Binge. Purge.

The title “Recovering Crossdresser” might make you think of recovering alcoholic- a person who will always have the temptations but is doing their best not to give in. Take it one day at a time. However, this blogger keeps cross-dressing. He loves lingerie. He was worn a skirt and a top, occasionally, but that does nothing for him.

I am not here going to look down on the man. Anyone prejudiced against us would see no difference between him and me, except in degree. “This kind of trans are disgusting weirdos, that kind of trans are completely acceptable, almost normal in fact” said no non-trans person ever. I am weird enough not to mock another’s idiosyncrasies. I have fellow-feeling.

If I tell you not to think about an elephant, you will think about an elephant. I don’t know how not to think about something, but writing a blog, detailing exactly what he was wearing, is not it. It can feel that way. Naming it- one of the wife’s white lacy bras, plus my own recently acquired white suspender belt, white hold up stockings and one of my white g-strings– may bring back the feeling of revulsion which led you to purge all your stuff in the first place, but will also foster the incipient feelings of arousal. That’s the way it works.

His wife’s bra? Well, she wears sensible underwear, rarely bothering to have it matching, and almost never wears the sexy frillies he buys for her. I have not read the whole blog, but not saying stuff may be the saving of the marriage. He buys expensive lace, it sits in her drawer, does she expect him to get a message not to buy more?

Possibly, thinking of cross-dressing with as little detail as possible, and dwelling on the shame, the feelings of not being in control, and the experience of being caught might stave off the desires. It was the only time, he said, in April 2015. “All hell broke loose”. However, now she “loves” it when he has his whole body waxed. She might have made the connection, and might be hinting she could bear his cross-dressing. I hope so. It would take a lot of the shame away, and that might reduce the compulsion. It would just be something he did.

He may seek out the shame, though. He wears lingerie to work. He calls this “underdressing”. He is careful to wear baggy sweaters so that cami-suspender lines do not show. But he is self-conscious:

I felt sure that there were people passing me by, who, as I sat there, minding my own business, casually reading, were, I felt, taking a slightly longer look in my direction slightly longer than might be naturally expected.

Maybe it was just me, in a partial state of paranoia, but then again maybe it wasn’t. 

I wonder if he has heard of shadow-motivation- acting to achieve something you are not conscious of desiring. He wants to be found out, or wants that delicious state of paranoia. If they are studying him, it is probably because they see he is more self-conscious than usual, not that they guess he has women’s underwear on. More likely, he is just imagining it.

Fear and shame are a great deal of the excitement. People are aroused a lot of the time, including at work, but an employer might disapprove of doing things there deliberately to get aroused, and colleagues might object, as women object to men watching pornography in public. Or, getting away with it might please him, but how would anyone know?

Here we are, with our fear, shame and compulsions. I might like to be free of them, but is anyone?

Trans sex

How could it not be a sex thing? But, so what?

I am walking in the park, and there are many sensual pleasures- the last of the blackberries, the sun and wind, those high trees with long, pale, grey-green leaves- but the one which pleases me most is this long, full silk skirt. It’s Monsoon. I love the feel of it on my legs and the way it moves in the wind, the shapes it makes. It’s a bit of a turn-on, actually. The lining is less full, ending just above the knee, and if I stride too far it is a little restricting. I love this skirt.

James Cantor coined the term “Euphilia” to mean sexual drives which unite two people. “Sweet-love”. Good, nice, normal, neatly including gays as well as straights, for Dr Cantor is gay. Then there’s paraphilia, “beside-love”, sexual stimulation from non-sexual causes. This is only a bad thing- a “disorder”- if it causes distress to the subject or others- no, I should not steal clothes from washing lines, and too great shame about something which harms no-one is unhealthy.

All that shame has done me no good. Shame about what aroused me and what I desired has been the greatest pain of my transition journey, perhaps of my life. And here I am in the park, enjoying my skirt. I am not going to disturb walkers whom I greet as we pass. You get aroused? Welcome to the human race! It’s so much better than being a panda, pandas are dying out: the drive needs to be this strong to make people bring children up to adulthood, and is bound to have side-effects. People are aroused a lot of the time. We don’t act on it but don’t need windows into others’ souls. I judge myself for everything: I should accept pleasure where I can find it. I fear everything: I should learn not everything is a threat.

