A Quaker transphobe

Though a few Quakers are viciously and closed-mindedly transphobic, most transphobia among Quakers comes from arrogance or ignorance, and a failure to see privilege, rather than hate. The Friends Quarterly has printed a transphobic article, because the transphobe has disguised her hatred. In this post I analyse the article, and illustrate the hate. This is a content warning. If you feel able to bear a gaslighter pretending her transphobia is speaking out for vulnerable cis women, read her quotes below. But as trans people will spot the transphobia immediately, this post is mainly for Quakers who might wonder what the fuss was. These well-intentioned souls may be asking, “Who, me? Surely I am never transphobic?” Continue reading

Joy in sadness

Outside my window there is a single strand of spider silk, discarded, perhaps used for flight. The light reflected on it is beautiful.

When I first became conscious of my feelings, they were anger, frustration, resentment and fear. I have also been aware of pain. Tina spoke of seeing sadness in me, and I was aware of my anger at myself, holding the sadness down, asking it “What on Earth have you got to be sad about?” in contempt and derision.

And there is disappointment in how my life is turning out and what I have been able to do about that.

Jamie spoke of sadness too, when I sang to him. “D Minor is the saddest key,” he said. Now I am ready to face my sadness. What about? My nephew and nieces, crying out delightedly “It’s Uncle Stephen!” comes to mind.

I don’t need to cry. I just need to acknowledge the sadness. I don’t need to resist it: resisting is outdated.

George Fox wrote “Then you will walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one,” but the paragraph began “The spirit that is transgressed and in prison, which hath been in captivity in every one” and I can imagine if it had been cast slightly differently, and the phrase we would all know would be “liberating that of God in every one,” including ourselves. “People must be led out of captivity up to God,” Fox writes. It’s the Journal, Nickalls’ edition, p263.

The bars of the cage are melting and becoming pliable.

What have you got to be sad about? I am not sure. All of life, perhaps. Specific things. H, and H, and Covid, and Edinburgh. If I am mourning what I could not mourn before I am not conscious of all I am mourning.

There is sadness. Hello.

In the Meeting for Worship, held on video-conference, we have our microphones muted, so I can mutter to myself the message which is only for me, to help it to stick in my own mind. And, today, I can get a pen and paper to write this down. I have the lattitude to do my work here, talking, writing, and sighing, and am aware of the others.

Sadness at not being all-knowing: all that Confusion!

I am joyfully sad, because I am no longer sad or angry at being sad. The bars dissolve.

That silk catches the light. It is resilient. I think of the idea that I cannot see any quality outside myself that is not within me, and the word-play “resile” comes to mind. That is painful. I have an inner voice which denies all possible good qualities in me. That voice hurts me. The silk is beautiful.

I will resist that voice! I am crying helplessly.

Ministry on grief- a woman quotes. Something like, having a body is about feeling the exact feelings of this body, of being present in this body not just having a body to carry around. I am present in the mass and the matter of it. She sees the grief we are carrying. What would I say if someone asked why I was crying? “I can’t tell you, but it is good,” perhaps. I am

Opening, Flowering, Accepting, Loving, Receiving.

It is

Peace.

You cannot recognise something without you that is not within you, or acknowledge something outside that you cannot acknowledge within. If you resist yourself, you resist the world. If you reject yourself, you reject the world. If you accept yourself, you accept the world.

After meeting, I have the feeling that I have had a deep massage, removing long buried knots in muscles, or even a heart-bypass, removing blockages. Or it is suddenly being able to face what I could not face before.

Christ is Risen

Queuing for the supermarket
is like walking a labyrinth.
Every few moments, some mindful steps.
Ribbons wind the path, and we turn in sunshine.
Blossom and birdsong are beautiful.
Over the fence,
a path curves into the woods,
in cool green light.

“Wonderful,” said a friend. “You woman of so many talents. I’d lose the last sentence…” Well. I wanted to share the idea, of walking in the queue being like in a labyrinth, but for me it evokes a specific place. The police are telling people not to buy inessential items or sunbathe in parks, and they have the power to impose on the spot fines, so if you want to enjoy sunshine, doing nothing at all, a supermarket queue is a permitted place. This one has trees, so even if a carpark is not beautiful there is beauty there worth my attention. And across a steel fence of sharp uprights a few inches apart, there is the Greenway, with the contrast of light through a scrap of mature woodland. There is a contrast in the last three lines, in the lowered intensity of words matching the difference of the vision. So there.

