Trump whines

Listen to Trump whining. Donald Trump is a whiny little child. He has a broken child’s way of dealing with unpleasant emotions: when he cannot act on his resentment immediately, he suppresses it, though anyone can see it. One tic he has indicating this is his phrase “That’s okay”. He anticipates people will see his repulsiveness, gets upset, and whines “That’s okay” in order to quiet himself. He will have his revenge later. From Bob Woodward’s book Rage:

For Trump, “Okay” draws a line under things. Would he apologise for attempting to bribe the president of Ukraine with US government money?

“Oh, I don’t know, but I think over a period—I would apologize. Here’s the thing: I’m never wrong. Okay. No, if I’m wrong—if I’m wrong—I believe in apologizing. This was a totally appropriate conversation. It was perfect. And again, if I did something wrong, I would apologize. Okay?”

Okay. Move on. So he moves on, himself:

“Now, I am a big fan of the hydroxychloroquine. It may not work, by the way, and it may work. If it does work, I will get no credit for it, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll blame the hell out of me. Okay? But that’s okay.”

Some studies appear to show that drug is useful in covid, some do not. But as it is a generic drug, Trump makes very little profit from it.

“They’ll blame me,” he whines. He is angry and upset, but quickly holds his resentment in. That’s okay. Move on.

Trump resents Woodward, and makes this plain even as he tries to hide it. “I’ll take my chances. It would be an honor to get a good book from you, but that probably won’t happen, but that’s okay, too. Thanks, Bob.”

He told her that I was doing a book on him. “It’ll probably be atrocious, but that’s okay.”

“All I ask for is fairness,” Trump said. “And, you know, I’m sure I won’t get it, but that’s okay. I’m used to that. But I do ask for fairness because nobody’s done what I’ve done. Nobody.”

There’s the grandiosity, which he resents anyone piercing. At some level, he thinks he has achieved nothing, or he would not lie so much.

“I have opposition like nobody has. And that’s okay. I’ve had that all my life. I’ve always had it. And this has been—my whole life has been like this. In the meantime, right now, I’m looking at the White House. Okay? I’m staring right at the walls of the White House.” It seemed to be his way of reminding me that he was the president.

“You don’t understand me. But that’s okay. You’ll understand me after the election. But you don’t understand me now. I don’t think you get it. And that’s okay.”

Trump’s rage could have free rein at his rallies, and he loved it.

Trump:
Just take a look, take third world countries. Their elections are more honest than what we’ve been going through in this country. It’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace. Even when you look at last night, they’re all running around like chickens with their heads cut off with boxes. Nobody knows what the hell is going on. There’s never been anything like this. We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen. Not going to let it happen.

Crowd:
Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!

Donald Trump:
Thank you….

After the election, anyone who was in touch with reality understood how dangerous Trump is.

Somatic feelings

You know that feeling when you’re about to be sacked, and your neck and upper back get tense. If you haven’t felt it, you’ve read about it. That’s the place where, if you were stabbed in the back, the knife would go in. I’ve felt it for decades. I felt it when the LSC was auditing, especially when they brought out their shiny new blacklist: if you lost your job because your employer lost funding, you couldn’t get a job elsewhere. I’ve felt it when the funding year ended, 31 March, and on 7 April they still hadn’t made a decision on the new funding year. And I feel it now. I’ve always hated that feeling.

And, when counsellors, shamans, personal growth workshop leaders and the like say, where is the feeling in your body? Do you feel a change in your heart, do you feel your heart contract or expand? That has always been meaningless to me. I feel feelings but I don’t feel feelings in a place in the body.

Then I thought, but I do. I feel that.

I still don’t like it. It is a pain, tension, an unpleasant feeling. I wish it would go away.

Perhaps it would go away if I listened to it. I paid it full attention, said to it Yes, I hear you, it would be satisfied and go away.

There have been two moments when it has got stronger recently. I will go to the Hoffman zoom, and thought of my Hoffman name, “Worthless”. It was what I learned I was, in early childhood. I only have value for what I can achieve, and must never claim any difficulty in achieving it. It is never enough. And when I thought, “Worthless”, the tension in my upper back exacerbated.