In my state of regret at the moment, wishing I had retained my sexual organs, I recall how I felt: how expressing female was lovely, and presenting male went from dull to unpleasant to unbearable. I worked hard to resist it, as we all do. I feel no shame at failure. There was no failure, the problem was the shame which made me resist. I would have been much higher-functioning had I not had to deal with this war within myself for so long. It is a compulsion, and no-one has the right to demand that you torture yourself by resisting it: not even your wife, even if she did not know before marriage and you have young children.

It is more than a sex thing. It is how I express who I am, all my beauty and creativity; but humans are sexual animals, and transition is part of that. The craving for the operation came from the necessity of passing as a woman rather than the desire to transition.

thomas-lawrence-margaret-countess-of-blessington

When I was considering transition, from 1998, when I transitioned at work, 2002, and when I had the operation in 2004, in my milieu people were divided into transvestites, sexual perverts who were disgusting or at least ridiculous, and transsexuals who were women. But non-op transsexuals were dodgy: not really transsexual, probably something less, even if they said they could not have the operation because a heart complaint. Some of this was fear and internalised transphobia. We felt we could say, but I am transsexual: I have a medical condition, and the treatment is hormones and gender confirmation surgery. I am not like those perverts over there.

That was how it was for me. It is much easier now to be trans and not have the op, and some people don’t; and people who do, do so because they have a need to feel comfortable in their own bodies. F-M chest surgery is about how you are perceived by others as well as how you perceive yourself, but a penis may be tucked away out of sight, even in tight jeans.

I felt great shame. I was aroused by thinking of myself as female or female-bodied, and by clothes- though not all the time, more and more they became just nice to wear. I was put off the thought of transition by the spectre of autogynephilia: I thought I was a pervert.  My wet dreams were about cross-dressing and I found that of all the shame the most shameful: I could not be aroused by another person, only my own fantasy.

The Script increased the shame. Don’t tell the psychiatrist that, or you won’t get treatment. Tell him (yes, well) that you knew there was something wrong aged 2 and knew that you were a girl aged 5. Later, when I told a psychiatrist I had no thought of cross-dressing before age 14 and no thought of transition before my thirties, he said lots of people were like that, if they’re honest.

Then I decided, transition was what I wanted more than anything else in the world, and why I wanted it did not matter.

I had not had a satisfying emotional relationship, because I hid my real self behind my manly shell. I had not had a satisfying sexual relationship. I had some idea of what I was supposed to do in bed with another, but none of what I might like; and so I had the operation because of social pressure. That was what I understood I had to do, to be acceptable. I wanted to be accepted in society. For that, the law said I must be proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.

thomas-lawrence-maria-conyngham

Transition has enabled me to be myself. It is the human condition to be stuck between wanting to be onesself and wanting to fit in, and as we mature into middle-age we work that out better, work out a reasonable compromise, or ways round the most intrusive demands. And where I was, how I was, trapped in that fake masculinity, complete rejection was the only way to go.

It is not just, I am not a man like that, therefore I must be a woman. I fit cultural ideas of femininity. Or, I don’t know, that’s whistling in the dark, possibly I just tell myself that because transition is better than trying to man up by, say, joining the territorial army. Whatever. At least, it is not completely that I am Unmanly, Untermensch, less than a Man, but different, and Good, worthwhile; and I have some similarity to cultural understandings of a woman. And, I am Clare, rather than generic either.

At least transition has let me be more myself than I was before. There was the social pressure to fit this box marked Man, but the one marked Transsexual- including gender confirmation surgery- was more comfortable. It has been an essential part of my journey. It was what I wanted, more than anything else in the world.

This blog explains what transsexuality is for me. This page is the gateway to it.

Shame III

If I feel shame about everything, it ceases to be a useful emotion.

