Though a few Quakers are viciously and closed-mindedly transphobic, most transphobia among Quakers comes from arrogance or ignorance, and a failure to see privilege, rather than hate. The Friends Quarterly has printed a transphobic article, because the transphobe has disguised her hatred. In this post I analyse the article, and illustrate the hate. This is a content warning. If you feel able to bear a gaslighter pretending her transphobia is speaking out for vulnerable cis women, read her quotes below. But as trans people will spot the transphobia immediately, this post is mainly for Quakers who might wonder what the fuss was. These well-intentioned souls may be asking, “Who, me? Surely I am never transphobic?” Continue reading
I know that I’m trans, said a trans man, and I have been transitioning for a few years, but I really don’t know whether I am a man or not.
As a matter of being, rather than language, what makes a trans man a man and a trans woman a woman?
To me, many of the differences between men and women are socially constructed rather than innate. They have been going for some time: Aristotle thought that reason was in control in men, and while women could be reasonable their emotions rather than their reason was in control, and therefore men should run politics outside the home, and not women, and men should rule within the home even if they listened to their wives and cared for them. In answer to this Walter Scott has a wife who, more intelligent than her husband, persuades him to do what she decides, and always lets him have his way in small things, and backs off if he is stubborn, and never says “I told you so” when he is wrong and she was right- and so manages to make most of the decisions.
And in reality no-one makes decisions by reason alone, motivation and desire arise from emotion, and often from social expectation or convention, rather than from reason. Men are emotional. Women are reasonable. The emotions which are celebrated in one or the other are different. Anger is found repulsive in women where it may be admired in men. Gentleness is seen as more feminine. Yet men can be gentle, and women angry.
There is no characteristic, or virtue, which one sex has but not the other, and each is of equal value in each.
Generally, men have male reproductive systems and women have female reproductive systems, and on average men are bigger than women- but there is a wide overlap. And while people think about sex a lot, that is usually sex to relieve a need or bind a couple together. As Paul said, “The two shall become one flesh”.
For most social purposes, being a man is about fitting masculine stereotypes. People talk about “growing a pair” of testicles, about testosterone and its putative effects, and about swinging dicks or dick energy, but really it is about a role rather than a physical type.
So possibly a trans man is more of a man than a cis man is. The trans man has chosen to be a man, and the cis man just been one by accident.
It’s Lesbian Visibility Week, which has shout-outs to trans women, and I was thinking about identifying as a woman but not as a lesbian, even though I am attracted to women. If I really thought I was a woman, surely I would call myself a lesbian? Many trans women do. So I get the sense of not being real. Possibly it’s that “lesbian” is more physical- there are butch and femme lesbians, supporting or subverting, fitting or being different from feminine stereotypes, so it’s less a matter of social expectation, and more about genitals. I am not sure of that- lesbians form long term supportive relationships which is about human complementarity and compatibility, not simply about sex. There’s that pervasive sense of not being good enough. And possibly I am writing about that trans man and trying to reassure him because thinking of being a woman is a bit iffy for me too.
And socially I am a woman, because I fit feminine stereotypes, in being emotional (though I am glowing at being called “calm and analytical”). The range of women, mentally, physically, anatomically, and in every characteristic, is wide. I am a trans woman, because I have transitioned, and someone else is a trans woman because they want to transition. We want the role, the social expectations, sometimes to approximate the anatomy. That is a huge part of what “being a woman” means. One is not born a woman, one becomes one.
Mermaids is the charity caring for trans children and teens in the UK. Recently, their training session was recorded, so you can listen to it and hear how reasonable it is. There are also transcripts.
The man who clandestinely recorded it clearly thought he was being so brave going undercover, challenging the trainer. There was a shock, horror article about it in the Times. When you listen to it, you can see that any gender critical person who was not prejudiced about trans people, would find it unobjectionable. The Times article is a complete distortion of what is said.
The trainer, who is lesbian, proves the Times wrong. “Trans ideologists are spreading cod science,” says the headline- no, her statistics are clear. She starts by talking about “gender reveal parties”. We find out what is between the foetus’ legs, and it becomes he or she, and so we get pink or blue clothes. “Lots of children don’t fit those boy and girl boxes.” Lots of things are on a spectrum. People have different heights and skin colours. On a scale of 1 (Princess Barbie) to 12 (GI Joe) the trainer puts herself as a 5. Yet the Times claims the two extremes are the only alternatives given. It is a deliberate misrepresentation of a subtle argument that gender varies between everyone, not just trans people; and some people are gender fluid, being one style at one time and one style at another. “We’re not all one thing,” she says.
