Pride in London is today, but 1 July was the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march here, and some of us who thought the official Pride unduly corporate, wanted to mark the anniversary, or just wanted a good time, marched then, led by the Gay Liberation Front and people who were there the first time.
Where could I find evidence of the support of lesbians and feminists for trans people? Oddly enough, the whining of haters. “There are very few public stories of lesbians on the ‘cotton ceiling’” said a transphobe, Angela C Wild, who worked with a named transphobe organisation to try to get more, but failed. While QAnon and other conspiracist groups can get 200,000 in a facebook group, Wild’s energetic attempts to find transphobic lesbians found respondents from three continents, but only resulted in eighty responses to her questionnaire.
“The sample does not claim to be a representative sample of the lesbian community,” Wild writes. Rather, her eighty respondents show an extreme view. “Would you consider a transwoman (sic) as a potential sexual partner,” she asked, and though lesbians will, all but one of her respondents said no. Wild uses the word “transwoman” though she does not consider it appropriate, preferring to think of us as males. This is valueless as research, but some of the stories are interesting.
The haters were members of lesbian or LGBT groups online or IRL. Though 58 of them were part of groups excluding trans women, they still felt “silenced” or unable to speak freely. Allies of trans women had excluded forty of the haters from LGBT groups. One hater had been sacked- perhaps it was Maya Forstater. The pressure came from “other women” (that is, not trans women) within their groups.
Online, it is easy to find your own kind. Facebook will suggest groups for you. So, some of the respondents had left their LGBT groups and joined hater groups, where they could be sure their views were not challenged. They prefer hater groups even though they say “how much more difficult it has become for them to meet lesbians”- the hate they share was their main focus. One said in a city of a million people all the lesbian groups included trans women, at least potentially.
On dating sites, in getting messages from trans women, one is quoted as saying “she has never felt coerced or intimidated”. While others claim to be pressured, they admit that the pressure comes from cis lesbians. Despite her repulsion against trans women, one had had a relationship with one, but they judge us on our looks, claiming we were not “making an effort to pass”.
This document cannot be dignified by the term “research”. For example, Wild misrepresents Dhejne’s research, though Dhejne has refuted Wild’s interpretation, and in her “references” cites tweets, youtube, and a Medium article. Though facebook radicalises people, by suggesting extremist groups to anyone who might do a search, Wild has found few people, and they tell of the pressure from cis women including cis lesbians to accept trans women.
Wild’s account makes a number of serious allegations, of threats and even assaults, but these come from a prejudiced source, from anonymised obsessives who would rather leave a lesbian group than accept the possibility that a trans woman might join. Most lesbians understand that if hatred against trans women spreads, lesbians will be next in the firing line. Now, with this Tory government, we need LGBT solidarity.
For example, there is this statement on the Pride in London website, when such haters disrupted the Pride parade in 2018:
The lesbian board members at Pride in London made their anger towards the unsanctioned group clear and our organisation as a whole condemns their actions. The protest group showed a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable.
We reject what this group stands for. They do not share our values, which are about inclusion and respect and support for the most marginalised parts of our community.
We are proud of our trans volunteers, proud of the trans groups that are in our parade, proud of our trans speakers at events and proud of the trans people who take part in our campaigns and proud of those who cheered even louder for them yesterday.
While The Times and other powerful right wing forces seek to spread hatred of trans people, and internet contacts ensured her questionnaire reached Canada, Germany and New Zealand, Wild’s “research” shows this has little purchase among lesbians.
London came out to party. The city is mine. The railway carriages are mine.
I marched with Quakers, specifically the Quaker Gender and Sexuality Diversity community.
It’s difficult to take photos when you’re holding a banner. We had two of these:
There were 30,000 wristbands issued for the March, but many thousands more watching. Some of the entertainment was in the audience.
The noise was too great to hold a conversation, and the affirmation was stunning.
Behind us was XXL, campaigning Save our Scene: against a developer taking over and shutting down one of the few remaining gay nightclubs. But why? Find a partner on an app then dance with the straights? That’s a Bear flag.
There were a few scattered Repent! campaigners, but at a corner lots of affirming Christians, some dressed as angels. I photographed that bloke because he was so beautiful.
There were lots of people with A4 signs saying “Trans people to the front”. Watch out for transphobes, alert people, block them from view and don’t engage, as they want attention.
I didn’t like the F-ck terfs signs, though. And one saying “I love my lesbian trans sisters”- I don’t insist on the word lesbian, which angers the terfs so much. Leave it for them. My sexuality needs no label.
I love the collonade and rhe pride flag. London old and new together.
Everyone must understand trans pride- queer pride- for themselves.
Shame relates to who you are, guilt to what you do. I feel guilt about particular actions, shame about what they reveal about me. And queer people are systematically shamed, made to believe who we are is shameful. You look inside yourself and find effeminacy when you should be masculine, when you can only be valued if you are properly masculine, and you feel shame. And I thought, my shame is overwhelming, like an over-exposed photograph, all white. If I am ashamed of everything, I cannot see what to change. I am simply shameful, entirely.
