Trans in 2021

In the UK in 2021, trans legal rights remain robust, though increasingly under attack. Nonbinary as well as binary trans are protected from discrimination. From the moment we decide to transition, trans women expressing ourselves female are entitled to use women’s services. In its code of practice issued in 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commission put strong restrictions on the right to exclude someone because she is trans, including that it should be case by case- being entitled to exclude one trans woman does not mean a service can exclude all.

Some facts are relevant. Sex is real. Without sexual reproduction the species dies out. I don’t have a uterus, and have never menstruated. And, trans is real. People have transitioned for millennia over many different cultures. We are a harmless minority, and the way the Labour government chose to integrate us, by giving us a right to be treated socially in our true gender, helps us to flourish. The government followed the lead of the European Court of Human Rights.

There is no such thing as “gender ideology”, and there is no harm to women from including trans women. Attempts to claim crime statistics on women should exclude trans women are merely silly. But fearmongering and hatred are normalised, in the BBC, Guardian and New Statesman as well as the Times and Daily Mail. Now the Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons calls for a legal definition distinguishing sex from gender, and that has no purpose but to say that because trans people change gender and not sex, we should be excluded from “single-sex spaces”. That would turn our lives upside down.

We might still be tolerated, in practice, in women’s loos, but we would be even more likely to be misgendered and abused, and that would extend to gender nonconforming people. Whatever the law, whatever the attitude in the wider culture, we will always be able to find communities where we can be ourselves. Quakers have spoken out about our need to welcome trans people (pdf). I also have the Lovely Gathering.

Daily, we read of more hostility. JK Rowling is fatuously but angrily claimed to be “cancelled” even as yet another fantastic beasts film slouches towards us. The reporting is skewed. I am not particularly familiar with the Equal Treatment Bench Book, but it helps judges treat vulnerable people according to their human rights. A thief should be punished for their offences, taking into account all mitigating factors, and not for who they are- trans status, colour, gender. So trans people are treated as belonging to our presenting gender, so that we have less reason to believe the court is against us from the start.

The change in this revision is the belief that some witnesses might have a reasonable expectation of misgendering us. The example given in The Guardian is of a husband who assaults their wife and subsequently transitions. That is, they report the tale of the Violent Trans, even though we suffer more violence than we inflict. The Guardian report suggests the new thing is that judges should use our preferred pronouns, even though it has been like that for years. I checked the February 2021 edition, and the guidance on treating us in our true gender was there, but not the permission to misgender.

Tara Wolf‘s case showed a judge asking hostile witnesses at least to use neutral pronouns, in a case he said would not have been brought without media interest in a trans v terfs narrative. This is another example of emphasis on supposed rights of those who object to us, such as cis women sharing a building with trans women in prison.

Transphobia is organised and amplified in Britain. And we have allies. I love Tom Daley’s Christmas message. With hate against minorities managed for political ends, gay people should know that if you say nothing, they come for you next. And always the demonisation, as if quiet, gentle trans people were angry, oppressive and violent, and women were rightly frightened; as if the problem of violence against women would be solved if all the trans were excluded.

People will continue to transition. In 2022, more trans people than ever before will express themselves as their true selves, finding it just too painful not to.

Medical services for trans people

The parliamentary committee are not our friends, and have recommended keeping trans medical bottlenecks at the moment when trans medical care could open up. They recommend more gender clinics, when gender clinics should be shut down.

Trans is easy to recognise. Trans men are people assigned female at birth who are convinced that they are men, want to be treated as men, or want to express themselves as men. They may want bodily alteration to appear more clearly to be men, to themselves and to others. Trans women go the other way. We know who we are.

That settled conviction is in some way different from those mental illnesses which divorce one from reality. I don’t understand how, particularly, but my understanding of myself as a woman is different from my friend’s schizophrenic daughter’s belief that there is an electronic device in her head which enables the Government to know what she was thinking. My desire to express myself female is more like a gay man’s desire for a particular male partner- incomprehensible to some straight men, but not “insane” or “psychotic”.

The committee say there are huge waiting lists. 13,500 trans people were waiting as of January 2020, before covid. Their evidence was a BBC report. The report’s figure came from Freedom of Information requests to each gender clinic, but some figures date back to July 2019 and the committee heard evidence that lists have increased since then. One clinic’s waiting time was increasing by five months each year, even before covid.