Ah. I am under threat. That is part of it.

So I still thought it would go away. It tells me of threat. I know of threat. “Well done, good and faithful servant”- now, go away, I have got the message.

Like a toddler, my feelings need attention, and shout louder if they feel they are not getting it.

The feeling is still there.

Wasting time reading old blogs, I read, Yin receives, notices what is, including what is inside me, what I feel. And the tension exacerbates again.

Saying “Go away” to it is saying “I don’t want to think about you right now”. Well, I am under threat. It is unspecific, miasmic. If something bad happens suddenly, I might think, ah, my feelings foretold that, but, well, something bad could happen.

I don’t think I can defend against external threats, just deal with them if they materialise.

If the feeling needs to get stronger when I am in avoidance activity rather than open to the world and to experience, it needs to be strong nearly all the time.

I don’t think it’s enough to think- part of me thinks- these are inadequate ways of expressing it, and I think and do not believe that this is a test, if I feel that tension properly I will feel other feelings “somewhere in my body” too, and be more open to my own experience. It’s not a test, it is a learning.

I still want the feeling to go away. I don’t think it can teach me something. Except when I thought, “Worthless”, it did. That is part of the threat. In worship, I practice affirmations. “I am enough. I am loving. I am gentle.”

Being a good person does not magically make you safe. Bad things happen to good people. The tension might be visible, like a “kick me” sign on my back. And, the feeling communicates to my consciousness something I need in my awareness.

My experience is greater than my consciousness.

“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

Others’ feelings, and my own

It is wonderful to feel the same feeling as a crowd. Actors on stage portray rage or yearning and the theatre resonates. I will always remember Private Lives at Pitlochry, with Elyot and Amanda in delight, lust, resentment, desperation, emotions flickering back and forth like flicking a switch, drawing me along with them, amplified by all the audience. Sports crowds have the same effect, moving you from devastation to excitement in a moment with the fortunes of your team.

Stories let us imagine ourselves in situations. What would I feel? What would I do? If I see on television that stage where it seems a couple can talk for hours, as if they fit together perfectly, their bodies mirror each other, their ideas flow as one, I have some of the joy I have felt in such moments. Or there is a moment of loss, and I feel anguish, or a discovery, and I feel righteous anger, so I find catharsis. Pent up feelings in me are released.

Dorothea’s journey with Casaubon, from love, to confusion, to hurt, to resentment, to having moved on, shows what other people are like, and also what I might be like, how I might be. At one moment I watch her, the next I am her.

There is often a socially acceptable way to feel. It is reinforced in the type of stories we tell ourselves, in political speeches, in ceremonies like that of Remembrance Sunday or applauding the NHS from locked down doorsteps. Growing up when homophobia and racism were part of that Normality, I was damaged, for I was taught to despise myself. What delights me is a minority taste. It is a relief to find my tribe, where I fit: pent-up, unacceptable so unacknowledged feelings may be released.

I have been mulling over this post for days. My starting point was outrage and attention: Trump would do or say something ridiculous, disgusting or vile, and there would be another clickbait article. It’s number one in the Guardian’s “Most Popular” list. I would read it and feel scorn or whatever, my feelings fitting the writer’s perception which was the acceptable liberal-left perception. I would learn little, because I know the kind of things Trump does. In the same way I don’t need to read every opinion article about Brexit. I would be better for news with a two-week briefing, the most important things happening in my world, and the rest of the time to pay my attention to more immediate matters.

Yet there would be the Trump article, most popular, and I would click it. With Trump unable to tweet, freshman Congresswomen try to take his place in the attention economy. The QAnon one has name recognition, and another, in a desperate attempt to be noticed, suggested she would bring her pistol into Congress. If they are reported in the NYT or Guardian I know the attitude taken, and it feels as if it is mine. So I click, and share the feeling.

