Detransition III

Detransition is for losers. Detransition is second-rate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just be you.

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

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

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Parakaleo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keith’s worthless fantasies.

Freezing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Detransition II

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

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

This is all leading up to something.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Detransition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The trans hero

You are a hero. The trans journey is unique.

The Hero’s journey is a structure upholding many myths and stories, including modern novels. The hero is in the ordinary world, uncomfortable because of some stress, or unaware. Something forces him (bear with me) to face the beginnings of change, but he initially refuses, then meets a mentor or finds courage within himself. He leaves the ordinary world into a place with unfamiliar rules and values. He is tested, and finds friends. He meets the major challenge, death or his greatest fear, and from overcoming it finds new life. He returns to the ordinary world, with the means to redeem it.

the-heros-journey

Maureen Murdock described a heroine’s journey- an active, not passive heroine- starting with separating from the feminine, and entering a masculine-defined sphere. Her success is where the hero’s journey would end, but she feels arid, lifeless without the feminine. She reclaims feminine attributes but from a new perspective, and heals the wounded masculine within her. She integrates masculine and feminine.

the-heroines-journeySome trans folk are conscious of being trans from childhood, but gynephile trans women are often in denial, fleeing to clichéd extreme masculinity. Transition is liberation, as we become the ultra-feminine within. After, we integrate our experiences as man and as woman, and move from understanding we gleaned from others to our own understanding. As we mature we become truly ourselves.

In changing between the two, we model freedom from gendered constraints for everyone. Then we integrate the two, modelling a more complete and whole way of being human. We move from fear, rejection, imitation to realisation of ourselves. I am not “a trans woman”- I am Clare.

Life is contingent and random. There is no satisfying narrative arc, but a succession of incidents; no easily summarised character, but responses to circumstances. And, trans folk unite men’s and women’s experiences and responses, bringing unique sensibility and potential for empathy; and show what human beings can be.

Imperfection

I glory in my imperfection, because it is freedom. When do you repent? When you realise you have something to repent of! All that time I was stating repentance weekly- the remembrance of [sins] is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable- I had no particular consciousness of doing anything wrong.

It’s a glorious, sunny Christmas day, well above freezing. It is a Spring day in wintertime. Peter is doing the homeless charity’s Christmas dinner, so drives me to Meeting. I walk from there to the Meeting house, wishing a man and a small girl Merry Christmas. In Meeting, I am moved to minister. I feel Joy. I walked here from the Sunlight centre, and felt Joy. I was tempted to overreach my leading, preaching a little homily, but that was it, so I sit.

The acoustic’s dreadful in here. K is moved to respond to my ministry, but he heard the word “dry” not “joy”. He speaks of Patriarchy: oppressive expectations and coercive control of women and girls, but inability to be really themselves for men and boys too. (Well, it is a man talking.) He is talking at school of patriarchy, which makes Western civilisation dry. I really want to correct him. I said “Joy”, the happy union of delight and contentment, not “dry”. However, that is against the rules. You do not speak more than once in a meeting. I have to allow it. No real damage is done.

I said “I am selfish,” and that delighted me. It was terrifying, then it became alright. It is liberating. I am not worthless when I am not perfect, I am human, and in between.

I am generous
I am courageous
I am perceptive
I am creative
I am truthful
I am cursed

and I am selfish
and I am cowardly
and I am cloddish
except when I am not
and I dissimulate
and I am blessed


Have I no control? That is bearable, because it has to be. Anyway having control, like a child playing with a train set, might pall. Real human beings are far more interesting. I do bad things, including where I cannot say sorry or be forgiven, and scarce know how bad they are: Did that hurt you? Does the fact that I did not realise make it OK, or make it worse?

I mean well. Normally that is enough, sometimes it isn’t, and anyway in the long run we’re all dead. Life is tragic, a matter of loss after loss, and beautiful, with finite discrete moments of joy.

Some people this driven, who must always be perfect, have the talent to manage it; but faced with evidence of my imperfection I have fled and hid. No-one could be as good as I wanted to be. So. Metanoia. You change when you realise you have to, and that it is possible. I will not drive myself so harshly: I will accept my imperfections. Only then can I see them clearly, and bear them; and keep buggering on, and mitigate them.

Another opposite: I had been overweeningly arrogant, seeing myself as the centre of the universe, and self-abasing, seeing myself as worthless. Neither of these views were accurate. Self-acceptance might bring self-knowledge, and a just appraisal of my capacities. Though I will always get things wrong- the world, and all the life in it, is too complex a puzzle for me, to puzzle it out.

