the world is and how whole-I is.

There is the action needed in the moment. My friend, threatened with redundancy, can look for jobs. I can read a book, or meditate. Some of this action I resist less, as I have consciously accepted it- it seems so much of my fast thinking is resistance that I need to draw this up into consciousness and slow-think myself into acceptance. Or I need to meditate more.

And I resist Tolle. His idea of the “Pain-body”- well, I believe I am created in the image of God, so that my feeling self is good. It could just be a slight difference of conception. When I express anger, it is disproportionate, and it gets in my way. And I am very angry. Most of it is at myself, and a lot of it is at the world.

The wise soul does without doing

That’s Ursula LeGuin’s rendition of Tao te ching, poem 2. She comments, Over and over Lao Tzu says wei wu wei: Do not do. Doing not-doing. To act without acting. Action by inaction. You do nothing yet it gets done. . . . It’s not a statement susceptible to logical interpretation, or even to a syntactical translation into English; but it’s a concept that transforms thought radically, that changes minds. The whole book is both an explanation and a demonstration of it.

One of these mornings
you gonna rise up singin
Then you’ll spread your wings
and take the sky

Franz West

Franz West’s sculptures are playful and anarchic.

I brought my stool just to the point where I am standing, and looked up at the loop, back and forth at the waves of this structure. Then I found the point against the wall where, sitting on my stool, I could capture that virus-model or whatever it is through the loop. I had not really noticed how the other pink thing enhances the picture.

Then I asked a woman to sit on the stool so I could be in the photographs. She pointed out how colour-coordinated I was, so I took my jacket off, then really played the game, taking several, trying to make a composition. I don’t know how to alter the depth of field on my phone: it focused on the brightest thing, the light reflecting on the virus, and was slightly out of focus on me.

You may go behind the curtains to play with four sculptures of metal and plaster. The video shows what you may do. So I did, taking a plaster blob on an iron poker, throwing it about and seeing how far from myself I could lift it. Closing the curtains, so I was alone with the sculpture, was important.

Before, I went to Tate Britain for the last day of the Edward Burne-Jones exhibition, and a brief look at Don McCullin. I saw from a very different Finsbury Park two beautiful young men in a pub sizing one another up, ready for verbal rather than physical combat I think. Later, from a war, I saw a starving woman’s deformed breast given to her starving child. The whole will repay my sustained attention, and there are members’ hours every weekend, but I just dipped in to get a vague idea of it. I love the idea of feeling a photograph you take so that the audience will feel it too. I hear his wrestling with his privileged position, getting money and fame from others’ misery, yet being the necessary witness documenting that suffering.

After taking the boat, I went to the Pierre Bonnard exhibition. I had not heard of him! These pictures are beautiful, and I hated the self-portrait from around the time of his life-long partner’s death. He was crushed, and he showed his misery.

At St Pancras, I heard a pianist play Rachmaninov, the Bells of Moscow Prelude, Beethoven and Mozart, much better than the usual players. I played Metamorphosis II, though without repeating all the arpeggiation.

The Pain-body

Eckhart Tolle makes it easy to despise him. As a woman who has never menstruated and never will, I see how those who do might resent At menstruation, many women become overwhelmed by intense negative emotion. Or women are less mind-identified than men. Or his explaining The sacred feminine. He seems a monster of ego when he writes that he healed a woman of her negative energy, then went to a restaurant by himself. A man in a wheelchair eating nearby glanced at me once briefly but intensely then started to shout about how bad the food was. Intense, violent hatred filled the room. He left, then returned and ran into a woman with his wheelchair, pinning her against the wall and bruising her. Tolle believes the negative energy in that man was the negative energy which had come out of the woman healed- like Legion’s demons going into the pigs- which he had carried to the restaurant. The manager, asked me, half joking but perhaps feeling intuitively that there was some connection, “Did you cause all this?”

Or perhaps the manager had noticed how Tolle had reacted to the angry man.

I used the term “Pain-body” recently. I feared meditation because I would feel my pain, and then I meditated and felt it, and it did not matter. The pain is suppressed below consciousness. I realised that I feared my own fear, and over the last year I worked to accept it, to fear it less, as that reduces its power and fearsomeness. Loosely, I identified the pain-body, my emotional self, even my Real self as one: the Real self bore my pain for the sake of my conscious self, and if I could feel that pain consciously I could liberate the real self from it, and be fully me, conscious, with feelings appropriate to the current situation not in thrall to the past. The task was to liberate my feeling self from its pain, by feeling it.

