Norethisterone IV

My dear friend Richard explained to me that I transitioned because I misunderstand what femininity is. Well, of course I do, but I feel he simplifies it worse. My father, a pansy, found a virago, and they were married for 33 years. Then 18 months after she died he found another, who is now his widow. He was happy.

We had some difficulty on finding the right word. I want to be- dominated? No, no, yuck, the connotations of leather, pvc, whips and chains revolt me. Subordinated, perhaps. Ruled, even. Those words will do. He says this is inauthentic, a cop-out from the existential duty Sartre called all human beings to. Yeah, right- so tell me again why Sartre had a fifty year relationship with a woman who was cleverer than he was.

I said that if I were a woman seeking a man, wanting to be dominated would be unremarkable, and at that he said no, only equality is acceptable within a relationship. Why should my father not be happy? Or I? He insisted, and then said I misunderstood femininity. He accepted it was cultural. Women are strong. I agree equality is a good model for a relationship, yet feel “Wives be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord” is OK if that fits the people involved- and the other way round, too, for some couples.

What would a gay man know about it anyway, I wondered. Possibly he was projecting, but as we were getting a little heated we agreed to change the subject, and went onto politics.

I have enough norethisterone to have ten nine-day sessions of it, at the dose I had been on. I find that it makes my emotions more intense, so came off it, and the endocrinologist said I should not take it, but I wanted to experiment. At times, more intense emotions could be fun or a learning experience. This is day three.

I arrived a little early, and phoned his house in case he had not left yet. When we had poured the tea, I noticed a tedious chord progression in the background music- I V VI IV repeated, eight semiquavers to each- so unimaginative- and complained about it. “That sounds like Batman”, he said, Nananana nananana… I put my hand up to stop him, embarrassed and peremptory. Ah. Possibly that’s the norethisterone. Its purpose with HRT is to prevent endometriosis, and as I have no uterus, it has no value. My needs and desires have greater immediacy, and then I find myself apologising and explaining.

Sartrean authenticity may be impossible.

Interloper at home

Everyone who experiences themself as a woman is welcome. So I went over for a chat, and am now on the constituency party women’s forum Facebook page.

And looking up at her, beside her friend in the “I am a Feminist” t-shirt I felt like an interloper. What do I have in common with these women? It is just nervousness, but I am wondering what it could be, a shared experience of upbringing, unwanted sexual attention or even a female body that locks me out, makes me Other. The trans are welcome thing is policy, not these women’s choice.

It is just nervousness but it feels real.

A few days later, to the Tate. In the Members’ room I hear two men talking of what makes you the same person as you were years ago and what if you could be uploaded to a computer. They are transhumanists drinking Schiehallion lager- drinking rather than climbing or dancing- and I say I think of myself as a process, rather than a being. I do not understand object oriented ontology, but I like the idea of no hierarchy of objects- no order of importance between quarks, individuals, biosphere. Transhumanists are individualistic, and he says the culture is. They go on to Fermi’s paradox. I say aliens are likely to be social. It is worthwhile passing on how to make a flint axe, or smelt iron, only in a social species. If they have developed space travel and not wiped themselves out they will be collaborative. If they have not destroyed themselves with weapons or climate change, they will be altruistic.

He tells me that does not follow. Just because it has happened with us that we are co-operative, does not mean aliens will be.

We are sharing ideas, but also competing. I tell them how interesting it has been talking, and go to the Farrelnissa Zeid exhibition.

She was married to an Iraqi Prince, who served as an ambassador till the revolution, when he took a rented flat. Aged 57 she cooked a meal for herself for the first time.

It is quiet. Which of these huge canvases is “My Hell”? I ask the security guard, who asks another worker. She has graduated from art school, like most people here. The security guard goes round the room looking at the captions, slightly embarrassing me, as I could do that myself. Rose and I follow at a more leisurely pace. I only asked as it is named on the introduction.

She wants to know what I think of the last room, so we walk through. The Princess’s style changed dramatically. I love those oblongs of resin, with things embedded- they seem so fragile.

What are you working on now? This is a personal question, don’t answer if you don’t want to. She is doing embroidery, of Lisa Minelli as Eva Peron. Lisa wanted the role but never played it. Eva had cancer, but still went campaigning- she had a thing made so she could lean but appear to stand. It is about stories we tell about ourselves and others- Eva’s ability to stand, Lisa’s about Eva, Rose’s about Lisa and mine about the picture. All untrue. It is taking her years.