Slowly I begin to feel the disgust of the awakening addict. Such powerful emotions as contempt, usually destructive but here wholly permissible against the designated target, who arouses adulation in others. I check the sites compulsively. Is there something new? I don’t know how many articles Paul Krugman has written saying high borrowing to spend for the good of the country is a good thing, and how wrong-headed or hypocritical Republicans are about this, but I have read most of them in the past five years. Why am I giving this my time and attention?

Possibly because I have a lot of time and attention. Getting angry with a provocateur in another continent takes me away from myself. I am alone in this box, but my computer connects me to the stories of my community and I share their rage at Robert Jenrick’s posturing about Imperial history, rather than doing anything for my own self-development- exercise, playing the piano. I could read a book, and inform myself, but instead I read samey clickbait.

Or I could spend time in contemplation. Then I would be with myself and my situation rather than in someone else’s contempt at something at the very periphery of what actually affects me. What do I feel, now?

In my personal growth circles, it’s a common idea that feelings can be in a particular part of the body. What your body feels is the gateway to where you actually are. Is it in your gut? Did you feel your heart contract, or expand? Normally this means nothing to me. Before I transitioned I loathed my body, and was cut off from it. Now I love it, and can feel sensations all over it, but that rarely links to emotions.

I heard Susan read her poem, and found myself wriggling in delight. Sometimes I get shivers down my spine. Sometimes something makes me tingle- most recently, rereading The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. And the tension between my shoulder-blades, which I felt when terribly stressed at work, I feel all the time still.

Pause. Consider. What do I feel, now? The hope is to be more alive, to respond more authentically and so more effectively in real-life, current situations, when I find myself carried away.

Some thoughts on Truth

If my beliefs are the opposite of what they once were, have I ever been truthful? Realising how untruthful I am, I worked out my main reasons for lying. The first was, I lie to myself because I want to see myself as a good person. Now, I lie to myself if the truth is too uncomfortable. Many people do: one of the BYM Queries is “What unpalatable truths might you be evading?” At some level, I know the truth that I deny- call it conscience or God- so avoidance involves shutting down perception. Evading the truth takes effort.

If “the truth shall set you free” it is free from ego-imaginings that I am who I imagine I ought to be. That denial of reality is a great deal of effort for no benefit. I don’t fool anyone else; so I expend all that effort to fool myself, in order to make me feel safer. Except it doesn’t really. So I am confused and hurting, wanting to be what I am not, until I accept who I am. I want the world to be other than it is, but you have to accept it before you can change it.

My parents were as queer as I am. The most important thing in my family was to appear normal, which meant hiding away. I had to appear to be a man, and lied to myself, as well as the world. This was intensely damaging. My work now is to recover, and truth is my tool: I seek it out and cling to it, as if drowning.

My inner critic, or inner persecutor, tells me that all my motivations are cowardly and self-serving in the most ridiculous, self-defeating, short termist way. That inner voice does not know or cannot admit the truth. It also tells me that things should be easy, so I am surprised and angry when they take time or effort.

In some circumstances, I would lie, for my own gain, to deceive others. This bothers me more in the sense of “will I get caught” rather than the pangs of my conscience telling me I do wrong.

People whom I value, whose judgment I respect, think I am an appalling person. I think they are wrong. Another friend tells me I am particularly truthful, and I am grateful. Possibly I am: when someone does not think she has a particular good moral characteristic and wants it, she works particularly hard at it.

I am a critical realist: I believe there is a real world, but it is too complex to know. Humans might see some aspect of truth. A community which accepts difference will know the truth better than any individual, but too often to fit in to their community people have to accept the community’s common view.

Psychological research observes that trans people rearrange our life story and our understanding of ourselves to convince ourselves that we are “really” trans. I simply know that transition is what I want more than anything else in the world, and I did it despite the difficulties it causes me, so I must be trans.

I know trans is a wrong way to be, I should not be like this. This is called “internalised transphobia”. It is one of my deepest truths. I also know that is false, which seems like a more intellectual knowing.

“Why did you do that?” is an impossible question. Humans rationalise motives. Many things motivate us, some seeming more reasonable or acceptable than others: to others or to ourselves, so I might not know my motivation. If things pop out of my mouth which I immediately regret, this is because I am more complex than I understand. And, I can come together and speak from my integrity, a truth that I know. It feels like ministry.

