Countering hate

How can I be understood, when my experience is so different from most people’s, and when some try to make me the out-group, the hated Other?

Miriam Cates’ speech in Parliament on Wednesday 18th distilled her transphobia: she wants everyone to “condemn more, and understand less,” as John Major said of criminals. She started with sex criminals, who will exploit any loophole to get access to children. She turned to a trans person, defined as “someone who is uncomfortable with their sex”. Then she spoke of women stopping going to a counselling class because there were men- trans women- there, and they were entitled to “the dignity of a woman-only space”. She spoke of herself feeling threatened by a trans woman. She said law “should be based on fact, and someone cannot change their sex”. As Lloyd Russell-Moyle said, that is disgusting, shameful, horrible, the worst transphobia, and pursuing a war on trans people.

Cates calls us people “uncomfortable with their sex”, an unsympathetic outsider’s view. Then she imagines dreadful consequences from allowing us to be who we are.

Cates sees us as an out-group, at best delusional, at worst sexual predators. You cannot change your sex. Nick Fletcher’s stupid incomprehension reinforces this view. Knowing nothing, he spoke of “wisdom”. He thinks removing restrictions is unwise, that trans children are just going through a phase, and their parents should tell them they were born in the right body.

Someone might not understand why trans people would want to do that, look like that. Cates and Fletcher tell that voter we are not just weird, but dangerous, someone to punch down at and relieve their everyday frustrations. After a hard day at work, they could come home and get likes and upvotes for sharing endless variations on Trans Is Bad.

People differ, in the way they understand the world, think, or feel, and in what they desire, but unconsciously, you expect people to be just like you. It is hard to see other people.

Many people understand the value of diversity. It makes life more interesting, and our way of coming together to solve problems more effective.

A woman who moved from the US to England said that there were ways people indicated they were using irony, but they were different in each country. Possibly they differ between regions, and are a reason English Northerners and Southerners find each other so weird. You learn the signals in childhood, and noticing becomes unconscious. Bringing it into consciousness and seeing the different signals is difficult.

I start with a type of diversity everyone knows exists, few people now think of as harmful: lefthandedness. I want to persuade not only the person who values diversity, but those who find difference incomprehensible, or even threatening.

I am lefthanded. It seems a bit weird to me that people use their right hand so much, so I can see that for a righthanded person it might seem weird the other way. Lefthandedness was seen as bad, gauche rather than adroit, even sinister rather than dextrous, “cack-handed”, meaning clumsy, because people wiped their bottoms with their left hand and ate with their right. Children were forced to write with their right hands, and this was traumatic. Let us use our hands as comes naturally, and we flourish.

Angelina Jolie, Annie Lennox, David Bowie, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are all lefthanded. I got the names from this list, which is almost all British and American. That site encourages lefthanders to play guitar lefthandedly. It shows that people diverse in one way don’t necessarily promote diversity generally.

I am not “uncomfortable with my sex”. I am reconciled to my Y chromosome and my narrow pelvis. I have a whole, integrated personality, wounded but healing. My identity as Clare allows me to express who I really am. Trying to present male was miserable, and in the end unbearable. My friend saw: it was as if I was acting when I was Stephen, I was just me when I was Clare. It is like writing with my left hand: you might not want to do it, but when I do life is much easier. It comes naturally to me.

Tories want to spread incomprehension, disgust and fear, to foment a culture war distracting from their economic incompetence and plutocratic exploitation. I want everyone simply to be able to be themselves. People are different. You have to make an effort if you are going to understand them, but how much better to see the world as it really is, rather than to reject it!

Step four, part two

I am never more truly myself than when God speaks through me. The light is in me, and I must let it shine. All else in me, which blocks it, must fall away. That is the heart of step four: there are shortcomings and defects of character to be removed. First, they must be identified.

