Developing gender dysphoria

If transvestic fetishism develops into autogynephilia then gender dysphoria, that would only be a bad thing if being a trans woman is a bad thing. Why on Earth would one ever imagine that? It is good for me. It enables me to be, to express myself, to interact with others, more authentically as me- whether that “me” is “male” or “female”, masculine or feminine, whatever.

That the process was intensely painful does not mean that it was a bad thing. The pain came from guilt and shame, and from unknowing and feeling not in control. Not trusting. But first I like feminine clothes, then I imagine a feminine lifestyle, then I realise my feminine self. All people undergo this growth into being the mature self, a process of being and becoming, like egg, caterpillar, pupa, butterfly. All the stages are necessary, and each stage is the real me.

I recall the pain, and it has echoes now, for I am still in pain. My pain is at the strength of the cultural forces pushing me into the false path of conventional masculinity, which still enrage me, which necessitate the strength of my NO!, my refusal, leaving so little strength left for my yes, my desire.

It involved masturbation, then feeling guilty. Why should sexual release be “bad”? It is a natural physical function. I felt guilt about it, because of the guilt about cross-dressing- which was rejecting the role mapped out for me, the conventional concept of manhood which did not fit me. It seemed to me that society pushed me into the wrong shaped hole, and I felt guilt at resisting. Though I thought Oldham CAB would find a reason to dismiss me, and they supported me: society was more liberal than I had thought.

Was the desire reinforced or fomented by the masturbation? I don’t think it could be instigated by masturbation, and I think presenting female would create gender dysphoria, the intense discomfort of the male in the female role, if it was merely a sexual fantasy. But yeah, theorists disagree, and say of me, s/he would say that, wouldn’t s/he? Sod ’em.

The process involves removal of male physical sex characteristics, and as far as possible creation of female ones. My facial hair was removed, and some have FFS. Does this mean I assert that my femininity means that I am a woman, or that women ought to be “feminine”? No, just that from whatever cause which I do not know, that is what I wanted. Possibly the cause is the Patriarchy, which almost tolerates me if I pretend to be a woman. I don’t know what the world without patriarchy would be like- yet I subvert Patriarchy, by rejecting male privilege.

Oh, come on Roughseas, I know you read this! So many pageviews from Gibraltar, the simplest explanation is they’re you. This tense paradox of freedom and unfreedom, in that being free- authentic- means having no choice- here I am, I can be no other. Say you forgive me! Another paradox: I am myself, and I am in the world.

I have been back with Prof Eric Steinhart, and today learn his pages are designed to be read with die Phänomenologie des Geistes, which I may yet read, though I might prefer an internet summary to an undergraduate module. And a line from Jonathan Franzen The Corrections, that Alfred blamed Enid for his confusion, for witnessing it into existence. I wrestle with this, as I have for the last four years, and take what I may from the thought of others, to push my own forward.

life is like a roller coaster

I am still screaming; but enjoying slightly more.

Freedom from common sense

Of course I “think rationally”. “Thinking emotionally” cannot mean not thinking rationally. I love puzzles. I can make legal argument: I analysed two sentences in a benefit regulation, and got my client an extra £20 a week, which is a lot when you are on £50 a week.

I perceive intuitively, rather than thinking, often. I read people. That is what she is thinking, or feeling. This is how we are together. Some of this is subconscious: I note my posture mirroring another’s, my face mirrors her expression, I feel directly what she feels. These tricks can be learned: a friend is a teacher, who had two boys with Asperger’s Syndrome in her class. Those two, with four neurotypical boys, were drafted into the “Social Skills” group, where they consciously and deliberately learned about reading emotions from visual clues such as facial expression or posture. After a year, they had the task of putting up a tent without the instructions. The six co-operated, and the two Aspies read the others as quickly and naturally- unconsciously, even- as other children would.

Thinking emotionally means knowing what I want, and what I don’t. I was brought up with rules, including rules about what was appropriate recreation. Such conventional fun limited me. One ought to enjoy classical music, say, so I decided that popular music was inferior and not for my attention, and missed much which might have spoken to me viscerally. The Emperor Concerto delights, but Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive fits my mood perfectly, at particular times. It echoes, reinforces and validates my own feeling. Though it was released ages ago: I seemed trapped in my false rationality, but it penetrated my consciousness anyway.

