Trans identity

Some people are trans. How much of that is innate, and how much cultural? I say effeminate men might find transition attractive. Others say that people with the sexual orientation of autogynephilia transition- in that case I am bisexual between an autogynephilic orientation and a gynephile orientation, as I am attracted to women other than myself. The real world is more complex than theories can portray.

Others say the phenomenon is Trans, where female souls/brains/psyches in male bodies are only happy once transitioned, and children as young as three can experience bodily dysphoria, loathing their penises. This is the “trans ideology” so hated by the TERFs. If I am really a woman, of course I should be allowed in women’s space. I say I am sort-of culturally a woman, an anomaly, so should be tolerated in women’s space, because the majority of women so tolerate me, and because I am harmless and we are mostly harmless.

Or I could say that I am Different, so for the comfort of the Normal people I have to be shoved into a box, and when I could not tolerate the Man box the Transwoman box was the other one available. The goal of Diversity is that no-one should be shoved into a box.

Possibly what you want to do governs what you think about it. I wanted to transition, so I thought I was transsexual. And what your identity is affects what you do. I thought true transsexuals had sex reassignment surgery, so I had sex reassignment surgery. So there are different names for it, validating it- gender confirmation surgery is the latest I heard. Neovagina, says the surgeon, making it sound good. “Fxxk hole”, says the radical feminist, communicating her contempt.

This post about identity is written by someone who opposes transition. People approach medical services saying they are trans, and seeking medical reassignment. Their identity is that of a trans person. They believe they are a trans person, and that that means hormones and surgery. Lisa Marchiano wishes to treat gender dysphoria as a symptom, and explore with her patient what that symptom means. Gender dysphoria causes distress. The identity model says the person is trans, and the way to alleviate the distress is medical transition. Marchiano is against transition: it is a “drastic, permanent medical intervention”, leading to “permanent, life-long sterility 100% of the time”. One never reads in such articles that transition makes some people happier and higher-functioning, but it does. I would be happier if the writers admitted the value of transition for the patient in some cases.

She values self-identity. We tell ourselves stories about ourselves. I identify as Quaker, Scots, English, cultured. These things matter to me. The therapist accepting them empowers me. The therapist only challenges them if they lead to maladaptive behaviour. Yet how can I know myself? I identified the Real Me as female, but now identify it as feminine. I am a pansy. My self-identification often is changed by the words I use. I seek more accurate words. She says gender dysphoria does not mean necessarily that I am trans, but that the therapist needs to explore the meaning of the symptom and be open to what emerges. That she questions self-identity as trans does not mean she treats the symptom as unimportant or illusory.

She breaks down gender dysphoria into separate symptoms, including alienation from ones body. I hated the slimness of my arms, because it seemed weak and unmanly. Now I love my arms and hands, which I find beautiful. Finding a way to accept me as me, rather than accept aspects of my body because they fit “woman” and I identify as “trans woman”- accepting what is, and finding the good in it- would have been better than transitioning, if only I could have pulled it off. Teenage girls are alienated from their bodies by porn culture, and she says they decide transition is the answer due to a social contagion: it is the answer they find, and they latch onto it, then seek out evidence to confirm it, which they find in many sites providing mutual reassurance. (As do the radical feminists who decide we are monstrous then seek evidence and reassurance to confirm that.) I was homophobic and femmephobic- a man should not be feminine, I thought. It was not internalised transphobia, but femmephobia. How much better to relieve my self-loathing than to force me into the trans-woman box which I thought fitted my feminine self!

She says there are often other mental health conditions. One doctor said I had narcissistic personality traits, another denied it, and those traits might cause or be caused by the dysphoria, but finding a way of alleviating them might make the dysphoria less serious.

I see no evidence that she accepts transition as an appropriate course for anyone. She attacks “transgender ideology” as incoherent. She says there is no basis for a “gender identity” (her scare-quotes) that supersedes “objective biological sex”. This makes her assessment of research on outcomes suspect, though I doubt you would find an objective meta-analysis, untainted by any desire to affirm or deny transition as a treatment. Her reference to “a late-transitioning MtT autogynephile” links to Anne Lawrence. That is hostile. Here she writes that trans people exist, and should be protected; but she would rather manage gender dysphoria without transition. I feel her position has hardened further since. But I agree that we should explore the anima and animus, male and female, within ourselves.

I love her desire to explore deeply the sources of distress and seek varied possible solutions. That is not the NHS model, which favours quick fixes, even bodges. We would see the person in front of us in all of their miraculous complexity, and not just as a ‚Äúgender identity,‚ÄĚ she says. If only!


Sensing/ Intuition

I took the bus to the Quaker meeting. I was scared, because I was dressed female: I felt vulnerable with the people. I did not notice my colleague J until she said Hello, getting off. I put this down to the fear. Well, I had only just started living full time- ie., expressing myself female full time, and I was nervous in public.