Man goes out jogging in the morning, gets chatting, and is much later home than normal. “Where have you been?” asks his wife. “Being myself” he tells us; working out the marvelousness that is He. Nothing wrong with chatting, of course, nothing wrong with being back a little later than expected, unless they had something particular to do together; not necessarily any criticism in the question, it could be entirely innocent…

Grief, yearning, guilt, shame- As I listened to this, past events popped into my mind which I feel shame about. I was not completely perfect. I did not know everything beforehand- well, we have the well-known, well-used term “Hindsight” to counteract use of that in blaming and shaming, and I can use the idea to forgive others.

If everything is black shameful, nothing is. From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves. I have nothing I can think on for my improvement, to try and avoid, just a heavy burden. Christian the Pilgrim felt that burden fall from him through Repentance, but I have not even that, for I can’t see how I might improve, apart from being Perfect which I should be already.

I don’t know if weekly repentance in the Eucharist makes this bearable for anyone or dulls the impact through repetition.

It is a way of realising an uncomfortable feeling. I feel uncomfortable and an uncomfortable situation or a thing which shames me in the past pops into my head, then I resent and resist the discomfort. Learn to swim in my discomfort, not knowing or understanding anything, not being perfect, accepting the feeling and blundering on. I could cheer, jolly along, invigorate myself with affirmations.

Beating the Government

The Bedroom Tax. What did you argue? He argued that the “spare bedroom” was nothing of the kind, that it was a room to store his own equipment which he needed because of his disability. That a room is just a room, not a “bedroom” or “living room”; that it may be a store room. It had never been used as a bedroom, because even though he lived in a Housing Association house, he had paid for the extension himself. The council had opposed the appeal, yet when he went before the tribunal judge, the lawyer took on board everything he said.

Then the Government had wanted to appeal, to add itself as a party to the proceedings, to get the detailed reasons for the judgment, and there had been some delay in implementing it; they had decided in the event not to appeal, and he was disappointed because had he won in the upper tribunal he would have set a precedent.

As he tells me, his passion about the case begins to show. His voice gets harder, he speaks more quickly, he will brook no disagreement. It is time to go into Meeting.

The one who introduced me, said Abigail is also a lawyer.
-Solicitor?
-Yes, a very long time ago.
He had trained as a barrister.
And immediately my shame had started up. With all the advantages I have had, look where I am now! I am without my wig, because I have cycled here, am overheated, and the heating is on. I cannot bear to put on my jeans and am self-conscious in my shorts. I wished she had not said.

And I feel so vulnerable, and threatened.

A friend has made me a necklace, of chunky Unakite beads, said to bring grounding, gentleness and calm, and to balance emotions with spirituality. It is pretty, but at the centre is a disc, three circles of tiny hearts. At this I feel intense emotion. Really intense- what happened? I think-

she recognised, valued and celebrated my Softness, and my Softness answered, which is joyous; and I fear that softness and vulnerability because I need to be harder,

and as we leave I start to babble, because I have to justify myself- I have played my cards as best I could, we all have good and bad luck, character, choices- I have not “ended up” like this because there is always possibility- phrases I have come up with, trying to reassure myself

it is alright, really
I am alright, really

I honestly did not think until later- a barrister, pleading his own housing benefit case? I had said, “I can sort of understand prejudice against immigrants, or sexual minorities, but prejudice against disabled people, I just can’t get my head around that.”

He said, people think you’re worthless, they can look down on you. And Hindus judge you on how you must have been bad in some fictional past life in their own heads. How horrible, to see this wonderful man, and judge him on the one thing he can’t do!

Millais, Portia- Kate Dolan

Everything is beautiful II

I wrote on facebook,

Our mistakes, errors and failures
are beautiful

and Hazel wrote, “Mine aren’t.” Oh, Hazel!

Right now, consumed with shame, I wonder whether anyone has wasted her life and talents as badly as I. I have no job, house, children, savings, pension- prospects- I maunder away my life, bored and resentful, watching TV, dozing off, writing here.

(Attentive readers will notice the word “partner” is missing from that oft-repeated list. I have gone out a few times with someone. I would love to say “I am going out with” her, and only avoid that from fear of being presumptuous.)

