Quakers ask me, again, to share my personal experiences. I feel judged. Are these stories enough? Would they convince anyone that I am trans, and can be no other?
I woke at 4am, which is never a good time to make a decision, thinking of my colleague Vicky. She had rapidly progressing MS, and had gone from being asymptomatic to needing a wheelchair in two years. I envied her. I would have swapped lives with her, because no-one would doubt that she was female. So I thought, I have to transition as soon as possible.
I don’t understand it. I could appear to be a perfectly normal man. I wanted transition, which I thought would mean I would get sacked, more than anything else in the world. And my friend said, “It’s as if you’re acting when you’re Stephen, and when you’re Clare you’re just you”.
I have told these stories so often I use the same words. I feel judged. Is that enough for you? O ye wha are sae good yersel, sae pious and sae holy. “The acceptance of homosexuality distresses some Friends”, Quakers said.
I am Clare. I am a woman. It makes no sense beyond, it just is. There have always been trans people. Deuteronomy would not forbid it if it hadn’t existed then. What experience will be enough?
In 2002, when I transitioned, before the Gender Recognition Act or the Equality Act, I got a driving licence and passport indicating I am female, and a credit card with the title “Miss”. I have used women’s loos and shop changing rooms ever since without a problem. The Equality Act allows trans women to use women’s services unless there is a good reason to exclude us. The fuss, whereby to judge from the number of articles in The Times trans is a greater threat to humanity than the climate crisis, only really got going around 2017.
These are the stories I can tell. I will not convince everyone. Is my fear and desperation unassuageable?
I want to step into my grace.
I cannot convince the whole world. All I can do, when others say I am a man, is calm the echoes their comments arise in myself. Having convinced myself, I do not have to convince anyone else. Here is the difference between speaking in ministry, saying what needs to be heard, and speaking “hot from the world”, where I am het up and feel moved by all the emotions.
This is how it is, and I am not resisting it- not the world, nor my own feelings. Then I can flow like water, act as I need. That’s the theory, anyway. The small step forward today is to replace the word “power” with “grace”.
The theory is also that I am projecting my own judgment onto others. Man tells story: people thought he was gay. Yeah, yeah, projecting, I think. Then he said someone asked him. Not just projecting, then. He’s straight, it’s just he had a very close male friend who is bi. It’s a different situation. There were people with a belief about him that wasn’t true, and about which some have moral judgments- being gay is less than being straight, not really a “real man”, pitiable. About me, I really am trans, and others’ moral judgments on that really matter to me, because they raise echoes in me, and fear of judgment and loss. When they don’t raise echoes in me, I will know how I feel about them then.
What else would I say? There’s that thing about using the most up-to-date Woke language, and I learned two words new to me yesterday. They are trixic and toric. Think “Aviatrix”, a word I thought hadn’t really been used since Amelia Earhart, until I googled it. Trixic means nonbinary loving women, toric means nonbinary loving men. Possibly “transbian”, a trans woman attracted to women, and “gynephile” meaning attracted to women but not specifying the sex or gender of the one attracted, are outdated.
There’s that thing about the EHRC in January 2022 telling theatres and shops how they can exclude trans women from women’s loos and changing rooms. I only heard about that on Thursday 21st, and I find it scary.
Part of the problem here is I don’t want to address the question of “including those who have needs around bodies with penises etc”, I just want to mess about. Or, I want to be playful, winsome and loveable, so that no-one would be unkind to me. This is a small child response.
On “needs around bodies with penises”, one option is to exclude all trans women, and all trans men who have had chest surgery and hormones so they have facial hair, from women’s loos etc. It’s the obvious option if you ignore or minimise the needs of trans people. That’s why the excluders don’t mention us.
Why can’t they just admit they are men, anyway? What’s the difference between “trans women” and feminine men? Possibly nothing but life experiences and their understanding of the options, I replied. I am so tempted to discount my overwhelming desire. (Added: at 6am on 24 October I am dwelling on that, how I remain ashamed of not resisting. Such overwhelming shame stopped me, at that moment, from saying- what? “This is who I am, I can be no other.”)
I have thought so much about an hour’s conversation with probably fewer than ten people, given it so much mental energy, wept and raged. It will be over tomorrow, until the next time.