A lawyer recognises that there is only evidence, which includes what people say; that “proof” is in the mind of the judge of fact, who does not know absolutely either; that there are opposing, contradictory views; that people see the same event differently; that some people lie for gain, as I just said I would.

Being able to live with not knowing is a great blessing. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.

Blake was right: “Everything that is, is holy”. You see things more clearly if you see them with respect, worship or love. The attention necessary for this is hard work, impossible if you spend your energy lying to yourself.

This iconic painting is out of copyright. How thin the people are!

The heron

I love moonlight on snow. I want to find a reason for that- something in evolutionary psychology, some association- but just do. The skies were forecast to clear just after midnight on Sunday night, and the snow forecast to melt in 3°C weather (it hasn’t yet) so I went out to enjoy it, and perhaps photograph it. A friend feared I might be assaulted, but there was no-one about. It’s magical. The moon is waxing gibbous, 83%, high in the sky, Orion is just below it to the left, and I can see for miles. The lights of the town shine across the valley.

and- that’s it. How much of what I see is phenomenological- my associations, my joy- how much the actual light captured by my eyes, what is the difference between light in eyes and in camera, what is association with the photographic image, I don’t know, but the photo does not capture the experience.

I can take a picture of snow on bushes at night, and, well, that’s it. Or a snowman, you can see what it is, I can’t make the light beautiful.

By day, though, the light is so bright that snow on bushes can be lovely, even in the image. I don’t want to photograph just the landscape, I need birds doing something interesting to make a photo.

There they are.

I waited on the bridge for a while, to see if they would circle round again, but they did not. But, someone tells me these are heron tracks.

That’s not really a good stream for the heron to hunt. The lake has flooded over the path, so this is the way people go.

I did not want to make it fly, as flying uses food up, but, well, this is the path where the people go and will disturb it. I could approach quite close, but when I pointed my camera it knew I was paying it attention, and no creature likes that.

In the light, the sheds are pretty.

Live your best life!

How can I live my best life?

In The Amber Spyglass, the harpies in the land of the dead know all the wrong every shade has done, and use it to torture them. Salmakia agrees with them that they will guide the shades out of Hades to dissolution, but

We have the right to refuse to guide them if they lie, or if they hold anything back, or if they have nothing to tell us. If they live in the world, they should see and touch and hear and love and learn things. We shall make an exception for infants who have not had time to learn anything, but otherwise, if they come down here bringing nothing, we shall not guide them out.

The Harpies make me think of the inner critic or persecutor. Mine makes everything I do seem base, or at least inadequate. Life is difficult: sometimes I make sense to myself if I think of myself as a man, sometimes if I think of myself as a woman, often I do not make sense at all.

I made an observation that makes Quakers laugh, and got over a hundred reactions on facebook. Have you ever seen a man stand to minister, and an expression passes fleetingly over his wife’s face, an “Oh no not again” expression? Most Liked response was, “I have seen that expression on the faces of a whole meeting”. So, there. I have done something good this week, I have made people laugh, or smile in recognition.

After Pendle Hill worship, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, we go into small groups for worship sharing or discussion. In one meeting I had ministered: if you are considering people without your privilege, don’t be considering what you can do for us, necessarily. It keeps you in your privileged position. Consider what we can do for you: how we can use our gifts in the service of the community. That promotes equality. This is counter-intuitive- how can you promote equality by accepting gifts? It honours someone. In the small group after someone said, “The goodness shone out of you”. Well, I was glowing after that. The comment delighted me.

In another Pendle Hill small group we discussed our lives, and I said I had no job, but my work was to resolve my inner conflicts, see past my blind spots and unravel my confusion. For example in the office I had been acting as if I was anxious and confused, and thought, perhaps I am anxious and confused. I had not thought of myself as an anxious person, though clearly I am. It struck me like a revelation. I would like to write about such experiences. And a woman said, oh, she works out her feelings from her behaviour.