A trans person should be able to go to their GP and say that they are trans, and get a prescription for hormones. If the trans person understand that hormones may reduce their fertility and sexual response, that should be enough. The GP might want a psychiatrist to make absolutely sure that the patient was not psychotic, but should be able to check that themself. They might not like the idea of a healthy testicle being amputated, but they should accept that orchiectomy is beneficial, just as they should accept that abortions are necessary.

The trans person needs hormones, hair removal and speech therapy for women, and psychological support for the transition, which can be the most stressful experience in a person’s life. They may not need medical treatment at all- if a trans person wants to transition without threatening their fertility they should be able to do so.

So NHS England funding the Royal College of Physicians to develop education in gender dysphoria medicine is a backward step (report, para 194). Physicians, medicine, not surgery. These physicians would have the boring task of giving hormone prescriptions to patients who asked for them.

In Wales, there is the germ of a new path. There are around 70 GP “clusters”, and any GP who wants can train to be the lead on gender identity within the cluster. Cat Burton from GIRES gave evidence that most people approaching their GP just want to talk to someone about dysphoria arising from presenting in their assigned gender. They might not transition socially. They might just take hormones. Whether the “tiny minority” who have surgery is a small proportion of those who transition, or of those who approach their GP whether or not they transition, is unclear from the report. How Cat knows and who she asked, whether there was a survey and how systematic it was, is not clear from the report. I had thought trans men needed chest masculinisation to transition socially.

I would love to know how many more people talk to their GP about dysphoria, than transition. That would show how terrifying transition is, because of all the prejudice.

However, the Committee recommends more “trained and specialist clinicians”, para 197. They would keep the bottlenecks, even though they admit the new pilot clinics cannot make surgery referrals (para 191) and cannot reduce the waiting lists.

If there was the political will, the NHS could cut the surgery backlog by temporarily reporting private surgeons who perform the operation across the EU.

The committee found trans people have difficulties accessing primary health care. Some GP practices make difficulties over recording correct name and gender. A trans man with a cervix still needs smear tests. Getting them is a computer problem, but the NHS should be able to sort that.

Michael Brady, national adviser for LGBT health, said GPs needed training in order to be “more comfortable” using correct pronouns and managing trans patients (para 204). In other words, GP practice is filled with prejudice.

The committee found that LGBT people are more likely to be mentally ill, but there is insufficient mental health care and GPs might seek mental health support from GICs, though they do not give it. Psychiatrists treating for other conditions challenge trans people’s gender identity.

After the LGBT consultation in 2017, the government committed to an LGBT action plan rectifying the problems it identified. The committee found the Johnson government has gone back on this. Liz Truss confirmed that, para 218. She said she was working on banning conversion therapy instead, as if doing both were impossible.

The committee considered nonbinary recognition. The government and EHRC said it was too difficult. There were complex practical consequences for public life. The LGBT action plan had committed to seeking evidence on nonbinary recognition, but even that had not been done (para 225). The committee was reduced to demanding the government explain what difficulties might prevent nonbinary recognition, but since ministers refused to appear to give evidence, that recommendation is unlikely to be followed. The committee called on the EHRC to research the area, but with Lady Falkner, Akua Reindorf and others on its board this is unlikely.

While there was a majority on the committee for all these restrictions on trans rights, anti-trans campaigner Jackie DoylePrice voted for them to be even more restrictive. Her constant ally was Phillip Davies, men’s rights activist and anti-feminist MP.

A better life in 2022

How may I improve my life next year? I see the fragility of how I have organised my life, and have to see the blessings of it as it is. What do I desire, and how may I achieve it?

A velleity is a desire too weak to act on. I found the idea amusing. I have always had a velleity to try the various human approximations of flying- hang gliding, paragliding, parachuting- but never have, and now think the reduced elasticity of middle age means I never will. And, well, so what? I have other sources of excitement, joy and beauty. I can imagine the terror and exultation.

Now velleity feels like a threat because I do not recognise when something is a desire, and I will act on it, or a velleity, and I will not. I lack motivation. Velleity seems like genuine desire. I shock and disappoint myself. I find what I want when I see what I do, or avoid.

I did not know what I wanted, because of my upbringing. I was taught to find my desires and feelings shameful and threatening, and they became unconscious. I have only named my desire to hide away and not be seen in the past decade, in a process of self-discovery and self-acceptance I journal here. I hid first in a myth of conventionality which better fitted my parents, who were forty years older and conservative, than my generation. Then I hid literally. I go out as little as possible.