The Times mocks talk of jelly babies, but it would help participants become playful and so permit them to think in less rigid ways. As the audience shows, everyone knows the extreme stereotypes, which are strongly emphasised by the culture. Gender identity is different from sexuality, but neither may be controlled. Some people are intersex.
Jan tells her own experience. She had no problem being a tomboy, but in the early seventies was terrified of people knowing she was lesbian, as a child, but being a boy who likes “girlish” activities is different. GI Joe is a stereotype, cultural not innate, but “when people buy into it it becomes real”. She began to define trans and cis, but the interloper interrupted, and put her off track. Then she defines non-binary and gender fluid. Some people identify as queer, and some people hate the term. People can socially transition without transitioning medically. No-one need know a trans person’s operation status. Trans women can be gay or straight- a straight trans woman is attracted to men. Younger people are far more comfortable with gender fluidity.
She speaks movingly of when she internalised homophobia. “There are places where I would be in danger, and people… who hate me because of who I am.” That is, lesbian. It’s like carrying a heavy weight. She wants being queer, or trans, to be not an issue any more. She explains pronouns and misgendering, how painful it can be.
She gets gender incongruence slightly wrong. It’s not a psychological condition in the draft ICD, but that ICD has not yet been approved. There is evidence of a biological underpinning to trans. There are positive role models visible in society, lesbian and trans. She refers to brain research, and googling I found this. Always there is new research. 1% are trans, she says, though not how many of them transition.
She explains the history of Mermaids, supporting trans children and their parents. 40% of those children cannot be out at home, so schools should support them. She explains the Equality Act and the difficulties LGBT people can face from family and society. Maybe 10% of the population are bigoted against us, so the rest should be mindful of that and speak up for us.
When a child is fully supported to lead their own transition, their mental health is the same as their peers’. When the child is prevented, their mental health suffers. Because parents are resistant, and GPs may be unsympathetic, schools can refer people to the Tavistock and Portman clinic, the Gender and Identity Development Service for under 18s. After a long series of assessments, where medically indicated, a child may be given puberty blockers. Low doses of cross sex hormones are not given to children under 16, and rarely to older children. The youngest child seen is 4.
Attendees should research further, at the Tavistock website and Stonewall. They should challenge stereotyping, and be able to tell children about available support. Children can change their name officially, and choose a name to be known as in school. Staff should be told of transition on a need-to-know basis, and it should be treated matter-of-factly: just as a woman may change her name on marriage, so a child may change gender presentation. Mermaids can help schools with any necessary policies.
Janice Turner in the Times clearly finds all of this unobjectionable, as she attacks things Jan the trainer did not say. The man making the recording tried to challenge the trainer, claiming that her suicide statistics were wrong, and that she had based them on a survey of 27 self-referred people, though she had referred to the Stonewall School Report, which says at page 7 that 45% of more than 592 trans people had tried to take their own lives. He claims that the suicide statistic is used to put pressure on schools, and minimises the evidence of suicide attempts. He is not an honest reporter. The second recording ends abruptly, and it is not clear what happened after that.
Similarly, the transcripts are made by anti-trans campaigners, and are littered with inaccuracies. For example, where the anonymous recorder spoke of “dysmorphia” the transcript records it as “dysphoria”. There are also sarky asides- where the trainer is assertive, it calls her “really really cross”. It says [long, looooooong pause for us all to reflect on whether it’s wise to challenge Mermaids woman further. Clearly no one else is prepared to take her on] Actually, it is at most five seconds.
The transcripts are misleading. They put in headings which are not on the audio, such as Help kids to socially or even legally change their name. You don’t need to tell the parents. In fact, feel free to ignore their authority! You would think a feminist would have heard of Gillick competence: children can decide whether their parents should hear about their medical treatment. Mostly, though, the transcripts do not seriously distort the message of the trainer, if you ignore the headings.
The world’s leading publications for lesbians support trans people, and are speaking out for us. Here is the statement:
Not in our name
Lesbian, bi and queer media unite to send a message of solidarity to the trans community
Following further vitriolic attacks on trans people in our media, the world’s leading publications for lesbians are coming together to send an unapologetic message of support and solidarity to the trans community.
DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word believe that trans women are women and that trans people belong in our community. We do not think supporting trans women erases our lesbian identities; rather we are enriched by trans friends and lovers, parents, children, colleagues and siblings.
