Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins University ceased performing gender reassignment operations in the 1970s. Steve, or Stevo, has been clicking links on the Internet, never an easy way of achieving understanding, and felt the need to tell me this. He read an article, I think he said by a surgeon, which argued against the operation, claiming it did no good.

I felt such anger, and expressed it pungently. The reason surgery does not always do us much good is that we are so damaged before we get it. I went on to Sam Hashimi, who transitioned to Samantha Kane and wrote or had ghosted a book about how she had been Liberated to be her True Self, then reverted to Charles Kane and started making complaints about her psychiatrists. As if there was a discrete group of people who are “Transsexual”, whom psychiatrists can recognise, and who on reassignment will live Happily Ever After; and another group of people, always wrong about their desires, whom a psychiatrist should recognise as Not Transsexual and discourage from transition. Kane now has this hydraulic thingy which in some ways resembles a penis. (As opposed to the organ which some trans men acquire, which is one.)

I am not attached to the identity “woman”. If you want to call me a man, go ahead- though you will have to stretch your definition of the word to include me, with my desires, feelings, actions and way of being; and indeed stretch your ideal, for I am in no way an “inferior man”.

Transition is difficult. Living authentically as who I am is difficult. It does not mean that I am wrong to try, because living in denial of my feminine self is impossible.

What may I do with the anger? I went back to the Circle after this conversation- I have been on retreat with HAI- still feeling my anger. I felt the need to share. The only identity I am attached to is “Abigail”. This is so difficult, with various groups saying that I should not transition for various reasons, often linked to the fact that I do not have a uterus. This is who I am. My anger has been a burden, as I have been frightened of it, and frightened of showing it.

It can be my power source. My anger is energy, which I can waste energy on suppressing or holding back, or use to live life more fully. I get up, and prowl around the circle, looking people in the eye. Hello. I am Abigail. Hello.

In the closing circle, the instruction was say a few words. I said, “Gift. Gratitude. Love. Respect.” Then I laughed. After, someone said they wished some of my laughter could be not ironic. Some of my laughter- more and more of it- is joyous.

William Holman Hunt, the Lady of Shalott

Clothing optional

File:Paul Gauguin 001.jpgI extended my performing range on Saturday night: for the first time, I had a props bag. Since you ask, my props were a pot of moisturiser, three bras, a lipstick, a credit card and a bunch of keys. I mixed my physical comedy with observational comedy- moaning about stuff, with only the slightest exaggeration- and had a few laughs. I performed topless before sixteen people.

I had no clear idea of what HAI was before going three years ago, and the “clothing optional” bit would have been too much for me but that I had camped in community with several of the people a week before, and liked and trusted them; and I had committed myself to be positive, having realised how negative I was, in the middle of that camp. We caress each other, and do exercises which you might do in a Tantra workshop or personal growth event. Now I can declare myself “sex positive” though still with a moral sense around sexual matters, and I have a better understanding of myself, my responses and other people. We show each other respect, and do not penetrate or orgasm. The aim is consciousness around sexual matters.

Clothing optional means that it is the individual’s choice, in the moment, and we are in the “Room of Love” mostly naked, with some in underwear or loose clothing. This past weekend, I delighted in the beauty of bodies, and the muscular and skeletal structure under the skin.

File:Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) - Two Nudes on a Tahitian Beach.jpgIn one exercise, in groups of three, we took it in turns to ask one of the others if one could perform a particular action: may I hold your breasts? May I spank your bottom? May I kiss your lips? The other responded either yes, no, or “ask me something else”- if the response was “no”, the turn moved on. In another, one of a pair lay supine while the other approached to stroke or touch parts of the body: the one receiving could say yes, no, stop or please, to indicate boundaries: so we practised negotiating boundaries and asking, verbally and non-verbally. Previously, one response has been “maybe”- so we can also test the rules of the game. After, we shared how we felt: I strongly wanted to ask for something but forebore, because I did not want asking that to make me appear a certain way: I could state that in verbal sharing, but not while playing the game.