Over my suppressed desires I constructed a fantasy of who I ought to be, and what I ought to want. I believed that was who I was, and what I wanted. Hence the difficulty of spotting what is velleity. I wondered if I could construct rules about obligations helping me to motivate myself to, say, reply to that email. I would be adopting rules others live by and recommend, but it would be my choice to adopt them, and then I should stick to them. They would be my guide.

I want community and connection, and a chance of contributing. In one Quaker group, possibly another, I do. In my local meeting Friends have given to me generously, and I have mostly just received. I might use moral argument with myself. So they asked me to do something, and I did nothing about it, to my Friend’s surprise and measurable loss. They asked me something else, and I have not replied. I could name stinginess and hypocrisy in me, or think of exculpation, and the words don’t help. Conscious me contemplates unconscious me, wanting to understand.

I also want to know my capacity. If I cycle thirteen miles in the morning, I might not want to do much else but read or watch TV for the rest of the day. As well as motivation issues I have problems around the amount of energy I have. I usually have a sleep in the afternoon. I want to cycle because I want to keep physically fit. I came to accept how I enjoyed aspects of it, and found other aspects unpleasant, so I might lie in bed thinking I want to cycle and then get up at lunchtime, not having cycled. I found my conflict between an inner slavedriver and an inner protector, cycling.

I don’t know I am exhausted until I conk out. Again, this is from my upbringing.

How to get to know these things- how am I, in the moment? What do I want? What should/could/will I do? I find sitting in silence helps, though finding out has to cut through so much, it is a slow process. I built up such a forest of self-protective illusions through sustained trauma that my desires remain elusive to my conscious self- even as I act on them, and even achieve them.

I have found a way to explore my desire for submission, which I could not have named before I was forty. I am beginning to explore things most people explore pretty thoroughly in their teens and twenties, and I have not. So I am reacting like a giddy teenager. Through my parents’ shame, through shaming in the culture which treats my kind as a laughing stock, and through deep internalised repression something which has only caused me misery is finally bringing pleasure, and I have intense mercurial feeling, delight at finding it, rage at missing it, so that I have been crying thinking of writing this. And I am contemplating another human being in amazed delight and thinking, who is she? What will nurture her?

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.

Many Nativity paintings have an air of stillness and peace. This one, by Jan Wydra,

makes me think of light and movement. The light source is not the Christ-child, but the sun. If Jesus is lifting his hands in blessing, he is older than a week or two, but rather Mary has lifted his arm like a mother looking at her newborn in amazed delight and love- and playing with him, not just contemplating. Joseph could be looking out worriedly for Herod’s soldiers.

There’s the same movement in Christ and City.

All those people are about their business, but Christ is the still centre.

 

Nontheist words for God within

I am a Quaker, at least a liberal, unprogrammed Quaker. I know that sitting in silence has value. I know that a business meeting seeking “God’s loving purposes,” and together agreeing a minute, has value.

I believe I am an evolved animal in a material universe. My cosmology has no room for a creator spirit outside time, in some way inspiring Ministry. Consciousness and inspiration are manifestations of brain tissue.

I believe in common humanity. Just as cats have an instinct to hunt, so we have instincts which mould the way we form communities, which are innate though affected by culture. If a lion could speak we could not understand it, but we can learn to understand any human being.

I know the experience of being moved to speak, of words coming from my unconscious, and see why they seem divine. I see others having similar experiences, and value what they say. I accept Carl Rogers’ concepts of the organismic self, a life form fulfilling its needs as a social being, and a self-concept, an understanding of self which is less than the whole.

What speaks when I minister? I muddle along with Quaker words from when people believed in the Creator- the inner light, God within. I am influenced by the idea of critical realism. We have senses and brains attuned to meet our needs, not to know objective truth about the real world. So there is a real world, but it is unknowable. We only guess about it. I cannot know the truth about the world or myself, but with application I can approach it more closely.

I am a human being with conscious, conventional ideas about who I am, what I ought to like, what I ought to be, and underneath an unconscious which needs society to survive and is strongly communitarian. Sitting in the silence, the unconscious becomes conscious.

