I am this person

It is not that I like being humiliated,
but that what I like humiliates me.

I am this person.
I am this person.
I have done what I have done.
I have believed what I believed
and do not now believe.
I believe what I believe.
I do what I do.
I am this person.
I want what I want.
I am who I am.

Humiliation and shame and denial and judgment
Such judgment! Cruel, harsh, unsparing judgment
which judges me for being unable to bear it.

I have done the best I can,
which I resent, which horrifies me
because it seems so little.
It is as it is.

I like myself.
I am kind, soft, gentle, peaceful
and that pleases me.
I have done all I can,
understood as best I could
admitted and accepted as much as I could,
protected myself as well as I could.

I am where I am, and wish I was not.
I am this person,
where this person is,
having everything this person has.

This is a direct answer to TS Eliot, East Coker III:

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

“The darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing” has deeply moved me.

And this “Keep Britain in the European Union” meme:

blame-a-foreigner

I commented, I have indeed totally failed at life. Some people say it is not entirely my fault. However, I voted remain, and am fairly liberal in my ideas about refugees and immigration. It is a gross generalisation to think of Leave voters as non-metropolitan losers- some of us voted remain. Because I have totally failed at life, I really dislike this meme, and possibly it is not the best way to win over Leave voters either.

Someone replied, I did chuckle at the meme but take your point, made with such humility, in the same spirit[…] someone who can take responsibility for her own life’s path is in some sense more successful than most. If anything, I fear that you may be taking the self-blame too far, and hope that you do so in part for rhetorical purposes…

Perhaps I have achieved what I most wanted to achieve.

Detransition III

Detransition is for losers. Detransition is second-rate.

Whether women are more feminine than men, separate from the influence of society and social constructs, I don’t know. Research shows we speak differently to babies depending on whether they wear blue or pink. Friends observe toddler boys swaggering round and sweet toddler girls wanting hugs; and they may just be reacting to adults’ subconscious approval or preference. Whatever, adults show a huge range of behaviour, including decisive women showing leadership and gentle men showing emotional intelligence, at least from the perspective of me, aged 50 in 2017.

It wasn’t my perspective in the 1980s. I remember seeing two wee boys in a bus station, one sturdy Scots, whose mother seemed quite happy with him bullying the other, who went for cuddles with his mother, and feeling a strong preference for the former. That was how boys should be, I thought.

Expressing female gave me the confidence to be myself, but now I want to use the whole range of my voice, not just above the break- and fear that makes me not a liberated person, who can be however she chooses, but a pretty rubbish trans woman who can’t even pass. Others often take you at your own estimation.

Transition is for losers. We don’t fit the social construct, so we go to all that effort. I don’t feel I have the ability or the right to be myself as a man, so I never reach the career my education fitted me for, never marry, and undergo the pain and expense of physical alteration. Be yourself, without the need to alter yourself. Self-confidence is the thing!

However if transition is for losers, detransition after physical alteration is worse. You decide transition was wrong, you were conned, all that effort was a waste- so you make the effort to revert. More effort, doubly a loser. That transition was wrong for you, even a betrayal of all gender non-conforming folk, a blind alley, a torture to conform to stereotypes- does not mean detransition is any improvement.

It’s second rate. It never made you happy. It never fitted you. But you are idiosyncratically you, from your nature and nurture, and no off the peg persona will fit you. Detransition is avoidance activity. Rather than becoming comfortable in your own skin, you enter another long-term change with a distant goal of a body and presentation the way you like; and this may involve painful, self-punishing procedures; and may even involve curtailing parts of you which don’t fit the new presentation.

I am feminine. I don’t fit, I feel ashamed, I try to fit, then it seems I might fit if I transition so I work very hard at that and still feel I don’t fit. All that effort is chasing shadows, chasing my tail.

What did I expect? There was another road you did not see. If I only do this, I will be happy, successful, congruent, integrated, life will be less of an effort. If I am not, well, there must be something I can do to reach that happy state. Happiness is somewhere to be had.

Don’t detransition. There is no point. Callahan gives all her energy to being gender non-conforming.