There is no afterlife. If “He descended into Hell”, as the Apostle’s Creed says, it is here, in this life on Earth, and if Jesus saved people from Hell as apocryphal Gospels state and the Orthodox Church celebrates in icons it is now, and how better when people are afraid of a pandemic?

I remember my first labyrinth. The path was marked in different coloured square tiles, and was square so that repeatedly one turned a 90° corner, facing a different vista, bushes, trees, grass, and angle of sunlight. I did it slowly, barefoot in March, in about 2007. It did the job, bringing me into the moment, contemplating the beauty, out of Hell. From that place one can begin to see what needs to be done in the moment now. I probably didn’t have covid two weeks ago, but I don’t know if I picked it up yesterday; and the sun is so hot in my back yard that I sit in the shade. A siren. Is it a police car come for someone who bought something inessential, or an ambulance taking away a sufferer? Someone tells me her child brought it home from school and they all had it, and were fine after a week. Someone has died. A neighbour shouts at his daughter for eating chocolate before tea.

Here is an icon of “The Harrowing of Hell”. Christ breaks the walls to rescue the imprisoned, while angels hold Satan down.

Western European art tended to go more for Last Judgment scenes, with sinners falling unequivocally and finally into torment, but there are some examples. In this by a follower of Bosch, the devils resist, and only some people take notice. Click for a larger version.

In this Cezanne, Christ saves individually and personally.

Another follower of Bosch. Most of the people are untrusting. The woman covering her nakedness makes me think of Eve.

I went to the supermarket
and came home with a poem.
Would the police deem it essential?

Sharing experience

Should I give a talk on my personal experiences of being trans?

There are reasons not to. Trans women are women. The law is clear. For single sex spaces, treat someone according to the gender they present. Only in exceptional circumstances can a trans woman be excluded. Trans children’s mental health improves when they transition. Let doctors decide what treatment they need.

So people asking to hear my experience want to sit in judgment on me. If the current position is acceptance, the point of “hearing experience” is to decide what less can be given. If the current position is less than acceptance, should I speak to them at all?

If they want to convince doubters, why can’t allies do the work? Having a specific meeting might make the doubters think they had a point. Should I have to do my little dance for the normal people, for their entertainment? Should I face their judgment- what level of pain or authenticity will convince them to accept me? Must I prove I was “born that way”?

My friend who performs has to process an issue before doing a show about it. Then they can act, use past feeling to create a dramatic experience for an audience, communicating what it is like.

Am I communicating information, or feeling? Feeling, I think. What is it like? I share personal experience so others can empathise. And I have powerful feelings, not all processed. If I talk about personal experience they could come out. All I ever wanted was to be normal.

Why should I make myself vulnerable, exhibit my scars and my wounds? People like stories of things going right- the cops catch the criminals, the boy gets the girl, the trans person transitions into life and freedom. It’s not that simple for me. When I presented male, one evening a man decided to check whether I was wearing anything under my kilt. He was bigger than me, and he- overwhelmed me, speaking almost gently. I froze. He confirmed the answer to his friends- I can’t remember if I was or wasn’t, now- and I went on to my black tie dinner. Since then I hate references to the “fight or flight response”, as I don’t do either. This is not the most uplifting of tales. I tell it to note that sexual assault is ubiquitous in our society. I could tell of others.

Should I tell of lying on the floor, curled in a foetal position, weeping “I am not a man”? Or of regretting the operation? They might get someone who finds transition an answer to her problems, who is well-adjusted and contributing to society. But that prejudice and hate stresses me, that transition has not been the complete solution to my problems (yet), does not mean it was wrong- it was the best option available. That’s a difficult truth to process: we can still be deeply hurt, and damaged, even after transition.

How does it affect things that I like showing off, I like an audience? Well, I am good at speaking and it is fulfilling to do- what I feel created to do.

If I speak of the experiences with the powerful, unprocessed emotion, this may create drama for audiences and pain for me. Perhaps I should just not speak. And yet, I want to be understood. I want my kind to be accepted. I want to do something to advance that goal- to be active, rather than waiting on the sidelines. I can’t quite believe anyone else is better qualified. Speaking from hurt or perplexity may make the experience more immediate. If I trust to speak from inspiration, heart to heart, I may say something I had not consciously known. After all the pain, I remain alive. And, I have experience of gender and sexuality which might increase understanding, is unique, and is worth hearing.