Onywye. I reason myself out of my shame, and I feel my way out of it. I have always done my best. I could almost say, they are not mistakes, errors and failures, but attempts. They have been my best shot given my knowledge, understanding, levels of energy and motivation at the time. And if there is so much that I am not attempting, now-

my hurt is real. It is not, just, that I am weak, and should pull myself together. “I get on with life” said Neil, and I said, “Well, so did I, until I stopped”. That stopping, that Moment-

I thought I should cycle on the ball of my foot, rather than the instep, so put up my bicycle seat. Cycling felt wonderful. I noted that sometimes I was slipping my arse from side to side, and it felt like it could hurt my back- Dean later told me the seat too high can hurt the back, not necessarily for this reason. My metal pedals have a side with a bit of grip, so it will grip my toe rather than sliding down to the instep. Next day I climbed to the top of St Pauls, and that evening felt something go in the back of my ankle- I was frightened my ligament was damaged. The day after that, exuberantly I started pas de basque, and felt something go in my ankle again.

I watched other people cycling- not races on telly but people in the park, and the South Bank of the Thames, and ruefully saw that they all cycle on the instep. Though Dean says the power should come from the calf muscle.

Friday night I tried cycling. My ankle feels alright. I decided to leave the seat up, and do that nine mile run. I was monitoring my back, thighs, knees, legs, taking care, taking reasonable risk.

I showed courage. When my inner critic denies this- I know enough not to project her denial onto you-  I say I had experienced pain, and feared I had damaged myself, and doing the same thing scares me, quite reasonably. Yet I did it, safely enough. I am proud of myself.

How wonderful to learn to value myself and take care of myself! I am not just listening to the voice saying “Fucking get on with it you useless prick, there should be nothing to it for anyone not as worthless as you…”

How wonderful to achieve what I have, when I did not know this! That stopping, that Moment

It was the best thing I have ever done!

Topmost niche

Desire, action, achievement

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.

Cranach, Judith and Holofernes II

Positively trans

It is so easy to pathologise my femininity. It is not femininity at all, it is effeminacy or unmanliness. Femininity is a construct of patriarchy, a trap set by the culture which does not fit the speaker so she cannot imagine that it fits any woman, women who pretend to it need their consciousness raised, and trans “women” are tools of patriarchy. I am not “feminine”- what I think of as feminine in me is weak, sick, perverted, disgusting, ridiculous, illusory, misogynist.

When I am just me, in a carefree manner, my reactions are just So Wrong: I try to be something else, some stereotype masculinity, but am simply inadequate.

My feelings are anger, resentment, frustration and fear.

I have retreated to my living room, and I despise myself for it. It is Ridiculous! Weak!

This journey takes so long! I accept my femininity. It is real, me, how I react when I do not police myself. Yet I am still stuck here, in my flat, frittering my life, existing, because I do not want to do anything else. I do not have access to my desires, beyond a desire to hide away. Again I despise myself for that. It is a complete waste of all my life, so many experiences I have not had, always, hiding-

I accept my femininity? Oh God, I think of her as a man. I hate that. I judge her: her tight red dress is not appropriate for her age or the place, her wig is poor, her face is so masculine, I feel, and these are bad things. Judgements of others are projections of things about which I feel uncomfortable in myself- the measure you give will be the measure you get– so I learn of my shame from this encounter. It is deep. She was kind to me, a feminine characteristic: I talked of my job interview, and she told me of interviewing, how she was looking for a person whose character fitted, rather than the attributes the person might think mattered. She was being reassuring in that deep, husky, soft voice. Kind. Sweet. We hugged.

belting it outI can accept others if I can accept myself. Well, here am I in a dress where women would be in trousers. It is what I want to wear. We are all in skirts and dresses, well, we are hyper-feminine, or we would sort-of be able to make a go of presenting male. I am at the Positively Trans workshop, tunnelling towards something positive through all the shit, looking at shame and stigma, and I realised I had not just been ashamed of being feminine, but also of being submissive sexually, and of my Performance side. I was singing on Sunday at the Quaker garden party. I was belting it out, knowing my voice was strained and I was not hitting all the notes- for I have not practised my performance skills, the inclination is there, possibly even the talent, but my shame has eaten it, and I have been reserved, suppressing myself. This may be why after performing I often get a very low mood: it is back to ordinary life. All that shame, then in my daily Spiritual Practice email I get:

Your past is not your potential. In any hour you can choose to liberate the future.