Spiritual Quaker concepts of “inner light” mould my understanding. I believe the conventional, conscious self-concept is an untrustworthy guide, and that beneath, in my unconscious, is a loving, beautiful- something. If I let the Something guide me, I will live better. I desire eudaimonia.

I am trans, and so have a particular experience of “god within”. Like many trans women, I fought hard to make a man of myself, always feeling myself inadequate. When I first perceived God within, she was feminine, and so terrifying, tearing down my fake manliness. She did not fit my self-concept at all. So I have more contempt for the conventional, conscious self-understanding than someone whose self-concept fits their real self better. But self-concepts rarely entirely fit the whole human. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said: “When you undress without being ashamed and take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample on them, then you will see the son of the Living One, and you will not be afraid.” The self-concept is filthy rags which do not cover our nakedness, a cracked cistern which holds no water, an idol.

Behind the rightness or wrongness of things, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

My sexuality also seems relevant. I have a need to surrender, to open up like a flower to the right, complementary person. It seems to me that a God within a human who is fulfilled by surrender would be different to a God within a human blessed with complementary qualities.

Rhiannon Grant says the term “inner light” is problematic in a society dominated by white privilege, and calls on nontheist “poets and prophets” to create new language to express our perspectives. Here are the words I have used to myself, in attempting to understand that which is within.

The Something

There is “Something inside so strong”, but my conscious mind, with its conventional ideas, cannot know it. And I do not fully trust it. 1 John 4:1 tells us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”, and Quakers test our concerns in meeting. I need the help of my Friends to know my leading is right, though sometimes I will go with my leading though no Friend supports me. It is- Something. I do not always want to bind it by referring to its attributes, which I do not fully understand. A more precise word might mislead me. This fits apophatic theology, approaching a God too great for me to know.

The Vulnerable bit

That was what I called it when I first perceived it. “I”- here, the word means my conscious self. That conscious self thought it was the whole of me, the whole of this physical being or process, and then it perceived something more, something apparently vulnerable, hurting, crushed, which nevertheless had the strength to come to light, like seedlings, apparently so small, soft and weak, “take hold on the loam, acquire the air”. The “seed” is Isaac Penington’s metaphor.

Vulnerable, feminine, despised by my self-concept of manhood. It is a trans experience; but the idea of the “self-concept” differing from the organismic self shows that none of us completely match our Seed, and have crushed it below consciousness. Yet it makes itself heard.

The Real me.

Behind convention and introjected ideas of who I ought to be, there is a Real me. Again, trans ideas influence this: I am really female despite my male appearance. Psychologists find humans malleable, able to fit their circumstances and able to rationalise fitting, so as to be comfortable with it.

I know I can speak from my integrity, which is hard-won. I have written of my recent experience of revealing God within.

Given that we are organic evolved beings, the world is unknowable, unpredictable and weird. So why not personify it? I am toying with the idea of using the word God for the consequences of human actions. We warm the planet. Lytton in British Columbia reaches the hottest temperature recorded in Canada, and the next day is incinerated by God’s wrath. The oceans absorb CO2 from the air, by God’s mercy. We are God’s hands.

Words which speak truth to people will be adopted.

Gender Recognition report

The report of the Women and Equalities Committee on Gender Recognition (GR) Reform strongly condemns the government. They say the refusal of ministers to properly engage with their enquiry is “inexcusable” (Recommendations, para 6). The Government Equalities Office (GEO) delay in responding to the GRR consultation “exacerbated tensions” between trans people on one side, and trans-excluders and anti-trans campaigners on the other, but also “caused real distress” to many trans people (Recommendations, para 4).

However Liz Truss (para 64) has indicated she will ignore the report, saying Continue reading

Akua Reindorf

“Judge who accused Stonewall of misrepresenting the law” is appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, says the Telegraph. The University of Essex asked her to report on their exclusion of anti-trans campaigning academics, and her condemnation was a clarion call. “The policy states the law as Stonewall would prefer it to be, rather than the law as it is. To that extent the policy is misleading”. (Paragraph 243.12 of the Report pdf).

Her recommendation 28 was that if the University continued using Stonewall, it should devise a strategy for countering potential illegalities, including excluding gender critical academics, affecting freedom of expression.

Reindorf is in with the anti-trans campaigners. She said (para 249) excluding one might be indirect sex discrimination against women, as women were more likely to hold gender critical views. Her footnote 140 says this argument is about to be used at an employment tribunal, that of an LGB All Liars founder, Allison Bailey. So, they should not exclude anti-trans campaigners.