A Christian view of trans

Christian theology supports trans people and transition unequivocally. The Bible recognises and values trans people. As Peterson Toscano said, a man carrying a water jar was doing women’s work, which was beyond shameful for a man in that culture- she must have been trans.

The Bible values bodies as good. God created humanity in God’s image, and everything God had made was very good. Male and female God made me! God knitted me together in my mother’s womb- I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And after my transition I was freed to see my body as beautiful and wonderful, not inadequate as I thought before. As God does not have a body, whether like in the Sistine Chapel with a grey beard and pink shirt or otherwise, the image is of our nature- like God, we are loving, creative, powerful and beautiful. It is that nature, made in God’s image, that drives us to transition.

Philip baptised the Ethiopian eunuch. Eunuchs were condemned in the old testament, but not in the new dispensation of Christ.

Jesus identifies with the lowly and downtrodden: whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me. When the Church spits hate, such as the Pope inveighing against “gender theory, which does not recognise the order of creation” calling it as bad as the use of nuclear weapons, he continues the oppression of the strong against the weak that Christ condemned. Francis was pleasing his conservative followers then, the modern equivalent of the scribes and pharisees who Jesus said locked people out of the Kingdom of Heaven. For them, morality is a set of rules, to be used to condemn others. However the Kingdom of Heaven is completely different: we have one Father, who is in Heaven, and one teacher, one instructor, who is the Christ. Jesus will send the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, who will be in us.

You know who you are and what is right because Christ has sent Christ’s spirit to be in you. Your conviction that your gender is not that assigned, your conviction that you are of the other gender, which you know despite all denial, which eventually you have the courage to assert despite all the mockery and hostility others rain down on you, comes from Christ, who says, In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!

Paul confirms this: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. In Acts, we read of the holy spirit coming on all kinds of people. Peter’s epistle predicts the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts– which is the moment you commit to transition, and fully expressing who you are.

The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened. That is, the Kingdom of Heaven is among us, here, present, now, when we follow the Spirit of Christ within. You know your transition is right through the Spirit of Christ leading you.

This post is not written for atheists. If you do not value the Bible, it will not convince you that God leads you to freedom through transition. You know that transition is good for other reasons. Rather I write for people when the Bible has been used to condemn them, for that is a false use of the Bible. The words of Jesus within us confirm that we are right to transition.

Conflicting desires

I want to be seen and heard, valued and understood.

Seen and heard- I am not an orangutan, and even they are solitary because the habitat forces it. And understood- possibly validated.

Hello! Are you in there? I’m gonna find ya, I’m gonna getchagetchagetchagetcha– I want to understand, and it feels like hunting something that does not want to be seen. It feels like a conflict. There is conflict in my head. Is it only with introjects or is it inescapable?

What if I were understood and condemned?
-That is impossible. To know all is to forgive all.
-That is my masochistic desire. Having been condemned, and felt it, I seek its repetition. It feels right.

Understood- by self or others, or by others and thereby, by self?

Understood as an end or a means?

I don’t know anything I want to achieve. Sometimes I find something I want. Today, a principle behind that appeared to emerge- I want to be seen, heard and valued.

I know I like reconciliation. I have managed to produce, recently, harmony and concord in condemning me, though that is not what I had in mind.

I find what I want when I see what I do, and I realised from this that I want to hide away, years ago- first to hide by conformity, by following rules and not being noticed, and when that failed just to hide away, to stay out of sight. So there is a conflict.

I want to be seen and heard.
I want to hide away.

I wonder if wanting to hide comes from bad experiences, or comes from introjects. Then there would be the innate personality with what most nourishes it, and the moment of breaking or falling when it is split from that food, to its harm.

I faced a previous paradox of conflicting understanding- I am the centre of the Universe, of great importance, significance, and worth, and at the same time utterly worthless. Both these views of self are insane. I tried to come to a place between, but have had most success by valuing what I saw as worthless.

I desire, and fear, to be seen and heard. That was the promise of Heaven- Then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known. Now and again I put my head above the parapet.

The Cis Gaze

I took off the dress, and put my suit, shirt and tie back on. “Perfectly normal young man,” said the psychiatrist, approvingly, finishing off the aversion therapy. I saw my body as wrong, so now I was an adult I hid it. My arms were too thin, my sternum too prominent. I did not enjoy team sports, only swimming.