[Clare: It’s diversity, innit? “Enriched”. That’s the heart of it. We are happier and livelier and better able to be ourselves when the widest range of people are welcomed in and their voices heard.]
We strongly condemn writers and editors who seek to foster division and hate within the LGBTQI community with trans misogynistic content, and who believe “lesbian” is an identity for them alone to define. We condemn male-owned media companies who profit from the traffic generated by these controversies.
[With the exception of the Morning Star, the publications opposing trans rights are on the Right or Hard Right. They are not feminist, and they are not pro-lesbian. They know that all the general public will hear from the argument is the message that trans is bad and dangerous, which supports Right-wing narratives about how men and women are different. All the stuff about gender non-conforming expression gets condemned by the same mouths.]
We also strongly condemn the current narrative peddled by some feminists, painting trans people as bullies and aggressors – one which reinforces transphobia and which must be challenged so that feminism can move forward.
[While some trans people tweet unpleasant things, most of them have few followers and little in the way of platform. And they are speaking up for their right to exist. I condemn all trans violence and threats of violence, but we are too weak to make much of a threat, or to bully anyone.]
We are really concerned about the message these so-called lesbian publications are sending to trans women and to young lesbians – including trans lesbians – and we want to make in clear this is not in our name.
As the leading publications for queer women, we believe it is our responsibility to call out scaremongering conspiracy theories levelled at the trans community, and make it clear that DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word will always be safe spaces for the trans community.
Forty years ago, to be a lesbian was to be questioned and persecuted. Today things are better for cis lesbians but there are still places where to be a lesbian is impossible.
So it is for trans men and women, as well as non-binary people, many of whom identify as lesbian, bisexual, gay or queer. We know something of these struggles. And just as they and other allies have supported us, so we must support those among us who are trans, or risk ending up on the wrong side of history.
The sooner we stop focussing on what divides us and instead focus on our commonalities, the stronger we will be to confront the other injustices imposed on us.
We won’t be divided.
Clare: Trans women should speak up for lesbians and for feminist causes generally. Trans is the front the forces of oppression have chosen, at the moment, but lesbians still suffer prejudice and discrimination. We are stronger together.
The statement is here.
I distrust the idea, but still would call the Woodbrooke garden a “holy” place. I stood contemplating bees at a rhododendron, in my sensory experience in the moment, which is a brain state that I will still call a “spiritual” experience, though I have not progressed to a Tao-like “flowing like water”, responding in the moment as an integrated being. People progressed through the garden like meditators in a labyrinth, seeing.
I am dissatisfied. It was beautiful, and insufficient, as am I. Had I had particular encouragements this week I might be less depressed now than I am, but I am depressed because of it. I feel insufficient, I fear I have made things worse, doing my best. I don’t understand and I hate not understanding, particularly when things are important to me. Writing this clarifies that for me. Of course I knew it, but now I am conscious of it. And
if we were -no, we were– in a holy place, with time to hear and see each other and ourselves, which makes our coming together as good as it could be. And still I fear I am blundering. Good intentions may not be enough. Am I letting people down?
There was more, there, than I could possibly take in. There were lovely gay men whom I hardly noticed. The programme was flexible enough for us to fit it to what we needed. We had planned whole group work and ended in small groups: that means I got more time to talk, so could clarify my thought that way, and fewer people to listen to. Listening to more people might have been too much to take in.
You looked at me and I saw such misery on your face. And I don’t know it was misery, or what it meant, but I guess. I don’t know because I approached you then could not talk to you, and fled. We are in a place of peace and reconciliation, and it was not enough. I saw and heard of your attempts to come together with us trans folk. I was there, some of the time. I was impressed, even surprised, by some people’s reconciliation work.
We started combatively. One came for the opening session but not to any after. Others missed sessions. A gay man and a trans woman had planned the weekend, and someone asked what lesbian involvement there had been in the planning. That matters if lesbians have different interests. Someone said there had been tension in the past between lesbians and gay men.
We shared our traumas. We cried and hugged, sometimes, but also spoke them into the air. If I felt we had ended in a place of loving understanding, I would feel those traumas were heard and acknowledged, glad they could be spoken. As it is, there was incomplete understanding. We agreed not to disclose personal stories told, and I won’t, however long I remember them, and I hope no-one regrets speaking them. Someone walked out as I was speaking. I can guess why she did, but could not have predicted it beforehand. My attempts to comically self-deprecate about my experience were heard as- insulting, perhaps.