The devil on my back is my sense of worthlessness. I try to flee it, but that does not work. It makes me feel bad, and I seek external things in an attempt to feel better. I am glad I do not use alcohol or overeating, because those things harm the body, but social media is as compulsive and useless. I have used affirmations, and I can look in the mirror and say “I love you” to myself. Still I have the sense of worthlessness. This shortcoming or defect of character distorts my judgment. I do not know myself, or what I feel.

In my twenties I wept and prayed God, and a psychiatrist, to take away the curse of cross-dressing. I am female. I wanted my nature cauterised. I thought it a defect, and it was not. I was trying to conform to an outside standard of rightness- manliness, whatever. It did not work. I could not do it. I cannot change my nature, yet I wanted to because I was wrongfully shamed and traumatised.

With an ascetic streak coming from that sense of worthlessness, it is tempting to call my human needs “defects”. I might explore that: what do I want, what do I need? More generally, the thing which gives me discomfort is not thereby a defect.

I starve for touch. I have meaningful conversation: I have four people I speak with weekly, and meetings more than once a day. I still feel lonely. Touch is a human need, and my ways of seeking it may still be co-dependent.

Loyalty, generosity and trust can be a fault. As a child I self-abnegated, conforming to my mother’s needs. I supported her emotionally. I have value. I must not subsume myself.

Hopelessness and despair blind me to desire and possibility. I could ask God to cleanse my unknown faults.

I noted how some trans drifted through life until they transitioned, and contrasted my getting a degree, qualifying as a solicitor, working in court. I was going in the wrong direction. I wanted to fit in and not be noticed, and thereby be safe. I would have a job in which applying intellect, the strength I valued, would be the key to success. I did not know myself or the world, so was stressed, miserable, and sacked fifteen months post-qualifying.

I did not know myself. That is the defect. I want to be other than I am. I use intellect to attempt to understand what I feel, as intellect was valued in my childhood. It does not work and I still habitually do it. I still suppress feeling. I avoid my responsibilities- that may be a result of dissociation from feelings. My critical parent demands I do housework, my true self rebels. I know it is a shortcoming. I do not want to pray to remove it without some idea of how I might do that.

I fear the world, so I seclude myself. This is hamartia, missing the target, and yet it is so ingrained in me it feels part of me. How might it be transformed?

A fearless moral inventory must take account of good qualities. I am beautiful and valuable. So rather than an inventory of trauma, neglect, abuse, denial, resentment, shame, abandonment, things done wrong and done to others’ harm, I want a Delight worksheet. What happened? What did I gain? What did I give? This may still come up with defects: when I commit to something I work at it disregarding my own safety, and that comes from devaluing myself.

I illustrate this with John Gast, American Progress. Gast was celebrating. In rebellion against that, I would hate the railway and the telegraph- cutting edge technology- driving out different cultures and wild nature. So my challenge is to see the good in all of it: in American Civilisation, and in all it excludes. And to see the beauty in what I initially dislike, because I dislike and flinch from so much.

UN treaties mandate trans self-declaration

The UN says trans people should self-determine our gender. If we cannot, we cannot exercise our human rights, and this is sex discrimination against women. So Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, wrote to the British government supporting the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

Efforts to delay or dilute the Bill use falsehoods based on stigma and prejudice, he says. Passing the Bill is the government’s obligation under international human rights law. Preventing violence against women requires protection of trans people.

In 2021, the expert made a year-long inquiry into gender frameworks, considering hundreds of academic papers, 42 submissions from member states, and dozens of expert consultations. He concluded:

International human rights law says gender identity must be protected from discrimination and violence. Legal recognition of gender identity by self-determination is necessary to deconstruct institutional and social causes of discrimination and violence. But anti-trans campaigners use stigma and prejudice to artificially create moral panic and perpetuate violence.

In 2018, he considered international human rights law to dismantle systems of pathologisation, stigma and prejudice against trans people. He concluded self-determined gender is a cornerstone of a person’s identity, so protected by the human right to recognition before the law.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women said States should eliminate intersectional discrimination, including on the basis of gender identity. It said the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women applies to gender discrimination as well as sex discrimination. UNESCO says discrimination based on gender identity is unlawful. So do the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and other bodies. Self-determination is necessary for our mental and physical health.