I have introduced HAI people to Quakers, who found each other lovely, open people, and would like to tell Quakers about HAI. I have told one or two, and not been judged for it, and I have met Quakers at HAI events. The problem is my residual belief in morality as a system of rules, rather than a mature human judgment moment to moment- one of those rules is something like nakedness in large groups must be strictly regulated. I want my judgment trusted, and fear it will not be. When I taste freedom, the benefits seem worth the risks.

Another exercise: having a choice of what to do, I affirmed myself- “I am highly intelligent”, “I am loving”- and after each affirmation three others said “Yes”. Which is a lovely experience. Try it.

It was lovely to spend time with old friends, and get to know people new to me.

Fragility

I will celebrate my fragility.https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/85/Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Jardin_de_la_rue_Cortot.jpg/647px-Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Jardin_de_la_rue_Cortot.jpg

Fragility is not vulnerability, that beautiful openness to possibility and risk which sets us free, or sensitivity, which is both easily hurt and intuitive. These qualities are a burden, as they demand my Understanding and my Action, which I have always demanded of myself, never satisfied. Fragility is not brokenness, being affected by past hurts. It is not just my state with my scars and my damage, but my natural unscarred way of being.

Fragility is me, freed, allowed to be, my flinching and softness permitted and not judged, because the judgment just hurts. It is not “masculine” or “feminine” because whether I am a man or a woman, whether I am authentic or deviant, is just more judgment.

Fragility is me categorised. It is a word rather than a sense or feeling, because I reach understanding through words, communicating with myself as well as others. It is not a box or a boundary, but a stepping-off point, a possibility, a permission. It is a word which fits without constraint. It is OK.

Hello. 

My name is Abigail, 

and I am fragile.

I reached this understanding in the HAI Room of Love. It is not Pupating, or being born again, but it is a new understanding, a step forward. It is liberating for me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The bus draws up as I kneel in my nightwear in my ritual space, and I do a thought experiment:

What if I were to get the bus into Swanston, dressed like this?

It would probably be OK. I might get a few looks, but perhaps not many. It is unlikely that anyone would approach and be horrible to me. It really is not all about me. Our self-consciousness and desire to fit in prevents us from doing that. Much of my resilience comes from the way society is- my fear does not fit reality, though it may be part of the matrix which makes that safety for most of us.

Making connections is a different matter- that comes from my attitude: I want a superb bearing, and approachability as I am a nice person.

These teenage speculations arise because I do not trust myself to know how to interact with other people well, and hope thinking about it with words may help me improve.

Taking the gloves off

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f5/Madame_de_Bonni%C3%A8res.jpg/783px-Madame_de_Bonni%C3%A8res.jpgThe Thameslink train stops at Blackfriars station. There is blue plastic stuff covering up something- work in progress, probably- but through it- gosh! That’s the Thames. A station on a bridge over the river! How cool is that?

Thameslink has not been operating long. Now, I can go down two levels at St Pancras to the new Thameslink platform straight from the Swanston train, and-

yes, I know, not everyone finds railway stuff fascinating. But Will, a Cockney, did not know of it. Victoria was the station for Brighton as far as he knew.

You leant your head against that instrument as if it were alive, I said to the young man in the bright red coat.
-It is, just about, he says.
-Yes, I know, I play the piano.

His friend plays keyboards, and often rags him about not having to cart his own instrument everywhere.

There were two toddlers on the train who wanted to go and look at the baby. No matter how young the child, they always love playing the adult to a younger child. “Yes”, says the mother, “and at their age there aren’t that many children they can do that with”.
-They’re changing the nappy,” says one girl, happily. More than I really wanted to know.

File:Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Children on the Seashore, Guernsey - Google Art Project.jpgThe child had wailed to have its nappy changed, and a few minutes later is wailing for some other reason. The most distressing sound there is, I understand, we are all programmed that way- and I listen to it with my happiness undimmed. Imagine, to have trauma repeated many times daily, that awful succession of needs you cannot satisfy except by wailing- imagine the abandoned misery of the wailing- Thank God we don’t remember it!
Perhaps we do-

And there were the two women: getting on, one said “I’m glad I can face the direction of travel, as I won’t be sick now” and I said “I’m glad you’re facing the direction of travel too”. They grinned, and got out their respective phones to check the Textstorm and emails. Only briefly, they did start chatting to each other eventually. A man pointed out that if the train crashes into something, those facing the rear have the spring of the seat to take the shock- though you would also have me thrust forward onto your face over the table.

This morning, on the seafront at Brighton in bright sun and strong wind- too strong for a dinghy, but I would have loved to be on the lone yacht tacking into the wind out there- I saw a man with headphones, and thought-

Why should you walk through the field in gloves,
O fat white woman whom nobody loves?
The grass is as soft as the breast of doves
and shivering sweet to the touch
Why should you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much, and so much?

So I am taking the gloves off. My thought yesterday was, https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e2/Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Boating_Couple_%28said_to_be_Aline_Charigot_and_Renoir%29_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/627px-Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Boating_Couple_%28said_to_be_Aline_Charigot_and_Renoir%29_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

I want to value my fragility

and this feels like-

No, not a pupation, but a step forward. A useful lesson. My sensitivity is a gift and a burden, one I have so resented, and I want to stop kicking against the goads. So- value it, perhaps even use it!- perhaps later. Baby steps. “Fragility”- a bad thing, a dangerous thing for me, Shadow, something to deny-

something to acknowledge.

I had a new appreciation for that Lowry I saw at the Lowry Centre, after seeing the sea today, the swell crashing on the beach, the colour of it; and I thought with friends in this place I am Happy. That is the first time I have used that tag in 620 posts!

Shame II

onet_-_The_Road_to_V%C3%A9theuil_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/1255px-Claude_Monet_-_The_Road_to_V%C3%A9theuil_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

I announced that I had overcome my shame. I know my transsexuality and my sexuality, and I accept them. That is how and who I am. It is OK. Rejoice with me, for I have overcome my shame. I even believed it. When one sees a spiritual task, one may do it, or fib to onesself one has done it already.

Then the exercise was, we stated publicly what we were ashamed of, around sexuality, and I heard the pain of others. I was overwhelmed with horror and disgust, a thick sharp agony under my sternum. If our fucked up way of being hurts me as “not normal”- I am quite an outlier, though I am still part of the bell-curve- that is one thing, but these poor benighted heterosexuals:

all that hurt and pain and shame-

So now I sit with it. Not writing this post stopped me writing for seven days, for how can I write it? It is beyond my words. I have two answers. My shame is past, it will not affect me any more; or, my shame is a part of me, part of my own reactions. Hello darkness my old friend- it is something within which moves me, and my resentment and resistance to my own responses are the problem. Let all these unconscious processes be, and they will unknot themselves in time. Don’t overthink.

I fear. I need to be unknotted Now. And is that not an “unconscious process,” worthy of equal honour?

Words are not definitions and boxes and restrictions but suggestions and possibilities and spring-boards. Robert Bringhurst, Saraha:

No difference exists
between body and mind, language
and mind, language and body.
What is, is not. You must love
and let loose of the world.

I used to write poems,
and like yours, they were made
out of words, which is why
they said nothing.

and yet we use words, for what else have we? People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening

From Facebook: The Feminine is finally meeting her pain with a respectful namaste. Her pain is her oldest teacher. Also the one she’s avoided facing at all costs. Finally, she’s putting her attention to it. Feeling it fully without running away is scary, it’s especially hard to stay in it.

Her sankalpa to shift her consciousness is coming from a space that is much larger than her contractions. Her practice is to continue to breathe into her ‘not knowing’. Slowly, as she experiences her dark, agonising spaces without resistance, it begins to take her through the dark alleys of lifetime after lifetime of victim/aggressor existence. And at the end of the tunnel, she meets love. Intense, blinding, golden, shimmering love. She melts into it.