Well, all sorts of legal arguments can be tried at an employment tribunal, but that does not mean they have any weight.

The University’s LGBTQ forum, whose letter is quoted in full at appendix 4, objected because an anti-trans campaigner proposed to claim there were “conceptual and political problems with the trans rights perspective” at Essex University. They showed evidence she was hostile to trans inclusion, and that her speech would be harassment of trans people. They claimed “The safety and wellbeing of our trans/nonbinary community, is paramount above that of the need to express bigoted views”. Such bigotry impedes the freedom of speech of trans people, as it silences us.

What did Reindorf find so objectionable? Stonewall had approved the university’s “Supporting Trans and Non Binary Staff policy”, paras 224-5. It aimed to promote “inclusion, well-being, resilience and empowerment”. It said “It is unlawful to discriminate against or treat someone unfairly because of their gender identity or trans status”. Reindorf claimed this was inaccurate, because only “gender reassignment”, not trans status, is protected in law. This is a distinction without a difference. Trans people are protected from the moment we decide to transition. A decision to transition at some point in the future, if ever you felt safe enough to do so- perhaps when you retire in twenty years’ time- would be sufficient to be protected.

Anyone whose trans status was known would almost certainly come under this protection. Discrimination based on perceived gender reassignment is unlawful. Further, it would be harassment to challenge a trans person using single-sex services as to the precise nature of her intention to transition. As the policy said, the University “will not tolerate staff being questioned inappropriately about the facility they chose”.

Reindorf (para 226) attacks this, calling it problematic, and giving an argument that trans women could be excluded from all women’s toilets. She says toilets should be provided on a “single-sex basis”. She uses anti-trans campaigners’ jargon rather than the words of the statutory instrument, which says there should be separate toilets “for men and women”. I was a woman, even before my gender recognition certificate. That is the ordinary use of the English word.

That is, Reindorf states the law as she would like it to be, rather than it actually is.

Reindorf claims the Equality Act contains “specific ‘sex-based exceptions’” to the right of trans women to use women’s services. If I nit-pick as much as she does, I point out that this is not the case. The Equality Act allows a trans woman to be excluded if it is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”, whether her sex is female, because she has a gender recognition certificate, or male, because she has not. “Sex-based” is the jargon of the trans-excluders.

Reindorf’s report is the case for the trans-excluder challenging the University’s decision, and not appropriate for an impartial judge or a member of the board of the EHRC.

As for gender-critical views, an employment tribunal judge decided that they were “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”, and the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that in the specific case of that claimant, they were. The law protects erroneous beliefs, such as young earth creationism. But this does not mean that anyone claiming to be “gender critical” is protected. A court would look at evidence of that person’s specific beliefs. From twitter, it would often be easy to find a belief expressed that trans women were contemptible, which would not necessarily be protected. For example, the slogan “Women’s safety comes before men’s feelings!” indicates a belief that trans women are a threat, and that it is just a matter of our feelings. The settled conviction that leads us to transition, and exposes us to hatred organised and fomented by the Conservative Government, is more than just a “feeling”.

Reindorf’s appointment is an example of institutional capture by the hard right. The EHRC is no longer fit for purpose. It should only include people who are committed to equality and human rights.

Should I visit Edinburgh?

The sadness comes upon me, like a predator.
At its touch I stiffen and writhe.
I must collapse on my bed, weeping, wailing,
possibly screaming.
It will prove its mastery of me.
And then, a change.
The sadness is in me. It is me. It fills me,
chest, belly, fingertips
I know I am big enough to contain it.
That knowledge is relief and delight.
I hold the sadness, dance with it:
I am aware of its fulness,
and, satisfied, it flows through my heart.

Not permitted to show my sadness
I fought it, and it curdled into sorrow,
a weight I could not bear.
And now it flows like water.

But what of my love?
My breasts are full,
and I have no-one to suckle.

Yes I could go there. It would be lovely.
We would walk by the firth.
I love the way you live your life,
your courage and tenacity, meeting the challenges.
I would see him, and her, possibly her, and him,
whom I wish well.
I might call up she
who was cursed to see my full beauty,
and love me for thirty years.
When, too late, I saw it
Her love warmed and perplexed me.
She has got over me at last.
She might not come.
I might meet a wise woman.