The UN understands gender to include real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Gender-based analysis transcends the sex binary. UNESCO says sex discrimination covers not only physiology but also the social construction of gender stereotypes. So a State should allow citizens to change their gender markers on official documents.

The UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls says that not conforming to gender stereotypes makes people, especially trans women, vulnerable to violence and discrimination. The idea that people can be sorted at birth into either male or female “unduly restricts freedom”.

The European Court of Human Rights recognises a right to self-determination of gender as “one of the most intimate aspects of a person’s private life”.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence defines gender as “the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men.” It prohibits gender identity discrimination. Here, protection for trans is inextricably linked to protection for everyone who ever had a desire outside their assigned at birth stereotype. Because that is how it is in real life: if authoritarians want to control people by enforcing gender stereotypes, they first must drive the trans people into hiding. Where there are trans people unafraid to be ourselves, gender stereotypes are subverted.

An EU directive, 2006/54/EC, says the principle of equal treatment of men and women does not just apply to sex discrimination, but also gender reassignment discrimination.

The Organisation of American States has 35 members including the US. Its convention on eradication of violence against women 1994 initiated its approach to gender-based violence. Since 2008 its General Assembly resolutions have condemned violence and discrimination based on gender identity, and the core state obligation of non-discrimination covers gender identity.

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights 2014 Resolution on protection against violence on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) says gender identity discrimination is forbidden under the African Charter.

He quotes the Yogyakarta Principles on legal recognition of gender identity, which were not a claim of right but a recognition of rights in human rights treaties. States have an obligation to provide a simple system for gender recognition based on self-identification. It should not require abusive requirements, such as a medical report, surgery, sterilisation or divorce. It should acknowledge nonbinary identities, and include children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Countries including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, and Uruguay have abolished the need for a medical report. For people under 18, where their parents or guardians will not consent the court can. In Norway the lower age limit is six, with parental consent.

Anti-trans campaigners say that restriction on trans people is necessary to protect cis people. But the Expert states obstacles to legal gender recognition do not protect women. We should be judged as individuals, not as a group. Any restriction on an individual trans person must not be based on stigma or prejudice, but on evidence that it is the only way to achieve reasonable aims.

The Expert states there is no evidence that current restrictions on gender recognition in Scotland, which are the same as those which will be in England indefinitely, are remotely connected to protection from sexual violence. Trans women are not “predatory males”.

The expert says “gender critical” ideology mimics patriarchal reduction of women to reproductive functions, and ignores feminist scholarship. A fraudulent or predatory person might pretend to be part of any minority in order to find victims, and that should not restrict the rights of any minority.

250m people live in countries which have self-declaration of trans people. 100m more live in regions within countries which have self-id by regional law, including Kansas, Nevada, Quebec, Baja California, Catalonia, and Tasmania. Nepal and Pakistan allow official self-id as nonbinary. The expert has no information that predatory men have used the self-id process for the purpose of perpetrating sexual violence. Where trans women are criminals, they have sought gender recognition because they are trans, not to enter segregated spaces.

So he calls on Scotland to enact the Bill. The implication is that England and Wales should do the same.

Accepted by others, accepted by self

I need a saint.

There is a woman I keep in my head, an echo of a real human, whom I am ashamed of thinking about. I don’t imagine sex with her, but talking companionably. I read or see something and imagine myself saying something about it to her. Occasionally I torture myself with the real human’s social media.

Philippa Perry writes, “Humans can feel we don’t exist if we live unwitnessed”. I don’t imagine this person saying anything to me, particularly, just being in my company with a friendly manner. I imagine not being alone, and not needing to present a face to another- to be allowed to be me. Then I am aware of my loneliness, and ashamed, because I am ashamed of just about everything.