Kneel in the ritual space. There is this moment.

Being

File:Claude Monet 024.jpgIt is great doing Biodanza with HAI people, said Niraj- we go into that open-hearted, in the moment state so easily. Here we are, on the grass, among the trees, enthusiastically stroking each others’ faces, or moving around to the music with spaced out expressions on. And why not- it is fun, and arguably a Spiritual Experience. Here I am, just me and the- sycamore, I think- studying it, and seeing that part of its spirit which is within me. The angles of the twigs, and the flexibility of the leaves, fluttering and dancing in the wind.

I looked at the dancers, and had the thought that

all these people are within me

That is, that through the Collective Unconscious, Holy Spirit, or fifty million years of Primate evolved instinct, I have access to all their responses, instincts, and ways of being. I can access these in myself, and develop them. Similarly, scrutinising U over lunch, I sought to drink in that femininity, power, containedness and poise, in order to access these qualities in myself.

And then I come away and I think about it. I intellectualise and classify. That is what I do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is nothing wrong with that. When I first startedFile:Claude Monet - Camille.JPG to explore this state I called Presence, I thought of it as a liberation from the analysis, which I demoted in my own mind: it was mere monkey-mind, it was holding me back, Presence was the way I want to be. And now, I see the analysis as an essential part of how I relate to the World. It is my great skill, an ability to mould words and concepts into a verbal understanding, from which I may create a foundation for experience and greater understanding. The greatest understanding is non-verbal awareness and non-dual relating- and words remain useful in getting there.

That line about “always trying to be normal” has got to me, because it was my main desire- in order to survive, first get the camouflage right- and is no longer. I tested that desire to destruction, and now I am self-protecting by hiding away in my living room, and occasionally venturing out among people to try to find better ways of being. Self-protecting, avoiding contact, avoiding my own anger and fear, is still my main desire, and- I try to find other desires in me, even the glimmer of a belief I might achieve them.

I had my human contact, which in May put me into an exhausted, weepy state and last week felt rather good, actually, and now I come away and explain it to you, so that I may understand it myself.

Kuan Yin

File:Guan yin 100.jpgHold your right hand up, pinky and ring-finger extended, ring and middle fingers curled, thumb out to the side to form an L. This is the I Love you sign.

I met U by the urn when I went to make coffee. I touched the kettle with my wrist, burning it slightly- halfwit- but did not want to interrupt the interaction.

-Give us a hug.
She will not, because I have asked in that way. It is like an order, a claim, and she does not respond well to orders. -But it is just a way of speaking, I would not order you- No buts. Even though she would like a hug, she will not share one unless I rephrase. Oh, OK.
-May I have a hug?

We hug. We have long hugs in this group generally, but U and I have particularly long hugs. I cannot remember what we were talking about, but she objected to something I said, and tapped me lightly on the back of the head.

-You hit me!
-It was a love-tap.
This time I will not let it go. You can’t just hit people! And neither will she. It was a love-tap. It was completely unobjectionable. I went off to cry in the bunkhouse- where I met S, who listened and cared and shared, and then S came and looked after us both.

I did a share in the large group. I am not here, I said, to have a relaxing weekend with friends. I am here to experience intense human interaction so I can get better at it. It takes courage for me to be here.
Up go the hands, in the I Love you sign. Lots of hands. I chortle delightedly, indicating them. -Ha! A full set!!

Guanyin Lung NuThe day before was a Goddess workshop taster, and I got Kuan Yin, Bodhisattva of compassion. The picture I had was simpler, even prettier and more feminine. Speaking in the group, I felt self-conscious in speaking in a very high voice, and saying that I had met her, and she had put her white robe on me. And it felt right.

“You’ve changed,” said Anna. “All the anger has gone from you.”

