Don’t out me

He has held the core of the atomic bomb in his hands. “What? You touched plutonium?” Well, it was behind a screen, with insulated gauntlets bolted to the glass. And he had a radiation monitor. He wants to tell his stories. His Bentley has the gear shift on the right of the driver, which is unusual in a British car. Someone remarked on this to a friend of his, who had the perfect riposte-

“You mean, other cars have it on the left?”

He waited years to use that line, G tells me. He also tells me what he told the Archbishop he would say to St Peter if he was wrong to disbelieve in the afterlife: “I have lived my life as well as I can, and if that isn’t good enough for you, I don’t want in to your Heaven.” We agree. Of course. And he met John Paul Getty, who was a fascinating conversationalist.

I really like this gentleman.

As we are getting up to leave, P says to me “Say, ‘I want to be a vegetarian’, like you did last week. You sound just like Miss Fritton“. Which would be less objectionable if just after introducing me to his friend Sophie today he had not said the same thing. I am angry, and turn to G: was he aware that I am trans, I would ask. But G has turned about and walked quickly, about ten yards away, so as to be not part of this conversation.

I am particularly peeved at this because G is a humanist and P a Creationist, and Richard saw fit to bring that up. I disapprove of Creationism. It makes Christianity ridiculous. But we all know the arguments on both sides, and are not going to convince anyone to change their mind today. Bringing that up is shitstirring, so I rebuked Richard. I do not want a pile-on, I want a civilised conversation over tea and cake in the sunshine. I could have brought up P’s idiosyncrasy. That was a peculiarly autistic cackle he emitted, high pitched, loud, utterly unselfconscious. And this lack of awareness of others’ feelings is pretty autistic too- yet one can learn social rules. Don’t out people. It’s not difficult.

Probably G was aware that I am trans. I sound like Miss Fritton, after all, and he has been engaging me in conversation for half an hour. He is a highly intelligent man.

I want P to laugh his autistic laugh freely and without anyone objecting. I want people to know that his autism is part of the glorious diversity of humanity, and that it is nothing to be ashamed of. I am sad these things need to be said: when I say, “I am not ashamed of being trans”- needing to say that shows that I have been, and have worked to free himself of the burden of shame. Part of getting there is consciously not remarking on these things- P is autistic, I am trans, deliberately we think to ourselves, No-one should mind. Eventually, no-one will.

The church is beautiful. The misericords are 15th century: I taught Sophie what a misericord is. She looked at them and we chatted, friendly-like. She did not snub me because I am one of those people. Being trans is not a bad thing. The rood screen is 15th century too, and there is a Chantry chapel adjoining. I don’t think she had known what a rood screen is. Richard told me that one of the crests facing the nave is Thomas Becket’s, and that the stained glass showed the nine orders of angels from Pseudo-Dionysius. After they had gone, I waited in the churchyard for the sun to come round, to shine on the barefoot warrior. Perhaps coming back on an overcast day would show greater dedication to photography.

Political correctness

Political correctness is said to be common courtesy: don’t be offensive when talking about people; but it is¬†a way of changing the world for the better, so that everyone will be happier.

Of course it is common courtesy. It is wrong to use offensive names for racial groups. It is even useful to give groups of whom I disapprove- say, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints- the name they choose for themselves. (I disapprove of that church because of its scriptures, in one memorable section summarising I Corinthians ch 13, and taking all the poetry out of it.) Their own name is as good as any other title for them. Any name outsiders make up is a mockery, and I dislike mockery unless fear is unavoidable without it. Mockery condemns by arousing feelings rather than by rational thought. I want to be more careful with my condemnation than that, to condemn no more than is clearly justifiable, to see all the good in any person or situation.

Political correctness is more than just common courtesy. It is a way of building acceptance of people as we are, in love, rather than condemning aspects which are unfamiliar or unusual, out of fear. It is a way of achieving acceptance of others and therefore acceptance of ourselves. It is a way towards liberation for everyone.

Some might think political correctness a fertile source of the rules de Tocqueville was thinking of, 

a network of small complicated rules which cover the surface of life and strangle freedom.

But rejecting PC means claiming the freedom to refuse to wake up. The rules there are far more onerous. Embracing PC means claiming the freedom to be yourself.