Shame is a tool. It has been used against me, and I can still use it to my own advantage, by claiming it as mine, by seeing what is another’s choice of what I should be ashamed of, and substituting pride.
I am who I am. Who I am is a good thing to be.
I keep going round in circles. I wrote, more than ten years ago,
It hurt so much, and it’s stopped.
Who I am is who I ought to be.
I can be me.
I can be free.
But that was in a poem, and I find things through poetry before I find them through prose.
Shame then becomes a tool, for my use and not for others to impose upon me. If I value myself and have a sense of my own worth, my own dignity, shame becomes a feeling I feel occasionally, for something indicating a departure from what I value, some course correction needed. So, where I was shamed for not being sufficiently masculine, now I feel shame where I attempt to put on a masculine persona, rather than being myself unmasked.
I tried to make a man of myself, in the past. I am not ashamed of that. It was the best I could do at the time.
Pride is called a deadly sin. We know it has value, an appropriate self-regard protecting us from shameful acts, and the word “Pride”, claiming what is a sin, shocks those who ought to be shocked, rubs in their faces that they cannot shame us with false shame any more. But generally I prefer honour. Pride is a sin in that it holds me above others, devalues them. So, honour, as a noun and a verb: I have honour, and I honour others. I will accord myself, and others, their proper value, according to my own honour. “I-it” relationships devalue me as well as the other.
Honour and shame become tools for achieving what I desire, actualising my humanity. I came to this conscious realisation through meditation, but it has been sitting inside me for a long time. I knelt in my ritual space, and it came to me. Shame and desire are my tools not my oppressors’: I must want things for myself, not just to fit to the rules of others. I need to find better treats than checking blog stats on my laptop. What I have wanted is just to withdraw. Unrequited desire continues to hurt. So far, this is all about seeing myself, being myself: being this in relationship with other humans is much more complex.
I may be the most screwed-up person you will meet, outside a prison or mental hospital. I am the human curled in a ball, traumatised, and the human reaching out a sympathetic hand- and I am also the whip, the human seeking to drive myself onwards for things I did not desire and were not proper to me as I truly am. The internalised parent, perhaps. I am the hurt, the carer, the drive; the traumatised being, the angel, the whip; these three parts dance around each other, coalesce and divide, at some times are two, others three. All are in me. I will value and integrate them. I will bring myself to birth.
After a wonderful day, I got to the station at 12.15. It is lovely to cycle in a light summer dress, but not at night in the rain, so I put on my waterproof jacket. That’s quite hot, and I don’t want my wig rained on, so I put it in my handbag. What could go wrong?
I expect to take about forty minutes at night. It is lovely with the roads so quiet, even against the wind, even after such a storm that there is a lot of standing water on the road. I am almost home when there is a barrier across the road, with a police car behind it, and a diversion sign. Oh dear. That’s a long way round, I think. I asked the police officer, politely, if I could get through as it was such a long way. No: the storm has brought down power cables, which are lying right across the road. They have called for someone to come and remove them, but don’t know when they will come. I could wait if I want, but it could be half an hour. I go down the side road.
When I get to the dual carriageway I see there is no ramp down leading westward. I had forgotten. As it is quiet, I go down the footpath beside the exit ramp. However when I get to the bottom I see there is a barrier across this road too, again with a man in a van to prevent anyone sneaking through.
-Do you mind if I cycle through? It’s a long way round, I am not sure of the way through Zhuzhkov and the road through Marsby is blocked.
-Yeah, go on, mate, he says, just mind out when the lorries are reversing, yeah?
-I’m female, I say, but he makes no response to that.
At one point I am cycling over hot tarmac, enjoying its rich aroma. At another I pull into the side to let a lorry reverse past. Again it is lovely in the quiet, with almost no traffic going the other way. The wind is against me but not too much. There is little drizzle. I slog up the hill from the roundabout and get home in about twice the time I thought it would take.
The more people there are about, the more likely it is that someone will read me and object to me, but most people don’t mind. This bloke, seeing my male pattern baldness and hearing my voice, nevertheless behaved reasonably. I have been thinking about pride. What did I do- how would I conceptualise it? I begged to be allowed through– no, I asked, with my tone of voice indicating the only reasonable course would be allowing me through. Or, pride in appearance- practicality is more important. The dress was comfortable, in the day-time. I met with setbacks and dealt with them.
Humiliation can be joyous. It is the moment when my understanding of the world and myself meets reality, and reality wins. With new understanding of the world, I function better, and with new understanding of myself cognitive dissonance and all-pervading dissatisfaction are resolved.