The white gaze socially constructs Blackness, the male gaze objectifies women, through the power to control, but my view of my body as unmanly and therefore inferior and inadequate must have come from somewhere.

Here are some men, looking at art, and some of them are frankly ogling. Yes it’s culture, the technical skill and Titian in the forefront of innovation, with the ambiguity of a woman either covering herself or playing with herself, where the ambiguity is part of the artist’s skill and the value of the picture, but it’s also a naked lady. Other men look at naked men, also aroused. I wonder what Zoffany thought of that. I can see it as inclusion, with the man on the right above described and acknowledged not condemned.

I had come across Zoffany, or Zaufallij, before, but got this, Tribuna of the Uffizi, from Mary Beard’s documentary Shock of the Nude. That also had the artist Jemima Stehli talking about a series of photos of her, aged 39, stripping in front of men. Nobody is in control, so that the woman can be powerful and sexual and objectify herself and still be interesting, intellectual, all the other things that she also wants to be. At art school I was a feminist but I wasn’t happy with 80s black and white feminist simplification and especially the idea of demonising men. She claims the power, and some women, not all, have it, even though men tend to be larger and stronger, which can count for a lot. There is power in having what men want, though danger when men feel entitled to take it. The photos are taken from behind her, facing the man. One looks uncomfortable.

Now, others may see me as a freak, a cat to kick for the lowest-status straight male, and often I limit my attention in the street so I do not consciously notice if someone has read me and is shocked, amused or disgusted by seeing a trans woman, but after transition was the first time I started to love my body and see it as beautiful rather than malformed. There is relentless hostility seeking to make us an out-group, but it does not affect how I see my body. My body is fitting, doing what I need it to do, enjoyably. Valuing my character has been a long struggle, helped on by others’ regard, valuing what I was taught to denigrate. “Soft, gentle, peaceful… truth and courage” came from one man. Despising softness and seeing it in myself came from the culture, boys at school, so many influences until it was as commonsensical as gravity, and moving to value it was a hard, drawn-out process of which transition was only the start.

I have redefined the word- from “soft as shite”, a direct quote from someone, I remember where we were, who he was, in about 1980, to softness as strength, for healing and peacemaking. Others would change the word, to “squishy”- I remember reading that too, from a TERF- calling to mind the softness of a ripe peach and the squishiness of a peach that has gone off without ever properly ripening.

My glance of approval in the mirror, or a distressed “Oh God I look like a man,” seem to come from general self-confidence rather than any actual change in appearance. Others seem to have the same experience, sometimes feeling alright enough, sometimes desperately unconfident, which leeches into everything, including how we see ourselves.

We are seen, and despised, controlled, made to serve. There is the “male gaze”, conceptualised by and for feminists, where men define women, their regard showing their power and control, where men film women, male cinematographers and directors display women to male audiences, with women tagging along. The woman is Other, and Less, primarily emotional rather than rational because her emotions are denigrated rather than affirmed as a man’s are. Critical Whiteness Studies can adopt this concept: the Black person is Othered by the white Gaze.

I hardly know, for myself. I tried to pass as a man, to make a man of myself, for Being a Man was good and if I could develop particular traits, and strengthen my body- going out running until my tendon gave way, taking long walks with a rucksack filled with bricks- I might be OK. And that was based on denigration, of my natural traits. I too reject the black and white feminist simplification: if there was a Rightness in Men, to be affirmed by Patriarchy, it was not in me; I had to ape it as best I could. Now, stopping trying to ape it, attempting to find myself under the male act, value myself under the denigration I received, has some benefits and some disadvantages. Walking down the street I may be obviously queer in a way that I was not, wearing that dark grey suit and silk tie. And I despise myself less, so torture myself less, so my pain lessens, slowly.

Recently I attempted to use words to describe a process of acceptance of another human being as she is. What is our thoughtless attitude? To reject and condemn. This woman does that, which we cannot tolerate in the Quaker meeting. We would start with our Testimony to Equality, tolerating as we expect her to learn the rules by osmosis, and eventually get more and more tetchy as she should have had time to obey the rules until we make her uncomfortable and drive her off.

