Here’s a guy fae Glesca, and I notice wee bits of Argyll creeping into my accent. More the lilt than anything. His is a mesolect, distinctively Glasgow but clear enough for any Brit, probably any native English speaker, to understand what he is saying. No, I’m not mimicking you, this is jist- how Ah speak, sometimes.
Here’s a man, unselfconsciously, unaffectedly masculine. A solid bloke. It is rather wonderful.
-How’ve you been?
-Fighting vaguely the old ennui, I said. And we were away, on mid-20th century musicals. He was in a group singing songs from them. He went to Kiss me Kate and quotes from “I hate men”- “He may have hair upon his chest, but so has Lassie!”
“Fish really don’t need bicycles,” I said.
I am more and more uncomfortable, here, mirroring, empathising, mimicking, whatever it is I am doing. I fled in resentment thinking, Don’t make a man out of me- we are blokes, talking in a blokey way, and I don’t want to. I am uncomfortable enough with my gender at the moment. I feel I am now a bloke, talking like a bloke, except in a wig and bra and a silk skirt and sandals with delicate straps which make my feet look pretty. At the time I thought it was how he was responding to me, treating me like a bloke, and now I wonder if it was me, mirroring or whatever. I want to be a me I feel comfortable with, so go and talk to a woman in a different style and register. We are again sharing about things that please us but now enjoying the other’s pleasure rather than subtly competing, around human contact rather than Cole Porter’s rhymes and word-plays, and this is far more comfortable for me. “May I have a hug?” I ask. Of course you may.
I cycle through the town. A man gets up from a table in the street, staring at me, advancing in a sort of Sumo pose, and grunting- not like an ape, as the ape would have more dignity. Had a million years of evolution passed him by? It felt shocking and threatening, and I wondered what was going on for him then. I was cycling late at night last week when a pedestrian decided to sprint after me. I pedalled faster to get away, again threatened. It has happened before. It is a drunk, boisterous man having a bit of a laugh, and if he caught me he would not know what to do with me, probably- it is a play threat rather than serious intended violence, I hope- and I am discomposed.
We looked at the blokes at the bar, and she said how unattractive they all were, how badly turned out in that uniform of jeans and tshirts, how stupid their masculine poses which don’t fit them, and this morning I was thinking how I am not a woman, how “trans woman” is only an approximation to Be Who I Am, how I do not fit, even how I might revert, though having grown breasts makes that difficult. From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves. In Meeting I decided I could not tell what was Real Me and what Ego-self, what Child or Carer, what the “Image of God” as Richard Rohr calls it and what the “small self”. I kept looking at the clock, and felt uncomfortable, beside this large, friendly man- Oh! How Wicked to be writing of people at the Quaker meeting! I am not, though, only about my reaction to them- and my comforting thought at the very end was, yes, I have to let that go, but only that particular plan for getting what I starve for, I don’t have to deny I am starving or let go of the hope that I might somehow, sometime, be satisfied. Now, this mirroring or mimicking or whatever it is- my strong presumption is that my characteristics are blessings, not curses, to be welcomed, cherished, appreciated, and used ever more skillfully and choice-fully. I can mirror, and I can-