Anger and sadness

I am getting lots of affirmation for my anger. I wrote, “Utter contempt for human life, for the rule of law, for the truth…” of the They, the amorphous Bad, or actually “The Johnson Government”. Utter contempt for human life? Really? They don’t ever admit the slightest misstep, and their mistakes have caused deaths, and their target of 100,000 tests a day has led to some deservedly ridiculed lying, but-

And that got a Guardian pick, a coveted pat on the head from the Guardian! Woo! And 122 upvotes. Two days later it seemed like bullshit posturing. My sarcasm- “London is a small, backward place, completely without expertise in caring for an autistic four year old”- got 191 upvotes. Lots of anger is being poured out at Cummings, who despises it, and may get off on it. I face many nebulous threats, though no concrete and immediate ones demanding fight or flight action. I read righteous NYT pieces on the efforts to steal the US Presidential election, and that is a real threat I can do nothing about. So, be aware of it, but don’t read all the NYT articles. And there is Covid, and the Covid Recession, and looming Brexit…

My anger seeks an outlet. Comments can make it seem Righteous, even effective, but it is just me and hundreds or thousands of others letting off steam. Yet when there seems nothing I can do about the many horrors, letting off steam is tempting.

I wish I had not watched Suburbicon. It is George Clooney directing a Coen Brothers script, but it is a mean little film, in which a man murders his wife to shack up with her sister, and in the ensuing Coen strangeness and coincidence six people die. Also when a Black family move in to a 1950s town, protests escalate to riots. Trying to see value in it, I could put too much weight on its last scene, when the sons of the Black couple and the murderer get out their baseball mitts and play catch. “Children can adjust to anything” or something, or even “Life goes on”. Then I see it is a script from the 1980s, a misfire from their early development. The murderer threatens to kill his eleven year old son just before dying from a misunderstanding.

Here, I am bewailing my unbearable dissatisfaction, a bit like Roger Scruton: “In our polluted passions, seeking pleasure and excitement rather than respect and love, we scorn the Redeemer’s suffering and surrender to the basest form of control.”

The answer is to acknowledge the Sadness, to dive into it, drink it and swim in it. It is only a threat if dammed up. Flowing smoothly it can douse the flames of anger. The energy of anger is necessary if something may be done, but anger without outlet becomes rage, hurting the rager. There is so little I can do.

Thursday I had my dialogue, which was unexpected, after Wednesday with Tina over skype. I wanted to speak from the inner voices, and welcome them. There’s the feminine self which I strongly value with words like Authentic Self, and one that, terrified, tries to suppress that self. I am aware of what may go wrong- speaking the thought I have had before rather than from where I am now, which would be falling short of what is possible, retreating into the familiar. All of it is good, and none of it is mad.

I feel nervousness. Then I am conscious of arrogance, and then of feeling sick. Anger at expectations. That thing about “where is it in your body”- well, feelings are in my limbic system, in my head. Others insist on this, and it does not work for me. Anger. But then, on Saturday it did.

I fear creating a soap-opera. If the only meaning I can find in my life is this untwisting, then I create more bizarre stories of that. But no. It feels real. Judgment: I am my own enabler, allowing myself to fritter my life.

I am arrogant and self-effacing. Having so little money humiliates me.

It feels like things are coming to the surface, real, discrete parts of me, seeming to have separate personalities, which have been long buried. Some seem in pairs- sadness against anger, the drive to achieve and a self-protecting No, and the femininity and the terror that suppresses that.

I crave reassurance. Does this make sense? Yes, she says. Some people give their configurations names, ages, or genders. Some place them in time. Dialogue will bring integration.

They might not talk to the opposite but might to a neutral arbiter, I say. I feel my character manifests in my actions whatever stories I tell about who I am. I fear I will not get the configurations sorted in time, I need to be more functional now. All the voices have value. I have not recognised their good will, always.

Transition in name only, and survivors’ fear

Meredith Talusan writes, I have short hair. I don’t wear heels. Because there is no one way to be a trans woman, either.

She’s in her early forties. She transitioned in 2001, four years after graduating, and in her twenties wore makeup and feminine clothes to make her beautiful for herself, and attractive to others. But the effort and the attention became oppressive. Oestrogen had softened her features, and she slowly reduced her makeup, sometimes wearing none at all, and wore more comfortable clothes. Then at the college reunion queer reception, someone said to her,

“I remember you. You look the same.”

And this made her self-conscious. She went to look in the mirror. Do I look like a man? No, she decided, she is quite sure of that.

Well. She might have looked quite feminine when she was presenting male. And cis women as well as trans women might start dressing more comfortably, as they moved from twenties to forties. Dressing attractively can mean vulnerability: it takes a special kind of woman for that to be only a manifestation of power. (Yes, I mean you. I doubt you read this and you are still in my thoughts.) There can be advantages in becoming less visible.

