Greenbelt affirmations

Taking the microphone and looking out over the thousand-member audience, I said, “I am wise. Listen to me.”

I am feeling powerfully affirmed right now. I have spoken before in conversation from my integrity, all of me united in a belief or intention. I check it is right and true then say it. As I do this more I become clearer.

Then there was the Queer Spirit festival, 16-18 August. At the Authentic Communicating workshop I talked of this, of the way of speaking from my whole self, and the facilitator addressed me, “Tell us the truth, O wise one”. It is hard to imagine such words without sarcasm, but he said them with utter sincerity. There I saw beautiful playfulness, and a profound shift in a man, shedding his introjects. I asked to be lifted and supported on nine pairs of hands, and was borne aloft. I could trust. Then we group hugged.

That night I left the big top at eleven, and dozily left my handbag in a toilet. I went to that workshop with no money, no house keys, no way of getting home, wondering if I could ask anyone to drive me there. We decided I could ask the festival to loan me enough for a taxi and the buses. At eight, no one had handed in my handbag but after the workshop someone had contacted the organiser, and I went to pick it up from the Faerie area. If there was anyone who would steal it at the festival, they were unlikely to be the one to find it.

I knew no one at Queer Spirit but started conversation easily, asking and receiving hugs. I noticed how forebearing we were with each other, anxious to please as if used to hurt and slights- as you might expect in an LGBT festival. I see it in myself and in queer friends.

Leaving Queer Spirit I resented the cost of the taxi to Nupton, the buses having been cut, but a man joined me and talked of Faerie, halving my fare. It is an alternative gay culture for men tired of shallowly pumping iron and using the right grooming products. He is spiritual but not religious, having had a harmful religious upbringing, and liked my line “I am rationally atheist and emotionally theist: I have a strong personal relationship with the God I do not believe in”.

Then there was the Quaker meeting. It was a Leading to hold it at Greenbelt, but my leading was not affirmed by my Meeting, who had told the Festival there was no one to organise the worship. It felt haphazard, and I felt unprepared. Yet after we had 110 in worship and I introduced it, emphasising the welcome enquirers should expect, I felt vindicated. My leading had been recognised by events.

Nadia Bolz-Weber talked of bodies, how people are ashamed of bodies and how we are fed false ideals which we cannot match. She told us to turn to a neighbour and say something we liked about our bodies. My neighbour had beautiful eyes, and said so. We were in a place, after three days of Festival, where we could say such things.

If women did not spend the energy fruitlessly chasing the beauty myth we could solve global heating.

I spoke into the microphone. I said how after transition I finally loved my body, its beauty and effectiveness, and of how people are also shamed about Gender, and how humanity needs to affirm soft men and powerful women, strong and gentle humans. I asked the speakers to affirm our gender in all its variety and contradictoriness. I got applauded. I am affirmed again.

Another woman said whenever she had an unpleasant experience her mother would ask, “What did you do to cause that?” Such shaming could make a child hide away completely, like a rabbit fearing all attention was predatory. She is in middle age recovering.

Another said as a trans man he wanted chest surgery, yet he also wanted to bear a child and breast feed- but not yet, maybe in six years’ time. How could he live with his body as it is, and all it means to others, in that tension?

I am feeling powerful. My working out my need heals others. Having valued my softness as strength when I saw it as weakness for so long, I can help others free themselves.

This pillar was marked “The wisest thing I ever heard was-”

Finding happiness

If I were not inadequate, I would be happy. I don’t believe that, not really, but the thought is tempting.

I am an outsider. Regretting my surgery, and advising against it, I don’t know of any possible better way- not transitioning? Transitioning without bodily alteration? None is acceptable. I am an outsider, and no choice will make me fit in. Trying to is death. So living with the discomfort of being myself is the best way. And, oh God, it is uncomfortable.

None will make me fit.
-Fit what? For who?
Well. Exactly.

Audre Lorde: Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human difference between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion.

“He who blames others has a long way to go on his journey. He who blames himself is half way there. He who blames no one has arrived.” Yeah. It’s facebook wisdom. There is something in it. Yet my self blame is reflexive, for everything, for being no use at all, so my self-blame does me no good.

So it felt like progress when I felt shame at having no money and wearing horrible old clothes. I want to present myself better. I got a Monsoon dress in a charity shop, so I will wear that- except it seems too dressy for the office. That’s lack of self-confidence, I can carry it off. I can do something about that shame, it’s not just wanting to be someone else.

Cathy, years ago. The birth mark on her cheek kept getting darker. She wore her hair long over her face but did not succeed in concealing it. Removal was possible, and she wanted it done, but never got round to it. It seemed to me that her birthmark was the symbol for her of her mediocrity and all the unsatisfactoriness of her life, and if she had it treated she would have to admit her life was still unsatisfying.

