Lesbian liberation

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.

Femme jealousy

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

The Christian Legal Centre

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………

Dangerous. Terrifying.

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.

So strange!

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.

Goya, St Justa and St Rufina

Talking to a lesbian

-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?
-No.
-Why not?

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.

Caravaggio, Judith beheading Holofernes

All’s fair

I hurt. The New York Times recommends Tylenol, which a quick Google tells me I would call Paracetamol. I have hesitated to call my hurt Love, as my reaction appears ridiculous to me, self-destructive, chemical, against reality and my rational mind. Neurons in my anterior cingulate cortex and insula start firing, the NYT informs me. Like Melissa Hill, I hate how much it hurts.

Yet I will call it Love, for I am beautiful and worthy of Love. And my reaction has been a reasonable one. My love has never been requited but always encouraged just enough to keep me simmering. Like that kiss: never a kiss on the lips, hugs allowed but not kissing, then we hugged just before I left and you kissed me on my bare skin, above the low neckline. Or that email, or that one- I would not suggest you did not mean the word “bravery”, nor that it meant love rather than friendship, but I printed it out and read it again and again.

I do not give up easily. At times there felt such a spark. We fit: without language for it, you like men like me. I like women like you. You have such wonderful charisma that I have definitely gained from your company.

Do I resent that encouragement? Yes. People push boundaries- you most of all, your freedom is delicious. If a woman is beautiful, vital and charismatic, men may resent her power. I must own my feelings, and not blame you for them, or imagine that they impose some obligation on you; and that kiss kept me coming back longer than was good for me. I call it encouragement. I knew I was getting little from this, and still I kept coming back: we agreed to meet, and I obsessed about it for a week until the time arranged. And eventually the pain got too much for me, and I gave up. It is a process rather than a decision.

I would not want you to be other than you are- you are very beautiful, and I am glad of the opportunity to have got to know you.

I beat myself up. I should have seen. I should have protected myself. My reactions are ridiculous. Or I could treasure little hints in order to blame and resent you- “You held my hand! How did you think that would make me feel?” Anger inwards or outwards is pointless: it was as it was.

I have said, I do not want to see you in this way. I am on tenterhooks: will you respond? But I will take paracetamol, and recover.

Titian, Nymph and Shepherd

New York Times on falling in love and breaking up.

Shame of the lesbians

Are gay people pressured into transition, because others are more homophobic than they are transphobic? It seemed ridiculous to me. My lesbian friend insisted that it happens- in Britain, not just in Iran.

I don’t think that would be a Christian point of view. Those Christians who hate gay people also hate trans people, from the same misunderstanding of the Bible and Christianity. Those Christians- more and more of us- who accept trans people accept gay people. It is my impression that there is more transphobia about than homophobia: there is no serious debate in The Morning Star whether lesbians should be excluded from feminist groups, but it is asserted there that transgender politics “erases feminism”.

Some people who are gay considered transition when children. I have met some. Justine McNally felt more comfortable with a male online avatar, and dressed in an apparently male way to visit her girlfriend, but had not taken any steps toward transition- had she done so, the case might not have been brought. She may be trans, but not feel able to state that, or take steps to transition.

Her actions show that she felt she must appear male to have a female partner. The judgment was not clear whether she had had female partners off-line before. If she is lesbian rather than trans, that shows internalised homophobia. Would that be enough to make her bind her breasts, take T, or seek surgery? She did not assert during the criminal process that she is trans.

We can’t know. We don’t even know what proportion of transitioners revert.

To me, we have to trust the person themself making their own decisions, and the physicians prescribing treatment. I hope that people do not want surgery or hormones merely to conform, and that psychiatrists would be able to spot that. It is transphobic to suppose that everyone who reverts should never have had treatment, or that social pressure will be sufficient to make cis people seek medical transition without clear evidence. It makes the speaker’s revulsion against the treatment the measure of its rightness, and ignores trans people’s desire for it. Unreasonable restrictions on trans surgery are transphobic. Trans people live under a miasma of transphobia, internal and external, and make decisions we would not make, if we were free. I hope lesbians suffering under homophobia don’t get as far as breast reduction surgery and testosterone before they realise they are not trans.

Titian, Sisyphus

Justine McNally

Justine McNally was a confused teenager. They used a male avatar, Scott Hill, on a social networking game, and when they was thirteen they met M, who was a year younger, through that game. Just after M’s sixteenth birthday, they met in person. Sexual activity took place. Was it a sexual assault?

We don’t know if Justine/Scott is trans. From the Court of Appeal judgment, The pre-sentence report spoke of a history of self harm and confusion surrounding her gender identity and sexuality, which were resolving. From a statement to the police, aged 13 they used a male avatar “because it made her more comfortable”. The psychologist said that there was evidence of rationalisation, distorted thinking processes and victim-blaming.