Yet one of the myths the trans-excluders spread, to foment fear, is the “trans woman” who just looks like a man. They aren’t trans, not really, they just want to invade women’s spaces. Self-id will mean a horde of balding men with beards and beer guts, in jeans and scuzzy t-shirts, claiming to be women. Look at that hulking man-beast! Surely all women should be frightened and angry and all decent men should stand up for women’s rights against these…

breathe…

This is the kind of thing they say, and some of that is a direct quote. Should I be held to a particular standard of feminine presentation? Because sometimes people see me as a man.

I became aware of the physical fear of traumatised women in a drama. A male psychologist interviewed a woman who claimed to have been raped and pointed out to her that she did not flinch when he touched her, and so he did not believe her. That is problematic, the false allegation trope- I can’t remember how her motivation was explained- but what I took from it was the unbearable presence of the man, for the violated woman.

The presence of me? That is a central allegation by those who want me out of, say, shop changing rooms.

As for me, well it’s complicated. I want to hide away, and I do, not going out for days, and that is not the behaviour I would expect from one whose experience of other humans had been entirely positive. And I don’t flinch from touch. I might be numb, I don’t know, there are some indications.

I know that trans-excluder fears are generally exaggerated. Somehow, trans women have become the focus of the campaigners’ fears of male violence. Well, male violence is a real threat, and a real experience, and it seems they find it easier to focus on trans exclusion, just because the problem of heterosexual men, of rape culture, as a whole is just too daunting. And look what work women’s refuges must put in, for so little support.

My tentative answer is to hear the fears of everyone. If all people cannot be accommodated, then we cannot have a solution. I am a trans woman, like thousands of others, quite harmless, not the monster some fear. I know men would be ashamed to claim to be women, especially trans women, and well the fear is there. And then value everyone’s needs, including mine. Excluding all the trans women does not work for me.

Should we wear skirts and makeup more? The trouble with that is that we are treated unequally, with suspicion not applied to others. Because the trans-excluders imagine a group of unworthy persons, and suggest we might be in that group, we have to prove that we are not. This does not work. Our evidence will never be enough to the trans-excluders.

Or, there are two fears, to be treated differently. One is the fear of the traumatised woman. She sees me and responds in fear, and I hope any trans woman and other people would respond sympathetically. But the other is the fear of the trans-excluder: she claims someone may see me and respond in fear, so I should be restricted in case that happens. That is one of their main arguments, to stop me living my life in peace.

Dialogue of the Inner Voices

Anxiety is fear, curdled.

Two of my inner voices have been diametrically opposed, struggling, both miserable, both mostly unconscious, manifested in lassitude and misery. Both want my good. Both are Welcome. My Frontal Lobe, as the conscious part of this process, this animal, this Euarchontoglire called Abigail, invites both into consciousness, to see if they could be brought into dialogue.

One is resentful, frustrated and angry. It wants me to justify my existence, to have meaning in my life. It wants to stretch me and push me to achieve. The other is resentful, frightened and hurt. It feels bullied by the Stretcher. I call it my No. No, that is unreasonable. No, I will not go out cycling and struggle up hill, being cursed as weak and useless.

Fear, unheard, slops around inside like stagnant water, like bilge water in a ship. It could have been useful. It warned of a threat. And now it has gone bad, detached from the threat it warned of, attached to anything it can slime. It becomes anxiety. It does not mean there is no real threat, just that finding that threat is more difficult, and needs patience; and anxiety may linger after I find the threat, unsure that I really have dealt with it.

So the Frontal Lobe, the Love, the Reconciler, to make this a positive sum game brings both voices into separate rooms, lavishing praise and gratitude on both for their care and labour, with a hint of a suggestion that their aims might be achieved better if a few small adjustments were made.

There is the Stretcher, which the Protector wishes to call the slave-driver. It wants me to achieve. I am competitive, and it encourages me this morning to go cycling. The Protector fears the slave-driver will get angry and frustrated, and start to bully uselessly. Harder! Faster! I cudgel myself, scourge myself, as I go up hill too slowly for my liking, not wanting to go down a gear because I should be able to do it in this gear. The Stretcher is continually bamboozled, as well as resentful, that this is not as easy as it thinks it should be.

Well, the lie it imbibed was that things are easy and its performance should be perfect. It has fixed at quite a young age, this aspect of myself. At that young age, I decided that difficult things should appear easy and require little effort, and the Stretcher, frustrated, resentful, angry and mostly unconscious, affecting me unawares, has not learned how to- drop a gear, literally and figuratively, to break the task down, take it slower, make it easier, take the time necessary to learn it, build up gradually.