Or, we shall not cease from exploration, and each step takes us closer to congruence and understanding.

Just be you.

Other people are judging!
-No, they’re really not. Not nearly as harshly as I am, anyway.

That illusion. If only I do what I don’t see yet everything will be alright. It is possible, and therefore not doing it is proof of my inadequacy. The illusion is not true. Transition is second rate, but was the best I could do. This, right now, really is the best I could have achieved.

breslau-sitting-woman

Parakaleo

The Parakaleo ministry in the UK is a sad transvestite called Keith Tiller, who goes round telling people transvestism is wrong, a trans woman’s wife told me around when I transitioned. Parakaleo is Biblical Greek, meaning counsel, including to comfort, console, encourage, urge, appeal, exhort. In the US, Parakaleo is training for Christian counsellors at Stanford University, using the Bible as the main authority but the “Holy Spirit, not self-effort,” to move the person to speak.

I find the Stanford idea of telling people what is God’s will for them highly dangerous, but it pales beside the British fool’s crusade against trans folk. The crusade is ruthless and hateful: the first article I found on the blog is lifted from “Transgender Trend”, which is concerned about legislation which places transgender rights above the right to safety for girls and young women in public bathrooms and changing rooms. Anyone who alleges we should not use the loo because they claim we are a threat to girls has no sense of proportion, and their attacks are unreliable; and their foolishness led to large job-losses in North Carolina, as businesses deserted the bigot-led state.

Tiller claims his cross-dressing led to the end of two marriages and alienation from his two adult children. He bases his understanding on himself.

The crusade is not particularly powerful. It claims to be A Christian ministry seeking to uphold Biblical values to the transvestite, transsexual and transgendered person. Almost no-one uses that threefold TV TS TG division now, it is a failed attempt to fit a complex phenomenon into neat, simple categories. Keith begins with a lie:  The aim of Parakaleo Ministry is to … introduce people to the message of the Gospel and the healing love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Introduce? No, he mostly works with distressed people who have previously been Evangelical Christians. Message of the Gospel?

-Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
-Well, whatever you do, never cross-dress.

He quotes Deuteronomy 22:5, and says It is clear from the passage that His intent that male and female are intended to be complimentary (sic). Whereas, consider the world God created, and see that masculinity and femininity overlap and intermingle. He wants things to be nice and simple, and his own desires distress him. Poor silly man.

We believe that males and females are created distinctly by God, intended to be complimentary, and united only in biblically ordered marriage. “We” is one man.

He then claims cross-dressing is addictive. Active participation, whether alone or in company, will result in an increased desire to pursue the activity. Actually, attempts to suppress it makes the person more obsessive, like Keith.

Finances remain tight – to the point of despair, which affects most of the areas of my life. Thank God. The despairing man will not turn many from Christ, despite enthusiastic support by wicked “pastors” like the one who referred my friend, and also threatened to reveal to the congregation the secret she had told him in confidence. His despair might indicate to someone less stupid and closed-minded than he that he is wrong about his gender, and wrong about God.

Keith is a silly man who has a silly website, on which he shares the most prejudiced and doctrinaire anti-trans articles he can find. Even when he was meeting people, he had little success: my friend thought it was God’s will she should not transition, until she met Keith and saw how ridiculous he was. She transitioned shortly after.

Keith’s worthless fantasies.

Freezing

I am a “woman trapped in a man’s body”. Except I am not. Brian Cox refutes concepts of ghosts, souls, minds separate from the brain with CERN, the particle accelerator. CERN shows how baryonic matter- electrons, neutrons, protons- interact. It excludes any spiritual stuff exerting an influence on those protons. If they did, CERN would have observed it.

Do I have a “woman’s brain”? It is unclear, and strongly disputed. Last century, neurologists observed how people with impairments had particular damage to the brain, and deduced that the damaged part had the function impaired; but now we learn of brain plasticity, where experience alters the brain itself. It is hard to distinguish the effects of nature and nurture. Women give birth, and are generally though not universally smaller and weaker than men. I cannot name a single characteristic of women but not of men which I share with women, otherwise than by medical or surgical intervention. Some cis men are more “feminine” than some women.