Who wants to be common? I want to be counter, original, spare, strange- fey- myself, unlike any other person. There are common sense ways of proceeding, and one might cut through them. Rational thought is necessary to work out what short-cuts might work; intuitive perception might discern others’ opposition; but that Einstein quote, something like, insanity is doing the thing that does not work again and again, is far more likely to apply to conventional, rule-based common sense: you imbibe from the culture that this is the way to achieve that, and when it does not, you feel cheated. It ought to. Whereas if you go your own way, you can find your own way of achieving. There are no rules.

What are the reasons anyone should accept me as a woman? Well, I am beautiful and strange, it is enriching to know me. Artificial barriers between people do no-one any good. These are feeling reasons.

This is my 1600th post.

Magritte The Large Family

Thinking emotionally

I went to The Danish Girl with my radical feminist friend. She had her black book and pen on her lap: she feared it would be politically correct pro-Transgender preaching, and was ready to note down the most objectionable and unreal (from her point of view) bits. I don’t know if she wrote anything in her book, I was too engrossed in the film, and before the end she leaned her head on my shoulder.

After, she said, “You know I see you as a man, don’t you?” Well, yes. But I find her so fascinating, beautiful, stimulating and exciting that I am willing to put up with that. What matters is that I do not doubt myself: if there is no echo of her assertion in my own mind, I can tolerate her believing it.

H is not a virago or a harridan, but if those words could be stripped of their strongly pejorative connotations they might approximate to her. “Virago” is partially reclaimed. I sympathise: she does not fit Patriarchal views of woman any more than I fit those of man. And she is so playful! She might not like “termagant” or “hoyden”- she had not liked being called a “tomboy”. Why should she be any kind of “boy” for liking what she liked?

She wondered why I had gone on Quiner’s Diner. “If you go there, you must at some level imagine they are right.” No, I go there to inoculate myself against the falsehoods. That spoke to her: she has considered pro-pornography sites for a similar reason.

“I think emotionally,” I told her.

“You’re not going to tell me that makes you a woman, are you?” she said.

No. Really, really, no- I understand completely your objection to such an argument; but coming to accept this is my major personal growth point atm: I grew up not knowing my feelings, suppressing them, fearing my anger and my fear- which makes them far more painful and difficult to deal with. She understands- there are so many advantages to this friendship that a little thing like her thinking I am a man is quite tolerable. And I am never going to convince her, so what’s the use of trying?

I have been thinking of my niece, aged about 17, say of something, “That’s Yucky!!!”- at the time, I thought this a childish mode of expression, now I think, what clarity! Beautiful!

This morning I had tea with Richard. “She thinks I am a man,” I said, and he was horrified. He thought I must refute this, with rational argument. “No! Fuck rationality!” I said, joyfully. This shocked him. You have to think rationally. Well, of course I could do rationality; but my most important thinking is emotional, and I celebrate that.

I put the radical feminist argument, and he gave me five minutes to put it, and said, “You forget, don’t you, that I am a social scientist?” He told me of differing styles of playing, relating, being between boys and girls. H has seen this in her grandchildren. I countered with research showing adults treat babies differently according to whether they think the child is girl or boy. The question is not yet answered; yet women can definitely think rationally.

Many people think I am a man. I asked my feminine friend Kingsley, whom I hug when I see her, whether she saw me as a woman and she dodged the question- “I see you as you!” So I see me as me. I am Abigail, and that is enough. I don’t know that this is anything innate, as taking oestradiol for fourteen years could affect it; this is who I am, now. I don’t need rationality, or any other crutch.

I love them both, and thought of bringing them together; but I don’t think it would work.

Van Gogh, half figure of an angel, after Rembrandt

Self respect IV

How to defeat a breathalyser.

Some gain self-respect from what they do- I met a man who ran his business into the ground, because it was his identity. I have not been paid to work for over four years. I gain self-respect from who I am. Right now I am feeling really, really good after one pleasant and one delightful encounter, so now is the time to do this.

I could feel bad about where I have got to in life- I have nothing. If this is because of my faults, I could find it crushing- and very few people have entirely easy life circumstances. Other people make something of their lives. I also like to feel I have agency- I am not just rushing down the rapids- because otherwise I could feel powerless. I have made choices, to come where I am.

I may have told this story before. I had three glasses of wine, and set off to drive home. The police officer stopped me on Broadway for bad driving, and breathalysed me. Then he arrested me and I went to the police station in the back of a windowless van. I was searched. I was dressed female, but not yet transitioned. He told me the trick to defeat the breathalyser: at rest, you breathe out only a small part of the air in your lungs, so the air left inside over several breaths gets suffused with alcohol. So, while the other officer set up the machine, I breathed out as fully as I could several times, to get nice clean air in my lungs.