I felt a bit irked, and on Wednesday 13th I was not up in time to go to the Pendle Hill worship. I thought, oh, its time to get up and did not. And I did not go. I did not connect this to that remark until after. I had only been aware of feeling hurt in a way I thought proportionate to the remark, ie, not much, but just did not get up.

It would be better to be aware of these things. How I was, was affected by this woman, who did not intend the effect she produced.

If I cannot imagine a harpy being interested in my stories, finding them worth telling, it is my own judgment I face. I go from where I am.

I have the feeling that perfectionism is designed to keep me safe. If I am perfect, if I have a perfect understanding and respond perfectly, then I am safe. But I am in doubt. Perfection is impossible, safety is impossible. It is part of the curse of intelligence, the idea that I can work this all out and be safe.

Following the Spirit

My wise Friend, who has a wonderfully rich intellectual and spiritual life, asked,

How strong or weak is your faith?
Are there times when letting yourself be “led by the Spirit” seems unrealistic, naive, or wrong?
When, if ever, have you been surprised by what faith can do?

Jonah knew he had a call from God, with precise instructions, and he ran away from it. I, being materialist and not conceiving Spirit as separate from myself, don’t see how I could know. Spirit in the human is a useful metaphor, rather than a discrete part. In May 2000 I could not face transition, because it frightened me too much. Only in November did I decide I had to do it. Internalised transphobia makes it hard for me to think of this as a leading of the spirit.

Sometimes, I have a sense of what I must do, and do it. Thinking back, I delight in these moments, when I believe I was acting according to my best nature. Examples:

I was working for an advice agency, helping claimants challenge refusal of welfare benefits. Dr Patel was an “Examining medical practitioner”, doing reports for Disability Living Allowance. The second part of the EMP form was his assessment of the claimant’s condition, but in the first he was supposed to take a statement from the claimant, saying what the claimant said they could do. The less they could do for themselves, the more money they would get. Dr Patel filled in the statement as if the claimant had said they had no particular difficulty with anything that would get them DLA. “I didn’t say that,” said my client.

Then in the tribunal waiting room I heard someone else talking about the same problem. Dr Patel had done their examination, and again had written the statement as if they had said they had no problem. “Sign here,” he had said, and of course they did, because he was a doctor and they could not read his handwriting. I had great difficulty with it, spending ages transcribing his reports. I began to check whether the EMP report was Patel’s and if so what the “claimant statement” was like.

We had strong evidence of what the claimants said they could not do, because they had completed the DLA claim form, but tribunals still did not believe them. Unsurprisingly, the tribunal took the doctor’s word over the benefit claimant’s. Eventually I found seventeen such claimants each with the same complaint. I argued to the tribunal that the “similar fact” rule of evidence applied, and they produced a six page legal argument that it did not. I argued to Patel’s employer that everyone saying the same thing made Patel’s denials incredible, and they argued that I had told my clients what to say. After months of work, with the help of the local MP I got him dismissed from his role as EMP.

As I type this, I am feeling my resentment at my integrity being impugned, my anger at Patel’s arrogance, dishonesty, and contempt for the people he examined, my determination and my pride at finally succeeding. It was above my pay grade. I could just have said to the claimants, well, sorry, the tribunals treat EMP reports as strong evidence, I can’t help you any further. I went in to the office in evenings and weekends to pursue this case.

It was me being me. While not universal human characteristics, anger at injustice and empathy with people one is working with are fairly common. I think it “Good”. In one sense of the word it is “spirited”. I had the energy and devoted myself to the task. The next EMP I thought was lying on the forms, I just gave up, it was too much for me.

Then there is me having breakfast at Woodbrooke. I take a moment to consider what I want. No, I do not want a fry-up, just fruit and cereal. Someone said this is “good” of me. It is “self-indulgent” to eat the fatty foods. I felt it was using my autonomic understanding, physical perception of need, to decide separately from cultural understandings what I should eat. The whole human, acting with integrity, does what the whole human needs to do. Yes it is a trivial example, but it is what I understand being “led by the spirit” to be: the sensory inputs are analysed, and the human being pursues its course, without any internal conflict.

That phrase, “the human being pursuing its course”, might apply to Donald Trump winning the 2016 election.