There is a “we”. I can define it, but, basing it on “gender diversity” know others might find my definition meaningless or insulting. I can state what I think are common interests, common experiences. I am wretched that we might be against each other. I am glad we could come together and not sure it is enough. If this is a gender and sexual diversity community it should feel- more-? Will we just split?
This is my definition of gender diversity. Sex is man and woman, gender is the stereotypes culturally attached to them, masculinity and femininity. So gender diversity includes people who are “gender non-conforming”, who do not fit those stereotypes even if they are quite certain they are the sex they were born with. No, it does not “erase lesbians”, or Stonewall would not be supporting it with a lesbian chief executive.
I am accepted, or at least tolerated, in enough places. Like others with very different views about trans, I am concerned about particular kinds of people. Some are phobic, and some are acting on conflicting principles. I wish trans was not an issue. While it is, our “community” is an arena for thrashing out these issues, which can be a difficult place to be.
Some people can just be themselves, some try to be something else, and some can almost be themselves if they find a label. The label “transsexual” liberated me to be almost myself. The Lesbian Rights Alliance, a hurriedly-set up name which has a facebook page but not yet a website, claims that the identities of “tomboy” or “butch” allow girls to express themselves other than in a feminine way, but these identities are being erased. The facebook page has 296 likes according to Google. It is seeking the experience of lesbians: Are you a Lesbian currently living in the UK? Have you experienced harassment, rape threats by Trans Identified Males (“trans-women”) on dating sites/social media? Have you been pressured by LGBT+ groups, student unions etc to accept the penis as a female sex organ? Have you ever felt pressurised to have dates with men self-defining as lesbians? If you have had a date with a self-defining lesbian have you experienced rape or sexual assault?
I find this reassuring. It is a myth going round transphobic circles. I am glad they do not have the evidence for it. No-one should pressure another into sex; and there is no need for anyone to say they would never have sex with me, or a group I belong to.
It claims, Only a few years ago young girls were allowed to be ‘tomboys’ – have short hair, wear trousers, and undertake games and activities which traditionally have been considered the domain of boys, without being told that they had to change their sex. Many of these young girls defined as lesbians when they reached adolescence. This is no longer allowed. Transgender training given to schools is telling teachers that these girls are experiencing ‘gender confusion’ and should be assisted or supported to self‑identify as boys.
This is a serious allegation. Gendered Intelligence would tell schools they should support trans children, but not force that identity on children who had not expressed it. I am glad that Transgender Trend printed this in their “Resource pack for schools” because it reduces their credibility.
I can believe that butch girls are “bullied, stigmatised and isolated” but not that they are pressured to socially transition. Trans is not a “positive and fashionable identity”. We, too, are bullied, stigmatised and isolated- see the Stonewall School’s Out report. And Stonewall was a gay organisation led by a lesbian before it was trans-inclusive. Out, campaigning lesbians do not encourage cis lesbians to transition to male out of lesbophobia. The allegations are paranoid.
There is no acknowledgement or support for these young lesbians in schools and no funded youth groups for them outside of school, although there are many funded trans youth groups. Some schools, not all, have an LGBT group.
They say some tomboys later identify as lesbian, and refer to young lesbians in schools who do not want to conform to feminine stereotypes. But not only lesbians do not want to conform to feminine stereotypes, and not all radical feminists are lesbian. Some might grow up to be heterosexual viragos, and some might just be experimenting. Yes schools need positive information about lesbians, but also support for children experimenting with identity beyond narrow stereotypes. The “Lesbian Rights Alliance” ignores the rights of girls who do not fit that identity. We all have to work out our identity for ourselves, and those of us who have should support a wide range of identities including bespoke identities, so that no-one is excluded.
Alicia’s jealousy was pure paranoia. Yes, I am quite sure of that. Of course I have interests in common with Liz, which Alicia does not seem to share, and in our first conversation round the fire toasting marshmallows we shared about them while Alicia was silent. I noted how Liz’s girlfriend was much younger, and very attractive, as a positive for Liz. I found her thought inspiring.
Next morning, I watched Alicia painstakingly groom her highlights.
-Are you laughing at me?
-How could someone as ridiculous as I am laugh at anyone? I asked. Sometimes my humility comes across as sarcasm. She did not know how to respond to that one.
-How long did you stay after we left? asked Liz.
-I had just said “I love you” to a man I had just met. I scarpered immediately!
He had apologised for his poor English, and I said, to reassure him, that I know no Persian. Say “دوستت دارم“, he said. I repeated it as best I could, then asked what it meant.