I would rather think of it as a matter of desire. I desire to express myself in this way. I only know my true nature from how I behave, though I might have potentialities which I have not developed because of circumstances. Given my circumstances, I choose to behave in this way.

We know it is an ancient and wide-spread behaviour. Deuteronomy 22:5 forbids it. People do it spontaneously, and culture forms around it: in Norse mythology it is simply a disguise, to achieve a manly end by deception, not self-expression as an end in itself. It was more important to me than anything else in the world. And before that, resisting the desire felt like a matter of life and death to me.

I remain at war with myself. It seems to me I have a kernel- or colonel, giving orders, which will not be denied- with particular feelings and responses, and overlaid on that responses to the underlying feelings. Desire, and terror or revulsion, which led me in the 1990s to buy clothes then throw them out a score of times, and now-

Now, I freeze and go into avoidance behaviour. Deep Space Nine on TV, again, and as I have forgotten it and did not watch much of the later seasons, and have a lot of time, I watch it. In Profit and Lace, Grand Negus Zek decrees that females can leave their houses and seek profit like males, and Quark has surgery to appear female in order to- achieve something plot-based, but mostly produce laughter and embarrassment as well as a few gender-political points. I found it embarrassing. There is Nog, running, desperately trying to whatever, and I reached for the NYT to take my mind off it. Then I paused it, and considered- I can watch it, stop it, or pay it a little attention while I glance at opinion articles. I do not want to watch it as it embarrasses me. I do not want to stop it, because I do not want to (appear to myself to be) running from it. That would be- cowardly, or something. I picked up the computer, saw this was avoidance activity, take my mind off the original issue, and could not decide to put it down or read it.

I froze. I knew reading the plot summary that it would be embarrassing. Now, I was consciously confronting a choice which I made unconsciously so often- watch, switch off, avoidance behaviour reading while it is on, and all options revolted me so I froze between them unable to do any. Well, either watch or switch off, but do not read while it is on, that is the freezing itself, not paying attention, waiting for the problem to go away. Then, do not switch off- I will confront my embarrassment, because I need to be able to confront. I took an age to decide, hating myself that this which should be nothing would be a problem for me, then watched. It takes courage to see entertainers make jokes about the thing most important to me. I will not run from it, even though no-one sees me running. Courage- or ridiculousness, worrying about nothing, freezing rather than acting. I frame or express this in moral terms, which may increase my confusion- I want to turn it off, but I want to imagine that I am brave, and might imagine that it was cowardly to turn it off.

In that context, the theory gives me permission. I am a woman. I want to behave in such a way, present in such a way, because I am a woman, and because I am a woman I am allowed to behave like that. Then the theory is attacked. Of Course I am not a woman, say the radical feminists, the conservative evangelicals, and even the psychiatrists who call a trans woman attracted to men “homosexual”. And I am bereft, pulled between desire and revulsion, without a compass to guide my actions.

It seems to me that the revulsion will only prevent me from doing things, or will make me conform to behaviour which seems to me to be acceptable to others in a joyless, dead way, the only motivation bare survival. And the desire, to behave like a trans woman, at least gives me a positive motivation. Yet a man who had given up heroin told me that the world merely seemed grey and joyless without it. When I was buying clothes and throwing them away, it seemed like addiction. Nothing makes sense to me. Yet I will seek out that kernel, to use it as my guide, and seek to pass through the fear and revulsion.

breslau-self-portrait

Detransition II

Trans is all about appearance, and how that affects relationships. I am intensely aware of being seen as male/female, normal/weird, high/low status. It seems to me that my Real Self fits ideas of femininity- mine, and the wider culture’s- so much better than masculinity that presenting as visibly trans I appear less weird, and can relate to people as my real self better; and I am far more comfortable expressing female.

The heart of privilege is being valued or discounted because of appearance clues. Privilege arises from appearance. Carey Callahan, a F-M-F detransitioner, has the privilege that she passes as a cis woman at least on video, and it is not immediately apparent that she is physically affected by transition. Her voice sounds like a woman’s husky voice, rather than a voice broken by testosterone.

This is all leading up to something.