My Episcopalian background made little of saints. We prayed to God. Jesus is human, but superhuman, able to cure disease by touch or even by the thought of him (for Jairus, if not for most of those people praying about cancer right now). I might imagine a Greek, Mesopotamian or Egyptian god, entirely on my side, or a Bodhisattva.

If I know what the echo achieves for me- I imagine being witnessed- I might construct a better way of achieving that. My new fantasy woman is Mary Magdalene. She is immortal: two thousand years old but still looks like this.

If she were my saint, someone in my head I could talk to occasionally, I might imagine her as portrayed in Dirk Bouts’ The Entombment. She is practical. She is a tower of strength in the darkness.

ACA advises us to awaken an inner loving parent. What would the loving parent say? Well, what would I say to the loving parent? I am ashamed. I am afraid.

Mary Magdalene accompanied Jesus. She suffered powerlessly as he went to his death. Then she had the great insight which founded the Christian church- “He is not here”. Jesus lives in our hearts and memories and what we know of Him. He is not in the past, but the present.

Then she was traduced by Patriarchy. How did she reach that insight? The Gospels say, a man told her. The church called her a prostitute. In so many paintings she contemplates death. Yet she survives. She is a tower of strength, just what I need.

I say “I am ashamed” and my inner critical parent says, so you should be. About everything. I say “I am afraid”, and the critical parent says how useless I am. There is nothing to be afraid of. Get on with it. My own personal saint might say, “Yes. Do not worry about it,” and give me a consoling cuddle. Or take me by the hand. I imagine myself a child with her. Mary has the strength and experience to witness and accept all that I am, so that I might, too. Yes, I am co-dependent. No, that does not make for good relationships. It might be better if I could deal with it in my own head.

Everyone? Even a successful straight cis white male might have parts of himself he denies or is too ashamed to show. Unable to bear living with myself, I might confess to Mary, who would absolve me.

December colours by the lake

Out at 8.30 to enjoy the sunshine, meditate, and consider step four. At -3º, the usually squishy mud is hard underfoot.

The frost is beautiful. What are my characteristics? I am controlling. I am passive. I judge myself very harshly. I have very low self-esteem.

I am kind. I am truthful.

This may be the best photo of the moon I can take with my camera without a tripod. The only “defect of character” I want God to remove is my inner conflict. All wrongs stem from that.

The most powerful thing I can do is Assent, or Commit, to something.

I find these beautiful.

Mark Nepo:
The only way beyond
the self is through it. The only
way to listen to what can never
be said is to quiet our need
to steer the plot.

The self, or ego, might be a mask for the real Beyond. It can be contrived and ridiculous:

Contrast the swan, which is simply itself.

On my retreat day, a man aged 83 shows his masculine control with questions to help priests find other careers:

Who am I?
What do I like to do?
What do I do well?
What would I like to do better?
What would I like to learn about or try?
What do I know with certainty that I do not like to do because I have already given it a complete trial?
Where can I look to learn more?

Choose motivation that helps you reach what you want.

These questions are meaningless to me. I desire to spend time with beauty. I dislike that Mark Nepo verse: I am in the true self, looking back at the controlling parent, wondering what is good in it?

I want to be able to mask.
I want to be able to mask when I need to,
without thinking about it too much.
I do not want to be masked from myself.

What I love, what I seek, is Beauty.
Delight shall be my guide.

More questions:

  1. Autumn. What seed was planted when you were born? What was your birthright gift?
  2. Winter. What is dormant inside you?
  3. Spring. What (or where) is the ground in which you can grow?
  4. Summer. What is growing abundantly in your life? What is ready for harvest?

Maybe I will consider them later.

The controlling parent controlled too harshly, and the inner true self rebelled. I need to let go of the rebellion.

The road to freedom

When I was eighteen, I weighed six stone, which is light for a young man 5’10” tall. That’s 84lbs, 38kg. By age twenty I had bulked up to 8½ stone, 120lbs, 54kg, 1.78m tall. This BMI calculator says that is seriously underweight.

