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.

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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.

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“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.

Conscious incompetence III

At midnight on Saturday I was pacing the floor with Dick, wrestling with my situation. I am doing nothing, not working, not looking for work. This is OK now, but not for more than a year from now. I need an income stream, and I want it by the start of the next Mayan Great Age. So. What are the problems? How have I got to this situation?

How have I thought to move on? Feel the old suppressed feelings, mourn the old hurts, pass through these and move on. Having gained great respect for my mother doing as she did with the difficulties she had, doing her utmost best always, now I feel I can mourn for the happy childhood I did not have, and accept that. All this feels good and valuable, but not enough, and while I hope I am healing and growing and becoming capable, I fear that I am just vegetating. With Dick, I enumerated the problems, and the solutions I had found, and these did not seem enough; and I punched a cushion a bit, having got it out to scream into it, but that did not seem particularly useful either. Eventually, needing to go to bed, we just stopped.

The Importunate Neighbour- Wm Holman Hunt

The idea came forth the following day. I need to trust myself and the world. I do not trust either. I know, intellectually, that I can trust myself and the world, and now I choose to take that into my heart. I knew, then, how to do this: I will enumerate my good qualities, and the evidence that I have them, and I will think on them. Always I have felt terrified because I am not Perfect, and though my idea of perfect has changed over the years it has always been different from who I am. Now, it seems, I may be good enough.

This is really a conscious incompetence thing, which I could not do without having chosen to be positive rather than negative. It seems everything is coming together.

Also at the HAI weekend, I felt moved to offer spiritual healing, and did what I felt moved to do, offering at the solar plexus chakra, the seat of power. This makes no intellectual sense to me, indeed my inner rationalist could easily produce the arguments to refute it- but it felt real, and right, and my inner rationalist does not feel, itself, any need to produce that refutation. The person felt something.

Conscious incompetence II

In 1998, I realised how much I wanted to die. I thought, the world is grey, life is horrible, it can only get worse. That Autumn, I had my introduction to Carl Rogers’ thought through a counselling course at the local college. Over six months, I became aware of something within me, which I named the “vulnerable bit”- buried very deeply behind layers of protection which I named the “Shell”, locked away.

On my last evening at the counselling course, after I was kicked off it, I had a strong sense of just being that vulnerable bit, out in the open, without the shell. I was talking to another participant, and I felt I was me, not pretending, not acting, not self-protecting, just open. I wrote this verse, just the first two verses at first, I added other verses years later:

Tonight I was two souls
First by force and then by choice
This man makes his will, Truth
and then I hear another voice
This voice gives a piteous cry
and from my pain I turn my eye
 
Lady now you need not weep
Your beauty is for joy and song
The flower so long in darkness kept
will soon rejoice to see the sun
That man, his will, his truth, will go
I am myself. Myself I’ll know
 
Tonight I was two souls
Through blessing I became myself
The fear that makes me man grows less
The woman smiles, and moves to health
The man’s “protection” rots her soul
when she can shed him she’ll be whole
 
Today I was two souls
A woman, sensual, sovereign
A man, whose fight for false ideals
now falls away, an end to pain
He leaves behind the master’s role
She welcomes him, and I am whole.
 
 I did not like that verse. I did not like the metre, or some of the language, and I was not ready so strongly to identify as female, but I knew that the “Vulnerable bit” was in fact the Real Me. That was who I am. The thought terrified me.
 
Starting to live full time female, I felt I was doing enough self-acceptance to get by. I met a woman who came to LGCM events because her teenage daughter had just come out as lesbian, and she was amazed by me. She thought I had what she wanted, that self-acceptance, self-actualisation, accepting who I am and living authentically from that. I had not, even eight years after transitioning.
 
I had the sense, occasionally, of being in the vulnerable space, open and unprotected. I did not know how to protect myself, other than by retreating into the shell.
 
At the HAI level 3 weekend, I had the sense of being that vulnerable self, open and present, and for the first time protecting myself with adult boundaries rather than the Shell. It seems like I felt unsafe very young indeed, and created the best protection I could at the time: and now I can protect myself in an adult way. This is something I need to think about and practise.
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Picture credit

Conscious incompetence I

I have taken useful lessons from the HAI weekend.

“I find you particularly masculine” says D. Then, kindly (a wonderful afterthought, this, I wish I could do conversation like it) “perhaps at some point I will be able to see you as you want to be seen”.

And perhaps I should be a novelist, I could make my character appear more intelligent than I am by coming up with the repartee immediately, which takes me until the following day. No, D, you don’t. If I spoke and behaved as I do, using a male name and wearing jeans and a plain white t shirt, you would find me effeminate.

I don’t need you to see me as female. I did, at one point, need that from others: having no self-respect, I needed constant validation- but now I don’t, thank you. How you see me is down to your own blind spots, filters and comforting lies.

What I want from you is ordinary courtesy. The European Court of Human Rights, backed up by copious scientific research over decades and enthusiastically supported by the Blair government, the Liberals and the Tories, declare me female. In my particular case, four psychiatrists, I can’t remember how many counsellors and, most importantly, I, say that I am a woman. I want you to refer to me by female pronouns.

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I love Clustrmaps. Yesterday I had my first visitor from Africa since I got my map on 13 February, as well as first visitors from Japan and the Phillippines, so now have evidence of visitors from every continent except Antarctica.

Let’s be friends

After you said that, I cried for three days. You felt the need to check, the following morning, that I had managed to drive home safely. The next month there was the false hope, and the following month the complete humiliation, and I am still crying. How can I “get over” this, either feel all the feelings and so work through them, emerging into some sort of equanimity, or patch myself up and plod grimly on?