Rape threats and death threats are depraved. I cast around for the right word, rejecting “disgusting” because it did not seem to condemn strongly enough; “depraved”, lacking some essential part of humanity and civilisation, applies. Someone who tweets penis pictures to strangers is depraved.

Carey shared a Storify. It is not safe for work, containing those penis pictures. We need to know the details of such threats, because we need an immediate personal apprehension of their gravity and wrongfulness, but if you already have that you don’t need to look. It is by gnc-centric, who calls a trans woman a male and retweets “cisgender/transgender” is a false dichotomy that assumes some essential woman-nature/man-nature. There’s only human-nature. Yet another reason I hate twitter- it can be used for bald statements to encourage one side of a conflict, but people persist in using it to argue, though no nuance is possible. I could refute her tweet with a thousand word blog post- perhaps I will- but on twitter there can be little more than bald disagreement. Gnc-centric could just brush that off. So depraved people, wanting to make their disagreement matter, resort to rape threats; and other depraved people, trolling for lulz, make the threats to intimidate and disgust their targets, and fantasise about the reaction they provoke. Gnc-centric tweets back asking how would Emily feel on the receiving end, and expressing contempt and derision for the threats, but may still be affected by them. I understand some women lose self-confidence, and engage on-line less.

What to do about the rape threats? I think Twitter should employ humans to deal with complaints timeously, suspend accounts which utter them, and take action to identify human beings, not just IP addresses or twitter accounts, producing them. Whatever, effective action is needed, and it is down to the company not the Twitter community.

Here’s Carey’s video about the storify. I paraphrase, with direct quotes in italics: I’m done with being scared of being labelled a TERF… my politics does not exclude trans people. I am invested in the wellbeing of everyone who experiences gender dysphoria male or female trans identified or not. Mainstream feminist sites are angry about rape threats in other situations but certain opinions like the necessity for female space but other opinions too which get labelled TERF everyone kind of agrees that whatever attacks you get and whatever violence you get you deserved and I just don’t buy it I don’t think there is a person who deserves a rape threat…I’m done with taking seriously the feminism of people who use that word. If you use that word you are enabling and collaborating with those kinds of threats and harrassment, and you should stop. If you send a picture of your penis to a stranger you are having a mental health crisis and your community should deal with you. That word needs to die.

Ok. I am a trans woman. I think all rape threats are depraved, and nothing can justify them. And that charge against mainstream feminist sites is so grave that it needs strong evidence. Mere failure to mention TERFs in discussion of rape threats is not enough.

I had a look at the twitter feed of Emily Eldritch, who sent the penis pictures. Now it is EmyAmythyst, whose tweets are only accessible to confirmed followers, but who has pictures of Pepe the Frog- imagine my best out of touch high court judge voice when I say “A symbol of the alt-right, I understand”- in drag and in a Donald Trump wig, and a butter-wouldn’t melt femme face with a large gun.

Nothing that person says can be taken seriously. S/he will do anything to shock, and to destabilise her opponents. We on the Left want human connection and understanding. S/he wants to watch our world burn. It might not be a trans woman, but a troll who thought a trans woman persona would be useful to attack particular targets, and possibly to poison relations between trans women and potential allies. Judge her on her acts, as an individual. She is not valid evidence of what trans women in general are like.

S/he does not speak for anyone but herself. To use her to make generalisations about trans women, to say that the trans community should deal with her, or to make decisions about anything to do with trans because of her is- unfair, I suppose. That is not me, not anything like me. Don’t make it my job to deal with her- I tweeted her a rebuke, but doubted it would have a useful effect- or judge me because she continues her offensive way. It is possible for us to talk, to create understanding, but she is merely a distraction. Please don’t turn away from me because she exists.

Human beings try to make their way in the world. We forge careers, make relationships. Transition takes a huge amount of effort and energy. It was the most important thing in the world for me, and everything else got put on hold; and now I am in survival mode, with the project of valuing myself, turning my self-loathing into appreciation, without which it seems I can achieve nothing at all.