And- cycling the other day, Lucrezia had to wave and shout from the pavement before I even noticed her. I could put this down to being more focused on hearing than seeing. There was no intentional snub:¬†I have a well-developed mind’s ear, so I can hear a full orchestra, all the different tones, if I concentrate, but no mind’s eye at all. I cannot visualise something, but, oddly, I can think in pictures to decide what route to take- it is as if I am aware of a sense of a sketch of the place without visualising it. So I could not be¬†a painter, but am a musician. Sometimes, listening to¬†a person, I will close my eyes in order to hear them better.

And- when images do impinge on me, it can give me a moment of intense delight, such as a bird flying in front of my bicycle.

As I understand introversion/extraversion, it appears to include judging/ perceiving: so, as an introvert, I would necessarily prefer judging: thinking/ feeling over perceiving: sensing/ intuiting. Myers and Briggs would divide them. But what would intuiting even mean, when addressed outside?

Well, I love painting and sculpture, and sometimes adopt the posture of the subject, the better to understand the work, firing off my mirror neurons to relate to the outside through my own experience. So I have some empathy, some ability to see another person and imagine what it is like to be them.

Going back to that walking meditation: when we entered the field, we were enraptured by our senses: see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower. I was moving very slowly, paying attention to one small thing and seeing its beauty and moving on to another. And- I called that “Presence”, and wanted to do everything in that state: make decisions, talk to people, be in the supermarket. Rather than connecting to the Outside, Extraversion, it could be connecting to the Sensation function, which has been so secondary for me.

Perhaps I want to make decisions more deeply in the unconscious rather than from a position of Sensing. Decision making is a Judging, not Perceiving, function.

And- Sophia’s 5rhythms dance in the woods, at Midsummer Camp- don’t hug the tree, stand near it and feel its energy, dance with its energy. That meant so much to me, looking up at the tree, or the concrete post, feeling that part of me which related to it. More introverted, but intuitive. I have done it since, with a steel fence. I could do it with¬†a person.

Thinking and feeling

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Seeing the gender psychiatrist was one of the most painful things ever to happen to me, and perhaps my greatest moment of growth.

Before I saw my GP in November 2000, I was concerned how I would persuade her to make the referral, and I phoned the Beaumont Trust helpline to discuss it. “Tell her how you feel” said the volunteer, and in the end I told her how unhappy I was. But when I saw Dr Dalrymple, I was concerned to persuade him intellectually. It appeared to me that I was TS, for particular reasons. So I made my arguments, and he dismissed each one. All he left was that I feel happy female. He took away all my myths. I woke in the night weeping, and the next day I could not go to the office, because I was crying, and so I visited¬†Margaret, my best friend,¬†and cried and she sympathised.

I lay in my bath and thought I feel happy- the more I remove my body hair, my voice working towards alto from baritone. I like my nails long and varnished. I express myself how I want to express myself, and called that “feminine”. It did not seem the hot panting joy of a pervert or the fanatic enthusiasm of a Convert, it felt quiet and peaceful and harmonious. It was my feeling, from my heart. So I did not need my myths. However, seeing Dr Dalrymple had been so painful that I could not see him again, and I went private.

Ever since, I have thought of this incident as putting me in touch with my feelings more than ever before. I have thought I am naturally more disposed to Feeling, but grew up in a milieu where feeling was devalued in favour of thinking. Only thinking was useful. This now seems impossible: how may I decide what to do, other than by what I Want, by feeling?

So Jung as explained by Robin Robertson¬†makes sense¬†to me. If Thinking rather than Sensation or Intuition is my “Primary Function” then Feeling is¬† my “Inferior function”, the “Royal Road to the unconscious”. I would agree with him that balancing these two, using each for its proper purpose, is best, and I suppressed feeling, driving it into unconsciousness. This is common- consider the man shouting “I am Perfectly Calm!!” And- I remain primary Thinker: I still am perplexed that I cannot explain intellectually, why I want to express myself female. Feeling happier is not enough for me. My whole search for the “Real me”, trying to think it through, is Thinking rather than feeling. Feeling might have me there already.

Since reading that book, I have been remembering my dreams. I dreamt of David Mitchell last night, specifically of performing comedy with him- not remembering my lines, not having rehearsed enough, you know the type. Wish fulfilment, and Robertson explains this as dreaming of a God- celebrities are the closest thing we have to Gods these days. Perhaps a comedian represents clever and mischievous trickery, as Loki would have done at one time.

When we need to relate to the world in a new or different manner, writes Robertson, our dreams produce a God or Goddess who possesses the abilities we need. The Animus figure evolves into someone we can be comfortable with in a human way.

Extravert/ introvert

Robin Robertson asserts that after reading his account “The reader should be able to say with some confidence whether he or she¬†is an introvert or an extravert, and probably be able to¬†identify the attitudes of many others who are significant”. I can’t, actually. I don’t have a clue. Have I understood?