When I was a child, the only way I had control in my own life was by refusing food. My mother made a special diet for me, of rissoles- mince stuck in a lump with egg, coated with breadcrumbs, fried- and baked beans, or beefburgers chips and beans. Thinking back on my weight showed the cost of forcing this. I must have frightened her. I don’t remember starting this, or refusing food particularly: I only remember when we had reached a modus vivendi. She had a story about when I was being weaned, and she forced chicken through a sieve to mince it up- “and you spat it at me,” she said, reliving distress. I would eat anything now, though don’t choose to eat salad.

Everything else was controlled. I grew up in Argyll and spoke with my mother’s English accent. There was one political view permitted, which I assented to aged 12, reading The Sunday Telegraph before the election of Margaret Thatcher. There was one musical taste- classical, nothing else worthy of notice. My parents took me Scottish country dancing, which I still enjoy, and to the Scottish Episcopal Church, so I continued Anglican until 2001. I last voted Tory in 2010.

I am feeling my way in to giving details about my “dreadful” childhood. It felt completely normal at the time. I met a monster mother about two years after mine died, and repeatedly told the story, thinking mine was worse though I could not say why. I see telling the story in 2011 I said the other was worst. Then there’s the story about being stressed as a child, and I felt the need for corroboration.

It was good to play the piano. My mother did not like me being so demonstrative of feeling with the Pathétique sonata. I kept myself to myself, like my parents, and still do.

I was controlled. When I was considering transition I read that real transsexuals knew there was a problem aged two or three, knew precisely what it was aged four or five. I started cross-dressing at puberty. I still think of that as casting doubt on me being really trans, twenty years after transition, rather than showing that I did not know who I was or what I felt when I was a child.

I am typing this now with the controlling parent or inner critic on my back, inching my way forward, desperate to convince her, thinking I need to convince you. And, I believe it. I want my inner critic to believe it too. This is not the inner light or true self which says these things clearly. Now, I am in the adjusted self, which did what the inner critic desired, which thinks itself rational, seeking out evidence to convince the inner critic or controlling parent.

Yesterday after an ACA meeting on zoom three of us stayed sharing for more than an hour. I spoke of M. I continue to think of her. Today I cried, while the inner critic railed at my ridiculous self-pity. We stopped talking, and M required five days without texting, controlling by withdrawing. I sought to control by continuing contact, which would never work, then worked hard to shame her and drive her away. First I felt self-righteous about shaming her, then shame. Trying to assert control, I felt desperation or hope, casting about for persuasive argument. Today, crying, I felt the pain and sadness of that separation, while the inner critic told me how bad I was for shaming M and had no right to feel this way.

I believe I felt that sadness and so might let it go.
-You must have felt it before, says the inner critic, in disbelief.
-You have no right to pain, having been so monstrous, says the inner critic.
-This is ridiculous self-pity, judges the inner critic.
-It won’t be enough for you. Either you will revel in the pain and get stuck, or continue fantasising about talking to M, says the inner critic.
I believe I felt that sadness and so might let it go.

After a lifetime of suppressing and denying my feelings because of my mother and my inner critic, feeling my feelings is the road to freedom. I try to avoid sadness, and it stays with me as a burden. If I feel it, allow it to flow, it may pass through me and away.

On the value of feeling sadness.

How to get out of bed

Swearing helps you cope with pain. I swear to help me get out of bed. I wanted a better way.

I am not just uttering one imprecation, but repeated chains of them: fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk. Sometimes I sing them: bibetybobetyboo with the words buggerybuggeryfuck. These words are as worthless as Weimar marks.

I do not want to be alone with myself, because then I feel my feelings. So I do not want to go out. Lying in bed, I was scrolling facebook or reading the Guardian, where the feelings are prescribed: righteous anger against Rishi Sunak, never quite enough excitement at a friend’s photo. Prescribed feelings insulate me from my actual feelings at my situation. Think, I have to get up; go back to scrolling.