If you detransition, it might seem that all that effort was wasted, transition was a massive oppressive con against gender non-conforming people. At first you might want to find some meaning or purpose in your transition, but that might fade with time. I imagine you might move from some sympathy for trans-identified people- we are all in the same toxic trap- to rejection, as you put it behind you and got on with your life. That rejection, though, might carry all the resentment you feel for the hurt you have suffered, and we don’t deserve that.

breslau-painting-girl

Trump lies

Mr Trump cannot be dignified, even when he attempts to imitate a dignified man.

CNN’s report from the time gives the detail. The NYT says that in 2001 Serge Kovaleski reported that the authorities had questioned “a number of people” who were allegedly seen celebrating the attack on the World Trade Centre. He did not report the thousands of Muslims Trump claimed to have seen because that was not true. He did not change his story as Trump alleged, because he never supported Trump’s fantasy.

What is a lie? David Leonhardt points out that some would say “Capitalism has worked better than any other economic system” is a subjective statement. He says it is factual. There is a moment where facts, whose denial is a lie, move into a grey area where there is honest disagreement. There are assertions which are the most accurate we can make, which are nevertheless inaccurate- Newton’s theory of gravity is wrong, but the best possible at the time.

There is also dishonest disagreement. Leonhardt’s second factual statement, Human actions are warming and damaging the planet, is disputed and minimised. It’s just weather, the climate has always changed. The disagreement comes to advance the interests of fossil fuel investors, who make money from releasing CO2.

Here is what Meryl Streep said:

An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

Trump tweeted,

Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him…….

“groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

Kellyanne Conway said, He has debunked this so many times. Why is everything taken at face value? You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart? You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.

Well, what is in his heart? Unquenchable malice towards anyone who questions him, or even inadvertently gets in his way, especially women. Playground insults, no sense of proportion, no dignity, just the arrogance of Idi Amin.

Unfortunately, politics in the US has been pushing the grey area of opinion further and further. No, there are dozens, not millions, of fraudulent votes, but Republicans proceed with voter suppression schemes, requiring photo ID which poor voters may not have. Trump extended their denial of climate change to denial of the ozone hole.

Trump, unsatisfied by big lies, wants lots of little lies. He showed Mr Kovaleski grovelling, he claims, and if his supporters accept his denial of climate change they will swallow that. Some of his lies depend on knowledge of detail: the intelligence services did not decide whether the Russians influenced the election, because that is not their job, but he tweeted, Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched! Before, he had denied the Russians were involved. Enough of the populace will swallow this, happy that their man is winning.

Our shared understanding of the truth is chipped away, and everything is disputed on the battle-ground that is politics. It makes working “across the aisle” near impossible. On The Hill, a commenter said, Babs,baby, haven’t you learned yet that if you hit The Donald he is gonna hit you back twice as hard. Go eat some rare caviar from endangered fish in your carbon spewing mega-mansion, fly around on your private jet while lecturing the rest of us how we are destroying the environment and leave the rest of us alone. Barbra Streisand is on the other side, and that is enough. The anger is so great at the other side that they repeat their own side’s lies as truth, and express self-righteous rage and demeaning insults: another commenter says, Old hags mocking fellow Americans and their country which made them millionaires.

The Hill affects a lordly position above the fray: Trump on Monday added that he had never directly insulted reporter Serge Kovaleski’s congenital joint condition, though he inspired outrage last year by making jerky body motions while criticizing Kovaleski, leading some to conclude he was targeting the reporter’s physical challenges. “Some to conclude”! Oh! But Trump was not “criticising” Mr Kovaleski. That is an obvious false characterisation.

In the interests of balance, here is a video saying Trump never mocked Mr Kovaleski. It has a news report at 2.50 saying an investigator said an apartment full of “suspects” celebrated the 9/11 attack. Not thousands, though, and only allegedly celebrating. “I watched in Jersey City, NJ, when thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” No you didn’t, liar.

Detransition

Crash is concerned people are calling her “transphobic” and not listening to the nuance of what she is saying, but unapologetic, saying that she of course will act to advance our own well-being. If that means telling stories and truths other people find uncomfortable, so be it. She spent four years on T, presenting male, and has reverted. Yet she wants transitioned and detransitioned people to be allies, and is not helped by people using her story as a weapon against transition. So, how could we be allies?