With Love, the Reconciler thanks it for its determination to achieve and develop, and suggests it might achieve these worthwhile goals more easily by breaking the task down. That is a long hill, steep in places. I notice that if I drop to a gear lower than I ever use at the steepest parts, I can rotate my pedals quicker, and be in a higher gear later on when it is less steep. I have noticed that the cyclists who pass me turn their cranks much faster than I do. Possibly that is a technique which would make me more efficient. I read about it last century, I think, this idea of Cadence, around the time I found that a simple change to my breaststroke technique made me a faster swimmer.

(Last century. There’s the resentment, the self-blaming. How stupid I am, how stupid these voices! That resentment does not help. Turn it round. Here I am learning ways new to me, which will improve my performance. I will achieve the goals of both!)

Now is what matters.

I am in conscious incompetence. These are decisions to make. Gear 2.1 is much lower than 2.2. I can go up hill in 2.2 but it is a struggle. Then 2.1 feels too low. I may learn which works best by trying both, or perhaps work harder for a bit in 2.2 then go back to 2.1. Trying different combinations may help me learn. Bringing this to consciousness and putting it into words, doing something I don’t know will work in a spirit of enquiry, may help me improve.

This is the aim of the Stretcher.

The Reconciler has also been aware of the Protector, also in its room. The Protector is anxious. It has been scourged and cursed before, it will happen again! But the Stretcher does not seem so angry and frustrated. The Protector might be enticed. Sunshine is good for me. Birds and blossom are beautiful. The Protector wants me to achieve, too, just not to be bullied. Bullying is a No.

The Reconciler hears that demand. No Bullying. Well, that seems reasonable. The Stretcher does not realise it is bullying, that is the problem. Do you see it wants our Good?

Mmm. The Protector is not absolutely convinced, but willing to suspend judgment for the moment. Then its anxiety comes over it. What if my tyre punctures or Something Bad Happens? It has worked so hard to protect me, it needs my care itself.

Most of the time I was out, the Protector was grudgingly admitting that the Stretcher was behaving more sensibly, though some of the time one or the other panicked and needed reassurance. Well, I am a sensitive soul, and that is a blessing, and I need my own love and reassurance. The Reconciler worked to reassure both.

This is a work in progress. And I notice my progress, and give each of these voices, and my whole self, necessary praise and thanks.

How many trans people seek medical treatment?

“Transgender support organisations estimate that only 20% of trans people seek medical transition (hormonal or surgical).” This trans-excluder lie is used to create fear of trans people. That means 80% of trans women are “male-bodied”, with those oh so scary penises. The figure I had was 60% want genital surgery. I wondered where the lie came from. That article cited a pdf from GIRES.

That document is from 2011, and extrapolates from a report done about 2007 figures. The 20% figure comes from this sentence: So far, as stated above, only 12,500 adults have presented for treatment but a further 50,000, or even 90,000, may do so. 12,500 is 20% of (50,000+12,500).

However that 12,500 figure is of those who have “sought medical treatment”, which could be seeing a specialist gender psychiatrist or could just be discussing the matter with a GP. Seeing a psychiatrist does not mean you get hormones or surgery. Later, the document says only 7,500 have undergone transition, which is 60% of those who have sought treatment. So the 20% figure does not relate to transition. Most of those 62,500 people would be muddling along in their gender assigned at birth.

The document says 500,000 “experience some degree of gender variance”. That is far greater than the number who transition. Such people might see it entirely differently, saying “I am trans but I can’t transition in this prejudiced society” or “Gender stereotypes are oppressive”, or they might not think about it. That 1% figure is also in Stonewall’s page “The Truth about Trans”, but it says 600,000 “might identify as trans, including those who identify as non-binary”. That is different from being conscious of gender variant. The Government Equalities Office in 2018 said, “We tentatively estimate that there are approximately 200,000-500,000 trans people in the UK.”

In 2007, 1500 people presented for treatment. If 60% of them transitioned, that would be 900. GIRES does not say there what they mean by “transition”- I mean starting to live full time in our true gender. That’s Stonewall’s use of the word.

In 2011, GIRES stated an increase of 11% a year. After 2005 we have the figures for the number of gender recognition certificates granted. Here they are:

2005/6: 1,181,  2006/7: 532,  2007/8: 392,  2008/9: 241, 2009/10: 239, 2010/11: 260, 2011/12: 263, 2012/13 236, 2013/14 318, 2014/15 244, 2015/16 332, 2016/17 318, 2017/18: 354, 2018/19: 323, 2019/20: 364. The total to December 2019 is 5,629.

I got them from a spreadsheet downloaded from a government statistics page, the Official Statistics “Tribunal Statistics Quarterly”, and a document called “Main Tables”. In 2005/6, and possibly in 2007/8, there would be a backlog, of people who had transitioned before the act came into force.

Now for some extremely crude numbers. If 900 people transitioned, and 239 got GRCs, that means about a quarter of people who transition get a GRC. So if the total with a GRC in December 2019 is 5,539, very roughly 21,000 people would have transitioned. That contrasts with the figure of 40,000 I came up with, last time I tried.