 ♥♥♥

Daienin Kannon photographed by JpatokalI emailed U, saying “I ask your kindness. I do not feel you were kind to me this morning.” I dare to say that this, and my preferring to stroke Talking Tom than hit him, and other reactions, are “feminine”.

Can you imagine how much hurt and baggage I have around that? I have called it weakness. Remembering the example of Thomas Hardy’s character Christian Cantle, who was weak, stupid and cowardly and called these characteristics the virtue of Christian Meekness, I am wary of naming a weakness or vice as a virtue or positive characteristic. I tried to make a man of myself for 34 years, which took me to ridiculous places- a court solicitor who hates conflict, forsooth! Still I am wary of being this feminine, which feels so achingly vulnerable. And the Radfems would leap on it, saying I have no right to say what is “feminine”, the word is Patriarchal and I am an Oppressor. Being who I am is so wrong, in so many ways!

The compliment which has delighted me most over the last forty years is, “You can be serious, but underneath it all you are a joyful, playful child”. This weekend, I have amended that:

I am a joyful, playful adult.

I am feminine. Please tell me it is alright for me to call myself “feminine”!

That burn was superficial, two days later the redness is nearly gone. And- it was in the shape of a heart, on my wrist.

Memories, dreams, reflections

I wanted to arrive in the blonde wig, as it is prettier, so I changed into it in the Tube. (This was the night before U’s party.) I noticed no-one staring, and what if anyone had? People mind their own business on the Tube. I felt powerful, as if anything could happen. On to the HAI gathering. Here, we caress each others’ faces and hands, as well as hug a lot and make soft eye contact. Previously, I have taken off the wig, in order to feel the touch, better; now I keep the wig on, to be seen as female.

File:Jung 1910-cropped.jpg

Insomniac after the party, I go to the bookshelves, and find Beginner’s Guide to Jungian Psychology by Robin Robertson. Aha, a synchronicity! I have borrowed it. A book from 1992 is perhaps not the best guide, as understanding moves on, but it will do for now: it clearly explains the complexity of the thought.

I wanted a Spiritual understanding of life, so that Spiritual healing might be more than mere placebo, and perhaps the Collective Unconscious will do it for me. Here, I find a Spiritual quote:

At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the season. There is nothing in the Tower that has not grown into its own form over the decades, nothing with which I am not linked. Here everything has its history and mine; here is space for the spaceless kingdom of the world’s and the psyche’s hinterland.

However, that is not the intent of the book: instead, it anchors Jung’s thought within scientific materialism:

There is good reason for supposing that the archetypes are the unconscious images of the instincts themselves, in other words, that they are patterns of instinctual behaviours… The hypothesis of the collective unconscious is, therefore, no more daring than to assume that there are instincts… The question is simply this: are there or are there not unconscious universal forms of this kind? If they exist, then there is a region of the psyche which one can call the collective unconscious.

As I have read elsewhere, the brain may be seen as a core shared with reptiles, where the most basic instincts reside; a higher area shared with mammals, and a highest area shared with other primates. Reptiles show signs of primitive dreaming; mammals dream.

The Archetypes, centres of those accretions of thoughts and memories which form Complexes, are shared because they are instinctual ways of behaving hard-wired into the brain. Just as kittens play-fight together, learning the chase and honing their skills, so people respond instinctively to a wide variety of situations. Dreaming helps us to consider such situations beforehand, as with the wet dreams preceding sexual activity, and to adjust our responses to the particular situation. We have more complex instincts than reptiles, and a better way of adapting our responses, but the origin can be seen in the reptiles. And then, as well as our dreams, we have conscious analysis to help us adapt further. But we are not that consciousness alone, but the underlying instincts and responses. We are hard-wired to learn language, for example.

This does not refute a Spiritual reality behind matter, or the flow of Qi, but it provides a materialist basis for some apparently Spiritual experience. Using my intuition to empathise with another, I do not need a psychic link: I can simply access those instincts we share.