That I could establish a relationship with the man who had arrested me, such that he would tell me this, is a huge gift. I am deeply empathetic.It increased my confidence that I could transition: there I was in thick make-up with beard stubble, and treated decently. I might find enough people to treat me well enough, transitioned.

I was chatting to someone by the bike racks. “Give me a lift, would you?” I explained why I could not- on the back, you would crush the chocolates in my panniers, on the front, I could not see. He used to cycle, but now could not because he might lose his foot- diabetes. “Charcot’s?” Yes. Then you can’t cycle. There are no taxis. He should have worn his cast. He could go and wait for the bus. He wanted to talk, I showed I would let him.

She trusts me, and I am delighted.

I have told that story. A legal argument which in almost all circumstances would fail, such that I thought of not opposing the motion and having the extra time in the office. Yet I found the arguments and evidence and pursued them remorselessly, and won the argument. I can be thrawn in pursuing what I feel is right.

On agency: I wanted to hide from the World. I always have, I have pursued various ways of doing this, and finally come to the one which works: staying in my house most of the time. I have actually achieved what I wanted, which gives me the space and time to heal and find what else I might want.

Good characteristics have bad side-effects. Continental drift produces earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. It happens because the mantle is molten, because the core is hot: which creates the Earth’s magnetic field, without which cosmic rays would make life impossible on Earth. I can be happy with my gifts- not only because of what I have achieved with them, but because this creature, this animal, is complex, beautiful, worthy of respect, good in myself.

Though it helps to know others respect me, and particularly to feel good generally.

So many El Greco Annunciations! I particularly love her halo in this. You might think she would be fazed by the encounter, but apparently not, as she spoke back to him. “But how can this be, since I am a virgin?”

El Greco, Annunciation

Self-respect II

You do this stuff, then you do it again; then you forget, and revert, then rediscover it, and do it again; and sometimes the full beauty and pain of it comes into consciousness, and it is hard to bear.

To the Quaker meeting. Philip reads from Advices and Queries, considering the calls for more bombing in Syria. If you are being bombed, does the intention of the bomber affect how you think about it? wondered Liz, after. Only in that I would seek to thwart him. I stood to speak: there is so much anger and fear, of those who fear refugees and terrorists, and I want to respect and love the people who are angry and fearful, which means hearing the anger and fear. And I want to respect and love those who will make the decision on bombing: though I stand by the pacifist answer, I must show respect for those who think differently. “Slow, sour, dim” intensifies the beauty by contrast.

Ah. It is always about me: hear the anger, indeed. In afterword, Peter says how few people it needs to get an MP to take an interest: ten, in the case of the planning issue he complained of.

In the afternoon to K– Quaker meeting, their “Winter celebration”. Three people have come from Bedford to demonstrate their singing bowls. The woman who has made them, by beating the alloy, is very thin with short hair.

They strike one. Immediately, it penetrates me, getting to the centre of my heart. Oh, no, not this. They continue striking, and also reading poetry. “There is a field”- “I’ll meet you there,” I know it. “Let yourself open to the sound”- I wish I could not. Here is my sadness aloneness regret. I am crying. Possibly I needed a good cry-

It is not “low functioning me”. It is responsive, fragile, truthful me, me in the world, soft me which is beautiful, vulnerable, necessary, a part of me needing my love, my feminine part which I had to deny, which I have to allow.

I might, just, manage the first stage of metta meditation.

I am very glad Peter R. is here and can drive me home, rather than me being forced to cycle. After a three Samaritans phone calls week, I walked in the park and spoke to a woman photographing wild-fowl and hoping for a good sunset.

That psychiatrist really shook me up: probably for the better. It feels as if I integrate myself. And I will be here again, I cannot just do the work of acceptance once, and it be done.

Blake, Songs of Innocence frontispiece

Self respect

I get a great deal of my self respect from the fact that I am cultured and educated. This makes me interesting in conversation and practised in analysis and argument, and I have a wide range of example situations which might be analogous to what I perceive around me, so can understand situations more quickly.

Do you know, I was going to denigrate that? “It’s not much use except in pub quizzes” I was going to say, and I never do pub quizzes. In my third Samaritans conversation in three days- that psychiatrist really shook me up, something else has been upsetting me- I suddenly thought, the bit of me that loathes and despises all the other bits of me needs to be heard, needs respect and acceptance- if “I” cannot give that, I might at least listen respectfully to it rather than immediately drive it out- for she always comes back. I loathe myself, generally.