So in October I mostly gave up facebook, checking Messenger, or a Quaker group I moderate, occasionally. Then on Saturday I shared about canvassing for Labour, and was back to obsessively checking for likes. M has deleted most of her tweets so I scrolled her replies for the last two years. This only makes me feel worse.

Feel the loneliness, sadness, fear. Or, fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk while I shower, then sit around scrolling again: I spend whole days like that.

The inner critic protects me from the feelings. The adjusted child does what the inner critic demands, without need for the inner critic to become conscious. They got me through my degree, kept me working, then kept me looking for work until I could bear it no longer. So I withdrew. I stopped looking for work.

I was then in stasis. All my motivation comes from the inner child. Called worthless, suppressed, not permitted to feel by the terrified inner critic, it had no motivation any more. ACA says an angry aspect of the inner child can sabotage all the actions the inner critic or adjusted child demands (I found that here, p5). All the inner critic could do was suppress my feelings, so it did, and I scrolled facebook. All the inner child could do was resist the inner critic, so it did. And I blogged: I have created something of value here.

Or there is being in the inner child, feeling the feelings, which terrifies the inner critic. On Sunday I was in an ACA meeting sharing on needs. I was in the adjusted child, following the rules, I can be here, then when sharing I moved into the true self, feeling all my pain of loneliness sadness fear, and shared that. People did not share after that. They left, saying they needed to process.

Monday 31st in an ACA meeting I shared about how I am beautiful and I love myself. My inner critic said this was ego pretending, in order to meet the expectations of ACA groups; and it was wrong. This is my loving parent.

I love myself. I am beautiful, generous, caring. I am valuable simply for being, so free to work on what my heart wishes to do. I am creative and intelligent with a huge heart. I am determined. I am doing the work, and I am proud of that.

Later I typed that, and later still read it to K. Reading it to her was difficult. I was not still in loving parent. Even in True Self it felt too much, I was wary of saying it.

So, how to get out of bed. One way is to demand it of myself- fkg get up. Just, fkg, fkg-well get up. Fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk. Fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk. Fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk. I am tense, defended against myself.

The second way may work better, after some practice. It is to be in my true self, facing the whole agony of existence.

Teeth and positivity

Why are things as they are? Is it because they are good and beautiful, or is it because they are a bit useless?

When positivity ignores problems or threats to maintain a “positive” mood, of “positive” feelings, it becomes toxic positivity, a problem. It creates blind spots blocking out reality. The threats and problems remain undealt with, so fester and metastasise. The toxic positivity becomes harder and harder to maintain, taking energy away from dealing with real world problems.

Worthwhile positivity- I might call it “realistic positivity”- finds all that is beautiful or worthwhile in a situation. It values emotions which toxic positivity finds unwelcome- fear, anger, perplexity- because they give useful information, as well as energy to deal with problems.

I want to preserve my rear right wisdom tooth, despite much of it being lost to decay. Reptiles and sharks replace teeth which break. Why don’t mammals? My understanding was that during the long Mesozoic reign of the dinosaurs, mammal ancestors became tiny, stayed out of the way, and didn’t do much until the Chicxulub meteor killed the dinosaurs. Because they were so small, they only lived one or two years, so lost the need to regrow teeth. One set of baby teeth and one set of adult teeth sufficed.

Our ancestors lost an advantage because they were small and insignificant, was the idea.

Steve Brusatte, in The Rise and Reign of the Mammals, explains it differently. Mammal jaws can chew. They move side to side. Reptile jaws take bites and swallow. Mammal teeth grind food down, so the stomach acids work more efficiently on small chunks of food. Just the right amount of wear on the teeth produced flat panels with sharp edges (p70), working like scissor blades. But, teeth which chew need to fit together. Mammal ancestors sacrificed the ability to regrow teeth in order to be able to chew, so process food better.