I am retreated from the world, seeking my healing. I wish I were other than I am, stronger than I am, that I could accomplish more, and I have moments of healing and understanding that warm and bless me. This is where my me-ness is directed now. My inner critic calls it laziness, possibly other humans might agree, and I can only know this is my leading because this is where I am following, now. I may be wrong.

There is the idea of Light within, which can guide a human being, “That of God in every one” which we might follow or suppress, obey or disobey. How could I possibly know? Sometimes instant gratification is wrong, as deferred gratification is a wiser as well as nobler aim. You feel sexual attraction but do not act upon it because you have an obligation to your partner.

Sometimes Quakers make decisions which seem to our rational understanding to be right, and there is no life or energy in them. The Outreach Committee has to do something so it sets up a stall in a place no-one visits. In that job I thought much of the action I could take was hopeless. It was like staring at a solid wall. I would find the cracks in that wall, and devote all my energy to bursting through there.

Insofar as I do not follow leadings of Spirit, it is because I do not see them. Some conventional morality I have picked up, which does not fit the case, makes me imagine a “light” which came from God or was good would not do that. But I would never see that is what I was doing, I would imagine I was doing the right thing, and indeed would be as far as I was able. Loving community may correct that.

(Instant) Gratification

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

I believe this. It is not just hollow consolation. I know, sometimes, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ are full of passionate intensity”. Alastair Campbell gives one view of the Brexit conspiracy against the British people. I liked this discussion of the quote: Mychal Denzel Smith argues we have to do the work to bend it, and we have to define “justice”.

We were discussing the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5. They are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. I disagree with Paul’s contradiction between “the flesh” and “the spirit”. Possibly this comes from my culture. Paul may have been a dualist, believing we are material bodies and immaterial mind/spirit/soul, though he believed in the resurrection of the body. I am not, though I don’t know how much of my certainty comes from my personal experience of being human and how much comes from the cultural understandings I have imbibed. Opposing flesh and spirit leads to asceticism, where you only eat food you don’t like and see the world as ugly, grey and sinful rather than fruitful and beautiful.

I could parrot the words “sarx” and “pneuma”, even find their Greek spelling, but not say Paul “really” meant something I can live with. But the distinction I can live with came from Mary Linda’s group: ego and spirit. The Good in me produces love, joy, peace, etc. The Ego in me produces jealousy, anger, envy etc. And a lot of that seems to come from a desire for instant gratification.

Instant gratification is not all bad. Working in advice centres, I realised that I could, simply by listening sympathetically while people told their woes, make them feel better, and this made me feel really good. It was simply me, acting in accordance with my nature, achieving something I found valuable. But then at the Northern Concord TV/TS club a trans man began talking of his difficulties, and three of us leaned forward, in unison, with our sympathetic listening faces on, and I realised how much I got from such encounters.

Rosa Parks sitting down at the front of the bus can expect nothing like that. She knows she will face vituperation, contempt, and violence. If she resists at all that will be the excuse justifying unlimited violence against her. The Montgomery bus boycott lasted more than a year, and while it was a great step forward arguably the arc of history has not reached justice yet. All that walking, not using buses, was a sacrifice.

It is possible that seeking instant gratification, and planning for the future, inhabit different circuits within my neural structure. I can bring them into dialogue, and there often seems to be some sort of presiding intelligence which sees when instant gratification is possible, and not too costly, and when I should hold back or start laying foundations for gratification later. That needs me to believe in the possibility of gratification later, and people who have little experience of it can’t be expected to work towards it.

Ooh! σάρξ and πνεῦμα. There you go. A little fairly quick gratification for me.

I remember little of Habakkuk, but what I got from it when I read it was that God really does have some vast eternal plan, it just is taking longer than we might have hoped.

Pictures for a bit come from Yan Liben. It’s a new year, and I am looking back to the 7th century: he was a Tang dynasty artist and politician. We read these pictures right to left, rather than left to right.