From my pain I turn my eye. So the solution was to face it.

Tolle thinks of a “Pain-body” entirely differently. It builds in the human being, taking in energy each time the person feels negative emotions. The ego repeats stories about those emotions, the feeling is felt again, and the pain body grows. It comes from pain felt by the parents, and by wider society. I thought, the human being is created loving and creative, and Tolle’s idea is close to Original Sin.

That healing, which produced all that negative energy, was when a woman, living with the burden of her unhappiness, became at his suggestion fully conscious of that unhappiness. And, in that moment, she ceased to identify with it.

-If you don’t mind being unhappy, what happens to the unhappiness? he asked.
-I’m still unhappy, but now there is space around it. It seems to matter less, she replied.

And I thought, ach, I learned that ages ago, I feared my fear, and I am still not free. Though it is subtly different.

This is big for me. My emotional being is my inner light, I say: nobly it bears my pain, and when I liberate it it will guide me. I am intellectualising. I want a verbal understanding. And an emotional being, brought into consciousness and freed to feel in response to actual situations rather than old stories, might be a valuable guide.

Those seven months being intensely bullied at work ended nearly twelve years ago. Is that an old story, which only has power because a pathological tendency in me gives it power, or a scar/wound needing healed? These are pictures of a situation. In either case I have healing moments, letting go of some of the old pain, which makes healing the rest of it easier. I need to let go of all this old pain. It does me no good. It shows one aspect of the world and other people, which is not the whole truth.

Am I objecting to Tolle’s intellectual understanding, or resisting healing which, if I reached for it would fall into my hand? Am I suppressing and denying pain when I say “it was as it was. Human beings face difficult situations.” That sounds like what someone no longer bearing old resentments would say, but when I say it it sounds weary rather than joyful. I may approach acceptance, which may be a sudden shock or a gradual realisation.

My resistance to Tolle and different conceptions do not mean he does not have insight which could help my healing. I feared my fear and anger, and resisted it; now it irks me, and I resist it less…

A search for the Inner Light

There is a creature, which takes in ideas just as it takes in vegetables, processing them and continually changing. It is made in the image of God, so is loving, creative, powerful, beautiful. It shines.

I don’t give up until I am dangling on the end of a rope. I was helping build something, struggling to do the work as quickly as the experienced man I was working with, and my boot slipped on wet metal. The safety harness caught me and I was in mid-air, arm covered with bruises, shouting. I had not before realised how much I devote myself to that which I devote myself. My ardour has achieved worthwhile things and got me into trouble.

The creature does not know itself, but does not need to. It simply is.

When I was suicidal, one of the ways I argued myself out of it was to consider the beauty of my hand. I did not like to hurt a spider: how could I kill my hand? Then I left the office at lunchtime, planning to go home, leave the door on the latch, and take a hot bath, hot chocolate and my sleeping pills. I sat in my living room and realised I did not want to kill myself, just to get out of that situation now. The unconscious and conscious self had communicated. I did what I wanted, and understood it after. I find what I want when I see what I do, often. I wanted that, but I only realised looking back.

I realised aged twenty that I saw myself as utterly worthless and at the same time as the centre of the Universe. Neither self-image is true. If every insight I gain is proof of my stupidity- why did I not think of that before?- it is a sign my inner critic is too harsh. I realised I compared myself with Perfect Me, which wanted what I ought to want and achieved it without effort. I trailed after it through deep mud which it skated over, being illusory so weightless.

If all my inner light can say is NO how can it be other than worthless? Why was she born at all? Is it Light or illusion? I had the sense of a vulnerable part, in a locked chest in a locked room in a locked house on a moor I never visited. Then on 14 February 1999 when I was Born Again I let her out. How could she be a Real Me? She was clearly too flighty or ridiculous or stupid or worthless or unable to do the right thing to have any value at all. So all I could say from my heart and integrity was NO.

