Anglican Woo-woo

File:Samuel Seabury-Bishop Episcopal Church USA.jpgI am a very bourgeois hippy: some of the spiritual practices, none of the drug-taking. Weird woo-woo spiritual practices like channeling spirit or the Energy of the Universe through my hands for healing. These practices are interwoven in the staid, traditional Anglicanism I grew up with.

For example, the priest consecrating the bread and wine of the Eucharist speaks the same words every time, telling how Jesus at the last Supper gave bread and wine to his followers. From age 0 to age 18, I heard the words of the 1929 Scottish Liturgy, which gives precise instructions. And here the Presbyter is to lay his hands upon all the bread…. And here to lay his hand upon every vessel (be it chalice or flagon) in which there is any wine to be consecrated. What is this, but chanelling the Spirit, to make the elements holy?https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/Katharine_Jefferts_Schori_2.jpg

For Roman Catholics, the bread actually becomes the Body of Christ. For Anglicans, taking the bread is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”- it is the moment of communion with God, when we take the bread in our mouths. It is Communion, because it has been consecrated.

In the same way, at the end of the service, the priest blesses the congregation, and when s/he does so s/he raises her right hand. The gesture is the blessing, as well as the words. Some priests do spiritual healing with the laying on of hands, as Jesus commanded in the gospel. In ordination of priests and consecration of bishops, and in confirmation, the officiant stretches out her hands over the person blessed. Bishops receive- something- which has been passed down, bishop to bishop, from the first Apostles who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is the “Apostolic Succession”.

That is the theory. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, Who is God.

When putting on his vestments, my last vicar had prayers for each garment, and told me he had come aross a prayer to say as he put on his radio mike. And why not? It makes the worship go better. As for these preparatory prayers as a whole, they enhance the priest’s putting his whole attention into his tasks in the ritual. It is very Buddhist, and new-age mystical, to bring your attention to the present- because it is beneficial.

I am Feminine

Of course, I have been this feminine before. I have expressed it, mostly when first coming out. When I first showed Sheena how I looked, female, she said “I would stare at anyone as feminine as you”. I went out with Carol for eighteen months. She had considered (and rejected) transitioning the other way, but came to a transvestite dance as “Charles” once, and complained to me about how difficult it was to get a hairdresser to give her a man’s haircut. They would go only so far. On feeling that feminine, I wrote this while I was going out with Carol in 1999, and see that when I copied out all my verse into another book, I omitted it. I have not shared it before:

You don't like me in trousers
you want me in a skirt
but that makes me feel vulnerable
sometimes it really hurts

I want to be all fluffy
(the word "feminine" is taboo)
I want to be all girly
playful and childlike too

Tell me that I'm pretty
and smile at me, I plead
without constant reassurance
I'm crushed. I'm weak. I bleed.

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Statue of Kuan YinActually, Guan Yin is sometimes portrayed as a male, “Kannon”, or as androgynous. Enlightenment has no gender, non-duality precludes it. This statue is flat-chested and narrow-hipped, however feminine the base of flowers may seem.

There is a difference between the femininity of having compassion on all created beings, wanting none of them to have to endure reincarnation any more, and the femininity of passivity, wanting to be asked out, asked to dance, kissed, heard and consoled and cared for. How may I be positive about the latter, see it as Blessing? In one tale, Guan Yin rides on a tiger, like Durga. Perhaps they are two sides of the same characteristic of “Femininity”. You cannot have one without the other. The sensitive flower, vibrating so much she feels with everything, cares for everything, needs to be cared for.

Or perhaps at least they are two facets of me- without both, I would not be me.

Fearing myself and my responses, including that passivity, is the way to hold myself back- I cannot engage, because I might respond in a bad way. What problems does my passivity actually cause?

If I have the unconscious thought, “Oh God, it is that bit of me coming out, that will screw everything up and thwart me” then I go into battle against myself. And I cannot ever possibly win a battle against myself. It is the fighting and the suppression that thwarts me, not the characteristic itself.

Truthfulness

I asserted that I am creative, courageous and loving. Can I assert that I am truthful, truth-seeking, and have integrity? Is that my characteristic, or is it a tattered dirty rag I seek in vain to cover my nakedness with, the idea of myself as truthful?

A year ago, S told me he crossdressed: it felt like his unburdening. Last month, he upset me, and I would like to get back at him, leaking out his secret. That would affect my seeing myself as a person of integrity. But what do I owe him? Is it my appearance to myself that matters more than reality? All this questioning in the watches of the night. It really matters to me, and so I can assert,

I am truthful.

I stood about a yard from U in her kitchen, in that beautiful flat I have now visited five times, which she is leaving to live with D. We held eye contact, then I looked her over, appreciating her. Then those ridiculous tears well up in me. I want to hear and honour the feeling, and I want to Not Cry- no adult cries as much as I do, hardly any toddler. I close my eyes and with an effort over some seconds, regain my equanimity. “You broke rapport,” she says, and I explain. We hug. After scrambled egg, smoked salmon and coffee, the last of us leave. I have another top, again more eye-catching than my wont.

The sun is shining.

I cast a shadow.

