Do trans women have male privilege?

I avoid actions, and ways of being or responding, because of disapproval in the past which no longer exists. I acted, I sensed another’s disapproval, I absorbed the judgment that I should not act that way, I internalised the judgment that I, my instincts and actions, were wrong. Internalised transphobia is internalised self-phobia. Even if the judgment is my own, and no-one else’s, it still paralyses me.

There is a deep well of rage inside of me. Rage about how I as an individual have been treated…; rage about how others I know have been treated; and rage about the conditions that I’m sure affect many women and minorities, … and have caused many others to leave. Well, my own rage is there, but fruitless: I still am fearful of certain expressions, and the fear holds me down. I am depressed and lacking motivation. The rage could be energy for action, but my own judgment holds it down.

Women live in a society that presents as “natural” what they experience as arbitrary constraints. This can provide them with a particular sensitivity to injustices that are due less to individual ill will than to the structures of established practices and institutions. And I don’t. I accept the judgment on my femininity as weak and as less than masculinity, not an arbitrary constraint but the natural order of things, not historically constructed social categories. I find the quotes in italics, about feminist philosophy, here.

That feminist understanding of her own worth is an attitude I could learn from. The elephant could break the chain on its ankle easily, but remembering infancy when it could not, it imagines the chain as effective a restraint as it was then. My chain only exists in my imagination, but a chain there is strong.

This is the answer to the allegation that trans women have male privilege. The feminist says that my upbringing, encouraging me to act assertively, should benefit me. I argue, against that, that their internal qualities, allowing them to reject the arbitrary constraints on them, place them in a better position to be themselves and overcome the structural injustice. I could not assert myself, only assert a masculine act, which tortured me and which eventually I fled from.

Beside that masculinity which society values, my femininity seemed weak and worthless, even to me. We project our own judgments onto others. Others may read our lack of self-confidence and downgrade their judgment of us. So I am paralysed in acting. That article quoted a definition of “woman”- S is a woman [if and only if] S is systematically subordinated along some dimension — economic, political, legal, social — and S is ‘marked’ as a target for this treatment by observed or imagined bodily features presumed to be evidence of a female’s biological role in reproduction. I am systematically subordinated, at least. Or maybe I would be a woman if I passed as a woman rather than a trans woman. Because our oppression is so different, I could sympathise with a feminist caring more about hers than mine, or even not seeing mine as oppression.

Presence may be the answer. I still the critical voices in my head, and act from a single volition rather than my conflicted state. Others suffer from Imposter syndrome, and still act. Living in Presence does not mean not setting goals or seeking to achieve them, but being present to one’s atelic activities. “Atelic” means non-goal related, from Greek “telos”, purpose, I read here. One might also be present to telic activities. One might develop self-confidence, I theorise.

Greenbelt 2017

I have not had a spiritual experience at Greenbelt.

I have not developed a new ability to enter Mindful Presence. I could walk up from the Glamping by a less well used avenue into the main site, over short grass, between mature trees, and if I was having a bit of a whinge to myself I could just stop and see the beauty of where I was and the beauty of the sky. Pause- There. It is easier, of course, when you are somewhere beautiful but you can do this anywhere, with practice. I have not had a spiritual experience at Greenbelt. I have been reminded how mindful presence is beautiful, and that it is worthwhile to practise it.

I have not found Authentic communication. I have had some good conversations: a youth, still at school, told me he came out to his parents three days before. He knows no other gay boys in his year, only one in his school. He wants to set up an LGBT society, and wondered how he could make it welcoming for the T. A curate in her thirties demonstrating what her “Prime” means- physically beautiful, and gaining mature presence and confidence- told me, as the ordinary development of the conversation, “I told my husband if he had an affair I would cut his balls off”. I have not had a spiritual experience at Greenbelt, to make me suddenly Spiritual and Sorted and OK. I have had authentic communication, and seen yet again that only authentic communication has value; and that pretending to feel what one ought to feel, or conversation designed to find what one ought to feel, comes from the outer circles of Hell. I have been reminded authentic communication is possible, and that I must make my communications authentic.

I have not developed self-confidence. Someone whom I might never see again told me “You are beautiful”, and perhaps if I keep that in mind it will take. I am beautiful, physically and spiritually. Someone else told me how gifted, intelligent and articulate I am, and I did not deny it, and I am feeling less guilty than I did for being where I am, for I have always used my gifts and I will continue to use them; they have always blessed other people, and I want that blessing to increase. I have not had a spiritual experience at Greenbelt, but I have seen the need to see where I am, see possibilities, forgive lapses, not judge myself against some imaginary perfect me but improve my performance, and keep beginning this again. I have found things I need to practise.

And I have a new affirmation:

I am Abigail
and I am beautiful, physically and spiritually.
I am gifted, intelligent, articulate
and I can use these gifts to bless myself and others.

I may not have had a Lifechanging Spiritual Experience- but I did get a kazoo!

This isn’t the magnum opus either. You will recognise the magnum opus.


I got this wig about three years ago. Initially, I was amazed that it was real hair and lace fronted for £30. Lace fronted means that the parting is quite natural. A monofilament wig, where individual fibres emerge from the cap, through which the scalp can be seen, can have a parting but has a tell-tale dark line at the edge of the cap. A lace fronted wig has a natural looking parting.

Unfortunately the lace in this wig, while it is skin-tone. is skin-tone for a black person or dark-skinned Asian, rather than for me. Under the parting, the weave of the lace shows dark over the scalp. Standing close to the mirror in the hotel bathroom, it is unpleasantly obvious to me. Originally, the lace protruded beyond the hair line and I had to cut it off, after buying it. Cutting it, I saw the lace was always visible, and so the wig has sat in my cupboard, almost unworn.