And yet. When I fought to keep up in that safety harness, I was doing what I wanted to do, in that moment. The understanding which I could state, to you or to myself, appears to be a discrete part of me that devalues this- whatever-it-is. Real me. Vulnerable bit. Despised curse. Light.

I write, and I want to understand with words. There is a wordless understanding, which is present, which is confident that it sees what is, and a verbal understanding. When I know I do not understand I may grope my way to greater understanding. Conscious and unconscious, verbal and non-verbal, dance together in increasing understanding, for I want to understand. And the “I” writing here is the conscious I, and there is a- chimera? A Real Me, dancing, just out of view.

A poem can emerge almost full-formed in my mind, and the Greeks said it must be inspiration by a muse. I can stand in worship and minister and say words I would not have thought of saying. What is speaking is Christ Within, or the Inner Light, or the Best of me, my essence, my truth. I can write a poem then run from it, fear its implications, understand it years later.

The safety harness story is from 2015. It is practised. I can tell it easily even if I do not understand it fully with my verbal self. And I am depressed. So many colours form when you do not clean the basin in the bathroom for a month! I really ought to. What would people think? And that does not motivate me at all. I have only illusions about what people would think, anyway.

Then I just clean it. This week. And I cannot tell you this story because I do not have a story yet. It does not seem like self-discipline suddenly winning through, because it seems to me that self-discipline is the problem. It seems that I cleaned the basin for the sheer joy of it, from my real self. I am in doubt and confusion.

A Friend gave me “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle and I have just found Jonice Webb. Reading helps. There is a creature, made in the Image of God, filled with love and ardour, need and desire. It is not Good as anyone understands Good, not even Quakers listening earnestly to the words of George Fox. I understand- Help my incomprehension! God in you understands too. Maturity is making the unconscious conscious.

I loved a line from Audre Lorde: The white fathers said, “I think therefore I am” but the Black mothers say “I feel so I can be free”. I identify my inner light with my emotional being. Perhaps this is because the emotional part is what I particularly work on, now, to bring into consciousness.

I had the thought that all the intellect and sensitivity, all the intelligence, I sense, belongs to me not to part of me, and can all be one.

Could I let go of my need for understanding and simply know? What would that look like? Is it like diving into water and swimming? It seems my conceptions and my need for them get in the way. I am reading and thinking. I hesitate to call it “praying”- perhaps I am thinking in a way which might lead to changing what I think. So this that I wrote two days ago is now not enough, and I want to reframe it.

How emotion works

For Eckhart Tolle, there is a natural flow of emotion fitting the immediate situation. You are in a pub, and someone starts abusing you because you are trans. You feel fear and anger, and as Steven Moffatt via The Doctor said, fear is your superpower. Adrenaline flows, and you are ready to fight or flee. And, there is a pathological emotion causing suffering arising from your thoughts about a situation. You resent your boss. You think they should not treat you as they do. You lie awake at night thinking of what they did, and you feel the anger surging, but it is not about what is happening in the moment, because you are safe in a warm bed. So all the energy the anger and adrenaline give you have nowhere to go, but keep you awake.

Tolle says the pathological anger is not about reality but about the stories your ego tells, and you should stop listening to the stories and notice where you are. This immediate presence fits your emotions to the situation. The cognitive behavioural technique “Situation-Thought-Emotion-Behaviour” tells you to change the story, and you will change the feelings, and that works.

There is an NLP technique to give yourself a boost of joy by thinking of a particularly happy memory. As I was taught it, you associate a particular hand gesture with that memory, then make the gesture and feel the joy. I thought of my sister’s children joyfully calling out “It’s Uncle John!” as I approached their front door. I never picked on a new one.

What if you are told your office will close and you will be redundant in six months’ time? If you find a new job within the six months, you will lose your redundancy payment. This is unfair, you think. You are angry at the unfairness, but you still have the choice, to run out the six months and get the redundancy payment but then be looking for a job after losing yours, which is a black mark against you. If your feelings arise from what you imagine your entitlement is (They should not play this mean trick) that is from ego rather than reality, but this is a current situation which will produce “natural” emotion, which could be complex- hope, determination, resolve, as well as anger.