One type of person instinctively draws back when the world approaches him or her, another instinctively reaches out toward the world… Though we are all able to pick either of the two approaches when the situation demands it, we vastly prefer one or the other.

Extraverts may be unaware of their inner world. They can never get enough experience of the outer world to satisfy them.

Introverts prefer their own company. They are more interested in their inner world than the outer world. They need to know the Rules before they may function comfortably in the outer world.

The “inferior function”- extraversion in an introvert, and vice versa- is our gateway to the unconscious, the source of everything which is magical and wonderful in life. It has all the energy which has been diverted to the unconscious whenever consciousness was unable to deal with something.

-A paraphrase of Robin Robertson.

So, which might I be? I love to perform, and I have always loved to perform, and here I am, secluded away in my living room most of the time, in my solitary pursuits. My physical exercise is either solitary- cycling and walking- or individual in karate. I need the company of others, though less so than when younger. A balance of both, as Robertson says: a few are at the edge of the bell-curve, but most are a mixture, though with a stronger or weaker preference to one or the other.

It is¬†what he says about the “inferior function”¬†which makes me think I am introverted. Picture us hippies away at camp, “making community”, a nice, safe space where we may be happy with our own kind of people. Tim brought us into an Awareness of the world, which I named Presence to myself, and have sought since. That complete sense of being in the outer world and shutting off the Monkey Mind seemed like a spiritual way of being. That would make me introverted, but extraversion,¬†when I¬†access it, is my way into the Unconscious.

Freud saw introverts as narcissistic. Jung, with more sympathy for both, realised that narcissism exists, but not everyone who spends as much time navel-gazing as I do is narcissistic: they may simply be introverted. That is a relief. Narcissism is Bad, and¬†I am pleased¬†to be absolved from its taint. And all the introspection I have done has been necessary to my self-discovery and self-acceptance, and to address the question of what sex I am. I have not found that question¬†as easy as most people do. This is particularly introvert: in a conversation, I had to remind myself- ‘Andrew is talking about his stuff now. This is the time I ought to Listen.’

Saint Michael

Here is Saint Michael defeating the Fallen Angels:

Luca Giordano, Michael defeating the fallen angels

And here he is trampling Satan:

What strikes me about both paintings, and other representations of the Archangel, is the gentleness on his face as he tramples and stabs his enemies, God’s enemies. There is no failure of purpose, no regret, no questioning, and no anger or malice. He does what he has to do.

More on Jung later, but whether or not I have the idea of an Archetype right I wish to find that Michael in me, the single purpose. Part of my journey towards it is the karate practice. The tension in the block or the blow only comes in at the end. I should be relaxed while making the movement. It makes it faster and more effective. My thinking and exerting get in the way.

When doing a “Plank”- balance on elbows and toes, head body and legs straight, in order to strengthen the core- muscles around the waist, abdomen and back- I fight to relax, to let my unconscious and my body choose the optimal muscles to do the task. Tensing up merely makes me fight myself, and increase the labour of it.

Though in kumite I need to maintain a strong guard, to prevent it being knocked out of the way. Even then not tense, but ready. Watching the young brown belt dance this morning was so beautiful, I was lumbering after him, it is the strength in the ankles maintaining the movement which gives this lightness. And I need to loosen the hocks behind my knee in order to kick with more power: touch my toes, and stretch them.

I dreamed of a tiger. It had nothing else to eat, so it came for the people: me, and the Natives. (I am politically correct, my dreams are not.) As I was between the tiger and the natives, it would attack me first. I felt Pity for it- it would be a maneater, hunted down. Then I woke up, without the sense of nightmare, and thought of Durga riding on the tiger, and that saying from Thomas. I should eat it. Other races may symbolise the Shadow: these weak, cowering, terrified Natives are mine.

At the Quaker meeting this morning, I looked at Julie, in her pink shawl, pink pedal-pushers, pink sandals, soft brown curls reaching to her shoulders and framing her face, and felt such pain and regret at how I have always felt so wrong and inadequate, not a proper man or a proper woman, something different and less. There is a place for my deep femininity, I am not Wrong.

Peter ministered from Rowan Williams: When you’re lying on the beach something is happening, something that has nothing to do with how you feel or how hard you’re trying. You’re not going to get a better tan by screwing up your eyes and concentrating. You give the time, and that’s it. All you have to do is turn up. And then things change, at their own pace. You simply have to be there where the light can get at you.

Kelley ministered on faith, grace and works from Ephesians 2:8-

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith ‚ÄĒand this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God‚ÄĒ 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God‚Äôs handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I ministered on trusting my human-ness, my Unconscious being, my body, my evolved creature-ness to do what I need to do, with far less conscious monitoring than is my wont. Perhaps that could be expressed as Grace rather than Works.¬†After, Andrew shared his Presbyterian feeling that charitable works should involve some sacrifice, so his time in Botswana was not proper charity as he had loved it too much. But God’s work should be fulfilling for us.

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.

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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?