Gender stereotypes are oppressive, and everyone is oppressed to an extent. I think probably far more than 1% of people are chronically distressed by gender stereotypes. However, only about 0.03% of the population decide to transition to the other gender.

How many of those seek hormones or surgery? Between 2000 and 2009, 865 trans people had “state funded surgery to change sex”, only twelve of them trans men. This means genital surgery. That was out of 6000 who had transitioned, according to this document I found on Bournemouth Council’s site. That’s 14%. But many more paid for surgery, in Britain or abroad. GIRES said at the time 80% of transitioners were M-F, so 18% of trans women had NHS genital surgery.

The Office for National Statistics do not estimate the number of trans people in the UK. In their position paper linked to on that page, they say that there are difficulties in definition- trans includes cross-dressers, transitioners, and androgynous people. They use the word to mean “anyone who experiences gender variance”. This is a private matter, and they thought it hard to get an accurate figure.

In 2016, this Guardian article reported around 4,500 adult referrals and 1576 child referrals to GICs. 80-90% of the adults went on to take hormones. The adult figure is a tripling from the 2007 figure. So we have a much greater rise in referrals than in grants of GRCs. 60% of trans women wanted genital surgery. Charing Cross had 1892 referrals. However in February 2020 alone, it had 290 referrals, which would be nearly double the 2015 figure. If the number on hormones was a constant proportion of the number of referrals, there might be 50,000 adults transitioned in total- though some might be on hormones but not living full time transitioned.

The number of GRCs has gone up far more slowly than the number of referrals, and in part this is because the waiting times are going up. In December 2019 there were 13,500 on the waiting lists for GRCs.

How many transitioned people? Anyone’s guess; but I still don’t think there are more than around 50,000 people living transitioned to the other gender in the UK. Of those, almost all will be on hormones, and 60% of trans women will want or have had genital surgery. The 20% surgery figure cited by trans-excluders is completely bogus, unrelated to any actual figures on transition. That gives a figure of 0.1% of the adult population. Where there are no better figures, that 0.1% figure might be applied to other countries- 0.1% of the population is desperate or determined enough to transition. There is a steady increase: the Interdepartmental Working Group report in 2000 estimated the figure at 2000-5000, so the number has grown by an order of magnitude since then.

In 2012, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) did an LGBT survey. Of 93,000 respondents, 7,000 identified as trans, which is 7.5%. In 2019, the FRA did another survey: of 140,000 respondents, 20,000 identified as trans, which is 14.3%, nearly double the proportion. Possibly that indicates some increase in the number of trans people across the EU, though all sorts of considerations might affect the proportion of respondents who were trans. An increase in the number identifying as trans might indicate that transition was easier, so people were more inclined to risk it.

I fear numbers are boring. I delve down into them, to find the truth behind them, a truth I am satisfied of because the evidence backs it up.

Added: when the British government consulted on self-declaration of trans people, it considered estimates of our numbers. The problem they had was the definition. “People who experience some degree of gender variance” might be appalled at the thought of actually transitioning. That definition includes a lot of anti-trans campaigners. But based on that definition they put the number of trans people at 200,000-500,000. The line “this estimate may include some nonbinary people” shows a complete failure to grasp the issues.

The Office for National Statistics research concerned gender identity. I consider people who are not seriously considering transition will not claim to have a gender identity different from their birth sex. Many will call gender meaningless and oppressive, saying only sex matters. A “gender identity” question would at least identify nonbinary people.

A Quaker transphobe

Though a few Quakers are viciously and closed-mindedly transphobic, most transphobia among Quakers comes from arrogance or ignorance, and a failure to see privilege, rather than hate. The Friends Quarterly has printed a transphobic article, because the transphobe has disguised her hatred. In this post I analyse the article, and illustrate the hate. This is a content warning. If you feel able to bear a gaslighter pretending her transphobia is speaking out for vulnerable cis women, read her quotes below. But as trans people will spot the transphobia immediately, this post is mainly for Quakers who might wonder what the fuss was. These well-intentioned souls may be asking, “Who, me? Surely I am never transphobic?” Continue reading

Forgiveness and the Inner Voices

I may be too good at forgiveness, at seeing things from the other’s point of view. Self-respect requires me to see things from my own point of view at least sometimes.

On Friday 22nd I found more inner conflict. I spoke on Jamie Catto’s zoom gathering of how I felt about Emma Nicholson, and the LGBT foundation letter. The way to talk about how I felt scared was to use my most feminine voice. Then I spoke about other internal voices seeking to suppress that voice: one says “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” I have quoted this voice before, and it seemed then I allowed it to speak through my vocal cords.