Doing that meant writing about the woman from the view of the powerful person who rejects, even while preserving his self-image as a wise, generous acceptor, before saying we must see it in a different way, and expand our concepts of normal and acceptable. She was hurt by my gaze, though I inhabited the gaze of the powerful person only to show that their view should be changed, to see her not as that unacceptable thing, but as within the range of normal and acceptable.

I suppose saying “Some see you as this” is threatening and dehumanising, reminding of rejection, even though I name it in order to bring it into full view, critique it and dispatch it. I was trying to be an ally, but I have been angry with allies before, and praised them. I should have been clearer. And, in part, it was me. I was uncomfortable with particular characteristics, before making the decision to see them as positive. It’s my process. This is the human being. Calling aspects objectionable as a way to make her pitiable, or to drive her away, is wrong. I will not do it, because I would benefit if I gained her perspective, understanding and companionship. But for me that has to be a conscious process. I see the exclusionary acts I commit without thinking, because now I am making an effort to notice them, in the hope that I will learn better habits, that inclusion through practice can become habitual. Writing, I observe that process of exclusion or inclusion in me and others, to call it out.

Lionel Shriver, novelist, wants to write any story she can imagine, without regard to “call-out culture”, wokeness or political correctness. {Content warning: there’s a nasty sideswipe or two at trans folk.} Um. Sometimes we want to tell our stories ourselves, resenting the privilege or luck that gives others platforms. Sometimes we resent stories of trans women who are always victims, or deceitful, or messed up, and want stories of our success. Allies have to be careful. People hurt, and feel justifiable anger.

Who is like me?

Who is like me? Everyone, and no-one. I am a human being, one of 7.8bn; and unique, so that no-one will ever be the same.

Everyone is like me: we all feel tired, hungry, thirsty. We all need community. We are animals, with animal needs and desires, and physical experiences, and those drawn to Quakers or those who would gain from our fellowship and we would gain from theirs have or are open to spiritual experiences. The spiritual experience, the leading, the light, is the thing which draws Quakers together. It is a particular kind of spiritual experience: my father loved the Eucharist, but though he sat in silent worship twice, perfectly courteously, got nothing from it. I find openness to immediate relationship with God among people who have barely heard of Quakers, in Faerie and in Extinction Rebellion.

As I explore silent worship, including the meeting for business, over eighteen years, I have found more blessing in it. All I should ask for, in another, is the desire for that stillness. If we talk of the stillness, over coffee or in discussion groups or worship sharing, we expose our most vulnerable, real parts, the parts we protect. The inner light is the most real part of me, and the least known. I need a practice of worship to find it. I meet who I am in worship, without the masks that I wear habitually elsewhere even to myself.

I like to be with people who are like me, and I have had the experience of coming home to people like me, being with my kind, first with Mensa around 1990, then with the Sibyls, Christian Spirituality Group for the Transgendered, in the late 1990s, then with Friends in 2001. With Sibyls we had weekends together, and on the Saturday night we would put on our evening gowns and have intense conversations into the small hours over several bottles of wine about how terrifying impossible and unavoidable transition was. With personal growth workshops which rip us open I have found that feeling of togetherness, at the end. I see people experiencing something similar in the live audiences of WPUK videos: what do they have in common?

If finding that everyone is like me, or discussing how Quakers, in seeking the inner light, are like me, means exposing my most vulnerable parts then I may be tempted to find who is like me in more superficial ways. Who has a degree? Who is comfortable moving in professional circles? Among Quakers I have bonded well with other Scots in England, and other queers, though not usually with other trans women. We remind each other of our failure to pass as cis women, and our great hurt. That part of me is too vulnerable, still too hurting, to form a bond with others. I do not like being reminded of it. Audre Lorde said, What woman’s terms of oppression have become precious and necessary to her as a ticket into the fold of the righteous, away from the cold winds of self-scrutiny? I could be one with the normal people, if only I passed! I marched with Pride until I transitioned, then I did not join a Pride parade for eighteen years. And Lorde’s answer, looking at her past, was sometimes herself.

It may be that Quakers are mostly middle class. I visited Meeting for Sufferings in 2015, and ministry on privilege referred to our wealth, individually and in our meeting houses and investments, which I do not have, and I have heard Friends say similar things since though others have said that excludes people who are not middle class. We might be more middle class because a middle class upbringing gives confidence and self-regard, and life might not be a constant struggle, so that middle-class people have more time to be open to the things of the spirit, and with our comfortable lives we can notice the Spirit’s call; though I was born again when my way of life broke down and I was in extremes of pain and need. But most, not all, working class Quakers (whatever that means) I am aware of have come out to me, and told me of their upbringings, but pass as middle class.