Oh the sunshine is glorious! Outside is a work of art, that word repeated. I ask a woman to take my picture in it, and she is happy to.

To the pub. I get a pint and look quizzically at the front step. The door is narrow. Can Efrat get in,  in her motorised wheelchair? An Irishman asks if I would like to sit with him. He calls me “Darling.” I say I am waiting for a female friend. I go off to blog. Well, it’s a nice enough place to sit, and the live music is good. He goes to the toilet, and says to me, “Your friend not here yet?” No, she isn’t.

Efrat wanted to come here because it had an open mic, and she wanted to sing. Actually the blues band did not like her song so did not let her, and played boringly but at huge volume. Rather than talking, we typed on my phone. She was born in Beersheba, and though her English is good it is slow for her. We got onto whether people could live in peace in a state of anarchy, when it was time for me to leave for my train. She wore a ballgown decorated with classic tattoo designs which she bought in Camden.

I fit well enough, and know which sex I prefer.

ВПЕРЕД

That nervousness with women could be my pansy sexuality, the soft male deferential with women, wanting to attract the strong woman. It might even work! This couplet I find extremely sexy:

Boys are like rules they were made to be broken,
girls are like guns you better run when they’re smoking

Sex and Gender II

Sex doesn’t matter.

Sex is physical, gender is cultural. Sex does not matter unless you are having it, looking for it, or looking for someone to have it with. Sex, maleness or femaleness, is so little of human experience that, compared to gender, it does not matter.

Gender is how we relate to each other. Arguably it is gender rather than sex that men generally ask women out rather than the other way round. Gender is how we present ourselves to each other, or even to ourselves. Gender is our whole lives.

So if you are forced into a masculine gender, when it does not fit, it is as oppressive as to be forced to be someone else, pretending all the time, never allowed to be yourself.

That does not mean that you would be happier in a feminine gender. It can be as restrictive. It probably fits you better, but there is that small matter of sex, a tiny part of life but important all the same, and the fact that the feminine gender is not “opposite” to masculine. It is not binary, On or Off, 1 or 0, but a huge range as diverse as all of humanity. Your gender does not fit the culture, male or female, and you can try to make it fit or be yourself. Those are the choices.

“Transsexual” makes no sense at all. You cannot get female sexual organs, only a rough simulacrum of them. You might think that customary ways of using what you have don’t really fit your gender, but alteration can’t make it better. If you want to be passive, having The Operation does not suddenly make that permissible.

I felt it did. I felt sexual passivity and post-op trans organs went together. After the operation I could give myself permission. If only I could have given myself permission to be passive without the operation.

Only non-binary can fit a human being as they is. No-one fits gender stereotypes, some people can sort of fit just for a quiet life, some of us who don’t fit at all have to rebel and create our own gender, idiosyncratically ourselves.

I wrote a post called “sex and gender” in 2013, and put it completely differently. At the time, I felt a strong need to change sex in order to feel permitted to change gender. I associated the feminine gender too much with the female sex, and denied my own idiosyncrasies to try and fit the feminine gender as I had tried to fit masculinity. What a shame I could not realise any of this before now.

Being the Good person

I am cycling on the road slightly downhill with the wind behind me, and someone is cycling out of the park on my left, into my path. Surely he will stay on the pavement? I look, worriedly, at the back of his head and hope he will look round. I cannot evade him because of the oncoming car. I can’t stop, so I scream; he looks round and brakes.

I pedal on, and from far behind me I hear his aggrieved exclamation: The fxxk! Scream like that? And now, I am so envious of him: that reflexive self-righteousness, he resents me and my wronging him. He is the good person here. Whereas I am analysing the situation and after much thought, have decided that my conduct passes muster, though I wonder if I should have reacted sooner.

There are advantages to the worried assessment- “Am I good enough? Did I wrong him?” which seems a more feminine response. The cars I notice waiting behind me for a safe, courteous time to overtake are driven by women, the cars which breenge past far too fast and close are driven by men. The advantage is that you probably won’t be in the wrong, and won’t have a collision. It means I need approval from others, though. There are advantages to the reflexive self-righteousness: you never need to think about second-guessing yourself, and nothing bad usually happens because other people manage to clear up your messes or take evasive action before you smash into them.

I used to see S every week or so, but have not for ages; but she has been to Woodbrooke and wanted to tell me about it. At one point I state something passionately, then half-apologise for it: “That was vehement,” I say, feeling her out. Oh, she says, that’s just the normal way of speaking, for her and her family. It is not for me. My passion is usually behind a diffident manner, which can be painful for me: I am restrained by my own fears. “Like an elephant with a-” I am miming a shackle round my ankle, but do not need to, because she got the allusion immediately.