Proof that I exist!

I made this crack to H, and she said, “even someone as fragile as you.” On the tube, the song Will sang last night runs in my mind:

How could I dance with another
When I saw her standing there?

I was repeatedly near to tears. It is one thing crying writing this, alone in my room, but alone in public? Consciously I centre myself, refresh my Qi, imagine that emotional being crying inside me without my external physical response, and manage not to cry. And I Decide- this highly strung, so responsive, Emotional Being that I have, that I am, is not a curse, a problem, a cause of weeping making me look ridiculous but my Blessing, my Gift, a beautiful thing.

U was with R for sixteen years. Last night at U’s party R came for the first time back to the flat they had shared, into the kitchen, and kissed U. “I chose this chair, I chose that table”- she is taking them away when U moves in with D. And no-one can understand how she feels about U moving in with a man. So I told her how I feel, and cried, and though it seemed ridiculous to me that she, the ex-partner, should be consoling me, she did.

U and others asked me about my expressed intention to move to London. Right now, this intense work of self-acceptance is all I can manage, the most important thing I have to do before anything else. I need to stay in my beautiful flat, here in the countryside, for a while yet.

ParalympicsGB Sitting Volleyball Teams Announced

On the train home, there is a woman with half a Union Flag on her jacket- so I interrupt her texting on her smart-phone to ask her about it. She is Andrea Green of the British Sitting Volleyball team (above, seventh from the right). I had not heard of sitting volleyball before- the net is one metre high, players manoevre around the court supporting themselves on their hands. She is classified as “minimally disabled”- she has a dropped left foot. A disc pressed on the nerve, preventing her contracting her ankle joint. By the time the nerve recovers, the muscle has atrophied. She signed her first autograph today- not sure why the girl wanted it but happy to oblige. She used to wear trousers to cover up the splint, but now does not mind. What will it be like to hear the cheers of the home crowd? she wonders: a Judo practitioner told her it was Wonderful. We discuss self-acceptance, diversity, “disability” and how everyone is making compromises and adjustments to live in the world, why make a special case of people who have to adjust to some, but not all, physical states of their bodies?

Everyone

Every person I meet
every living being I encounter
everything that happens to me
has been a Blessing on me
is a Blessing on me
will be a Blessing on me.
I do not need anyone, or any thing,
to be other than they are.

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The Mentalist, bubblegum entertainment, rarely moves me to tears, but this exchange did (Ruby slippers, 4:21)
Jane: Were you ashamed of your son?
Father: Yes

and I felt such sympathy for the father. As well as the daughter.

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Jesus is God, and God is love, but there are moments when Jesus’s Love is commented on.

Mark 10:

20 ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Five times in John, including chapter 21:

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you?’) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’

22 Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?

And John 11:

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked.

‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’

That is it. These are the passages which a search for “Jesus loved” brings up. And where in John 21 Jesus three times challenges Peter “Do you love me?” he never reassures Peter that he loves him back; but shows his trust of him.

Anger, at whom?

File:Alfred Graf von Schlieffen.jpgAnger, at whom? I have turned my anger inwards, at myself for being TS, and I need to turn it outwards. At whom? My parents were a product of their time, and they did as all people do, they did their best under difficult circumstances. Can I really blame them?

Perhaps I can blame circumstances, the monstrous European colonialism and warmongering, the need to control, the belief in an ideal of “normal”, the disdain for the Other, the tram-line thinking. It is personified for me in Alfred, Graf von Schlieffen, whose name is given to the German plan to sweep through Belgium and France, and encircle and capture Paris. There is nowt so silly as the Rational Man: poor von Kluck (yes, really, cluck cluck) had no option but to turn south-eastwards, opening his flank to attack at the Marne, and bog down half of Europe in France for four years. But the Schlieffen plan was the product of the German need for self-defence against an alliance of Britain, France and Russia. It came from the Enlightenment and the human desire to understand and control which also brought forth the Industrial Revolution, to our great benefit, and which has arguably led to our current new Spiritual enlightenment. So it was inextricably interwoven with something wonderful. (Gosh, being positive can be a pain sometimes.)

So, anger at whom? One good target is those middle class types who treat me as a man. That is gross discourtesy, and they ought to know better. None for months, and then three in two weeks! Derek, a yoga teacher, forsooth- the correct pronoun is “she” not “he”. And Klaus, with your five “spiritual” books in eighteen months, three now edited for publication, a positively Blytonian output, and  Robin, lecturer in and supervisor of counsellors, all you Spiritual, advanced, mature types: I am not a “crossdresser”. I am entitled to enough respect from you that you avoid crass discourtesy.

Because being transsexual is a great blessing,
a unique perspective,
a wonder to be, and a wonder to behold
if you can silence your prejudices and preconceptions,
and just perceive.

It will not do. Yes, anger at the ignorance of my culture for turning the glorious, beautiful phenomenon of Transsexuality- a thing of wonder, a blessing- into a shameful subject of mockery and disgust. 

Anger at my parents? No. Anger at my parents, now, feels manufactured. I have done anger at my parents, and while I may have more to do that is not what I need to do now.