That was big for me. It is a voice the conscious self does not like, its desperation, its violent anger at something I see as authentic self. I saw I have to welcome that terrified voice as well. It wants my good. It affects me if I am unconscious of it, and I may become conscious and hear a more nuanced message from it if I welcome it.

On Saturday I did his zoom workshop. “Don’t push yourself,” says Jamie Catto. Um. I want Opening! That’s why I am here. He says it’s a matter of receiving, not forcing, yin not yang, and what he talks of may be the “inner light” of the Quakers. He talks of full body listening. Stop numbing feeling. Self-love means being willing to feel uncomfortable or unacceptable feelings.

Another talks of RAIN: ground yourself, then ask what you feel. Then Recognise, Allow, Investigate, Nurture. After an eye-contact thing, which does not work over Zoom, and two games to get us speaking playfully and unselfconsciously, we get the forgiveness exercise.

Pick some wrong you have suffered, then imagine a judge has found the wrongdoer guilty. Write a plea in mitigation.

Without self blaming or making yourself wrong, or changing the facts of what happened: are there any ways you co-created what happened?

What point or fact or thing do you usually leave out of the retelling of what happened that reduces their guilt and your victimhood or innocence?

I think of various things I resent, and really I can forgive or understand most of it. H has betrayed herself as well as me, and, well, I see the route she took there. With S, it is complex. I won’t get to the bottom of that here. The person I cannot forgive is myself. I should be capable of more!

Much of my plea in mitigation I have often rehearsed, about my parents. That about me, seems new. I learned of the world through them. I knew no better. I have suffered 54 years, now, I do not deserve to suffer longer. I am untwisting.

Those two voices of the day before, the terrified voice shouting “Shut Up!” and the playful child-

Who is Love-

I write that in capitals. I am surprised by my vehemence.

I am Love.

Two voices, in unended conflict. I don’t know who I am or what to do and that is unbearable
and not my fault.

There it is. Not my fault. That is a moment of forgiveness right there.

What have I missed out of the retelling? Listen for the inspiration. Don’t try to answer the question with intellect or as a problem, listen for it as the muse might inspire a poem. Missed- my gifts- my courage, my capacity for joy, the value of the journey?

What is Now matters more than any of it.
Such as is still blind and twisted will heal in time.

Yeah, yeah. Live in the Now. I have heard that so many times. I even manage it, some of the time- and it has never meant so much to me before. What I am doing, Now, matters more than all that has led up to this point.

Talking this over in pairs, I say I feel like a snake shedding old skin, and she suggests the image of a phoenix rising.

Jamie has more questions for the inner light.
1. What is the bravest, most healing action I could take regarding this story/relationship?
2. What is/was the gift or training buried within/on offer from this experience?
3. Is there anything I’ve missed or skipped?

I test possible answers out, with my intellect. Does this fit? What could I do- trust? Forgive? Live?

Surrender.

The gift? A blessing for others which will give me delight?

The ability to hear others and to be present to them.

What have I missed: I sit with Unknowing, which is so painful. I am brave. I am goodness.

The unfolding is the point.

“Man should not ask what the meaning of his life is,” Victor Frankl wrote, “but rather must recognise that it is he who is asked.” Sorry about the non-inclusive language, I don’t even know if he wrote it in English or German. For me, the meaning is (at least, right now, when I am doing it) finding those voices and bringing them from conflict to reconciliation. Sadness and Anger, the feminine and what makes it shut up.

On Sunday, I wanted to cycle before worship, and found myself delaying again. I could just do that thirteen mile run, have a shower, and be in time for worship. I go out, and then think, I could do the ten miles instead. I come up to the T junction. Should I turn right, or left? I stop, to make the decision.

There is a voice inside which wants so much to stretch me, to make me go faster and further, to make me achieve. That is a good voice. And there is another which wants to protect me from the first, when it pushes me too hard. That too is a good voice. And the two are mostly unconscious, at loggerheads, and therefore so much I do disappoints me. I Welcome both voices, and make the decision with them both.

I turn left. I take the shorter route, with less climbing. I did not think of just turning round, which would have been shorter still.

Coming down the hill on the busiest part of the route, I am angry at the cars passing so close, so I move to the centre of my lane. I am claiming my space in the most vulnerable way possible.

In worship, I think, I so want to stretch myself and I so want not to. I think of Northampton Quakers. They would probably have tolerated me as a mere nutcase supplicant, coming to meeting, it was me saying what was true and what should be done, and taking my place as an equal that they could not stand. I turn off the video camera, in case I disturb other worshippers.

I Hurt,

I think, and immediately another voice says, “Your lifestyle is completely unchallenging”. I know this is untrue, and I

Welcome

the voice. I tell it “Do what you like. Say what you need,” in an accepting, curious tone, rather than the angrily sarcastic one I would use to reject it.

I felt utter misery a few moments ago, and now I feel playfulness. Might I dance?

