A potential anti-trans campaigner

Dear Bob,

You asked what the hoo-ha was about Dave Chapelle, and later said he’s a comedian, comedians say provocative things, what’s all the fuss about? You said you wanted to be inclusive, so you wanted to include “those who have needs around bodies with penises etc”. You thought I would take a different view of those trans women with penises “after what you’ve had done”, outing me to anyone watching who did not know my operation status. You say you are merely curious, and want to honour and respect everyone’s needs, but I see you at the edge of a rabbit hole and wonder how I might nudge you away from it. If I do this badly I might just push you in.

I don’t have Netflix. Trans people say Chapelle’s show is vile. I trust their judgment.

I know you do not see yourself as a bad person. You see yourself as having curiosity, and a wish to include everyone, including those cis women who speak so winsomely about their fear and hurt around bodies with penises, and their need for private spaces. These are good traits. I fear if I hint they could lead to trans exclusion I will push you down the rabbit hole. Affronted, you would say, “These trans people are totally unreasonable”, and listen more to those winsome voices.

If I said I enjoyed Jim Davidson in the 1990s, ignoring or not seeing how vile his racism was, you might say it is not like that at all. Davidson was last regularly on the BBC in 2002.

“What I’ve had done” doesn’t make a difference to who I was in 1999- in denial but knowing really that I had to transition and terrified of it, going out with a trans friend dressed female from a boat on the Norfolk Broads to country pubs and using the women’s loos. Someone in that situation, not having made a definite commitment to transition, would not be protected by the Equality Act now. But, in the situation I was in in 2003, having transitioned but not yet been cut, they would be protected. Those are the “bodies with penises”- “genuine” trans women who would be equally traumatised and terrified as the most recent rape victim, if their genitals were seen. You can’t tell the difference without taking our knickers down, because any penises will probably be tucked. Most of them want the operation.

It’s tempting to divide people up in this way. “Bodies with penises”- that’s what they are really, right? Take away the veil. No. I am a human being. I want to be seen as a whole human being. There are transphobes- I read what they say, and I see the transphobia. One said she could not use a women’s loo because of the possibility there might be a trans woman in there. That’s a phobic reaction. There are hardly any of us and it is unlikely there will be a trans woman. And it would not really matter if there were. You don’t see someone’s genitals in a public loo, and the trans woman seeks privacy just as any other user does.

“Bodies with penises”- oh, right. So they’re not frightened of me, they’re frightened of someone who looks exactly like me and can only be distinguished by a crotch inspection.

When you asked why people could not just live as feminine men, I heard a challenge. Well, my father managed it, why couldn’t I? Perhaps certain experiences or life circumstances made me do this. That’s what I said. I did not say that I paid a psychiatrist and psychologist for aversion therapy. I asked a clergyman, whose church I went to weekly, to lay hands on me hand pray over me to heal me. I joined the territorial army and went to the gym to make a man of myself. I am a huge fan of Abigail Thorn, who is 28, who says she went to the gym to bulk up and- make a man of herself. It’s what we do. I still feel ashamed of failing. I still wished I was not trans, even after I realised that would mean I did not exist and there would be someone else in my place.

I value knowing you (to the extent that I do). I call you a potential anti-trans campaigner and you might think that ridiculous and offensive, you’re just asking questions. Someone might not be an anti-vaxxer but just curious about what they have to say. What they say can sound persuasive, and does persuade people- apparently including Kishwer Falkner, chair of the EHRC. There are still “ex-gays” about, proclaiming their liberation from the homosexual yoke- see the Restored Hope Network. They persuade people too. So do anti-vaxxers. I know the disbelief of friends when someone becomes a covid-denier. The clue is in the word “winsome”.

Please, see me.

8 thoughts on “A potential anti-trans campaigner

    • ❤️

      Thank you. It is not a failure. I presented male, and as my friend said I was acting. I was also self-hating and consumed by internal conflict. I am not sure where this comes from. He said, why can’t they be feminine men? As if just presenting male, never presenting female, was easy. And I responded, yeah, why not, my father managed it. And then felt really, really angry and upset afterwards. What was that response? It might not even be trans related, just a response to him saying I could do something else and me not denying it, not accepting the judgment, making light of it, not wanting to express all the difficulty I would have with anything, not just presenting male.


      • Not an expert or a researcher, but someone under the trans umbrella, I’d say that for many trans folk – part time or full time – the idea of staying as their birth gender isn’t an option. The continued mental heavy lifting – feel free to throw in at GIF of Atlas 😉 – can, IMO, crush someone. That internal pressure can come out as mental health issues or toxic coping strategies. 🙁 Maybe for some trans folk, the blurred option of a feminine man might work, but if society won’t accept all women into female spaces, what hope do those who don’t fit doors A or B?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This is powerful stuff, as ever. I hope the addressee reads it, for if they do, if they really do, they would be struck by your compassion for them above all else. Anger, sure, but not at them. I have nothing else to say bu to echo Lynn’s remarks regarding you not being a failure.

    Honestly, I admire the bravery inherent in that story of the Broads, having been there myself multiple times as a child and student. I love what you have conjured in just a few words (do I envy you? A bit – for both the writing communicative ability and the activity itself).


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