I tried it on on Tuesday, and noticed how it made my eyes glow. The colour is perfect for me. Possibly the way it hangs contributes to the effect. Even, possibly, H’s comment that she had only just noticed how intense the brown of my eyes was, brings them to life for me.

I feel beautiful. I have felt that I look feminine, or female, or womanly- subtly different things- but now for the first time I know I look beautiful, and it is a glorious feeling. I asked S about the hair colour, and she said how beautifully it set off my eyes, though may have been prompted by my widening my eyes. Suddenly I love mirrors-

though only if they are far enough away, that I do not notice the lace.

I could have the wig cut, to have a short fringe over the lace front. It would not have a hair-line any more, but it does not really now. Though some of the front hair has to be used to create that fringe, I am not sure about the shape.

Another option is just to leave it, and have the parting with its strange criss-cross pattern showing. Anyone who notices it and realises it is a wig or just thinks it looks strange, can. Few people make personal remarks. Self-consciousness arises within me, and I may be able to create in myself self-confidence. I am beautiful, and if I know that it changes my whole mien.

Photos when I get one which does me justice.

Rossetti, Venus Verticordia

Trust and confidence

Woman is head of an organisation. Her predecessor was a bully, and when she went there she found a pile of complaint letters, ignored, in his office. He made inappropriate appointments and she has had to manage or dismiss those individuals. After four years, approaching retirement, she has turned the place around. She lives alone, and needs a friend to hear her speak about it, to give her a sense of perspective about some of the issues. So she comes to visit, and Dave just says, Don’t worry about that, it’s alright. Have a glass of wine.

I had a moment of vertiginous terror thinking of it.

The trustees of the homeless charity want someone for maternity leave to take responsibility for the whole place. Liz looks at the list of responsibilities and quails: you would have to give your whole life to it. They cannot get a person who can do that for £16,000 for a notional 35 hour week. Though, I say, there are decisions where there are more than one right choice, and the important thing is to make a decision, rather than to make the perfect choice each time. And other workers will be grateful that someone is making the decisions.

The tasks Liz does as a volunteer are “mindless”. Not responsible. Yet they have to be done, and in the incidental interactions, in her very presence, she gives the spaces she frequents something far more valuable than merely carrying tins from one place to another.

She feels that if you can find your path and walk along it-
but finding the path can be so difficult-

I do not recall what she actually said, so do not want to be specific. It felt like putting off happiness, and so if I write an approximation it may be more unreal than her understanding. I would take her distance from truth, multiply it by my misunderstanding, and libel her. I cannot be certain that she is wrong.

Though, also, I want her to be my Wise Friend and not wrong.

I started by writing of someone in the world of work, making Decisions, which just have to be good enough for the moment; then I wrote of Liz’s “path”, and find in me a delicate desperation to find the exact way of expressing the truth, finding perfection-

my seeking perfection might paralyse me in ordinary tasks

it might drive me to actual perfection, so terrified am I of anything less

it might be the right quality in the right circumstances

it might just be a way of avoiding responsibility.


My confidence level is low. I thought this morning of how I am still hard on myself, and thought, I can notice when I am bullying myself, and evaluate how accurate the bullying thoughts are. This is a sort-of cognitive behavioural therapy thing. Or I can notice when I want perfect certainty now, and tell myself I cannot have it and do not need it. These are not new ideas and are worth practising. I might find myself in a panic and notice why.

At the coffee shop, we met a woman looking after two Staffordshire bull terriers, or “Staffies”, pulling on their harnesses. One is two, the other not full grown, but strong. She started talking, as we admired their beauty, and told me that collies do not need exercise, so much, as company: you cannot just leave them at home while working and call in at lunchtime. They are social animals, thinking dogs, needing stimulation.

Jean-Léon Gérôme,Pygmalion and Galatea

The monster won’t get me

As a self-confidence exercise, I went round the supermarket this morning without my wig. Terry, who remained in the car, was more embarrassed than I was: people mostly looked at me so we could avoid our trolleys colliding. If people look at me quizzically, to be abashed by that is responding like a prey animal- and my response is my choice.

What irritated me was the way the check-out assistant started chatting to the woman behind me, while still serving me, and ignored me when I responded.

I give, or can choose not to give, permission to others to dictate my appearance; even if in some cases a particular appearance might help me achieve a particular result. This is an improvement. She irritated, rather than distressed, me. There was no overt insult, and if there had been I could have handled it.

I ended a course of counselling in 2009 with:
-What are you afraid of?
-The monster will get me.

As Yvonne pointed out, this is small child’s language, and it was the only way I could express it. I could not go further: in fact, so non-rational is this that my barriers against the realisation were great. I wanted to rationalise the fear, and find a proper cause for it. I saw later that the monster is my mother, and if it gets me I die. It seems I have moved on from then. The monster won’t get me.

In the park, families have paid to be taught and supervised building shelters for the night- a “Survive” event. They had a gorgeous warm weekend for it. I went into the woods following the path the 4x4s had made (AmE- “SUVs”) and chatted until told to leave by the “ranger”. He escorted me away, which irritated me again- why not just trust me to walk away, it is not as if I will scratch that motorcaravan (for use, perhaps, if a family could not bear it).

This is an improvement. I am not so crippled by self-consciousness that I cannot go out. I still have difficulty articulating anything I Want, which I feel I could achieve, or a way to achieve something, but a barrier within my own mind has melted away.

My distress is not as dangerous as it was. If my anger terrifies me, I freeze and can do nothing but suppress it. If I can notice and permit it, it can energise me.