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I only decided in August- it was the immediate cause of this blog- that being transsexual is a blessing. Before, I thought it a curse. Before I decided to transition, I went with a friend to her church, and we went for coffee in the church hall afterwards. I was dressed female, and a member of the congregation talked to me as if I was a normal person. And that felt so strange to me, and in fact wrong: she ought to be expressing distaste, she ought to be uncomfortable with me, a man dressed as a woman.

I had messages from my world and my culture that how I was- with testicles and desiring to express myself female- was entirely wrong and disgusting, and I accepted that and took it in to myself and turned my anger inwards, at myself for being transsexual, rather than outwards at those who would cast me out because of this wondrous and beautiful aspect of me.

This may not be the heart of the matter, but it is the piece of the jigsaw to place, Now: I need to feel and express that anger outwards. Until I can do this work, I am stuck. I have an idea of how I might be, after, with the middle class types who use the wrong pronouns, or words like “crossdresser”, “Autogynephilia”, even “transsexual”. (I do not, now, get catcalls in the street.) I could be expressing my love for them, inviting to share my wonder and delight, see me in my beauty and paradox. Or, just ignore them, it is their stuff not mine.

First, I need to turn the anger outwards.

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I can generalise that. Having no sense of my own value, when things did not turn out as I had hoped I got angry with myself and blamed myself. That is not in proper balance. There will be times when I could do better, and must try harder, but beating myself up until I give up is unproductive. There will be times when anger at others is appropriate. I do not need to express it, but I may permit myself to feel it.

Ending it all

As I approached transition, and starting to live full time- expressing myself female at work, putting off my male disguise- often my friend F would take me in to her house at weekends. She is a wonderful, funny, generous person, fearful and hurt and still enthusiastic. She, L. and I would go out sightseeing or shopping. L., also deeply hurt, was fond of quoting Old Man River:

I get weary and sick of trying
I’m tired of living, and scared of dying

and I hated it.

Another friend has two catchphrases, “I think I’m not long for this world” and “I think I’m going to end it all”. To which I respond, a first floor window is high enough if you make sure to land on your head. For my American readers, you would call that a “second floor”, I understand. But I hated it, and I still hate it.

Of course I have been suicidal. Who, unable to bear living as assigned by others yet terrified of transition has not? For a long time I kept enough sleeping pills to do for myself. I got them from the GP, because I was having trouble sleeping, but had not used all of them as they made me feel TATT, in the doctors’ acronym. Once, I formed the intent, and was rescued from myself by the strangest synchronicity. One woman I heard of plotted murder as well, but could not go through with it, and I think, well, yeah, I can sympathise with that even if I have not myself been angry and despairing enough to make such an intention.

And- No. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We heal and grow and mature from whatever place we are in, and it ill behoves us to cut that off. I do not deserve death, however wrong I thought myself. I deserve blessing, and will open my heart to receive it.

I loathe those catchphrases. I know precisely what I am doing here, telling my keyboard, and people some of whom I have met will read it, because I have not had the courage to tell her to her face (my response hints at it and skirts round it). I love her intelligence and courage and humour and generosity and creativity. I loathe her negativity and inability to care for herself as she deserves and her withdrawal into herself, because they are not necessary. Something better is possible. I am finding more courage. I am reducing my blocks.

Today is the WHO World Mental Health Awareness day.

Projecting

My heart is full after the Human Awareness Institute weekend, and I wish to share about it. Not about the people, apart from the fact that they are wonderful, because of confidentiality; not about the exercises, because they are entitled to their copyrights, though I can say we built trust and love and affirmation through stroking of faces and hands. I want to share part of the blessing I received.

I became aware of how, though I have discovered that being transsexual really is a blessing, I still resent it. It has been so painful and difficult. Why me? And so I have judged and condemned myself for being transsexual. I have then projected this onto other people, onto tout le monde, imagining their judgment on me for being trans. And this has prevented me seeing how they really react. Some of them, it seems, have some difficulty with my way of being, though I think very few judge me for it, and those poor souls will have enough else to think about so that they will rarely be thinking of me. I intend to be freed from this projection, and to see other people more clearly as they are rather than my imagining of them. I feel more able to love myself, accept myself, and be kind to myself.

It is tempting but untrue to say, the HAI weekend has changed my relationship with x. What it has done is show me that so much more is possible in my relationship with x, more delight and joy and love and authenticity and honesty, and so given me the possibility of changing and improving that relationship myself.

Pupating

I still have not explained what I meant by saying I have pupated.

I have seen being transsexual as a curse, despite having had for a long time the idea that I need to see it as a blessing. I got as far, this year, as this: one of the first thing anyone, from tiny babies up, notices about another person is what sex they are. If I am both or neither, then one of the most basic rules is broken. Then, there are no rules, and anything is possible: for me, and for everyone.

This was not enough.

But then, I was at the theatre, yet another scene in which a man and a woman argue. It was a brilliant production, my disbelief was suspended and the audience were totally involved. And as I watched them express their hurt and their anger, I realised, my heart moved with both of them. And then I realised,

I am a man
I am a woman
It is blessing to be transsexual
It is blessing to be me