“We need to be with others to know ourselves, because we see ourselves reflected in them,” she says. Yes. Of course. I am learning, now, from my interactions. I judge myself. I always ask, “How am I wrong?” I know this from interaction, but I am a recluse because for so long I judged myself reflexively and unconsciously, so I was always wrong, all the time, and when I was hurt too much by interactions and could take it no longer I needed to hide away. Right now, I am having the interactions I can bear.

From facebook: To state that zazen has a definite and particular form, and to cling to that position leads to one kind of trouble, while stating that zazen has no particular form sends one off in another confused direction. There is no logical resolution to this problem. And it is this illogical paradox with which a true practitioner of Zen must ‘sit’ both literally and spiritually. Yes. I reacted to that: it is seeking safety in rules- like I do. I am more or less happy cycling because I think I know the rules of the road, and what I am entitled to- it’s a formalised interaction. If I said, “Non-theists are not Quakers” it is an attempt to find safety in rules. In this future situation, I will act in this way, and I will be right. S said, “That’s why Quakers talk all the time”- because human situations are so complex, so making rules is difficult. She said this not because she had seen that in facebook, but a propos of something else. Perhaps I am in a computer simulation, where the same lesson comes to me repeatedly, or perhaps I am just open to it now.

Also on facebook, someone wrote,  Anyone who was abused in their formative years is likely to feel they are ‘a lesser being’ than all others and may live in fear of rejection and abuse; so they will continually seek and need the approval of others. And on-going approval will also help dispel their fears of engendering further abuse. I felt myself completely worthless, so I do need approval: developing my own grudging acceptance, just-about approval for myself is difficult. Here is David Brooks on another aspect of needing the approval of others.

Femmephobia

Femmephobia is devaluing the feminine and only valuing the masculine, seen in those strands of feminism which work only for the interests of masculine women, in conservatism cutting the welfare state for dog eat dog survival of the richest, and my own internalised transphobia, my shame at being Unmanly. Where feminine is seen as wrong in men or restricting in women, that is femmephobia.

The feminine is the precision-engineered ball-bearings making the engine of complex modern society run smoothly, without which it will seize up. The feminine is the nurturing which gives people solid ground to walk on, faith in a secure, loving home from which they can venture out to strive, achieve and do good. Management styles seeking to develop a worker, increase their confidence and job satisfaction, and thereby get the best from them, involve feminine care to see the good and correct by praise not blame. Macho dominance does not work.

We are a social species, living together in vast cities, crammed up against each other in underground commuter trains, our faces inches apart. We need restraint and care for each other to manage this. Feminine delight in colour and beauty brings joy.

Why fear it?

Feminism recognises the devaluing of women, though often it conflates projecting femininity onto women, demanding femininity from them even where it does not fit, judging them as unfeminine, with that devaluation. If a feminist imagines patriarchy oppresses women in general, not just her, by imposing “femininity”, she misunderstands other women and comes to loathe femininity. Then feminism becomes a minority pursuit for unfeminine women.

Where men lack security, in our modern violent world, they conflate femininity with weakness. If he once rests or lets down his guard, like Samson sleeping on the lap of Delilah he loses his strength and is enslaved. In acceptance, femininity finds strength and resilience, the ability to bend where the unyielding will break.

When trans women are brought up to be Real Men, rejecting femininity as weakness, as Wrong for them so that they will always be inadequate, we fear it in ourselves and fear any sign of it letting others find out- for they will mock and deride and humiliate us. Even after transition I find it hard to relax into my femininity.

Only once be unmanly, and you have lost your honour forever? That myth prevents people from accessing their gifts, the anima in man, the animus in woman, from being the self that best answers each situation. It is like throwing out half the tools in your box, and using a hammer where a screwdriver is needed.

I find it hard to relax into my femininity, even though I wear a wig, make-up, and skirts. I am not manly, nor seen as such, yet still experience my femininity as a lack not a gift. Yet there are people secure in themselves who can use all their tools, men unafraid to be gentle, forthright women. Perhaps only those of us who least fit the stereotypes cling so desperately to them.

Mohammed is said to have written, Women are not created weaker but more generous than men. They are created more beautiful and less fierce, as beauty hates to hurt and harm others. That is why they seem weak to people, but in reality they are not. Angels are the strongest of created beings, and women are closer to the angelic nature than men, as they are readier than men to carry angelic light. It is the good manners and ethics of spirituality which they carry which makes them less forceful than men. If he had said “feminine people” and “masculine people” he might have been closer to the truth.