He also describes the Lilliput effect, whereby smaller animals may be more likely to survive a mass extinction, having shorter generations so adapting more quickly to changing conditions, and being able to burrow so avoid temperature swings. That helped our ancestors survive Chicxulub, and the end-Permian mass extinction.

The book was published in 2022. It helps to have the most up-to-date understanding. It also explains that mammal colour vision is poor because our ancestors were nocturnal. This resulted in other senses being heightened. Human colour vision is better, with three colour receptors, though other animals may have four. I see better if I avoid a solipsistic understanding.

I had thought there were five mass extinctions, but plants have suffered only two.

In the mid-20th century, extinct synapsids (from which mammals came) were called mammals if they had a particular kind of joint in the jaw. This century, mammals are defined as those creatures descended from the common ancestor of all surviving mammals. Other lineages are called mammaliaforms, though they may have had hair and warm blood, even a dentary-squamosal joint in the jaw. I notice Brusatte does not mention mammary glands until the Jurassic period: they are so important in Western culture.

There is a risk Boris Johnson may return as PM, though in July 57 ministers resigned from his government to force him from office, after he trashed ethics in government with his lies and lawbreaking. I am tempted to return repeatedly to the Guardian website, to find the latest developments. I could, thereby, maintain a feeling of horror and outrage. It is reassuring to feel as others do. I experience a heady sense of the rightness of my feelings. It distracts me from my immediate circumstances and concerns. I am probably better, then, to keep informed without continually returning to a source of inebriation. If there were an election, common feelings would help with common endeavour. I can’t link that to positivity, but it does fit to my desire to make my understanding of the world best fit my objective needs, and the continual temptation not to.

The picture is FunkMonk’s life-restoration of Morganucodon, a late-Triassic early Jurassic creature. The animal was warm-blooded, furry, able to chew, and as its young had a toothless stage, possibly it lactated. Not being a descendent of a common ancestor, palaeontologists call it a mammaliaform rather than a mammal. As Brusatte says, “nature doesn’t put labels on things, people do”.

The Adapted Child

I lived my life completely under my mother’s thumb, doing as she thought right. Then I left home, and lived the same way: I placated my inner critic as I had placated my mother. I had internalised her requirements so I would not get the wrong side of her, so the monster would not get me. I had internalised them so well they were unconscious, simply the only possible way to be. This is the adapted child, not a good way for an adult to be.

Since 1986 I have spotted ways in which the way I thought was insane, but still mostly persisted with it. The real me underneath began to emerge, in 1998, and in 2015, and still mostly I lived as the adapted child. It was just normal. I think of that way of being as “me”, generally. There is something deeper, truer, more alive underneath and still, mostly, I am the adapted child. So, I do not consider what life might be like more than about a month or two ahead. I was often unconscious of what I was feeling.

We become conscious of the inner critic when it begins to fail. I only need to hear it say “You can’t say that!” when it crosses my mind I might say what it objects to. There were the words I could not say, then there was the statement about my childhood which I so feared, I thought everyone would judge me for it, so it took all my courage to say it to someone else. And then this year there were things I said to M who welcomed me saying them, and gave me the strength to say them more and more easily, so that I can speak from that heart space far more easily now. Now, “You can’t say that!” may just be a faint echo; and yet still there may be aspects where the inner critic remains unconscious and in control.

I went to the supermarket on Friday 14th wanting to be my Real Self, my Inner Child. I stood at the end of an aisle, centring. And I was: I felt joy, I was in touch with my feelings, my senses felt more alive. It is an effort to be like that, and it is the only way to be. I had a problem there with staff, which may be because I look trans, or because I look poor, and from the real self it is almost not a bother to me, well, I am where I am. I know that had I met it from the adapted child it would have rankled with me for days. I am doing all this work, to be acceptable! All this work and it does me no good at all! (That’s all or nothing thinking.)