I don’t know of any detransitioned woman who doesn’t believe that adults can decide what to do with their lives and their bodies, including to transition if they decide that’s what’s best for them. No, that would be a detransitioned man, Charles Kane, filled with resentment for what he did to himself. That might be something about female socialisation, growing up to make the best of it and see others’ point of view. However she wants to speak out for detransitioned and dysphoric women… because no one else is looking out for us.

She bears the scars of transition- chest masculinisation, T use- and has a deep voice and facial hair. She is forging a new path: transition is well-travelled, with many books and support groups on what it means, but on detransition she found only a few blogs.

First, I found her blog post about the backlash from the article about detransition in a new online magazine The Outlook, then went to the article itself. I would like us to be allies. Anyone who transitions has had difficulty living with themselves in a gendered society, even if they detransition. We have a lot in common. Why is she called transphobic? This quote from The Outlook may give a clue: The bloggers write about how they’ve come to understand their own transitions as a response to trauma, or an expression of self-hatred stemming from living in a patriarchal world, or a capitulation to social pressure. I might see their detransition in the same way- the only word I might change is “patriarchal” to “transphobic”, and even that is not absolutely necessary.

I have thought about detransition a lot, and always called it “Reverting”. That’s a different way of framing it, as a failure. This is how we are opponents in a zero-sum game: if detransitioners are people who should never have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the first place, but treated otherwise than by transition- people who have been wronged by the system- then it should be much more difficult to get hormones or surgery.

I should be accepted as a woman because I really am a woman. This is the basis for our argument that we should enter women-only spaces, be treated as women, be recognised in law as women. Psychiatrists who specialise in us have the expertise to diagnose gender dysphoria, for which the treatment is medical, surgical and social transition.

But it’s a zero-sum game. Crash could not have been prevented from transition without it being made more difficult for the rest of us. The Outline cited studies that regret is 2.2% or less- making transition more difficult stymies forty people for the sake of one. Arbitrated by fairness or Utilitarianism, my side should win the zero-sum game. And, possibly, many who reverted might not have taken no for an answer when they transitioned.

I really am a woman. Or, the only treatment for gender identity disorder is transition. Crash says she suffered from internalised misogyny, trauma and dissociation. I learned The Script, what I was told I should say to ensure I got the right diagnosis. The Script was not true for me, I told the truth, and got the diagnosis and treatment anyway. If Crash could have been protected from transition, a real trans man might have been wrongfully refused it- and given that hormones and surgery are so invasive, psychiatrists might err on the side of caution. But when we transition, we really really want that treatment.

I do not trust the psychiatrists. I don’t think there are clear discrete groups, one of which suffer from gender dysphoria who should transition, and another whose symptoms mimic those of the first but who suffer from some different diagnosable condition, dissociative disorder or something else. My psychiatrist told me I was “not psychotic” but I don’t know he was right about that.

I don’t think I am dissociative. I hated my body before transition. Now, I love it. What would I know? On what basis is Crash diagnosed as dissociative- is it just because she has decided to revert?

I wish diagnosis could be certain, but it is more messy than that. I want Crash as an ally, because we have a great deal in common. We are both people who did not easily fit the stereotypes attached to our birth gender, the social construct of “man” in my case, “woman” in hers. We try to make our way as best we can. We live in gendered societies, with expectations about what a man or a woman ought to be like, even if those expectations are broader and more inclusive than I, desperate because I saw myself as less than a real man, imagined them to be.

There are those who would argue that Trans is a great lie, that the removal of breasts penises and gonads is a vile mutilation, and we should accept our bodies. Some of them are religious nutters with rigid ideas of what “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” is, and some are radical feminists who think gender roles are a misogynist social construct imposed by patriarchy. Yet we desperately want social and/or physical transition.