The brain, according to this book, is more powerful than I had imagined. Memories are held throughout it rather than being recorded in a particular area. Perhaps all sense-impressions are recorded permanently: our recognition of images is “essentially perfect” (p32).

The author leaves room for a spiritual explanation, quoting Rupert Sheldrake’s theories. And he supports the possibility of spiritual work:

Once we record and interact with our dreams, a bridge begins to form between consciousness and the unconscious. With more rapid access between them, growth and change accelerates. Once we become aware of them, our dreams react to our awareness.

A pity I do not generally recall my dreams. I have not finished the book, and will return to this. Paradoxically, a materialist underpinning of spirituality enables me to respect and trust it more: all except refreshing my Qi from the energy of the Universe by particular hand movements. But then, if I want to do those hand movements, and they make me feel better, why ever not?

A tranny paradox

“I had my balls cut off, so I could be attractive to women.”

I wanted to chat to S, the naval officer, simply because he was one of the few there I had not met before. He asked some probing questions about my trans status, and I told him first that I am attracted to women, and then that. As we were saying goodbye he came over and said how difficult he found that, so I looked him in the eye and repeated it.

“Does not compute,” he said. No, it does not make sense, I agreed. But if you still have Stuff or Baggage to deal with, that will not make sense to you either. If it did, you would have dealt with it by now.

Everyone has difficulties with self-acceptance. One of the blessings of transsexuality is that our inculcated self-concept is so different from our organismic self that we simply have to do the work of self-acceptance and self-discovery. I cannot have a partner unless I am true to myself, because I could not have let her know me.

————————————————————————————————————–

I have just been to the HAI community weekend, and it was lovely. I got there at six, more and more people arrived, we cooked over the barbecue and I was in cocktail-party mode: you know, chatting away socially, making connection at a fairly shallow level but pleasantly.

And then we started the evening exercise, and suddenly I was Present. In that state, all my defences are down. I trust that in the moment I can deal with any attack: and my defensiveness is not useful at defending, and does a lot of damage. In that state I can make a true heart-connection.

That evening, two people referred to me with male pronouns, and that created a distance from them in me. I hate it. In quest of authenticity, I take my wig off, and I sing baritone because that voice is richer and holds the note better than my counter-tenor; and I still want to be seen as female. After all, I am female.

HAI has the concept of a Withhold. We say it in this way.

A: I have a withhold with you. Are you ready to hear it?
B accepts or declines
A: I perceived you as [being or doing] and that created a distance from you in me.
B: Thank you.

The idea of this is to surmount barriers to authentic connection. My withhold is that barrier which I feel. B can respond to it immediately, though it may be better to let it settle within before responding.

My general withhold is that if I hear you referring to me as male, I am hurt, and I withdraw. And I want to hear the withhold from others: if you cannot accept me as female, I do not want that to be an insurmountable barrier between us.

————————————————————————————————————–

“Either Jesus rose from the dead, or he didn’t”- heard in the night on a programme on the Catholic Church. So the whole Catholic Church has to believe that he did, physically. But why not both? Hold both possibilities in the mind. How could each view enrich your understanding of God?

Party!

Thirty of us celebrated: it is ten years since I started to go to work expressing myself female. I had done eighteen months’ preparation after making the decision, it took all my courage, and was the best thing I have ever done.

Because I had people here who did not know each other, I started with a sharing circle. State your name, and something which has delighted you in the last two weeks. Then a second go-round: state your name again, and either your Intention or something you know that no-one else here knows. It worked. People who had not met an hour before were soon chatting animatedly.

My Intent is to get a job.

My main Desire recently has been to achieve control, and being a low-functioning control freak I could only get control over this beautiful space: and I found it delightful that with all these people I had no control at all, not even here.

After eating, we had Entertainments. Then seven people stayed here overnight, and had a relaxed Sunday morning together. I have not celebrated in this way, or hosted anything like it before.