What is Trans?

What does “Trans” mean? There are many answers, and this is mine.

Trans starts with the concepts of “masculinity” and “femininity”, which do not fit men and women as we really are. At its worst, toxic masculinity rejects the expression of emotion apart from anger and derision. Boys and men are expected to put on a manly mask which suffocates them. Women are objectified, valued for their looks, treated as weaker and needing looked after by men while made responsible for most housework and care of children, the disabled and elderly. Feminists call this “patriarchy” and differ in their emphasis on how it affects men, but it hurts everyone apart from a very few high-status men.

Patriarchy fits no-one. Everyone needs to deny part of themselves to fit in. Those who particularly do not fit are trans, or trans-like people. To call myself a “feminine” man is ridiculous, as “feminine” relates to women, but the word has come to denote qualities prescribed by patriarchy for women, such as being sensitive, empathetic, compassionate, communal, unselfish, supportive, motherly, nurturing, gentle, forgiving, and caring. These are my natural qualities, though my attempt to be a “Real Man” has twisted me.

Femininity can also refer to certain mannerisms, body language, or physical appearance.

I am mostly interested in trans women. Some of what I say could also apply to trans men, and I could use inclusive language, but will discuss trans women only. Trans women may be Gynephile, attracted to women, or Androphile, attracted to men. Androphiles are called “Homosexual” by the researchers, denying that they are women, and Gynephiles are called “Non-homosexual”, which I find demeaning, even though some of us present as bisexual or asexual. If I am not a woman then I am heterosexual, attracted to women. Trans in androphile and gynephiles may be different phenomena with different causation.

There is research on trans, and on the wider question of whether femininity and masculinity have any reality separate from culture. There is a wide range of masculinity and femininity in men and women, but by and large women are more feminine. Whether nature causes this, or nurture, culture and society, is strongly disputed. I would not accuse researchers of fitting the evidence to their preconceptions, but the questions are so political that they might choose research projects to confirm their claims, and interpreters can be wholly political. I read one conservative Christian sniffing that trans women’s brains are different because we obsess about trans, promoting dendrite growth in particular areas. And even if parents of both sexes expect a toddler boy to slide down a steeper slide than girls the same age, what could that mean? I do not have the time or education to assess individual research papers, leave alone the wider questions.

Studies show some brain differences- in the 1990s I was aware that brain dissection had found the BSTc, the central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, is twice the size in men as in women, slightly larger in gay men, and female size in trans women, but what could cause that or what it could mean is a mystery to me. We could use it for large claims, that trans women are apart from men, really women, and some do, and there is a huge backlash. Brain research does not justify the large claims of some trans folk.

There is no clear cut-off between trans and cis-gendered. There is a spectrum of masculinity to femininity in men. So other circumstances will decide whether you transition, such as whether you have a partner and what they feel about it, what your job prospects are, or how well you pass. I read of a person who had been the subject of a documentary on transition, but stopped when he found a male partner.

Some men are aroused by cross-dressing, or by thoughts of themselves as women. This is more likely a by-product of being feminine than the cause of transition. Some are satisfied with recreational cross-dressing: at the Northern Concord, it seemed to me that some were just blokes down the pub, who happened to be dressed rather strangely, and some were feminine.

My particular interest is the gynephile trans woman, especially me, and her counterpart the masculine woman: viragos and harridans, sissies and pansies. This is the sexual orientation that has only hurtful names- the woman “wears the trousers”, the man is “pussy-whipped”. “Beta male” may be a more positive term, or “Alpha female”, but both these terms are claimed by other groups. My parents were like this, terrified of people finding out, and inculcated in me terrible shame. My mother would not let me play with Action Man because “boys should not play with dolls”. My father objected to women on Radio 4, claiming to loathe the sound of their voices.

In the Underground last week I saw a woman, her leg crossed, her foot against the shin of her man, holding his hand and squeezing or pinching it. I felt they might have such a relationship, and felt envy. It is not the same as BDSM.

I don’t know how the desire to present female and actual femininity are related. I tend to feel that some men feel that their characteristics are more acceptable in women, and it is in part a desire to fit in with social norms. I lay on the floor weeping “I am not a man”- if only I could have realised I am not that kind of man.