Someone ministers about how exciting his first Quaker meeting had been, and he wanted that recreated.

Another ministers that early Friends talked of the spirit moving within as Quickening, the same word used for a mother feeling her baby move within.

I minister, that I have been broken open, so I switched off my camera in case I disturbed others, but perhaps it is hard to damage the meeting.

Another quotes 1 John 1:5:

God is Light, and in God there is no darkness at all.

We become who we are, dealing with our issues, integrating them. Another quotes QFP:

The art of living must be studied, as must every art. It calls for imagination, so that every advance, every change, is not merely a difference, but a creative act. Achievement, at any level above the lowest, calls for courage to hold on, in spite of current moods, and for exacting self-discipline. The art of Christian living calls for the same self-preparation; but its reward is not merely aesthetic satisfactions. The soul, hungry for God, is fed. Life itself takes on new meaning. Thus it is that we break from the confines of the prisons we have built about ourselves. Thus it is we are brought into the freedom of the Kingdom of God which, every day, through the wide world, is being realised in the hearts of men.

Trans men in men’s spaces

If single-sex space is rigorously segregated by sex, not gender, trans men will have to use women’s spaces. Surely trans-excluders would not want trans men, with their beards and testosterone-affected bodies, in women’s loos? That would make women’s spaces even less safe, as malicious or violent cis men might pretend to be trans men. It’s ridiculous.

And now the “feminist” trans excluders have come up with an answer to that. Bear with me, it’s a bit weird. The idea is that single-sex space is only for the benefit of women. Men don’t really mind women in men’s spaces, because men’s space is not there for men’s protection. Women object to “transwomen” in women’s spaces, because they say “transwomen are men” and women need protection from men.

If that were true, why are there still gentlemen’s clubs in London? Many have admitted women as members, but not the Garrick, the club for luminaries of the arts and theatre, or the appropriately named Pratt’s. Many men like somewhere to go where everybody knows your name, and none of them is female.

If Margaret Attwood is right, and men are frightened of women laughing at them, do not downplay that fear. Humiliation will “un-man” them. A man I knew told me he did not want a trans man in his men’s group. He could not see him as a man, he told me. There is prejudice against trans men, just as against trans women. But most men aren’t that fussed.

What of Donald Trump’s “locker-room talk”? He might not have talked that way in front of women (see above). While I think most men would be disgusted by the thought of him assaulting women like that, his superfans somehow sense his vulnerability, his inability to see what is admirable, his neediness, and support a man who shares their weakness, which they attempt to disguise with bluster. If someone like Trump can get to the White House, surely no talent is needed. The Lyin’ King is the great symbol of the equality of Americans.

Conservative trans-excluders fear and resent the freedom of trans men and trans women alike. Why should we be free to subvert gender rules when they don’t feel they can? They want order and clear rules.

Most women need public loos because, with the possible exception of the Queen, they need to urinate regularly, or change sanitary protection. Like me, they go in, use the place, wash their hands, and leave, wanting to spend as little time as possible, and not really glancing at other users beyond to make sure they are not queue-jumping. The loo smells too bad for anyone to want to linger, even in the most well-appointed places. Possibly, a few want to go somewhere no man can go. I will leave it to cis women allies to make the argument about how rare that is and how a toilet would not be their first choice.

So it seems to me clear that the “feminist” trans-excluders also fear and resent the freedom of trans people. We live our gender proudly, they feel theirs restricted.

This post is tagged Mali, as I want views from Africa. Mali is the home of the Dogon people, whose religion was first persecuted by Muslims and then by the French colonial power. The Dogon have buildings in their villages called Tógu nà, where only men can go. There they rest in the heat of the day, and make important decisions. Photo from Wikipedia.

Trans women need LGB people and cis women as allies

If a trans-excluder says that vulnerable women would be scared, seeing me in a women’s loo or changing room, I am silenced. My friends say, “Nonsense!” robustly, and I need that protection, because I am put into such a state of misery and fear that I cannot speak for myself. I just want to hide.

Saying I am dangerous, or that people reasonably fear me, is a threat, because it means that someone might feel justified in attacking me, to defend those vulnerable others. And, more, it raises echoes in me, of being the outsider, not accepted, which may be pre-verbal. It knocks the stuffing out of me. I am terrified. I lose all my energy.

So I am glad to have robust allies against the government’s plan to take away all protection for trans people. The pledge of the minister, Liz Truss, to “protect single-sex spaces” means working to exclude me, and a Tory peer’s extension of that principle to clothes-shops changing rooms show what they want. It is an emergency. Having caused thousands of unnecessary deaths, and repeatedly lied about the number of covid tests performed, they need out-groups for the populace to hate as our anger grows.

First up, the LGBT Foundation. This Manchester charity has been supporting and representing lesbians and gay men for over forty years. They have drafted an open letter to the minister for cis women to sign, to say they do not fear us. Please share it and get as many cis women- lesbian or straight- as possible to sign.