If we are mostly middle class, it may be that what we think of as Quaker sensibilities are really middle-class sensibilities, and that these convey subtle signals that those who do not fit are not wanted. Then the working class, or Black, or disabled, people leave of their own accord and we bemoan how we do not have diverse voices and we are aging and shrinking in numbers. Over coffee, rather than bonding with people like me seeking the inner light, I seek out people like me in less threatening, vulnerability-revealing, ways, such as, being able to talk about Art, surely a sign of middle-classness. It is personal- I am talking of what I love, showing my feelings, and so deeper than small-talk, but not as deep as the inner light. It is a thing I am comfortable talking about, feelings I am safe and happy with, that will not be rejected.

So possibly I could tolerate someone who is not like me in these superficial ways, by having a conversation on their home turf. Can I do that without patronising? “I have the benefit office Capacity for Work Assessment next week,” says someone, “and I am terrified”. And we become campaigning good Quakers, with an object of concern whom we can help, if only by expressions of solidarity. How awful! This is what I have done to campaign against Universal Credit! Let me hear your pain or give you a hug and thereby make you feel better.

The University should be a place where status accrues to merit, as diverse as a Quaker meeting, and Sara Ahmed found that the Asian-heritage lesbian was put down in so many ways that she had to resign and forge her own path. There is Impostor Syndrome felt by women and others, and there are the subtle indicators that you are in fact an impostor. Sometimes it is clear. Surely even the educated white straight male will see it, when she explains: at a meeting, the academics are introducing their courses, and someone is chairing, introducing each of them in turn- this is Professor Jones, this is Professor Smith, and when the only female, the only person of colour in the room stands the chair says “This is Sara”. (Living a Feminist Life, 2017, pp126-7.) Diversity work is dragging these moments into visibility, what Professor Ahmed refers to as being a “killjoy”, thwarting people’s expectations and exposing the racism, sexism and queerphobia of their complacency. Sometimes it is only a feeling, a fleeting look of shock on another’s face when someone who is not white comes into the room. How can you convey that to someone invested in believing that the University is diverse, that everything is OK, that they are colour blind and so if you point out a problem you are playing the race card?

Someone said “I was full of respect for your restraint and gentleness” and others found me so obnoxious I must be silenced. Possibly, I think, the problem really is me.

Sometimes it is clear. Look! Look! we say. And sometimes it is not. There are other explanations. It is hard to see when we exclude another. We would not do it if we could see it, we would be too ashamed.

This is what Sara Ahmed has to say (ibid.p146). It is about Universities, which have diversity policies, rather than Quaker meetings which have a Testimony to Equality, so there is our get out, should we choose to accept it: we would surely not be like that.

“We could think of whiteness as a wall. You know that experience: you walk into a room and it is like a sea of whiteness. A sea: a wall of water. It can feel like something that hits you. It is not just that you open the door and see whiteness but that the door feels as if it is slammed in your face, whether or not it is. It is not always that you are not allowed in. You might even be welcomed; after all, you would promise to add diversity to an event. But you would feel uncomfortable. You would stick out like a sore thumb. So you might leave the situation voluntarily, because it would be too uncomfortable to stay. When you leave, you leave whiteness behind you.”

A Friend has told me of having that experience among Quakers. It is an experience I do not have, I am white. I am grateful that whiteness does not alienate me, and wish our whiteness did not alienate anyone.

Speaking my mind

I was so ready for this an hour ago. I am not sure I can recapture the mood- I’ve cooled off a bit. I was high, and ready to tell you what I really think, and not care if it was not understood. I want to say I understand and you don’t and so shut up, listen, and get your head round this because it matters.

But they’re not going to listen. And my friend warned me on no account to say that. She thinks I should enjoy the loveliness and on no account say anything that will irk anyone at all. Remember, you no longer have male privilege! I would just be proving my maleness, but my femininity would mean I was ignored. I could have been a Pentecostalist minister. Hear the Word of the Lord!

I took control then, and eventually got what I wanted. I have some wonderful gifts.