Though I had the operation, I oppose it. I had it because I thought that it would make me part of an acceptable class, that it was better to be transsexual than transvestite, rather than because I wanted it for itself. Before, I had been ashamed of my slim wrists and arms, but after I found them beautiful, so it enabled me to love my body- but I wish I had found some other way. For a time, it all seemed to fit: I was a “woman”, so I felt this way, and was pleased to appear this way. Possibly we have the operations because doctors wanted to be seen to be doing something, or even wanted a subject to experiment on. I feel some people want the operation simply for itself, and should be allowed to have it. In a world without patriarchy, we could know.

I have fellow-feeling with radical feminists, even TERFs. They are revolted by body-modification, and some lack any sense of proportion about trans women, as if we are the only feminist issue they care about, but they are often masculine women, and not fitting Patriarchy in a complementary way to me- how could I not sympathise? I would put them in a group with trans folk, those who are gender non-conforming, who do not fit patriarchal views of gender. We have so much in common, it is hard that we do not work together. We are oppressed by Patriarchy in such similar ways.

The basic phenomenon is feminine men and masculine women, but how we respond to that is shaped by the culture and our experience. I suppressed it, and tried to be Real Manly for years. There is transphobia, and internalised transphobia, which prevents us from flourishing. We learn to be ourselves better, but still in ways twisted by oppression. We must build coalitions and learn to resist oppression more effectively.

The words you use to describe the phenomenon affect how you understand it. But we don’t understand it, not really, so we need to keep playing with the words. I would ask potential transitioners, Who are you? What would really fulfil you- is it really this off-the-peg solution? I would refer to “gender diversity” rather than trans, for “gender-diverse” is how people are, and “trans” or even “gender-non-conformity” are choices, ways to deal with the pressures of Patriarchy on gender diverse folk.

berthe-morisot-summer-day

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.

breslau-sitting-woman

beta male

If you are considering transition, I would not go as far as to say Don’t- but ask yourself, “Am I a beta male? Can I enjoy that, and not transition?” I am suffering transition Regret at the moment. But first, what is a beta male?

Here’s Evan Marckatz, a man who explains men to women. A woman asks about the “total sweetheart” “beta-male” she’s dating. She wants to “take control” but resists the urge because the Guru has advised otherwise. The Guru tells her that advice only applies to alpha males. “He’ll be thrilled that you’re taking control”. If that’s what you want, have fun!

“Is his behaviour normal?” is the headline. The answer implied is that it is not Alpha but quite within normal range.

I first heard the term as the heading of Robert Crampton‘s family life column in The Times, shortly after my Op. I have no idea why he chose the title. I first heard someone say it of himself in November: he meant happy with his emotions and not pretending to be macho, I think.

When I clicked Google’s favoured result, the site started opening new windows on sports betting and I shut it down. A beta male is the opposite to an alpha male, the difference is the mindset. We listed lot of Beta male characteristics and traits you must avoid to be an alpha male. Make sure to read all this article. We Don’t Want You to be is The guy who Scared of his own desires the man who is. “Traits you must avoid”- how to tie someone up in even more knots. This is toxic masculinity at its worst, men denying themselves to pretend to be some macho monster, the only acceptable emotions are anger and contempt. There is nothing to learn here, just scared men projecting their weakness onto others, disparaging it, and getting more and more afraid of their true selves.

Urban Dictionary gives a variety of results. To have your wife be more of a man than you. That is silly. What does “man” mean, anyway? James Bond. What? The type of guy who doesn’t flex, attempt to demonstrate his self worth in obnoxious or superficial ways, but instead exercises real life control; without announcement, or for the sake of publicity. That is, someone who is not a bully or show-off but still masculine and effective.

This is more like it: A man who is content with nontraditional gender roles; i.e., he is not threatened by intelligent and/or powerful women, and he does not have to be in control of every situation to maintain his sense of self…The beta male doesn’t buy in to the basest stereotypes about male behavior, and that’s hugely sexy. It is all about different ways of relating. Sensitive, nurturing, conflict-averse communicators make great partners, says Salon.

I would not suggest anyone should avoid transition, hormones or surgery if that is what they want, but they might consider “beta-male” as a way of expressing their true selves without all that trouble. There is confusion about what it means- people say, “Not alpha-male” and mean “Not a real man” or “Not infected with toxic masculinity”; people extend it to mean any man aware and unafraid of feeling, rather than particularly feminine men. But there is a start at positive language, appreciating not denigrating.

I am in a state of regret. I am still taking the paracetamol. I want relationship, and imagining that it might have been possible but for my transition casts me into misery, frustration, despair. And- transition was how I managed to be myself, how I avoided suicide, what I wanted more than anything else in the world, my own decision, the only way forward I could see at the time, and probably I am too feminine to fit “beta-male” anyway.