Ky Schevers

Ky Schevers compares trans men detransitioning into “gender critical” circles to the “ex-gay” movement. Having spent time with them, and transitioned to male again, he says they are harmful both to trans people and detransitioners. He has written some perceptive Medium posts about his experiences. Any human being might recognise the tension between seeking acceptance from others, and being proudly who you are, which for trans people is particularly fraught.

At times I have needed to say different things about myself, and wanted different affirmation from others. Before I committed to transition, I wanted to, yet was too frightened, and I read up on “autogynephilia”, and told myself my desires were unreal. Then I decided I would transition, and joined Transsexual UK, a Yahoo group. There my desire to transition was affirmed, though it was nastily transmedicalist- not just the clear desire for hormones and surgery, but the implication that those who did not want surgery were perverts or transvestites and we should distance ourselves from them. And all the time I have wanted affirmed just for me, for who I am.

Since the March lockdown I have been powerfully affirmed here, Saturdays at 11am GMT. It is a space for everyone, not just trans, where we can show ourselves.

Ky transitioned female to male, then detransitioned, and joined gender critical groups. They would affirm him if he asserted that he was a woman, that being butch was fine but saying that it was in any way “masculine” was wrong, because that was a way some women were and all women were allowed to be if they wanted to. He used his strong gifts for thinking, analysis and writing on a wordpress blog which is now deleted. His crashchaoscats tumblr is now “Hemp Life Mag- CBD reviews, news and guides”, with no obvious indication it has ever been a detransition blog.

As a F-M-F detransitioner, part of his belief system was that he had undertaken a terrible act of self-harm caused by “transgender ideology”, and it was important to him to shield others for similar harm. His “Open letter to Julia Serano” remains, shared by another on facebook, and I copied it to a word document which I retain. He wrote to Julia, a powerful transadvocate,

I see these young women, lesbian and otherwise, finally find other women they can relate to, who also feel out of place in this society, who don’t fit the patriarchal myths and I watch them grow proud of being female, being a woman. It has been beautiful to watch and amazing to be a part of so many women’s healing.

You can choose to listen to us and change how you talk about us or you can keep repeating the same misinformation. In case you do choose to listen, I’ve included some links to other detransitioned women’s blogs and videos. In any case, we will keep speaking our truths because even if you’re not listening, a lot of women are and they need to hear what we have to say.

There it is. Beautifully articulate, powerfully expressed, definite, and he would say now completely wrong. Or at least if right for anyone not right for him. I wrote about him at the time.

There has to be a better way. As he says, people who transition and detransition have a lot in common with people who are transitioning or want to, or who have transitioned. It would be so much better if they could be in community together for mutual support. And yet they are pitched against each other, forced to argue that the other groups are deluded and perhaps that they personally have been in the past.

I want a Gender Variant community, of people who recognise that gender stereotypes do not fit them, and support any way of coping with that- living against the stereotypes, living with a particular presentation such as “butch”, having surgery- because we recognise what we have in common. I don’t know it is possible. Too many people are invested in their own way and want to save others from different, wrong, paths. There is a strong taboo in the wider community against body alteration- some people even condemn tattoos, piercings, or rhinoplasties, leave alone what we have done. He says,

People also need spaces where they can freely explore how their sense of gender may have been shaped by trauma and/or living in a homophobic transphobic patriarchy without being pressured to adopt a particular identity or interpretation of their experiences.

Ky now feels he was exploited by people with their own axes to grind- conservative Evangelicals who claim gender variance is a sin encouraged by feminism, parents of trans people who are disgusted by their children’s desires and encourage each other to oppose them, or conversion therapists who want to make money from them. “Ideologically motivated detransition is conversion therapy,” he says. We want to be accepted in community, because we are social beings, and so we seek out their conditional acceptance. But,

People invested in transphobic ideologies have no interest in helping detransitioned people heal because they want to frame transitioning as being as damaging as possible.

I needed to sort out who I was as opposed to what I had become in order to belong to the community.