I want to mess things up. And my friend wants to lance the boil, have the vileness heard so it may be answered. Then the blindness (Oh me! Oh how masculine I am being! Listen to the voice!) the blindnesses would be kicked away, and if that’s painful for someone they should deal with it. I have to deal with it.

I am exploring my own blindnesses, and speaking from different aspects of myself, for each of these is a different aspect. What’s the worst that can happen? I collapse in a puddle on the floor. Not just one bodily fluid. Or,  I will express my love and creativity and however poor the clay I have to work with I shall mould it into the best way for them to be. I shall be circumspect, recognising I no longer have male privilege, and lead people into truth.

I want the most difficult person included: both me, and the person I most disagree with. I have value no matter how many people tell me they need me to go away. I am a human being, the glory, jest, and riddle of the world. Sometimes I can speak winsomely, and persuade people. Sometimes not being rational, saying things I am not sure of because they might be true, or might provoke useful thought, can be useful. I can’t be worse hurt than I have been.

“Part of me is concerned that you will hurt yourself even more,” she said.

I don’t think so. I hope not. Mostly I get away with it- see my highwire act without a safety net. I’ve only fallen the once! Isn’t the word triggered a wonderful word? It is my hurt that is speaking and therefore I have a right to say anything I like. Isn’t being triggered the most awful thing in the world, you are completely without control and you can make a complete and utter fool of yourself.

I feel as well as the risk of making a fool of myself and making my problems worse there is the possibility of learning and growth for everyone involved, human beings coming together in love and understanding, and I will exercise my strength, of persuasion. I want to be seen in my full glory, all parts of me acting together as one. I want agreement and new understanding for everyone, or incremental movement of a few.

-What do you want for you?

I want to learn, to be challenged, to reach new insights, I want to laugh, I want to connect. The risks make it worthwhile.

Needing hugs

As our cheeks touched, my oxytocin receptors went DING!! So I had to go asking for other hugs so that I would not fixate.

I had two hugs during the election campaign. Labour is political, and though women address other women as “Sisters” rather than “comrades” we do not generally hug. However I knew these particular women would be glad to have a hug.

There are lots of hugs at the personal growth weekends. Quakers are half way between. It is safer and more respectful to ask, rather than to blunder in. One gets to read who will like a hug and who probably won’t. At the recent Quaker weekend I had some wonderful hugs, and twice I was offered one, and declined.

I am not good at emotional regulation. I might not have put it that way before my last Samaritans conversation. In childhood my feelings, desires and choices were devalued and ignored, and I grew up not knowing my feelings. Aged about 32, at the Sibyls “Spirituality for the Transgendered” weekend I found them, and they were anger frustration resentment and fear, later simplified to rage and terror. In the Quaker meeting over the last ten years I have learned to be in touch with my feelings. I realised how afraid I was of feeling fear or anger, and so I suppressed them. But suppressing ceased to work. So I was paralysed, my fear and my need to suppress it so I would not show signs of it pushing against each other like an isometric exercise. That state was indeed horrible, and it invigorated my fear of feeling. And in Autumn 2018 I found I could feel the feeling and just permit it, without trying to fight it back.

I may still get carried away or paralysed by feeling, but this is less likely. And thinking of a horrible experience before may help me approach it with something like equanimity: shocks produce far more powerful, unruly feeling in me. And I still suppress feeling, but might be less likely to do so until it is harmful.

Twice, I was offered a hug, and declined. My feelings were deep and intense, of rage, frustration, hurt, and in one case the provocation was ended for the moment, in the other I had removed myself from it. I felt a hug would be consoling, and that was not what I wanted. I could process my feelings by myself. And at another time, I asked to be hugged, rocked and held. I was going into a situation where I knew I would feel strongly, and in fact felt joy and pain at times both at once.

These are a toddler’s lessons. A hug can be fortifying. I was better able to contain my own feeling after it. And it can be valuing- it communicates to me that people value me, so that I have value. It makes me feel better, so it makes me stronger. I have often thought that since my thirties I have been doing a delayed teenage, and a Friend said trans women are like teenage girls- we are relating to people in new ways, exploring, and our feelings can be intense on the hormones- but here I was fortified by a toddler experience, which I wish I had had more as a toddler. “Big boys don’t cry” would have gone down better if said with a fortifying hug.

I hugged where words were impossible, and I also hugged for fun. I hugged for the joy of touch, sometimes of skin, more often of feeling warmth through clothes, softness under my finger tips, human communication without words.