That night, round the fire again, Alicia talked with an American man about American cities they had both lived in, a subject giving me no entrée. I did not say I have not been West of Reykjavik. My last sight of them was them walking hand in hand down the quiet, peaceful path from the festival site. Liz smiled broadly and greeted me. Alicia didn’t- even though they will go back to New York at the weekend together.
I noted with interest that they live in different boroughs. Continue reading
Attempting to gain publicity, the Christian Legal Centre have rushed out a press release just after the story of J broke. After a boy was forced to live as a girl until rescued by the legal system, they are supporting parents to force a boy to live as a girl. Christian family fear gender-confused daughter will be taken away unless they bow to social workers’ name change demands they trumpet.
Powys county council puts this in non-legal language: professionals are very worried that your child is not being looked after properly and he/she is at risk. There has to be “significant harm” from the parents’ lack of care. This is not some trendy social worker enforcing gender orthodoxy against Christian common sense, as CLC would have you believe.
Even the CLC press release indicates that harm. Until he was 13, the child “Gary” was home-schooled with his siblings. He started to self-harm. He ran away. Child mental health services told the parents that unless they allowed his name change, their [son] would be at risk of suicide. That’s a quote from the press release. CLC’s blind self-righteousness damns themselves.
The family now face a meeting with social workers in November, in which it is indicated and believed that the social worker will be pushing for Bethany to be allowed to use the name Gary in school and the family will be pressured into allowing her to receive ‘therapy’ from the Tavistock Institute in Leeds for its ‘Gender Identity Development Service’. Aged 14, Gary is too late for puberty blockers, and too young for T injections. Therapy will be talking therapy. There will be diagnosis. Is the child trans? He might start to wear a binder.
Forcing an agenda
That’s their heading. They really don’t see. They want the parents to be able to control a teenager. The child will only be this intransigent when denied age-appropriate levels of self-determination. Until we leave our parents, we negotiate ways of living together. Only where a child is far too controlled in every aspect of life would she insist on self-determination in this way, against her own gender identity.
The thing which makes me pause is that Gary is in a relationship with a girl. His “Christian” parents would oppose the child being lesbian as much as being trans. It is just possible that the child thinks
Girl with girl relationships are not OK
therefore I am a boy.
Or, that given that the parents hate lesbians, s/he insists s/he is a boy as an act of pure rebellion. Any LGBT child will be confused, disorientated and damaged by such a “Christian” upbringing. May God show the parents, and CLC, the error of their ways! However, the Tavistock centre are the professional experts able to discern this. Children like Bethany need psychiatric help, shrieked Andrea Williams, CLC chief executive, yet she opposes the CAMHS advice and referral to Tavistock.
It is very unfortunate that the social worker appears to have jumped to the conclusion that Bethany is transgender without even waiting for a formal diagnosis from the psychiatrist, Williams continued. Well, all that the child can achieve now is a completely harmless name change. If they is not trans, presenting as male will be uncomfortable. The self-harm and running away indicates “significant harm” to the child, which arises from the parents’ dogmatism.
The Daily Mail has quoted extensively from the press release, without criticism. Here’s the press release.
Oh, enough of this! Inspired by this New Yorker article informing me that people say “No, totally” to mean “yes”, I have been writing doggerel again.
So let us praise, with verve and vim
this holophrastic contranym
Though no means yes, we’re not confused
No, totally, we’re disabused
Can yes mean no? Of course it can!
to sarcastic contrarian.
Here’s my Donald Trump verse- note the internal rhymes!!- to a Chuck Berry tune:
Mr Pence and Mr Trump
get ye hence. I’ve got the hump
Mr Trump and Mr Pence
I’d like to thump you, you’re so dense.
Michael P and Donald T
After that come “S” then “D”.
Governor and bankrupt man
They don’t really have a plan.
Donald has some business tips
Grab their pussy, kiss their lips
Speaker Ryan’s naught to say
wishes Trump would go away.
Donny’s polls are down the hole
so he claims the elections’ stole
Now he tweets a dismal wail:
“Hillary should be in jail”.
Debating Donny’s on the prowl
Lip is wrinkled, mood is foul
As she speaks, behind he looms
His campaign he totally dooms………
I could fall in love with you. You lean forward, beautifully sincere and caring, and hold both my hands in both yours. Yes, I could easily fall in love with you. And- not you with me, I think. There is that disparity in our lives which makes it unlikely, and you have two partners already. I don’t think I could manage my jealousy, if I were to attempt polyamory. There is the complete lack of control, the need to recognise when something has ended, accepting what is now as it is, moving forward in faith and trust. Serenity to accept what I cannot change? No, boiling resentment. Courage to change what I can change? No, listless depressive hiding away.