They point out, the language you have used is very similar to the anti-trans rhetoric used by transphobic hate groups and organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, Transgender Trend and the LGB Alliance. They say the evidence shows trans women are mostly harmless, and that medical treatment for trans youth is in the young people’s interest- as you would expect of medical treatment by NHS doctors. An actual, urgent feminist issue is that in covid lockdown intimate partner violence has increased, and they suggest the minister directs her attention to that instead.

We do not need protecting from trans people. Please focus on protecting us from the dangers that are killing women right now. If the Tory attack on trans people succeeds, they will come after lesbians and gays next.

This week, Liberty, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement. They say we are treated as outsiders without rights, and as always At times of crisis and political change, marginalised groups are often singled out for abuse and hate. We are not heard, but dehumanised, made to defend who we are. In Hungary, Russia and the US trans people suffer vicious attacks on our rights: We cannot allow this to happen here.

Trans men need allies too; but the attacks are different. Trans men are attacked as pitiable and mutilated, trans women as perverted and dangerous. Both are attacked as deluded. Allies point out the attacks are baseless.

Emma Nicholson

Does Emma Nicholson have no idea what the law is about trans people? Does she want people to think so? Or does she just want to cause a huge twitterspat? She got 1400 likes and 410 retweets, and has hardly been off twitter since.

She wrote to Marks and Spencer that they should not allow trans women in women’s changing rooms, and tweeted a copy. First she claimed expertise as “Conservative Party Vice Chair with Special Responsibility for Women”; then she said “I believe you may wish to follow the government’s line and resume single sex spaces for the changing rooms in your stores”. No Trans Women!!!

Then the lie, the blatant, clear wrong interpretation of the Equality Act: “the Equality legislation allows no self-identification of gender”.

This is what the Act says: A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo…a process… for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex. Once I propose, I am protected, even if I have not yet seen a psychiatrist.

She claims that “girls from most if not all minority faiths will find it more and more difficult to persuade their parents of the benefits of clothes shopping in your stores while their personal integrity may be open to accusations of lack of protection by their communities.” So, the daughters of religious parents now have to ask their parents’ permission to shop for clothes.

She attached her speech in the House of Lords on 24 February 2020 where she claimed trans people, to be protected, needed to intend physiological change. “A man could wear a frock, rouge and nail gel every day of the week for ten years without qualifying for the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.” They cannot resist mockery, these transphobes. They hold courageous people living our lives freely in complete disdain. Such a trans woman would be protected.

“Rouge,” indeed. I don’t wear foundation, I haven’t since I was having all that electrolysis and my skin is good enough without it, so I looked up what people who aren’t in the House of Lords call it. I called it blusher twenty years ago, and now it is “contouring”. Emma dear, your use of the word “rouge” dates you, not us.

Her letter to Marks and Spencer goes further. Even if I took along my GRC to show to the shop assistants, if her position in her letter was enforced I would have to be directed to the men’s. My local M&S has cubicles in the changing room, with barriers between, and doors, from floor to ceiling.

However the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act use the words “sex” and “gender” interchangeably.

She also wrote to the minister, saying that some guidance for schools was inaccurate.

So what is she doing? Jean Hatchet pointed out that Nicholson is not a feminist, but this was dismissed as “grievance archaeology”. Nicholson supported Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which prevented local authorities from “promoting homosexuality”, and suppressed gay rights campaigning. But Nicholson has been bathing in the adulation of trans-excluders since her tweet.

The government in the UK has made a greater mess of the Covid pandemic even than the Trump administration. I am not surprised they want to spread hatred of minorities. Nicholson is a stalking-horse, sent out to say the most outrageous things, to see the public reaction before the government makes its response to the consultation it promised three years ago. Nicholson was kicked out of the House of Commons in 1997, when the last disastrous Tory government expired. Now, because righteous anger at all the needless deaths should force them out of government, they want to raise hatred against me and people like me.

The Marks and Spencer reply was measured.

We sympathise with the points you raise and strongly believe that our customers need to feel safe and secure in our fitting rooms… Our changing facilities consist of individual, private, lockable cubicles… Although they are not labelled for “men” or “women”, are used by customers of a single gender/sex. The system works effectively. There are customers who have adopted a sexual identity which they are entitled to do and we respect their right to choose… We expect all customers to respect the privacy of other customers… Our colleagues exercise discretion and common sense to ensure everyone using the fitting rooms is safe and feels comfortable… I hope this information is helpful and thank you once again for taking the time to write to me.

In other words, go forth and multiply. But Nicholson never expected M&S to bow to her crude pressure; she wanted to send out a signal on behalf of the government. If they can, they will make trans women into an out-group, to be hated. They must be shown this will not profit them.