There is not one choice here, but many. It’s not whether you will get a job before the deadline, but what will you do today? Will you look at job adverts again? Whether to risk running out the time depends on how much the payment would be, but also on likelihoods. You don’t know what will happen. It is an emotional rather than rational decision- do you “hold your nerve”? It is fruitful for what Tolle most condemns, the ego telling repeated stories to itself, including that “It’s not fair!” story at 4am.

To Tolle’s two alternatives, of emotions as an immediate response to a stimulus, and as a response to stories the ego tells itself further trapping the unconscious person in those stories, I would add a third, emotions as a response to an ongoing situation. (I have not yet finished reading “A New Earth”.) They could just be part of a story; or they could be a true, immediate perception.

I am also reading Jonice Webb on childhood emotional neglect, which seems to fit me: I did not know what my feelings were. Still, much of my feeling is static and unconscious, such as the fear of taking risks or venturing out. There is anger here, and conflicting desires to hide away but also to be seen, to have your attention. I am sensitive, and also sensitised: the association of, say, job applications with a sense of failure is so great that I cannot bear to make them.

There’s a slogan that can answer that:

Every day is a new day!

I am not that child. I am this adult, in this situation, and- I don’t really believe this but will say it anyway- if I live in the moment and react to things as they are rather than from the stories I tell about past experiences- I can stop sabotaging myself.

I avoid meditation too. I associate it with pain. Yesterday, kneeling, I thought, it really hurts to have critical voices this strong, and got upset. A problem is that there are so many ways to describe it! The critical voices would call it self-indulgent play-acting. I call it feeling pain I have denied. My working theory is that I remain unconscious of much of it, and it is a burden: as I become conscious of specific pain, I lay that part of my burden down. And the intense pain of yesterday- the critical voices hurt so much!- might lead to a shift in me, where I listen to them less, or even begin to convert them. They are the voice of my mother at her angriest and most confused, taken into myself to stop myself doing things which she did not like, as self-protection. They are from the past- could I make them fit the present? Is it that the pain makes me change how I am?

For my pictures, I am back to Bosch.

Antisemitism and transmisogyny

Vocal prejudice tends to be right-wing, with the exception of prejudice against trans women and Jews. Many people who would think of themselves as left-wing, and hold some left-wing opinions, are happy to speak their prejudice against both; so trans women can learn from Jews about seeing where prejudice lies. People on the Left can be sexist and racist, of course, paying less attention or respect to women and people of colour, but tend not to express racist and sexist views. When they express antisemitic or transmisogynist views they are working in the interests of the extreme right, dividing the Left and chasing mirages.

So it is worth reading Understanding Antisemitism by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (click for pdf) which starts with a picture of Muslims in solidarity with praying Jews, and ends with a picture of Jews in solidarity with Muslims at an “Iftar in the streets” after Trump’s Muslim ban. The Right seeks to divide people, possibly because they are incapable of understanding life without out-groups; solidarity is our answer. That is why I want to learn about antisemitism, and stand against it.

I have seen antisemitism shared by a Labour member, against rich elites exploiting workers, but painting those elites as Jewish rather than merely rich. There are rich Jews- in 2015, 11.6% of the world’s billionaires were Jews, and 1.7% of millionaires- a bigger proportion than of the population as a whole, but a small proportion of the very wealthy. More than half the world’s millionaires identified as Christian.

Aurora Levins Morales skewers this: Racism is like a millstone, a crushing weight that relentlessly presses down on people intended to be a permanent underclass. Its purpose is to press profit from us, right to the edge of extermination and beyond. The oppression of Jews is a conjuring trick, a pressure valve, a shunt that redirects the rage of working people away from the 1%, a hidden mechanism, a set up that works through misdirection, that uses privilege to hide the gears.

Unlike racism, at least some of its targets must be seen to prosper, must be well paid and highly visible. The goal is not to crush us, it’s to have us available for crushing.

By redirecting rage against oppressors onto Jews, the rich escape democratic oversight and proper taxation. The tactic of the Right is to divide us. In the same way, some trans people are prominent, such as Caitlyn Jenner, and thereby a focus for hatred of trans women, which is then generalised. We could be allies working on genuine feminist concerns, and instead we are sniping at each other. Caitlyn is not celebrated because she is Trans, but because she is a former athlete and connected to the Kardashian family- she is a celebrity. It is not quite the same: prominent trans people tend to be writers, speakers, actors, celebrities, and George Soros is a billionaire funding progressive causes such as the People’s Vote campaign in the UK, but both are privileged and targeted.