So I unfollowed you on facebook. Unfriending might be noticeable, but I do not want reminded of your name; and imagine seeing you again. It is feasible. It would be worthwhile: I want to know who you are. I would like friendship. And I fear obsessing over you: I fear my own reactions. I fight my own reactions, because I have to be sensible. I despise myself, and do not want even more hurt.
Could I love and accept my cocktail of reactions, all of which scare me, all of which seem calculated to humiliate me, make me ridiculous? This retirement is really the only safe place for me, yet this is not safe either. Live with the discomfort? How?
I don’t like Starbucks in Wellingborough, though. Warehouses for shopping, they should have furniture and DIY here, but all there is is Subway and McDonalds. Starbucks has breezeblock walls and a metal roof bolted to girders, all exposed; the breezeblocks painted dark grey. The not-so-comfy pvc leatherette sofas are in booths. The side of the booth is two wooden uprights supporting a horizontal wooden beam, with screw-eyes in it; a similar beam with screw-eyes is at the back of the sofa; and there is twine stretched between the screw-eyes. Their interior designer has gone with breeze-blocks and string. The cake is yesterday’s, left out so that the surface has dried, and the coffee costs 25% more than even Costa.
Another encounter this week was with a woman who radiated sexuality. A very large woman. “Hello,” she gravels, and I go all girlish and deliciously slutty. We started talking, and I broke off to get a glass of wine; and then on my return it was just small talk. She was reined in, or something.
-What do you do?
-I don’t work, actually.
-What work did you used to do?
Oh god, not that. So I had a bit of a moan about work difficulties, and heard what work she does. It started off OH WOW!! and ended sortofalrightIsuppose.
I wish I had more experience of this.
Oh and lunch in a pub in Nupton with a pervasive smell of urine. Philip noticed before we ordered, and we did not get round to moving, so had steaks which whether well done or rare were tough as old boots, sometimes particularly noticing the smell of wee. After we finished, the barman said it was another customer. They can’t get rid of him, he said. But it was no-one I noticed.
-I’ve never talked to a lesbian before.
-Yes you have, there are a lot of us about. Just not known about it.
My sink was blocked, and the pipes were leaking, so I called the letting agent who called the plumber who interrogated me about my sex life. So it goes. He started by asking if he could ask me a question. Yes, but I may not answer. He took an age, not seeming to find the words- I wanted to say, “spit it out, man” but left him to it. Then he told me he had seen my wigs- did I have cancer?
Odd, that, second time in five days. No, I explained, I was bald before I was thirty. It was something genetic, but not life-threatening. Doctors could not do anything about it.
-Have you ever been married?
He is a nosey bugger, complaining about the tea I made for him- worst tea ever, he takes two sugars and having thrown out the last sugar I possessed, as its sell-by date was ten years past, I have none. So I said, because it’s only been legal two years. He understood eventually.
-Why are you not attracted to men?
-Well, why are you not?
Honestly, this basic failure of empathy irritates me, even as I am considering my voice and wondering if he has really not read me as trans. I just- never have been. You can’t control your dreams, can you? When you were a teenager, you dreamed of women-
he looks embarrassed
-and so did I.
He started asking me about sex. What do you do? He kept badgering me. How do you do it? Do you wear a strap-on thing? No, I said. Yuck. So I told him about scissoring, and mimed with my fingers. He’s slow on the uptake: he did not realise my fingers were supposed to reference legs. Then I mentioned 69. I will not let you embarrass me.
He has been married since 1984, when he was 26. They have had their ups and downs- nearly split last year- but have stayed together. He also wanted to know what work I did and why I was renting. He bought his house for £90,000, but now his son and daughter need a deposit they cannot afford: £34,000 is the average deposit. He has a flagpole in his garden: the council did not like it, and told him he could not advertise, so he put a Tottenham flag on it. “When you see Spurs play, think of me.”
He has seven wigs.
-What are they like?
-Rod Stewart, Tina Turner.
-Oh, quite extrovert, then?
A Tina Turner wig. He is a cross-dresser. I don’t want to quiz him about that, and while he may have read me as trans I won’t refer to it if he won’t. Also, he has never read a book. He likes watching TV documentaries. His wife reads books. He wants to see me without my wig, and I refuse. Really, yuck. He’ll leave me alone if I put on my blonde wig for him, which he says really suits me- then he goes.