Then searching for the Bible verse the parts of the body we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour I discovered Jen Callow, who has found hundreds of parts of her self, and created inner worlds for them to live in and be happy. She wrote, “The soldiers who had terrorised our system were put in charge of security”- for the ability to respond by despising and loathing has value.

Respect, one part for another, loving support and care, is necessary for my better functioning.

Dr Lenihan told me I compartmentalise, and I feel that I stick the bits of me that are upset or unhappy or resentful, which might burst into tears, in a box and despise them.

I would like Love from outside. My love will have to heal me, but Love from another might assist. (I think of a particular Other, and am not sure it is on offer at the intensity I desire.)

Many healthy people feel they have different parts of themself. Quakers experience the Inner Light, the conviction of Right action for the common good; The Hoffman Process called a human being a Quadrinity, of Body, Spiritual Self, Emotional Being and Intellect. The Emotional Being can seem like a child, but has lived as long as the rest of me; its intense emotions are child-like rather than childish.

I read of those cult victims that they are out of touch with their bodies so do not know when they need food rest or exercise, and with their feelings so that they do not know what they like or dislike. I told Serra I needed to know my attraction and aversion, my Yuck and Yum. I do recognise what I feel, often; and yet these people can marry, though not form a mature emotionally-supportive partnership.

I need to build community within myself.

Blake, Europe supported by Africa and America

Trans narratives

We create stories of our lives. What good do they do? Here are alternative narratives:

I am autogynephiliac. This means that I could have been an ordinary heterosexual male, but through a lack of self-control developed a fetishistic perversion. This means that when my sister refused to allow me to see her children, that was entirely reasonable.

I am trans. This is an innate gift: I was born this way, and transition has been my destiny. However transition remains difficult, and I have shown courage and True Strength carrying it out.

What might I get from a narrative? I might believe that I am a good person, and reasonably safe from harm.

But it becomes a burden when I need to protect it. Kay Brown is merely wrong, in an uninteresting way, but her transphobic hatred of the gynaephiles can only affect me if I need that second narrative to be true. Then any doubt of it casts me in doubt and confusion. And her caring so much, that she spews such hatred over so many years, comes from her narrative: that there are true transsexuals, that she is one, and that the fakes just make it hard for the real ones. All her suffering is my fault, for pretending to a status I do not deserve.

The narrative helps me believe I am safe, and that I am a good person deserving happiness. Threats to the narrative make me doubt my safety, goodness and desert. So I devote my energies to protecting the narrative.

In The Pilgrim’s Progress, Pilgrim is in the Slough of Despond carrying a dreadful burden, and then he realises that Jesus died for him, and his burden falls from his back. Whether or not you believe the literal truth of this central story of our civilisation, it might free me from the need for my own narrative. God Loves Me. Therefore I am good enough, safe enough, deserving enough.

Here is a better narrative: I express myself female because I want to. I have a right to, and can change if I want- I have done, before. What causes my desire does not matter. I have a right in this to do what makes me happy. Most women accept me simply as me, and that is enough.

I see the narratives for Trans issues. I am sure I have other narratives, other ways of living with myself or feeling safe; and I want rid of them. They will get in the way of my responding in the moment to the actual circumstances (as well as I can judge them).

 ♥♥♥

The narrative has another value, which is to grant us admission to women’s space. If I am a woman, then I am entitled to women’s space. Not according to this blog I came across:

Trans genderism, through intimidation, death threats and sexual bigotry, pushes one giant act of erasure: they seek to destroy all women-only spaces, which means erasing any possibility of feminist advancement.

All women are my victims. I am a monster. Nothing will persuade her otherwise.

Actually, I enter women’s space on sufferance. Any woman in a public loo could make it very embarrassing for me. There is a hard core of TERFs who will never accept me as a woman; but most women accept me as an honorary woman. They live, and let live. They accept ambiguity and anomaly. My holding the narrative or not does not mean I will not be embarrassed or excluded; only the tolerance of most women keeps me safe- enough.

Getting more sane II

I cycled to the station, as I thought I would get back after the last bus, and when I got there realised I had not brought my lock. So I left the bike at the stand, and as there was a chain left there I draped it over my bike to appear locked. I thought there was little risk of theft: someone would have to want to, and to see my bike was unlocked, and a lot of such people can pick the locks anyway. Serra thought this important- if my bike is stolen, it is someone else’s fault, and not mine. What I had meant was that the risk was limited, and better than hiding my bike somewhere and missing my appointment.