I saw a post writing about women murdered by partners or former partners, with legitimate emotion, then phobically turning that emotion on trans women: while men kill women that they know at the rate of over 2 a week, all the energies of the women, like me, who stand up for these women and fight for these women are being focused on fighting against men for the right to define womanhood and all that entails. It would be legitimate rage against feminist energy being diverted from true feminist concerns to an unimportant matter; but rather her rage is against trans women.

Legitimate criticism may shade over into prejudice and phobia. We should criticise violence by trans women, but it should not be over emphasised. Tara Wolf committed an assault, but it was not newsworthy. JFREJ say We must criticize Jews who support the oppression of Palestinians on the same terms and by the same standards that we hold for all oppressors the world over — we are enraged because of what they do, not by who they are.

JFREJ say Jews fear that the State of Israel is all that stands between them and a new Shoah, but eschew the argument that claims of rights for Palestinians which would make the State of Israel no longer Jewish are antisemitic. I disagree. I consider that Jews born in Israel have created a right to stay in a Jewish state. The existence of Israel gives a measure of protection to Jews, who are subject to prejudice and have been for millennia. And trans women are safer being treated as women, rather than if we were tolerated dressing as we do but expected to be treated as men.

Their account of internalised antisemitism may help understand internalised transphobia. Many trans women try to make men of ourselves before transitioning, and still fear we should be manly or that our femininity is weakness. But internalised phobia does not manifest itself in the same way in all trans women. JFREJ reports that even where Jews are safe, such as financially secure Jews in American cities, they can be aware of the history of antisemitism and so that safety feels precarious. Even when mostly safe, we are continually made aware of transphobic incidents and transphobia in the media. They call on Jews to work against white privilege, and trans women should be feminist.

Being stuck

Sally apologises for the room, because it has toys in it. I find them fascinating. There’s a yard long cuddly crocodile, with soft-fabric nostrils that will take more than a phalanx of my finger. Who could resist picking the nose of a cuddly toy? Not me, I am afraid. I can imagine it alive, and then ignore it; I notice it’s on its back over my knee, which might break its spine and be terrible treatment, then I tickle its tummy and imagine it curling its head up to make eye contact, enjoying the attention. I put it down, as the contact is not real, and keep picking it up again. A dog would be too much responsibility. But it’s a killing machine, able to spring at tremendous speed and acceleration over a distance of a few yards, able to hide under water as it approaches its prey.

There’s also a garage, a dolls house and a police station. I notice the Black doll, like a bigger lego figure, which is frumpy with an uncool hairstyle. I am suspicious, but the white doll is frumpy too, and having Black is a more accurate picture of society. Where there is the possibility of discrimination, we should be careful. There’s a police station with a helicopter pad on the roof and, amazingly, a legolike figure with a rifle. That is more shocking than toy soldiers because soldiers fight wars far away, and this police officer is in the community- and because I am used to toy soldiers. Or toy soldiers express wrath and action, and a police marksman is clinical.

I am in not-quite-sardonic mode, flatness of affect concealing terror and misery in a way a psychotherapist called my powerful defence mechanism twenty years ago. I am going round in circles. Now I am aware that I am doing it, and it is indeed a good defence mechanism, better than bursting into tears. So it felt at the time that I was completely stuck, and looking back trying to find something positive in the experience I say I am aware of it. And, underneath it, the terror.

I am treating my life as an intellectual problem- how to change myself, how to fit in, how to be- when there is no intellectual solution. I want attention, and I want to hide away. My distress is like an overexposed photograph: as it is all overwhelming, I cannot work on either the easiest or the most pressing matters as I cannot distinguish them. My feelings overwhelm me whether I suppress or acknowledge them. And all of this I wrestled with years ago, and am still stuck in it. Though I can articulate the issues more easily.

I like to feel useful, and I like small discrete tasks which produce this sensation instantaneously. So, not a long term project, but, say, putting the shelf right last week. It’s my judgment, and it appears objective to me, though I think to myself that no-one else would think it important at all. Just like smoothing out a ruck in a rug with a counsellor twenty years ago, which pleased me intensely. All this seems to fit early childhood patterns. This counselling is useless. I don’t know what else to try.