And I think- fuck you? Not more Work?

 ♥♥♥

It is wonderful to be in this loving, supportive environment. I express myself strongly, and others relate to what I say. I am a recluse, I have withdrawn from the world- others relate to that. My shame bound me in iron, unable to express myself naturally, and even now those bonds feel like protectionwhen I take them off I feel vulnerable, yet then I am real, free, truthful, enabled to feel. The bonds whisper to me, you are pretending, you are not like that really, we are your True Self- but I know they are Wrong.

I was bullied, controlled, erased.Their concept of me was superimposed on me, the real me ignored and devalued. The psychologist starts to riff, talking enthusiastically. It is beautiful. I write it down hungrily:

experience is rich and complex, full of emotion and pain

That was what I first noticed, and wrote, so I ask him to repeat himself

full of desires, wants, needs, yearnings… JOY…

Yes!

It is hard to be outside the binary. It takes courage. I would stare at someone as feminine as you said my friend in Linlithgow. I don’t see you as male or female, I see you as you said more than one person, attempting reassurance. But it is how I see myself that matters, whether I restrict myself in my bonds, my false protection, or step outside them

as I realised, delightedly, I had done walking through Winchester to my job interview. I did not tourist the cathedral, but near it I saw a bust of a man who “saved it with his bare hands”. So I asked a woman what that meant, and she said it had been subsiding, so in the late 19th century he excavated underneath it, supporting it with masonry, and it has not moved since. We shared our admiration of him. This is what I do: I make connections with people.

I dug into my shame, and saw it was not just around being feminine, but being submissive, and dramatic, too, seeing my father who could not admit these things. It made me feel inadequate and disgusting. It made me very careful, never spontaneous, born middle-aged. I coped by trying to follow the Ideal I was forced into, and suppressing my feelings. I was made to feel bad by my parents because of their fear of Society and of me: they were trying to protect me.

I said to the group,

I am submissive.

I felt no shame. It felt wonderfully liberating.

Are these experiences still affecting you? I am reclusive. I have no experience of being submissive in relationship, little experience of performance, and though I took my opportunity on Sunday I am wary I overdid it. I have not made my opportunities. I am still careful and reserved.

It is a long journey out of shame. First I hide and repress myself. Now I focus on this is who I am. I seek support from friends and Charing Cross. Suppressing the shame will not work, but pride is a useful antidote. I feel shame at deception: I am revealing my Self, but others feel I am hiding my maleness- unless I am projecting again.

Laugh at shame. Contact with trans people increases pride in trans identity.

Love, acceptance and compassion are the best antidotes to shame, along with community, visibility, recognition by others. Consider how I would respond to another: I am always harder on myself. Practise metta.

If I can acknowledge my pain and difficulty I can celebrate my struggle. To get where I am I have been brave, truthful and determined. When aware of my feelings I am better able to cope with how they affect me. I can choose my own identities.

The answer is Love.

 ♥♥♥

Through the negativity to something positive and beautiful…

Four years ago, I awoke at war. There was my negative, mean-spirited self, and there was a positive, better way of seeing things: love drives out fear. The point of the seminar at Charing Cross was moving through the negative to something positive.

I realised at the seminar that my bonds of shame did not only discount and reject my femininity, but also my submissive sexuality and my dramatic way of presenting myself. I hid myself away and pretended to be other, and eventually this grew so painful that I have hidden away in my flat.

Negative: I have wasted my life, pretending to be something else, and my hiding is weak
Positive: I have been on a spiritual journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, and now, on the cusp of self-acceptance, I am liberated. I have all the time I need to be myself. The hiding was the best I could do: I have always done my best. I can develop that beautifully dramatic persona. I can be free, as me.