The judges did not find the appellant entirely credible; but, confusion over gender identity and sexuality would make honesty very difficult. There is nothing shameful about homosexuality or transsexuality, but teenagers receive the message that there is. Internalising that, unable perhaps to admit truth to ourselves, we start to make statements which we hope might be acceptable, even if they are inconsistent- to ourselves as well as others. You have to come out to yourself before you can come out to anyone else. “It made me more comfortable” is a thing I might feel able to say before I would definitely have said, “I am trans”.

When they met, Justine/Scott wore a strap-on. This is teenage exploration: what is it like? How does it feel? What do I want- for it is not what the culture tells me I should want. Even straights find this difficult.

Unless M had consented, or Justine had reasonably believed she had, the sexual activity is unlawful. In the Sexual Offences Act 2003, a person consents if [s]he agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Certain deceptions, according to the judges, vitiate that capacity. The evidence relating to “choice” and the “freedom” to make any particular choice must be approached in a broad commonsense way, they hold.

When was consent vitiated? In Sweden, Julian Assange promised to use a condom, but did not. In an English case, a woman consented on the basis that the man would practise coitus interruptus, but he allegedly intended to ejaculate inside her. Both would be rape in English law. However, In reality, some deceptions (such as, for example, in relation to wealth) will obviously not be sufficient to vitiate consent. Failure to disclose HIV status did not vitiate consent, but a deliberate false statement that the accused was HIV negative might. The accused’s false claiming to be unmarried, or to be rich, does not vitiate consent- beyond the judges’ “common sense”, or prejudice, it is not clear why.

While, in a physical sense, the acts of assault by penetration of the vagina are the same whether perpetrated by a male or a female, the sexual nature of the acts is, on any common sense view, different where the complainant is deliberately deceived by a defendant into believing that the latter is a male. Assuming the facts to be proved as alleged, M chose to have sexual encounters with a boy and her preference (her freedom to choose whether or not to have a sexual encounter with a girl) was removed by the appellant’s deception.

A lesbian pretending to be a boy has no defence. I find this an injustice, at least in the case of hurting, confused, self-harming Justine McNally. She is the victim of society, not the guilty party.

Trans people have the difficulty that while I assert that I am female, the law stated that I was male, until I got my gender recognition certificate. When I expressed myself female before transition, there was no deliberate deception. The law cannot have it both ways. The law said I was male; however in that case there are two groups of people who express female- women, and people like me. So if a prospective partner saw me presenting female, the possibility should be in her mind that I am that sort of person. I did not dress female to deceive anyone- I dressed female because I am who I am.

After my GRC, there is certainly no deception. I am female, according to law.

The problem is that the law considers the choice of the complainant. What would make the complainant change her/his mind? Wanting sex with a woman, but not a trans woman, might. That might make people imagine that “the sexual nature of the act… is different”.

The Crown Prosecution Service provides guidance on whether a charge could be proved.

Whether there has been deception as to gender will require very careful consideration of all the surrounding circumstances including:

How the suspect perceives his/her gender;
What steps, if any, he/she has taken to live as his/her chosen identity; and
What steps, if any, he/she has taken to acquire a new gender status.

Now, my gender is Clare. Some would see me as a man, and I won’t worry about that too much cos life’s too short. Some see me as a woman, and that makes me happy. Some see me as a trans woman, and that is not much better than seeing me as a man, frankly. If I explained that to a policeman, that might make my position worse than someone who said “I’m a woman”.

All steps to live as the chosen identity should matter. Before I decided that I would transition, I dressed female to see if I could bear it; if the abuse had been too great, I might have had to just present male. In my own mind, that was tied up with the question “Am I transsexual?”

The CPS also must decide whether prosecution is in the public interest. They should consider Whether the offending occurred as a result of the suspects uncertainty or ambivalence about his/her gender identity; but that did no good to Justine McNally.

What about “reasonable belief” in consent? If you are a trans woman and you assert to everyone, “I am a woman”; and you don’t make any attempt to hide your body from the sight of your partner; you are probably OK. The people who are actually prosecuted are confused and hurting, in shame and fear of their identity and sexuality. That is, the most vulnerable of us are the ones most likely to be criminalised.

TItian, the punishment of Titius

Two together

Consider the body language. They are close, but not touching. One has her right elbow on the back of the couch, pointing towards the other, her hand supporting her head. Her left leg is crossed over her right knee, the foot extending forward. Her body is an arc. At the centre of the arc sits the other, sitting forward on the couch, ankles crossed demurely and pulled back on the floor beneath her, hands folded in her lap. Enveloped- symbolically, at least, though she is taller and heavier. Quite sexy, actually.