We faced the traumas side by side
but walled apart.
We did not have each other then.
On two islands, we wish each other well
but to reach you, I must cross that sea,
the pain of the past,
the terror of death.
It is easier to wave at you and smile, then turn away.

You want to meet me too!
Would we be blown apart, or sink?
or would we hold the terror,
adults together,
at last, enabled to touch?
We would dance with it.
It is us.

If I can feel all the overwhelming sadness and terror,
might I feel joy as well?

I imagine you asking,
How is your life? What have you been doing with yourself?
I have wrestled my dragon
but not yet climbed on its back.
We watch each other warily.
We want to fly together, and feel land bound.
Nothing, I say. I have stayed in my room for ten years.

You have such presence! they told me. You’re just there!
They missed me when I did not come.
One sees “a lovely air of authority”.
My bafflement increases their enthusiasm.
At last, they make me smile uncertainly.
Could they be right?
What might I do, if they were?

Forgiveness

Love, anger, forgiveness and pain dance together.

Our first experience of forgiveness is one child told to say they are sorry, another child told to forgive, by a carer or school-teacher who needs to maintain control and hopes random humiliation will help. It is not a good model. Occasionally I have thought, what I did was wrong, and written an apology. A proper apology should be without excuse or reservation. I particularly hate the non-apology, “I’m sorry you feel that way”.

Other people’s anger works differently, but for me the feeling that I ought to forgive is paralysing. It stops me acknowledging my feelings or moving on. My mother damaged me, and the moment I accepted her complex humanity, saw her difficulties as well as my pain, was thirteen years after she died.

With my mother, the idea of “forgiving” as in being wronged, but being gracious, is irrelevant. She did her best for me, as herself, a human being in her circumstances with her gifts and experiences. I pause to think about that. The worst mother I can imagine, the mother who does not consider her child’s needs at all, only her own- well, it is true even of her. My mother could not see she was harming me.

But I had to reach this realisation myself. I was 44, feeling all the misery I felt aged seven or eight, telling a story of my mother and ending wailing “She didn’t understand!” I had the idea that this was ridiculous, that I should just move on, which meant that I had not processed my own feelings. I had to keep telling the story to others. They reflected my perplexity and stuckness back to me, or they held me in love and compassion, and I moved through my feelings with such help as they were able to give. I chose whom I told that story with as much care as I could.

Writing this, it is self-forgiveness too. This is who I am. That was the best I could do.

The child’s anger, frustration and fear at my mother was not held or accepted, so I had to contain it myself. I was too young to contain my feelings like that, so I turned them inwards on myself and suppressed them out of consciousness. Whenever I did not conform to impossible standards, I raged at myself. I was doing it a little, just now, judging the 44 year old me, wailing, and the 55 year old me, still processing this here. “I should not be like this. This should not trouble me.”

There is no perfect relationship, broken by a wrong, healed by forgiveness, as in the nursery school example. There are messy human relationships where we get along as best we can despite old hurts imperfectly healed. My rage turned inwards coexisted with my love of my mother.

Rage turned inwards paralysed me. My mother feared our family being seen as abnormal. We had to hide it. I thought I could rage at myself, trudge on carrying that burden, or rage at my dead parents, which I thought futile, or rage at the world which would reflect back my rage and hurt me. My rage had nowhere to go.

I know this is the spiritual lesson. My temptation with any spiritual lesson is to imagine that just because I see what I must do, I can do it, that I am changed and freed. Often, I put the lesson into words and understand it better, which feels like a great leap forward, but then afterwards see signs I knew it, really, in my life before, and am the same person.

I must hold my own rage and sadness, and digest it. From that comes compassion for others. From that comes the ability to accept the feelings I have now, relating to what is going on for me now, and respond to the world with my feelings as my guide, rather than a burden to fight. This is a skill. It is difficult, because my feelings are so deep and mercurial that I am often in heaven and hell at once. I develop the skill.

I could call that skill “forgiveness”, as well as acceptance. Rather than raging at the world because it is not as I think it ought to be, I see it with love, and act to make it better. Not nearly as much as I want, with far less energy and effectiveness than I want- so the process of forgiveness and acceptance, of myself and the world, continues.

One hears of prodigies of forgiveness, such as Marian Partington. She has spent her life coming to terms with a great wrong. She will not have a human relationship with the woman she forgives, who might not accept her forgiveness. Rather, she has healed a wound some might never heal. Humans have great capacity for healing.