When I transitioned, I thought it was quite possible that I would revert within five years, but transition was the only way I could find that out. I wanted it so much. I had to try it. I have not reverted yet. This might escape the zero-sum game: that detransition is right for a person does not mean that transition was necessarily wrong. Or, alternatively- I am not a woman, or even a person who particularly well fits the social construct of “woman” in my society; only someone who has chosen to identify as Clare, and I have a right to identify like that, or as Stephen, or Hillary. That detransition is right for someone does not mean it is right for everyone, or that anyone should be stopped from transitioning because they might revert later. It is not clear cut, but confusing, and people make mistakes.

Whatever, I want to extend a hand of friendship to Crash. We are both people who have been uncomfortable with gender roles, and have done what we thought best in response to that. Let us honour our choices and mourn our mistakes together. I doubt I could have been saved from myself. None of these choices are easy: that we have all faced them is a bond. (That’s just me- I like to see things in terms of common interest and common experience.) Crash linked to this video: “We’re not recruiting, okay?” says the detransitioned woman. “This is about people’s well-being”. I want their well-being, as well as my own.

Continued here: Detransition II, on Callahan, a detransitioned woman whom people call a trans excluder.

The Outline.
Crash’s blog. Crash’s video.

breslau-the-artist-and-her-model

A World of Women

I want a simpler world, where I might be given a task, see that it was worthwhile and that I could carry it out, and carry it out successfully achieving the desired goal, so that I would not feel so completely and entirely worthless.

Ah. “Worthless”, except for what I can achieve. This thought brings me to tears. It is an old understanding of myself- proof that merely understanding how my psyche works is not enough to heal it. A simpler world, for it is not possible in this one.

It is my feeling that this sense comes from maternal rejection in my first weeks of life, but I have no desire to debate that with anyone. I am satisfied enough of it. The inner critic does not like the idea, but it is rarely entirely right.

The NYT says one should not try not to think negative thoughts. Attempting to control them makes them more insistent. Instead, first notice that you are thinking negatively, and then challenge the thought, arguing with it. “I am worthless”- think of examples disproving this. I have achieved things. I have worthwhile qualities- I am intelligent, and kind. If a friend was so negative about herself, I would reassure her, and so should imagine the arguments I would use to another. That article recommends CBT, where it seems I am a conscious Grand Vizier with a particularly irrational, psychotic and power-crazed caliph, whom I must persuade and nudge into sane action.

I will not. Rather, I will Love myself around. The only thing I have to do, while my benefits continue, is ensure I don’t run out of food- or even, buy more before I starve. No matter of routine is essential. Managing myself into doing what external authorities or the culture or my rational self believes I ought to do will not affect that feeling of worthlessness; instead it will reinforce it.

Tina explains self-worth is not the same as self-esteem. Self-worth is unconditional acceptance: I have this weakness, and that is OK. I am not a real man. I am not capable of work. I am unreliable on Quaker obligations. All this is OK. I am testing my own self-acceptance, and will not advance those Quaker desires, unless I want to. I, the beautiful, loveable core of me, which is not worthless, not the psychotic caliph.

I recall much of childhood as not feeling good enough, being frightened and confused and feeling excluded. How did I feel when my father died? Relief. A running sore was over. There was the thing about not being able to talk to him, and him giving away all his capital, down to the last thousand pounds, to investment scammers- had he lived, they would have come back every few months and harvested any pension he had accumulated-

and that moment in the hospital, when he awoke, delighted to be helpless, managed cared for and controlled by women, the nurses. “I awoke in a world of women”, he said to me, in a delighted conspiratorial way. That is my own feeling. I understood completely. I confessed this to Tina and in that moment wanted

not to exist

I wanted a completely different person with completely different characteristics occupying my space

I felt revulsion and-

delight???

confessing this. It could just be that my kernel, seen as the caliph but in reality myself is the part that is delighted.

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Defer!

I am not going to get off the path. It is a stone path across a patch of grass, and there is a bend in it. I will move to the edge of the path, and beyond that the person coming towards me can get out of my way. This has led a man to physically threaten me- he read me as male, and was rebuked by a passer-by who read me as female. I left them expostulating at each other.

The barber at Tarbert was indignant with American service personnel at Dunoon. They expect you to get off the pavement for them. He would not walk in the gutter for anyone. This might just have been one incident, even one incident which he had heard of rather than experienced, and here am I telling you forty years later, one small piece of evidence of American arrogance and why we should not tolerate their bases here.