Or the job interview.
Negative: I don’t know that I want it or could do it but was terrified of having my benefit cut. My answer to that one question was completely dreadful…
Positive: With these people, I was truly myself. We spent ninety minutes together, showing their valuing me, plus a tour of the meeting house. Winchester is beautiful and the meeting house peaceful, though I saw two people sitting in sleeping bags by the side of the street. I could do that job. They thought my account of my Quakerism, in particular of being clerk, spot on. Yes it is disappointing not to get the job. There will be others.

So, the seminar, led by a psychologist, a gay man using his own research. He was lovely. 1% of the population are gender-variant. Through our values and the dominant culture, we tend to think of binary rather than spectrum.

The exercises brought out decided answers in me. What identities do you have in your life- parent, sibling, gay/straight etc? I am Abigail. I am

Me

Anything else is too painful. I am Abigail, or I am dead-grey, not wanting anything but to hide.

Which of these identities is gendered? Me is definitely gendered, feminine.

Who chose these identities? Do you like them? I choose Nothing. I am myself, or I am forced into the dead-grey, initially by my mother and now by my shame and fear. I am myself, or I resist myself. I like Myself.

How do you identify in terms of gender identity- pick as many of trans, straight female, non-binary…? I am Abigail. Man, woman, transsexual, feminine- all possible; the constant is Abigail.

Which of these identities is positive? Abigail! Yes!

How would you like to be seen or identified? Dancer Actress Performer Poet

Joyful, playful child

Renoir- Les Parapluies, detail

This continues: Positively Clare.

Gender counselling

It is lovely to work with Serra at Charing Cross. She is brisk yet warm, professional, encouraging, sympathetic with a beautiful smile.

How fascinating to see the mechanism of my projecting! I am really happy about that, but I have doubts and fears too; so I project the doubts onto her, and the fears as imagined judgment onto them. These feelings are mine, I have no idea what others think or feel about this. This does not mean that I can stop projecting, but that I might notice it and be clear about what I am doing
-at least in hindsight?
-perhaps, with practice, while it happens.

I am frightened of my feelings, even happiness. I change my goals: I want to feel them all, more.

On Sunday night to Tuesday morning I was scatty, pacing the floor, weeping, hurt and terrified. I saw myself as permanently bewildered and hurt by bolts from the blue, which in theory might be predicted yet I never could. I thought I have a particular view of Quakers because of the way I joined, and the thought that my view might nevertheless not be divorced from reality helped me out of it.

I saw I was depressed, but it appears rational at the time. Could I challenge these depressive thoughts? The realisation that one of them was wrong brought me out of my temporary depression.

All my life I have been completely ashamed. At first I was ashamed of my real self, I always felt inadequate, and now I feel ashamed that I could not be my real self earlier. Aged twenty I was very attached to my parents’ attitudes and ideas and trying desperately to make a man of myself.

-Why were you like that?

It is the right question at the right time. I know this stuff, but I need to articulate it before a witness and myself. I say,

Because it was the best I could do at the time. I need to forgive myself my misadventures, for that was always true. I will work on this with her.

This puzzle-world is more difficult than I might like.

I could be proud of discovering and accepting my femininity. She says many people do not get to know themselves, then,

I think you are beautiful. That makes me glow.

I am off to see my wise, warm and witty friend.
-You should spend time with such people.

W makes a better connection with women than with men, deep and emotional, but wants a relationship with a man. She wants an authentic man, true to himself with a sense of purpose. She mimes her hand, palm flat, moving out from her face to point forwards. She sees that in me- though a partner having a penis is important to her. Sorry. That’s OK, ducs. I love you too, but not in that way.

At ChX I met A, who is here for her first assessment. She has what is commonly thought as a gender marker- women with it are seen as weird- along with bright red lip gloss and a tiny bow in her hair. She is herself, and most people are happy with that, though she lives with her parents and there are tensions there. She has a discrimination claim against the sports centre for demanding that she change in the disabled changing rooms. She did not know the word “transbian”- a word we use when apologising for existing. I explain it, and she says “You’re a Lesbian”, reassuringly. She is androphile and sees that as heterosexual. This is a breath of fresh air. All the trans women I have knowingly spoken to this year have been older than I. A is so much freer, not worried at all at my hang-ups. Though even she could not have transitioned as a child. If only!

John Lavery, Evelyn Farquhar