Nothing makes sense. You can rationalise, of course. I had a pointless debate this morning about “assisted dying”- the new neutral/in favour word for euthanasia. Having been suicidal, I will cling to life until I can no longer keep conscious, no longer draw a breath. I know this. S counters with a man with kidney cancer metastasised into the bones, in agony, in a hospice. He is given a particular arranged time with all his faculties to express love and say goodbye, and then he is given enough analgesic to take his pain away, even though it nearly sedates him. He is “out of it” until he “passes away”. Thank God I don’t have to choose for real, for a friend, or for the Law of the Land. You are allowed to think people should have the choice to die! The Oregon rules sound rational and compassionate. Please let me remain revolted.

Transition certainly does not make sense. You can make the case about brain differences or “woman trapped in a man’s body”- or against about autogynephilia being perverted- and for anyone for whom “I wanted to so I did” or “It’s disgusting and they shouldn’t” is not enough, there is reams of rationalisation, arguments from the authority of thousands of trans women’s responses and peer-reviewed journal papers, but no argument will change any mind affected with desire or revulsion. Thank God most people don’t care much, and “they seem harmless enough” is good enough for them. “She wanted this, so why not?” “Takes all sorts to make a world.” I cared- so- Much! How can anyone not? Yet they don’t.

Being attracted to people who are controlling and manipulative, I can hardly complain when someone is controlling and manipulative. Given that nothing that I want makes sense, why should this? If someone plays my heart-strings, and makes me feel soft, I enjoy and resent it, for Love has almost always been a source of shame and misery for me. Stop thinking! Stop knowing there is nothing promised, and just enjoy the moment, that word, the single “x” in that text. I was a lawyer for a time. It is a game, or a battle- judges might need to consider justice, representatives can’t (except as a rationalisation for fighting harder) and if having a lawyer means the opposition caves in, knowing winning a case is more hassle than giving in to you, Hooray!

Let it happen
Just enjoy it

If only I could!

Gerda Wegener Les Delassements d'Eros

A man in a dress

You know, we are ridiculous.

I have been commenting on a blog for three years, and it was a shock when she came out as TERF. I don’t like that phrase: I don’t agree with all radical feminists say, but some of it is worthwhile. Some people are feminists, some find that just too hard, and instead become obsessive trans-excluders. It could be trans-excluding rubbish “feminists”, I suppose. Or trans-erasing ridiculous fantasists.

The title of her post included the word “pretendbian”, because if a trans woman is gynephile she can’t be a lesbian. Oh, no, the straights oppose that, supporting the lesbians. It went downhill from there:

I don’t support a transwoman (sic) standing as women’s officer
We’ve moved on from WATM to WATTW. It’s still male privilege assigned at birth pushing the agenda.
All result of the Me-me-me-I’m-a winner-and-always-right-and-I’ve-decided-this-is-right-so-you’re-wrong-and-terrible-person group?
Caitlyn Jenner broke my shriveled feminist heart. Not because she was on the cover, but because that image, a woman in lingerie, was what she put out there as what being a woman meant to her.
Claiming to be a lesbian is a joke when males try it on, whatever they happen to be wearing.
Were I a woman student I would not want a man in a dress representing me.

And then a real denizen of the rabbit-hole comes on:
You do realize that transactivists support males raping lesbians because they are right up there with the right wingers on science denying and conformity to gender roles?

Oh, God. You know a real TERF by the rape allegations. Anyone else is just playing at it.

A straight person who met a lot of people might meet a couple of dozen trans folk in a lifetime. They don’t meet any more than that unless they work in a gender clinic. What can we do about this abuse? Turn the other cheek, really. We can’t fight back, there are too few of us. If we argue, they get more and more aggressive and deluded. So ignore the “man in a dress” or “pretendbian” jibes, and if you hear a rape allegation get out of the way. This is what I have learned when someone I thought a friend starts spewing this bile.

I have had a relationship with a lesbian. Because of this, others wanted to exclude her from the Northern Older Lesbians’ Group. The word “lesbian” matters to me far less than the relationship. It was warm and beautiful. The term “cotton ceiling”, coined by a foolish cis ally, had little currency among trans folk but has become a symbol for the TERFs of how vile we are. It is a little wearing when someone is terribly keen to repeat that they would never ever in a million years have sex with a person like me, but, you know, there are other fish in the sea. I doubt I would argue them into it.

We trans women are ridiculous. Often, we don’t look particularly good in our floral dresses. Our body-shape is wrong for many of the clothes we wear. Unless you want your scalp peeled back then a motorised grinder sanding your skull away your face probably won’t be that pretty. Someone who has met a few trans folk gets able to read us. All we can do is embrace that. Ceasing to fear being ridiculous is freedom.

Hieronymus Bosch