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Being Bad

A job application.
What? 50% more than I ever earned, after six years unemployed?
Why not?

Self confidence has value in some situations. “She never felt guilty about what she needed to do to survive.” If what is stopping me gaining something is my own feeling that I cannot get it, or do not deserve it, or do not fit here, how does that benefit me? Chutzpah. Or, social blindness: there really are sanctions. Yet disapproval is not one of them, only an act, not a feeling, matters.

I thought of myself as “selfish”. It is a terrifying thought. I have sought self-acceptance in the idea of myself as a “good” person, which Selfishness dents. Or, I am safe from the sanctions of the terrifying Others if I am “good”. Yet it could be liberating, freeing me to take action for my good which I could not otherwise.

My refuge, my place where I sought Safety, is not safe and costs too much. The ideal of Goodness restricts me.

I am good enough, generous or altruistic enough. You can sometimes gain an attribute if you deny it. If you berate yourself for laziness every time you rest, that will make you a hard worker. You won’t get the benefit of enjoying imagining yourself as a hard worker, but you will get the benefits of being one.

Roll it round the mouth, like alcohol- no-one really likes the taste, but they like the effects. Or like a particularly strong cheese I have never tasted before. I am surprised people like this, but perhaps I notice that it will do me no harm. This sensation is highly stimulating. I value stimulation rather than just pleasure- it is freedom, it creates possibility, it gives options.

Am I really potentially violent? I experience myself as “sad” rather than angry, but this is no defence: angry could get violent, but Sad could get violent, and self-righteous about it. No. I am not. Violence in me is wrapped round with taboos. I would go tense but quiet, like an isometric exercise, working in two directions, still. I am “Angry”. Ah. It is hot in me. I need not lash out to let myself know how angry I am, I can use the energy better than that. What would it be good to do?

There is a difference between anger, even rage, and violence.

I am selfish, and that is a good thing. I am also generous, loving, great-hearted, whatever; I like other people to be happy, and work to that end, for it gives me pleasure; and “Selfish” should no longer be a barrier to action or an emotional tension making me uncertain, equivocal, vacillating. “Self-indulgent” has been one of my strongest condemnations, when I do something anyway and feel really guilty about it. This is such a long journey. It stopped me completely, before, but I am breaking through it.

I am Clare, and I am selfish. I want my survival, prospering, flourishing. Ideally I would have found these thoughts in teenage, but then I started doing teenage in my thirties. I may finish it some day.

Tina said, “It’s not you, it’s me”. It is not anything about how I am, other people react for their own reasons and I might not be the most important thing in others’ calculations! She sees no selfishness in me. Some care for onesself is acceptable. You are safe from that cruel word. I would rather take the word which has tortured me, and drain its power. I am ‘selfish’- and I am still alive! She sees no solipsism in me either, which really surprises me, sometimes I think the only thing I ever look at is my navel. Who’d have thought it?

She sees my deep sadness. Yes. I do too. It is not hunting me, now. It chased me through the woods and the ruins, and I never gained distance on it however fast I ran; yet when I pause, it stops too, and we look at each other.

gentleness II

Not knowing yourself does not mean you can escape yourself. You are still you, even if you think you are somehow other. Other people may see you better than you see yourself. That woman, and how I was with her: I have been thinking of her and her father. He was a man old before his time with a mild, ingratiating manner, a white beard, and a very soft, low voice. She was in her twenties but appearing much younger, very quiet and timid before me. I asked her if her husband hit her, and she replied, “Only occasionally”.

“You were so gentle with her,” said Beate, wonderingly. She once asked me why I always used horrible, dismissive words for people.

I saw her several times over several years, to try to get her benefits, usually sickness benefits. I was gentle with her. I spoke softly and explained clearly, with an attempt to demonstrate respect- inabilities which might make you entitled to benefits may seem shameful to some but are not.

I don’t know. I- took a lead from her in how to conduct the interview. Or I found a way to work with different responses: with people who were angry I would be practical, model a practical approach to the problem, and with people who were scared I would be gentle, to try and make them no more scared, to let them open up.

When she was single, she invited me to eat with her family. I took people up on such offers sometimes but not her. It seemed to me that she desired me as a partner, which I may have projected onto her though I did not think such a partnership would work for me.

I could be soft and gentle with a client. I could be as much that feminine self before transition.

I said to Moira, “I am quite resilient”. She said, “Actually, I think you are very easily hurt”. Resilient was the manly way I wanted for myself.