Of course it can break a spirit. The humiliation of torture is designed to break spirits. Punishment including imprisonment was designed to break spirits and prevent resistance or non-compliance. Some authorities attempt to mitigate punishment with rehabilitation, as it is better to persuade a person to comply, or heal their hurt and anger so that they are motivated to comply, but spirits are still broken in the prison system. Or torture can fail, and invigorate resistance with a sense of burning injustice. Seeing others tortured, some are frightened and some are empowered.
The good humiliation frees you from oppressive lies. The lie is that a human being should be a particular way, enforced by false pride in being that way, and terrible fear in case my pretense to being that way is found out. I invest all my sense of self, self-respect and belief in my safety in protecting the lie, so am oppressed and distorted, miserable and ineffectual. In humiliation, the lie explodes. It stands revealed- not a framework and firm footing, but a cage. Then comes freedom. I can see myself and other people. I can see what needs to be done, what is good and beautiful and to be desired, and my own reality and worthiness.
I flee in terror from what would liberate me.
Pride is necessary for human functioning. Self-respect motivates us to take care of our appearance, to appreciate the good we deserve and to seek it. Without pride existence becomes mere struggle for survival. Yet it has to be pride in matters worthy of pride: in real things, not illusions, in beauty and community and togetherness not isolation.
I transitioned because I wanted to fit in. My sexual desires humiliated me, so I acted to cut them off. I lacked the courage and faith to face the humiliation, and pass through it into joy.
It is not too late. I want things which are meaningless and worthless, to hide away, to not stand out or be noticed, to find a set of rules for living and fit them and know I am a good person because I fit them; and I want one good thing, which is my own survival. If I stopped fighting for these illusions which I can never gain, and which would never satisfy, what might I want instead? I self-punish, harshly judging myself: could I turn that aptitude to cleansing myself of the ties that bind me?
I discover what I want, when I observe what I do. That is, the desires I actually act upon are opaque to me until I look back and see what I have done, where I have gone.
For example, either two and a half years ago I went from almost complete inadequacy, applying for a few jobs, doing voluntary work badly, to utter complete inadequacy, moping round the house all the time; or, alternatively, I withdrew from the World in order to have time and space for my psycho-spiritual healing. I would rather believe the latter, and it makes some sort of sense. I have healed, having greater acceptance and less pain.
There was certainly no conscious intention behind it. It felt like a failure, being unable to go on any more. Yet I could say that my whole organism, unconscious as well as conscious, has benefited, and perhaps moved towards what she knew would benefit her. On one view, I have Failed, on the other I have Acted, for my own good. Which would you rather believe?
I would rather believe the truth: but belief in failure makes me despair; and belief in my action is at least arguable.
I shared on facebook the mystic cryptic phrase I learn what I want when I see what I do and Lena misinterpreted it, thinking I wrote about what I chose to learn, rather than learning as a matter of observing what was in front of me. Derek got it: his Psychosexual Somatics Therapy course was very much about shadow motivations.
I used to think that I thought things through, made a rational decision, then carried it out. However what I did for that rational decision often had no real motivation behind it, and I did not follow through. Rather, I achieve worthwhile goals; but I start pursuing them before I realise, consciously, what the goal is. This thought comes from Serra considering a particular incident. I wanted that, but did not consciously understand it immediately.
It was a shadow desire, to heal, not one I could consciously admit. Consciously, I imagined I needed to get a job, and could do it. I want to allow my desires to be conscious, like my emotions become. It is hard for me to kick against the goads, hard for me to have conscious and unconscious at war, mutually despising.
It is strange, taking pride in what shamed me so deeply: the old pain of that shame washes over me, and as I delight in the pride, joy weeps.
What do I have to be proud of? This is important: unemployed, not quite friendless, and much of the time hiding in my living room because that is the only thing I have control over, I need to trust myself, and for that I need pride in something. I had thought of doing posts on what can the British be proud of- the Empire, the War, Cool Britannia? Even my posts about other things are really posts about me. What may I be proud of?
Oddly enough, my web of illusion. As I seek, now, to free myself of it, I realise that I have created it myself, and that I created it to protect myself. It did its job. I am OK, comfortable, I have the time to find better ways of being in the World.
My growth and maturity and healing. For example, moving just recently from that emotional block against trusting my intuition. It was an emotional block, and it was very strong. And now I can accept intuitive promptings, without needing to construct an argument. “It is my intuitive prompting” is sufficient. That is a huge move for me. I am not just vegetating, I am healing and growing, as I have always been. That huge move last year from negative to positive– I am still working it through, and part of that is seeing challenges as opportunities-
no, I am not there-
Seeing the blessing, where I would just have seen difficulties. So all that foutering with the hormones (actually, I am sure the Scots word is linked to the French verb foutre) helps me to see and accept my emotions.
And transition took courage. Some people do not manage it. It took years of preparation, of learning: I can buckle down to something and worry at it- also illustrated by my skills on the piano. I am loving and caring. I am creative.