It’s not my fault and I don’t know what to do about it and I am the one who must. This counselling service appears completely useless to me. Watching a film on telly I hear the line You embrace the suck, you move the fuck forward stated by a man who had his legs blown off, and I write it down earnestly. Half way through this article I see the heading 9 ways childhood emotional neglect harms highly sensitive people and I think, oh fuck off, tell me what I can do about it! This one is better.

I have been sharing pictures by Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson, and now find Anne was a man.

Stonewall and gender diversity

Are there really 600,000 trans people in the UK? That would be nearly 1% of the population. Most of that half million would never consider transition, and perhaps many of them would not even cross-dress. They would include cross-dreamers, who fantasise but do not necessarily act out their fantasies, and people who do not fit gender norms but are adamant they are of their birth sex. Some would not think of themselves as trans, and may have different ideas of what trans is- even before you ask whether non-binary people are trans.

My own figure is 40,000 people who have transitioned or are strongly likely to. But that’s a different number from those who are gender diverse.

I noticed with mentally ill people in the CAB that they had ordinary human characteristics, slightly exaggerated. Most people will have gone out then wondered if they have locked their front door that morning, but for some people it becomes a problem. Different people have more or less rigid understandings of gender stereotypes, comply with them more or less, and are more or less distressed about this. It’s not a binary, either fitting gender norms or not fitting them, but a matter of degree. Other aspects of character and personality, and family and community situation, will affect whether the person decides to transition, or not, and how happy they are with their decision.

And that’s fine. Gender diverse AMAB people who are certain they are men are still gender diverse. A lot of homophobia is around how gay men are not seen as manly. A gay man told me “feminine” characteristics were tolerated in gay men, perhaps they are even expected, and most of them do not think they are women. Whether same sex attraction is on a spectrum too, and the culture makes people decide they are gay or straight- well, it’s possible. Whether I am gynephile because of relatively low attraction to men together with strong inhibitions against such attraction- there is no way I could answer that.

Stonewall are confusing two things, gender diversity and gender transition. Gender diversity can cause problems for someone, either from internal suppression or from bullying, and gender transition is one partial solution to those problems. The LGBT Foundation in Manchester defines trans as “anyone who identifies with a gender which is different from the one which they were assigned at birth”- so there are more than two genders- which means that anyone who says they are trans, are. It’s something a lot of people would feel wary of admitting, or ashamed of, so they are safe enough from people who are not entitled accessing their services. But I can imagine someone suffering with gender dysphoria who is terrified of transition, so insists they are a male cross-dresser, who by that definition would exclude themselves.

The gender recognition reform proposal makes the public discussion about transition, . I don’t think there is any point in a man declaring s/he is a woman if they are not going to “live in the acquired gender”- make some stab at transition. It’s unclear what this could mean, whether skirts high heels and makeup, or jeans and t-shirt, male pattern baldness with a bit of length at the back with no attempt to modify the voice to sound female. Cis women are often unfeminine. Do you look like a woman? If your face is particularly masculine, do you make an attempt to look like a woman? For the law in England and Wales, there is no suggestion that there could be more than two genders.

Transition is difficult. 600,000 people in the UK are not going to transition. Yet the rest of Stonewall’s “The truth about trans” page describes trans people as if we are all transitioning or transitioned. This terrifies transsexual separatists- a terf has just shared to a Labour party page another blog post suggesting that there are true TSs, who knew they were the other sex from a young age, and sought surgery “after lengthy physical and psychological assessment”. That excludes the 40% of people going to the clinics who do not want genital surgery, and human rights law says genital surgery should not be necessary for gender recognition. Possibly all the trans women monstered in the Times or the Daily Mail in their campaign against us fit that definition.

Stonewall should stand up for all gender diverse people, and then accept that we are not all trans, that transition is not right for all of us, that we do not even want transition, but should be able to express contrary to gender stereotypes. Those internal inhibitions need loosening. The bullying needs to stop. But not every gender diverse man will transition to permanently presenting as a woman, and those who don’t will not want legal gender recognition as women.