And at another time, it felt like when presenting male I was in a defensive posture all the time, tense, expecting attack. That tension is ineffectual as defence as it is not responsive.

Here am I debating. Was I fooled? Is transition just a con, as you can be the Real You without all this faff? It did not feel I could be. Sometimes I was. Sometimes I wasn’t. It felt better, expressing myself female, and so it is not just a con, there is some basis in reality. Transition may not be the perfect solution, but it is close enough to be tempting. There may be no perfect solution even in some radical feminist utopia. Where women could be like men without contrary expectations, would anyone be feminine, or would it be more disrespected than now?

In meeting it seemed that the state of awareness is a sensual pleasure. I get to a state where I am present in the moment, and my senses are precise- I can pay great attention to a knot in the wood of that bookcase, and it seems I am seeing beauty in the thing, but perhaps it is that I am delighting in being in that state of sensual awareness. Calm your mind and be present in the moment. It is pleasureable.

It could just have been a good day with that woman- she is receptive to a way of dealing with clients which I am good at, and like, so I enjoy it, the melting feminine Mes Larmes me fits that particular situation. There are a range of human responses, and perhaps telling myself that I particularly like one or two makes me less competent with the others. Yet- my friend deprecates herself, and I immediately respond gently- it delights me, and is a good response.

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The Only Cross-dressing guide on the web

Beware what you read on the internet. A spam comment took me to Cross Dressing Guide, which breathlessly promises, Learn how to crossdress — and pass as a genetic female — from the most comprehensive feminization guide on the web…PLUS learn how you can develop your own female voice!

Jamie is probably not your best guide. I almost embarrassed myself in front of others by following the “tuck away” tip I learned off the site — didn’t hold its place. Tucking is very simple. Here is the only guide you need, and if Jamie could not manage it himself, he can’t teach anyone else. I never had a problem.

He thinks passing is very important. Even though he worked really hard to pass, I still looked like a dude in a wig and a dress. Well, of course. You need a great deal of practice. Reading a book or looking at photos is not going to teach you, certainly not in a few short days. If you are a cross-dresser, there is no need to go out in public at all; there are lots of accepting places you can cross-dress. Facebook is full of groups. More seriously, I hate what Jamie writes, I strive to create as near perfect illusion of being a woman as I can. Passing as a woman is one of the most important things as a crossdresser, transgenderist, transvestite or transsexual…Your goal is to be totally accepted as a woman when you go out….you don’t want to embarrass anyone, including yourself…. you want to be treated with respect and dignity by those you encounter. That threefold division, TS, TV, TG is more than ten years out of date. No-one talks like that any more, and the tips may be similarly out of date.

And Jamie cultivates paranoia. I want to be treated with respect and dignity, but if I am not, it is not because I have failed to pass but because the other person is discourteous. Passing is good, but you need a brass neck.

I decided in 1996 that I didn’t want to be a sad, lonely pervert- I wanted to be a happy, gregarious pervert. I went to Stephanie Anne Lloyd’s Transformation shop in Manchester. I see she’s still going, and still promoting her gender clinic- a friend spent vast amounts of money on that, and got nothing. I asked if there was anywhere I could dress in the city, and they said their shop was the only place. I got my first wig there, at a time I would have been too embarrassed to get a wig anywhere else, before I had internet access- so I am grateful- but they do exploit trans folk terribly. The place to go in Manchester is the Northern Concord. Jamie bad-mouths everyone else- small handful of tired tips… just awful!– but could hardly be the only trustworthy person in the business.

You certainly don’t need a garment especially designed for tucking- Jamie’s use of the term “cache-sex” just like Transformation makes me suspicious they are linked. Transformation was terribly exploitative, with low quality clothes at very high prices.

A local gay bar started using my guide to train their drag performers. And many patrons wondered why there were real women working in the establishment. If that were so, they were failures. The point of being a drag artiste is being absolutely fabulous.

What he promises is worthless. You don’t need to figure out how to…use skin products and cosmetic that suit your own skin type. You need help, which a beauty counter will provide, if the shop is quiet. I found beauticians very helpful. Learn to dress as a female by knowing different styles of dresses– well, most women wear separates, and trousers. If you wear dresses, you will stand out. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but does give the lie to the suggestion that he can give fashion tips. Walk like a female using feminine movements that will make you a fashion model. You don’t want to let your masculine movements blow your cover. A sashay might draw attention too. I found walking in a feminine way was more a matter of relaxing than learning tricks.

Keep your $50, but you might go to his site- if you want a good laugh.

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