Ironic detachment

Anti-trans activist and Today Programme presenter Justin Webb interviewed Nancy Kelley today on Today (starts at 1.48.50 in). Kelley did a lot better than she has in the past, she’s obviously been practising.

Webb’s tactic, after his endless confected anger against “biological men”, was to pretend no-one objected to real trans women. No! Perish the thought! They only objected to Men, pretending to be trans women to get into women’s services. This disingenuousness got under my skin, until I was lying down, wailing inarticulately. I surprised myself with the depth of my distress. After, I felt exhausted.

Tina said I appear serene, and the depth of my distress perplexes and frightens people. Graeme McGrath said I use an attitude of ironic detachment as a powerful defence against acknowledging the strength of my feelings. A man I knew had nerve damage, such that he did not know when he needed to go to the toilet. My state feels just as embarrassing: I do not know what I am feeling until I weep like a child abandoned.

I phoned the Samaritans. Talking it over with Dave, I surprised myself again by the strength of my feeling. We were talking about suicide at the time, but even so.

Imagining that was over, I texted M. I don’t know what I was thinking but think I believed I wanted a little playful contact. However when she texted “How are you?” I told her how I had felt wildly upset this morning. “Tell me about this upset, without analyzing or justifying,” she commanded. Well, it’s a good question. I do not need to justify. My reactions are justified.

Ironic detachment is my defence mechanism. Earlier in my journey of spiritual growth and self-understanding, I would have said, ironic detachment is my mask, it is my oppression, I must descend into my softness which is my true self, and liberate myself. Then, I might have thought knowing what I must do was sufficient, and discount the need to make a habit of it.

And now- ironic detachment is my defence mechanism. It stops me acknowledging the depth of my feelings, or even knowing that I am feeling something, but protects me from some pain. And, it can make me appear serene when with other people, at the cost of needing to be alone most of the time.

I don’t want to get rid of it, just not to use it reflexively or constantly. I want it working for me, not against me. I want to know when I am doing that, and be able to go underneath it, to find what I am feeling. This is a lot of work. And, I can find my softness, more and more easily, and there I seem to be more emotionally aware. I want to keep surprising myself with my true self, until it is no longer a surprise.

I may stick in another complaint about Webb, but I don’t need to worry about that now.

4 thoughts on “Ironic detachment

  1. I must admit that I am confused by the apparent amount of hostility towards gender diversity that comes out of the UK, the US and parts of eastern Europe. Is it because in this isolated corner of the world, we hear much less from the more accepting sections of society or do the anti-trans and similar ideologies really represent a sizeable proportion of the population?

    While there was some objection here to recently passed legislation allowing one to self declare their gender identity – not limited to a binary choice, but to a gender of one’s own choosing – it certainly did not generate any where near the hostility that we see from the UK and the US.

    Here we are seeing changes happening in how one states one’s gender on forms – instead of being able to select only one of two genders, we are seeing text boxes where one can enter one’s prefered gender, no matter how one defines it. I’ve yet to have occasion to complete such a form, but I’m already contemplating how I should state my gender. I’m leaning towards “none” but haven’t fully made up my mind yet.


    • Anti-trans is a matter of online radicalisation. Women’s safety and fairness for women are emotive subjects. The sheer nastiness is from attaching that to trans, which does not affect women’s safety or fairness at all. But anti-trans campaigners become completely obsessed, devoting all their online time and campaigning energy to anti-trans hate and tearing their real life social groups apart. But much of the money behind the hate campaigns is from the same sources as the money behind the “freedom convoy” in Wellington.


    • None would be a good choice. Most people do not consider they have a gender. The hostility in the UK is caused by some media attention given to the Gender Recognition Act. In Ireland, for example, self ID was carried through under the auspices of the equal marriage laws, thus causing no protest – this is the preferred way to carry forward such legislation.


      • Welcome, and thank you for commenting.

        Is it true that most people do not consider they have a gender? Many think the word synonymous with sex. Many trans allies consider they have a cis gender identity. But yes, the hostility comes from funding and publicity given to hate campaigns, and online radicalisation.


All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.