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“Some people are trans. Get over it,” Stonewall says. Some people can’t. And for me, “getting over” my pain and hurt is terribly important. After writing this on forgiveness, I sat feeling pain, of having that burden to bear, ten years ago. I was unable to get over the pain of my child self, symbolised by that one story. And I thought, this is like living through a stressful situation, and you cannot admit to how stressful it was; but when it is over then you can feel the stress fully. In September 2009, I just felt relief; and now, I was feeling pain.

It is a sign of healing, and I am in pain now.

I was volatile for the zoom discussion group, and when one said in Meeting we notice the stray thoughts, and turn our attention back to the Light I moaned in anguish. I don’t. I plunge into whatever my mind is doing, and sometimes it’s great. I bring shadow fully into consciousness, and integrate it. And I judge myself for it.

This pain:
I want to analyse it, so I can announce to my own satisfaction that I have dealt with it.
I want to feel it fully, so it will pass and I will have dealt with it.
I want to feel it fully, as it is my feeling, with no plan or purpose behind permitting my feeling.
I want not to be moaning in anguish during a zoom discussion group.

I shared on facebook, and someone asked, “Can you sit with it without necessarily having to heal it?” Yes. And, I realised, getting over “it”- “It,” in general, “It”, meaning everything, is very important to me. It is all part of the suppression of feeling.

That comes from my childhood too. Eventually I can’t get over it, all I can do is sit with it. My desperation to get over it makes that harder, and take longer.

Being liberated

This is who I am. This is what I want. No experience “made me like this”. No-one investigates what made someone heterosexual, and gay people strongly object to, mock and ridicule, and have managed to drive to the margins questions of what made them gay. Nevertheless there is widespread certainty on social media of what makes us trans, as if anyone who is not normal must explain themselves and find a cure.

Nothing made me submissive. I just am. But, being submissive, my experiences have profoundly affected me.

I was going to write a post about how my mother controlled me, except I have written it already– with many of the same stories I was thinking of including now. I do not have many stories, or memories. It just was. I noticed it was different from how other people appeared, but did not rebel until years after my mother died. There was love between us.

Part of my self-liberation was meeting this mother in a Citizens Advice Bureau. I told that story repeatedly, of how she controlled her son, and how it drained him of all motivation, and thought, mine was worse.

I had a line I had practiced, to end incapacity benefit interviews. I said to the son how I know it is stressful to lose your benefits, but we will appeal, I will be with you, and we have a good chance of success at the tribunal. And she repeated it to him, as if he needed a translation, draining it of all the respect and reassurance I put into it. “Mr Languish knows how stressed and upset you are, and knows how stressful you will find the appeal…”

I lost my own desires in my mother’s expectations, and so I drifted through life, stressed, miserable, distanced from my emotions. The Monster lurked in my unconscious, motivating me through fear, so that when I worked at something I pushed myself to exhaustion yet never acknowledged how hard I was working. So I broke and remain broken. But I clung to the thought, my mother was worse, though it made no sense, as I had been well-cared for as a child, with no cause to complain– and so started on a journey leading to meeting my inner Light, the Real Me. More and more, I manifest her, and still after doing all that work on myself around being controlled, I am nearly in tears of horror writing about it now.

And now I meet someone, who understands my kind of submissive. “I love how you soften,” she says, and sensations ripple through my body, which feels as if it is not my own. This is who I am. It is better to find out at 55 than not at all. She has shown me my capacity for submission and surrender more clearly than I ever saw it before, and shown it might bring me joy.

It frightens me. I think of the dominant man Andrew Griffiths. Why did his wife, Kate, not leave him earlier? Well, often women don’t. Possibly he broke her spirit. Possibly, she loved him, or could not imagine a life without him.

Nancy loved Bill Sikes, and he killed her. Kate Griffiths escaped, and has a burgeoning career. It seems better to me to be alone than to be made into Andrew Griffiths’ servant, but I would feel differently about particular strong women. It is much harder to be objective when it’s you. A friend told me, as an empathetic person she could be subsumed by a man, and needed a partner who would affirm her in her selfhood, rather than take control. She was warning me. She saw it in me. Uli dropped me, as D suited her purposes better.

This is who I am. It makes me vulnerable. “Though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,” I cannot be other than I am. It is so difficult to be human!