Now, he says, it is “surreal” to accept himself as a trans man and lose that community. “I still care about a lot of detransitioned women but I no longer feel like I can be close to them.” How could he, when he sees them as perpetrating the same harms? Could he just be with them, without trying to fix each other? Could we each accept that my path is right for me now, and just because it is different to your path does not mean either is wrong? Could we support each other in such different choices? We need an identity, and feel such confusion when that identity changes- I thought I was a “man”, and now see I am a trans woman. An answer might be to cling less tightly to a rigid conception of that identity, but that troubles straight people and raises our internalised self-phobia.

He feels terribly guilty.

I betrayed the trans community by adopting and promoting transphobic views and creating material that was then picked up and used by other anti-trans groups. I betrayed the detrans community by coming out as trans, leaving the community and talking openly about how detransitioning hurt me. I further betray them by naming the harm done by the detrans community [including Keira Bell.]… The thing I’m really trying to figure out is how do I take responsibility for my past actions and do what I can to fix the damage? … I don’t want to harm others, even unintentionally… Those transphobic ideas harmed me but they also motivated me to speak and act in ways that harmed other trans people as well.

He has been writing. It is his skill. It is powerful stuff, and anyone interested should read him and engage with him, trans people, allies, and those he says are exploiters.

He is vulnerable. Not for the first time,

I am dismantling who I once was and still figuring out who I want to be now.
I’m working to heal from the damage of trying to erase an important part of myself.
I was in pain and I wanted it to stop.

The exploiters should have pity on us, but they too have their needs and identities to protect. I will have pity on him. Ky, you were seeking community and seeking to understand yourself in a blizzard of conflicting interpretations, anger, contempt and fear. You did your best to help others and find community. I will not blame you for anything you did, however mistaken you now feel it was.

These are Ky’s three Medium posts:
Detransition as conversion therapy: a survivor speaks out.
What is ideologically motivated detransition?
Moving between worlds deciding what to do next.

Be kind

A message for the last day of 2020: be kind to the anti-trans campaigners. Be kind to everyone, all year round.

This has been a hard year. Right now in England, with a new variant of Covid apparently 56% more transmissible than the original, the disease is spreading even where non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants are closed, and the schools will be closed for at least a week after the holidays end. We are a long way from herd immunity. The hospitalisation rate is as bad as any time in April, and while the death rate is generally less as there is hard-won expertise in treating Covid, the hospitals are full. The economy is shrinking, people are isolated, hurting, and fearful.

The death rate, 981 in the UK recorded on Wednesday, is likely higher because of delays in reporting over Christmas, but still frightening. In Milton Keynes, 1.5% of the population, over three thousand people, tested positive in a week.

Consider the anti-trans campaigner. She may have been in an abusive relationship. She will know women who have. She suffers unwanted pressure to have sex, and it is likely she has been assaulted, perhaps raped. In feminist spaces she meets other cis women and feels commonality and solidarity. And then, something happens and she feels alienated by trans women.

It is unfair that someone might be offended by one trans woman, and hostile to us all ever after. When someone compares trans women in women’s space to “poop in soup,” she is clearly using us as a symbol of all the causes of all she has suffered at the hands of men. Her anger is disproportionate, and may be hurtful to vulnerable trans women. If you are likely to be hurt by such things, avoid the places they are said, and be sure to drain every drop of nourishment from all the acceptance you receive. There are horrid things on line, but there is so much human love and acceptance.

Reacting in the same way will do little good. It hardly even relieves your feelings. Be kind.

I feel intense sadness that anti-trans campaigners, who are often far from gender stereotypes, should be pitted against trans people. Joining in the anger on line only inflames it, in the world and in myself, and can only add to my hurt. Remember that hard-right individuals and publications seek to pit us against each other to disrupt solidarity, and should be resisted.

I wrote this after my first visit to Ovarit to read their comments about me, pondering a second, when I read Ky Schevers’ thoughtful posts on retransitioning, after detransitioning into the gender critical community. People are confused and hurting. We should not be fighting. If a trans person tweets the Ultimate Putdown to some gender critical tweet, remember the person on the other end could be someone like Ky. Enough people are bullying us, and we should not bully each other. We need to make our “We” bigger.

I had that second look. They really did not like me looking at what they were saying about me. There is so much hurt around.