Possibly I never see another person at all, just echoes of myself. If someone’s experience is different from my own, understanding it would be hard work. I could break it down into the most archetypal experience- loneliness, desire, desperation, determination- or perhaps run into one of my blocks against seeing some quality I found too threatening.
In one of my many personal growth workshops we were told to observe qualities in each other, then told that we saw it in others because it was in ourselves. Paul saw “grace” in me. I was asked what I wanted to say to you. I suppose it is this:
I know you. I know your brilliance, your bravery, your integrity, and I know some of your hurt. I don’t require you to share your hurt here, in front of a crowd, but I feel that if you did it might help us to move forward on the issue you have been speaking about (I don’t know a name for that issue we could necessarily agree on) and possibly on the matter of women’s rights and women’s oppression as well.
I supported you as long as I did because of those qualities. I don’t ask for your feeling, because that is obvious: revulsion at others’ choices, disbelief rooted in shock. It is quite clear this is personal: if you could say why, we might get somewhere. You try to save others because you could not save yourself.
Here I am talking to myself, perhaps. I am the one who imagines I know the answer, that I can work it out rationally, that I can explain why it is the right answer rationally so that everyone will be persuaded. Or, I am the one who thinks it’s all about feeling, all about me, about people so similar to me that your fear or revulsion of them is indistinguishable from being of me. If you cut her, I will bleed too.
My certainty, and perhaps yours, is the block. Perhaps, perhaps I do not see at all, perhaps I am whistling in the dark. Others have said something similar- “I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope” and all that.
Possibly you are just right and I am wrong and I should just give up. Yet, ridiculously, I hope that there might be something we could both agree on. I think you, and I too, give too much weight to real or imagined threat.
I want to say, we are alike! But if you can’t see it, perhaps we are not. Alike in that our weirdness is complementary. Is everyone oppressed by gender, or are some particularly so? Surely, no-one could like the feminine gender stereotypes. You saw I was oppressed by male stereotypes. I don’t know if you make the further leap: if I can like femininity, then cis women might too. But then, the concept of femininity is incoherent.
This is not a love letter because “What I would say to you” relates to the disagreement, to your public position on trans issues. There is nothing else now. Yet that so much relates to who I see you to be that it remains as personal as a love letter would be. You have not betrayed me but I fear you betray yourself.
Wait without hope, because surrendering the clearly set out rational case to get the actual human encounter (Oh! Not you and me! I don’t presume to that!) one cannot know what will come out of it.