And it’s not the end of the world. I don’t die. The monster doesn’t get me if I lose my bicycle. I would deal with it if it happened.

And on Monday I did nothing but slump in front of the television. I fear that. I fear I have less energy than others, who work full time. For Serra, this is merely what I do for self-protection. Seeing that, I can seek out better ways of self-protecting. Some people stay on the same self-protection life long, she says, which makes me feel good. I am challenging my falsehoods. It does not mean that when I have to take action I will be unable to act.

And I don’t give up till I’m dangling on the end of a rope.

She loved what I had to say about Frank Auerbach: this glorious mix of sensitivity and exuberant self-confidence. Maybe in me, too.

I am no longer seeking an endocrine solution for my emotional lability. I crave that intensity of feeling, because it seems like it is me making the decisions, rather than some inculcated rationality. I want my attraction and aversion, Yuck and Yum, to be completely clear. Yuck and Yum- she likes that. I am pleased. She is not just saying that. My words are good.

Rousseau, la muse inspirant le poete

Getting more sane

I was in Hell, with Dante: his hypocrites march in circles, wearing cloaks made of lead, plated with gold; so they shine in beauty but each step is an effort. Appearances mattered far more to me than reality. In any action I wondered, what will people think? However my estimate of that must have been formed in childhood, because it was nothing like what people actually think.

The cloaks are lead, a miserific weight, because there is no joy in seeking to appear well. So many people never realise this, said Serra. Oh, you warm me!

There was that Quaker thing. This is confidential; but without disclosing details, Quakers value what we call “Right ordering”, doing things in the proper manner. Right ordering is for the committee I convene to produce a particular result. This was not possible. Box-ticking might just have been possible: we would simulate the result, and exert whatever moral pressure we could to get people to comply. It is a horrible thought, and though moral blackmail had worked for me temporarily in the past, it wasn’t working now.

Quakers gave me the self-confidence to transition. I was a happy Anglican, then I decided I could not bear to worship God disguised as a man. And my vicar said, “Do you want to look like that, all the time?” You know: makeup a bit of a mess, stubble, poorly-chosen wig, dress sense even worse than now-

A realisation. Yes. I would rather pass, but when these were the choices I WOULD RATHER LOOK LIKE A FUCKING TRANNY than look like a man. That rage, that desperation.

So I had this huge loyalty to Quakers, and demanded the same of the others. But it is not what they feel. I have been checking out my escape route- going to another meeting would mean cycling to the station then getting the train, using most of Sunday. Or I could rejoin the Anglicans. H, on the border, could go to a large anonymous nearby meeting easily. “Meeting must be sustaining,” she said, and I thought, yeah.

So, rather than getting a result which appeared to tick the boxes, but did not really, and would be a pain for everyone concerned, I sought a process which took into account the needs and feelings of the people. There is no result, not yet. I am living with an uncertainty which some more involved in the issue than I find distressing.

Box-ticking does feel safe- until it’s not. Reality is more important. I see that now. I see the people and the situation better. This does not mean that I can protect them from hurt, for I would gather them as a hen gathers her brood under her wings– though they would not be willing. It might mean we can reach a solution together. The journey might be worthwhile. Unknowing is safer than the Appearance of right.

 

Rousseau, the merry jesters

Trust V

This is a strange mood.

I might think it despair, exhaustion, inanition.
It might be Acceptance:
seeing the real, and accepting it
though if I thought that would be a pleasant feeling I was mistaken.
Where ignorant armies clash by night,
I am like a weanèd child.

 ♥♥♥

By the river I saw two women from the Outdoor centre, lifting kayaks, wearing T shirts marked “Who do you trust?”
-That’s a good question.
-Who do you trust? she asked.
-I trust in the general benevolence of the Universe, I said. Who do you trust?
-I trust in God, she said definitely: I thought she would, as the business is overtly Christian.

Did we disagree- or rather, since we were announcing what we trust in, do we trust in substantially different things?

If so, does it matter?

 ♥♥♥

I was delighted to receive your email. My immediate response might be considered servile-

but it was the response my heart wished to make.

 ♥♥♥

I communicated with a snake once. It had its coil round the back of my neck, so it had a firm grip but avoided things like my carotid artery which I do not want squeezed. I felt it could hold on to slightly more of my neck, and somehow it understood, shifted slightly, and held on to slightly more of my neck. I was still safe, with this tame snake.

With R, I have such a sweet negotiation. I am concerned to communicate what I want, but more concerned that he will be comfortable with the outcome. I feel that he has a complementary feeling.