It seems we sometimes move equally, and sometimes one person defers to the other; and we judge each other to see which should defer, as strangers, in an instant. At St Pancras station a tall, beautiful, and beautifully dressed woman said “What is Wrong with you!?” when I did not move aside for her. I was irked about something else, and suddenly could not be bothered stepping aside- had she not, I would have walked into her. I dislike her rudeness, and love her self-confidence.

Once, I moved towards a wall to pass a man, he went towards the same wall. It was a bend in the corridor, the person closer to the wall would walk less far, so arguably the person further from the wall would be deferring. We stopped about a foot apart, blocking each others’ way, and though either could have stepped aside neither wanted to. We said nothing. I was perplexed, perhaps he was amused. I had been working on a poem, and got out my notebook to consider possible wording, but he looked at what I was writing so I put it away. Eventually I stepped about a foot aside and pushed past, pressing him against the wall with my shoulder.

Are you judging me for this? Oh! What a horrible person! I am uncomfortable about the memory, I would like to imagine I was not quite that petty.

Instant judgement. How can I show I am the higher status animal, and they should get out of my way? Clothes are a big part of this, and I am in an old cheap nylon jacket, comfortable for cycling but not presentable. I may be more educated than they are, and have a greater general knowledge- this is important- but you can’t really show it in the second you have, under judgment.

I could glare at them, like the world number one starer and six times world champion S. Spasky- particularly dramatic moment at 1.47 in this video

Or I could catch their eyes and smile. That might work.

The meaning of life

with TS Eliot.

Everyone should do a meaning of life post occasionally. I refer to Portrait of a Lady, in which despite the first person pronouns, the young man reading the comics and the sporting page may not be Eliot himself. Yet it speaks to me most insofar as I am that young man, or the older lady.

I shall sit here, serving tea to friends

I have many memories of things going well, but one in particular, finding and making the perfect legal argument to win a difficult motion, and ten thousand pounds. My feelings, drives, intellect came together to achieve what I wanted, and it felt good. It still does, in retrospect, and I am aware of people whose working lives contain many such days- as well as a great deal of work to reach the standard where it is less of a fluke for them.

I don’t know. What do you think? Working in a challenging, rewarding job, where pleasure in success generally outweighs the frustrations- possibly, it is not the external circumstances which matter to anyone, but their own ability to take pleasure exceeding their frustration. It’s not what happens, but how you see it. Any expectation that that brilliant day would be often recurring for me was doomed to failure, but its memory is pleasurable and there are pleasures now.

The lady imagines life without her friends. “Nightmare!” Actually, it being Eliot and this particular lady, she says “What cauchemar!” I did not have the internet when I first read that. I get a feeling of making the best of it. She is so glad to have found such a sensitive young man, she says, and he realises, or imagines, or worries that it is not so, they do not have the intimately empathic understanding she imagines. Though why should his judgment be better than hers? She sees potential in him he denies. He is less than she imagines, he thinks, lolling in the park, reading the funny papers.

Velleities and regrets…

Her life is odds and ends, and what is his? She may talk of Michelangelo, but not write a thesis or give lectures; perhaps her observation of the Sistine chapel gives new insight to another of the young men she invites to entertain her. As my observation of the Baptistery in Florence pleased the Bishop of Beverley once.

Stacking the shelves of the supermarket may give a well-deserved sense of achievement, and so might tapping out a blog post, or getting a few Likes. And the world is full of contingent delights- dare eat the peach, and its juice may overwhelm you, or it may have gone soft without properly ripening, and that must be good enough. It is good to be her, able to appreciate Chopin, and he, wondering in horror Is that all there is???? might only realise that his own mediocrity is good enough, too, long after. This young man reads in the park, perhaps killing time until dinner at the Drones’, rather than working in the bank, or the publishing house. I read that happiness for the young is excitement, for the old, contentment, and that makes sense.

It is better to be alive than not. Any meaning one must find in what is, rather than what might be or what one ought to want. We are only living, and never “partly living”, and no Archbishop can save us.

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