Urban Dictionary. Evan Marckatz.

Continued: Beta Male II.

Bouguereau, Dante and VIrgil

Abashed. Delighted.

The demand that everybody display in public his innermost motivation, since it actually demands the impossible, transforms all actors into hypocrites; the moment the display of motivations begins, hypocrisy begins to poison all human relations.

-Hannah Arendt

She talked of politics, but that applies in knowing myself- I found years ago that I could discern good and bad, selfless and self-aggrandising, brave or cowardly, mean or generous, motivations for any act of my own. Seeing another, I feared he tortured himself by desiring to be Good rather than do as he wanted- for the moment you analyse possible motivations, you cannot know yourself to be good.

Where not constrained to act for a necessary end, should I just do what delights me?

I was delighted to find this Marion Donaldson dress in a charity shop. It flatters the figure, and stands out, with bold floral design in blue, red, green and intermediate colours. Then I went for a coffee with a friend. I noticed the other women could dress in a beautifully feminine manner- that floral sweater is pretty- yet all wore separates, mostly trousers, and I was abashed. Then a preview of a BBC4 documentary: the academic presenter wears a dress, and I feel delight: I am not alone. I noticed in France a few years ago more women wore dresses, perhaps because it is hotter.

Do I want to stand out, or fit in? Thinking of it, it might be good to improve my eye for these things, and get a wider range of clothes. I am fifty, and I am doing teenage still. I resent that it is so much effort, and want just to carry on as I am until a sudden intense feeling that that is not good enough.

Transition seems to be awfully to do with clothes mocked Lionel Shirer in Prospect magazine, but well, clothes are how we present ourselves to others.

I like dresses, and I wanted dresses for the Summer, and people do not generally wear dresses. I will wear them at Yearly Meeting: I don’t expect others to, but there some non-conformities seem OK.

I would like it clear and sorted, and it is not. I want to be, not all the time to have to become. As opportunities arise, or I have energy to seek them out, I may get a wider range of clothes to express myself or fit different situations while dealing with other issues. And that sudden self-conscious discomfort was useful information: it does not mean that I am useless and stupid, but that there are other possibilities…

I can’t make sense of this. I have conflicting desires and feelings, different levels of energy or discomfort,

but it is alright, really-

Degas, before the mirror

Letting go of “femininity”

I look at cis women and see energy and vivacity; and I wonder, what does femininity mean? Is there any quality of “femininity” I share with them? Feelings, actions and interactions- are they distinctively “feminine”? Now fewer roles are specifically women’s: the Engineering department is the last part of the university which is mostly male, and after you have recovered from gestation and parturition your partner can share your maternity leave and take care of the infant. Human beings are malleable: an organisation will take its culture from its leaders, people have particular roles in families. Zimbardo and Milgram made people cruel, and women in England have much deeper voices than those in Thailand- this is cultural, not racial.

Some women seem comfortable with cultural concepts of femininity, and some rail against them. And everyone is different goo-gooing at a child- “Yes, you are!”- from typing a report.

Not really liking the idea that my transition was merely the outworking of a sexual fetish, I warmed to the idea that I am “feminine”. It is a sop, a comfort blanket, an excuse, a sign I do not accept myself- I transitioned because I am feminine and therefore transition is alright. No.

Gender Identity- Clare.
Sexuality- Clare.

I am me, and need no rationalisation or excuse. I have made my choices. And as I struggle to understand myself, “femininity” has been a prism through which I have seen my characteristics, judging myself, interpreting myself- I might understand better if I did not need to be “feminine”.

Though “femininity” has also been a way of seeing those characteristics as good, worthwhile, bearable rather than weak and unmanly.

This does not mean that I cease to see myself as feminine, even ultra-feminine; only that I don’t need it to be true, and I don’t need it to be other than a cultural construct.

There could be regret the other way. There appear to be normal people who have marriage and family. Anyone could look at another’s life and think, that might be preferable-

but it would not fit me as my own fits me.

Yes, I do feel so wrong sometimes that I wished someone entirely different occupied my space; but it would not be better for me.

We have good and bad luck, character, choices…

And I can mourn femininity. It seems to me that it is not valued by our tough, go-getting society, where ambition and drive are valued more than gentleness, which has always been vulnerable to being seen as weak. My feminine self could be more used, and valued, than I feel I am.

Bosch, John the Baptist in the Wilderness