The adapted child wants to preserve equanimity, and the true self/inner child preserves it far more easily. The adapted child is unaware of feeling until it bursts out, and the true self can feel it and let it pass. And I cannot go to the Lovely Gathering at the moment because my frustrated, powerless anger at Jamie is unbearable.

The adapted child is a child’s way of meeting the problems of adulthood, or a way of being stuck in childishness. Hence maladaptive characteristics like, not really caring about the future. So we call ourselves “adult children”. The inner child is the way to the integrated self. The adapted child was simply normal, so did not need a name: as I name it, I problematize it, and shed it more and more.

How to see a human being?

What a glorious human being! The physical animal, the energy, the love, she shines. Her arm moves, her sleeve pulls back, I see her wrist, and my breath catches in wonder.

Interpreting the eighth commandment, “Do not bear false witness,” Luther said we should explain others’ actions in the most generous way possible. I learned that from this video, starting at 21.30.

As Nadia Bolz-Weber says, Luther has answered the fundamental attribution error, whereby we say we did something because of circumstances, but others do things because of their character. Or we interpret our actions more generously than anyone else’s. I see God in her, and it is overwhelming. I fear seeing God in everyone: it would take all of my attention.

Others see God in me. I seem able to help one regulate her emotions and see more clearly. I am dimly aware “Rescuing” is a bad thing. I know that approaching life from a victim-standpoint is a bad thing- being clear about what is possible, what I can change, what I can do, is necessary. If I can bless her, I will. And I am abashed at her respect. I know she does not see all of me, that underneath there is anger and fear which I keep a firm lid on until it explodes.

Yet others see me as not much, really. There I am in poor clothes and a dirty cycle helmet or aged wig and they do not respect me; and I fall into a state of responding as if I am not worthy of respect. Then I see how I have been, and wonder, why was I like that, self-abasing? How can I see what I am doing, at the time, and reconnect to my powerful, glorious, beautiful self that others see?

Luther produced that sublime wisdom, and my antitheist friends amassed detail about how he was antisemitic. I have no idea what case might be made to mitigate his antisemitism, but say it was part of a tradition half way between the German Crusade and the Holocaust. Iris Murdoch posited a concentration camp guard who is a kind father. Does his wickedness mean that he is not really a good father? Steven Moffatt put a brilliant line in the mouth of a man convicted of murder: “Everyone’s a murderer, you just haven’t met the right person yet”.

In 1986 I realised that I see myself as the centre of the universe, and as totally worthless, and both of these self-images were insane. I tried to come to a rational view between, and a good shot was,

I am a human being.
Unique, ineffably beautiful.
One in seven billion.

I am most destructive when I suppress my anger, out of fear of it, and then it bursts out, surprising me. The parts of me which most perplex, shame or frighten me are the parts most needing my love. What is good and beautiful in this neglected, malnourished, shameful part?

If I can see it as good and beautiful, it will become so.

Trying to accept my transsexuality, I thought, I am opposites- Scots and English, loving the country and the city, loving empathy and relating and emotion, and loving patient rationality, teasing out the meaning of a clause in a regulation. I am man and woman. It’s not opposites, it’s apparently incompatible ways of being, or even just different ways of being. I could be both. I could be all of these things.

And so I could be the still point of the turning world, and all that I see as worthless, all at the same time. I am not one thing. I am too complex, too great for my own conscious understanding. And, I am a human being. If I am that complexity, that brilliance and beauty, so must everyone else be.

I work out a way to realise there is that of God in everyone, as I catch glimpses of it. I will get to my aim, or perhaps I just need to see it is already happening:

God in me is dancing with God in every thing.

I am beautiful, complex, mysterious, dark, magnificent. And so are you.

I can’t do more than one of these Adult Child meetings in a day. Even doing one, sometimes I find myself zoning out, reading on the computer. Why? Does something feel like a threat to me? How can I make it a blessing? Interpreting another’s action in the most generous way possible, rather than judging it- just seeing it, for I can only see clearly with eyes of love- I thereby excavate myself, my dark secrets, and more becomes possible for me.