I resent greatly that, just as the rest of my baby-making programming has so spectacularly failed, this bonding mechanism, evolved to be so strong, has latched on to the most inappropriate target. Am I now angry with you? I have been- You started it, you approached me! And then I thought, no, it was that activity organised by those people, and I raged at them for a bit…
………………..in my living room…
………………………………………………….this is all in my own head.

And I will go back to that group, and those activities, because I just shut down that in me, all that sex and relationships stuff is for other people, too complicated for me, too threatening to my illusions and my precarious sense of safety. I will go back to that group because this is part of human life which I want to experience, I want to force open in myself, despite my ignorance and fear and sense of inadequacy. It feels like I am fifteen- and that is a good thing, because last June it felt like I was thirteen, as far as this goes.

I will go back to this precisely because this experience has been so painful. To be so tantalised- once going out with you, never kissing!

This is not a love letter. It could hardly be less likely to make you think you had made the wrong decision. Will reminding myself of the impossibility of that help me get over you- or, like comparing your work, travel and social life to mine, just make me feel worse?

Proust’s work has been very useful to me, his anatomising of the illusions and idiocies of Love, the unconscious motivations, the false idea of self, the ridiculous acts. Yes. I never knew you, though I have caught glimpses- worthy of my affections- far out of my league, in fact. I was so frightened of you. We met, and I felt assailed by your questions, poked and prodded and examined and dissected- so that when later, you were playful, I was in all my armour, attempting to impose control on you. Like that was ever going to happen. So short a time together, so deeply unsatisfactory.

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Now, I see your good will, and need to be clear in my own mind how it is necessarily limited now that you have “moved on”, how it goes so far and then becomes callousness towards me. That really does not fit my fantasy of you. The illusions hiding that are the ones I really need to strip away. Then there was that incident where, it seemed to me, that man behaved like your servant, and I wondered how that could happen- did your personality just envelop and overwhelm his? As S. said, we are moths to your flame.

There are other fish in the sea, though I have no clue where I might find one. Can I attach the desire to an undefined person, rather than a particular unavailable one? That might be productive. I have no particular need to go to the city. I crave its excitement and liveliness, and thought I would experience that with you- Actually, I may find more real pleasure in the quiet pubs of my own town.

I so Resent that this impossibility, this fleeting glance, should have so much importance for me for so long, tied up as it is with my feelings about my current situation and all my history, how I have got Here. I feel as usual, inadequate and ridiculous. I will work through this. I will.

This experience has been really good for me, I have learned so much. I am delighted to have glimpsed you, you are an example to me. And then I imagine you touching my arm, and my whole body responds, and finding it unreal I am weeping helplessly.

Picture credit.

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Added. I am in denial, really. Yes, possibly, your decision was based on a series of regrettable miscommunications, but it was made. I remind myself of Bradley Headstone trying to get over this, beating myself up- that is a serious cautionary tale about obsession. I need to remind myself of those parts of reality which do not fit my fantasy.

How I felt later.

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.

Tolerant, accepting people

Before I started to live full time, I went for dinner after work with colleagues, expressing myself female- testing the water-  and after dinner we went to the meat market, aka the Eighties disco. Divorcees on the pull were bopping away, and I sat in a corner with a drink. A man came to talk to me on the subject of how liberal, enlightened and tolerant he was. He was so liberal, he could even tolerate people like me. Back then, I was lacking in confidence and in need of having my consciousness raised, but even then I thought this was a bit off.

I told my vicar I could no longer worship God disguised as a man, and he said that he would try to stop me being driven out of the congregation. He did not realise that it was his own discomfort with me he was projecting onto other people. When I returned to the church for a wedding a couple of years later, I was welcomed by the congregation.

Since starting to live full time, I have come across a couple of people who have explained to me how liberal, mature, tolerant, accepting etc etc they are, but how not every woman is as tolerant and enlightened as they, and how they need to protect these less enlightened women from me. So, no, I cannot join this women’s group (or whatever).

If you read further on this subject here, you will see that English law permits discrimination, but this permission is limited. So, if you feel the need to protect Other People from me, do your worst, but I will not condone or collaborate with such action. And ask them if they think I am less than other human beings, and therefore I should be treated differently. They might be insulted by your “protection”. As for me, I do not want to be tolerated, I do not even want to be accepted, I want my acceptance to be as taken for granted as it is for any other woman.

The Personal Growth Circuit

I have been on the Personal Growth circuit since the last century. You know the drill. People gather for a weekend or week, usually with some sort of facilitation, to be liberated, or to explore the good life, or to experience a better way of being.

My first experience of sharing circles was with Community Building in Britain, whose most successful event, Facilitating Ourselves, has been running for eleven years. It is based on the work of Scott Peck, who wrote “The Road Less Travelled” and “The Different Drum”, and who introduced me to the idea of a particular path for growth into maturity which still makes a lot of sense to me. He had an idea of how a circle could reach Community, cycling through pseudo-community or café-culture, where we are all nice to each other; Chaos, where the conflicts rise to the surface; Emptiness, where we surrender our demands on other people, the world and ourselves, and finally Community, togetherness and acceptance. In 1999, it worked for me.

More recently, I have done a weekend with the Human Awareness Institute. I came away feeling happier in my body, happier in myself, better able to relate to others.

I did the Hoffman process when I did not know what was wrong but knew something was, when I read that I could do three years of psychotherapy or do it all in one week with the Hoffman. It is transformational. It seems expensive, but that is because they do a lot in London, Dublin and by phone, for free, to explain it to potential users, and it gave me tools to access my unconscious which I have not yet exploited fully.

I do not recommend any of this: it may not be what you need right now. I have also had a powerful, liberating sense of being with people like me with the Scottish Episcopal Church, and then later the Quakers, with Mensa and with the Sibyls. There is a huge amount out there.