Self-consciousness and self-knowledge

Self-consciousness and self-knowledge may be incapable of coexisting. I have one when I do not have the other. Trans people may be particularly self-conscious. Other people call self-knowledge “flow”.

Cycling last week, with the brilliant new idea of being kind to myself, not pushing myself too hard, I was more efficient and enjoyed it more. And today I was back to old habits, resenting the hills and the wind, and going in a higher gear than necessary. Then I pedal more slowly. I went to the supermarket in the sunshine, which could have been more enjoyable. Coming back, some of the time I was in a lower gear, sometimes not.

In self-consciousness, I have strong ideas about how I should appear, and never match them. So I am struggling against the pedals and the hills. In self-knowledge, the prompting to change down a gear feels instinctive, with no gap between perception, desire and act. My competitiveness manifests in both- I want to go as fast as possible, I want to improve- but I know that revolving the pedals faster in a lower gear is more efficient, so in self-consciousness, beating myself up about my weakness, I do less well.

Yes. I have been transitioned eighteen years, and I still want to make a man of myself, and am continually frustrated and disappointed at my failure to do so. Cycling, I look at the blossom and like it but I also look at the houses on the ridge and think of the hill to get up to them. I am still pushing myself, testing myself all the time, demanding more, at the same time that I spend most of my time in my living room. Pushing myself is pleasure and fear. I still bully myself, push myself, even as I do less and less. If I can just be in the moment, cycling, rather than thinking of past and future and how I might appear, I might enjoy it more. Wu Wei, the Do-Not do of the Tao, relates, as does the idea of unconscious competence, bringing something into consciousness only to fine tune it.

I want to cycle, and I want not to. There are two impulses. The desire for fresh air, sunshine and exercise may just be because intellectually I know I ought to want them. Or that is how I care for myself, for my body.

If I ceased to see myself as worthless, thinking I should be doing better than this, I might be freed. My judgment of myself might have value were it not so harsh. It is a response to external judgments in the past. Its intention is to keep the child me safe, and to improve me. It wants to help, but it- she- is in a panic all the time. Here, I construct an intellectual understanding, in words, so as to let go the demands  and just be.

Tina observed, the contrast in me between the calm serenity of my usual presentation, and these bursts of utter frustration. She said, “Those parts of you don’t understand each other, or will not talk to each other, or upset each other tremendously”.

I mother this panicking aspect of me.

Then I went out the day after, and cycled in conscious awareness. After that, I met Pauline over Zoom. She agreed to explore this way I am becoming more conscious of feeling, and how my feelings conflict. I would not have said I was an anxious person, and now I discern anxiety in myself, and find it far too great. I should not be anxious. I told her of anger holding sadness down, and now they are not fighting.

She understands. Ignored feelings shout louder. Feelings are a flag-waving exercise, drawing my attention to my need. Or, acknowledging that a need is met. For anxiety, I might ask what the need is.

For anxiety, I think it is my own judgment of myself that is too harsh, and that makes me anxious, not wanting to do anything that will be judged.

Part of me despises my agoraphobic lifestyle. Despises is a strong word. It fits, though.

I have a need to contribute and be valued. I want freedom, both freedom to act and freedom from the demands. I need affirmation and acceptance.

My great No has removed a great deal of the stress.

She has a picture of me with the neighbour I fear, playing the piano together “uproariously”. Possibly this fits my sadness and my anger with it, now playing together. There is self-acceptance.

She suggests I allow my unconscious feelings expression. Could I improvise it on the piano? My thoughts on this are of possible sounds that would make, and of the fact that I rarely play and rarely improvised when I did, I just played from scores. So there is the old negative, oh that won’t work, but it is not as strong as before.

The sounds do not have to be explained. Possibly they cannot be put into words, but the conscious intention to give this time shows them they might be accepted and that might bring them into consciousness. The process acknowledges them, begins the acceptance which may lead to perception.

If it does not feel safe to come out in words, not requiring it to express itself in words may be helpful. It’s like sitting in a clearing and she feels her level of reverence and acceptance might allow a deer to cross the clearing. Odd. Someone once said I was like a deer in the woods, peering out shyly.

Things you have no memory of may be expressed in art therapy.

So I decide, I will stand in the middle of my room, and allow that part of myself to make a movement. In the evening, I do this, and look around the room. There is a moment when it suddenly feels inauthentic, and I stop. The next morning- this morning, as I write- I stand there again, with that intention, and say “Welcome”. The image of a Mexican standoff comes to mind. Lots of people are pointing guns at each other, with shifting alliances. One hesitantly begins to lower his gun. After sunset I stand barefoot in darkness, say the word of power that initiates the ritual- “Welcome”- and start to dance.

Well. I know I should not say, oh, there’s this worrying symptom with my heart, and then go silent- but this is huge for me. I think I make progress.

I have no idea who painted this, but it fits.