I wake at eight and reach for my phone. The Guardian opinion articles are on Brexit and white nationalist mass-shootings. People worked up about the thought that Muslims, Jews, Latinx, were replacing white people seem to be punching down, channelling their anger in a safe direction both for the oligarchs and for themselves. It is not a real threat. They face no risk for getting angry about it. They will not achieve beneficial change. They don’t fit their society either.

So I read what depresses and enervates me, and feel numb. “Numb” means there’s a feeling underneath which I cannot admit or recognise. I think it’s confusion. I should be able to sort all my problems myself. That I can’t is confusing. Unknowing is painful.

I go to meditate and feel delight in the moment, in the strength of that bush. Like it, I am alive! I am a living creature. I love the butterflies on the blossom. Meditating I am happy in the moment in the beauty where I am. I am not sorting my life out, instantly, certainly and painlessly but perhaps I am sorting it as best I can.

For whom would I want to fit in, to cease being an outsider? For me. If I want to fit in it is in order to feel safe. Then, what is the threat I fear? My mother? Her fears of the world? Mine? If I articulate the fears they seem silly but that does not take away their power, not am I certain I can articulate them. I am afraid of not understanding immediately what is going on. I am afraid of ridicule and contempt, and some are contemptuous of trans folk.

Someone calls me “he” but seems reasonably friendly, and I like her. And often in the past things have gone catastrophically wrong, in childhood and after.

Life is unbearable! I have no idea!

If I embrace how hard it is to bear, stop wishing it otherwise, might I learn to bear it?

The Beautiful Self

I go for the first session with a new counsellor. Of all the fascinating things in the world, what is better to contemplate than my navel? Yet I was anticipating humiliation, and as I walked from the bus was in defensive anger. In the summer a service had spent a long time scrabbling for an excuse not to see me, over three separate assessments quizzing me in detail about suicidal ideation, and still getting it wrong. In the waiting room, where I was half an hour early I found a 4′ high teddy bear, and this poem:

Um. Greater need than mine, perhaps, and completely negative. The poet’s mother is disabled by her own hurt. Still the offer of a cup of tea was welcome, and I accepted. Hospitality brings us closer. There was also a thank you card, pinned up in the waiting room, so I noted it- “You have taught me that not everyday is easy to get through but no matter what happens something good will always come out of it” which sounds like a desperate attempt to be positive in terrible circumstances. The gratitude is hopeful, but other services use this office so it could be for them.

I was back where I started. Summer 2011, I went to Midsummer camp and burned in the bonfire to rid myself of it the word “negativity”. A week or two later I awoke at war in the HAI workshop, with two separate trains of thought running through my head- “She [Uli] is awesome and that’s wonderful and this is so exciting and that’s beautiful” and at the same time “This is rubbish and that’s ridiculous and I can’t be bothered with it”. I had to choose, and with F’s help, I did. And more recently I wrote I am in Heaven and Hell: the breadth of my experience is such that both are appropriate metaphors, for different parts. I find the world glorious and unbearable.

That card again:

You have taught me to
not only stand up for myself but
to love myself and be confident in the person I am…
You’re the reason I can finally say I’m happy to be me

Wow. Possibly her first ever relationship where she was respected and valued for who she is. People do value me for who I am, but as I find it difficult to value myself I rarely see that.

I thought of calling this post Counselling CCL. Over twenty years I have had counselling weekly for long periods, probably averaging at least thirteen times a year. And I move forward. I see things. I am going round not in a circle but in a very tight spiral. My GP said “You are very intelligent” and I realised that I heard that as a judgment- why aren’t you doing anything with it? So now I can say, “I am very intelligent”. It is not a boast, and not a confession, but an assessment. This is one of the resources I have.

This public service which I am not paying for is time limited, to seven sessions, so I go in with a sense of urgency and get to my playful self. That is a way of seeing it; I must write how I see that Self, which will be poetry. I could call her “Positive” or all sorts of things. That is where my energy is.

OK. Positive, playful, creative. Crushed and denied for so long, and resilient, and always here. In a sulk, perhaps; not taking the advice of the inner rationalist- “Don wannoo”. Where the depth of my feeling, love, brilliance is. With some understanding of deferred gratification and the need to make provision for the future, I notice I am not taking the action I judge I should. I have strong forces within me, and I need to get them pulling in the same direction.

A counsellor said “You are a mass of scars” and I feel that is still a fair summation.

I hurt.

I have two speeds, “Captain the engines cannae take it” and dead stop, but where I am motivated I have huge drive.

This woman just seemed nice. I liked her. And, I am better trusting, I will get further if I trust, I can rely on the confidentiality and the basic decency of a person who would make a go of this kind of work over fourteen years.

I became present.

My self esteem is on the floor- or below it.

-What do you want?

These things seem inextricably linked for me. I want to work on- ah, that’s what to call her:

my low self esteem
getting my inner parts talking, and pulling together
bringing out my Beautiful Self.

And I may yet surrender enough to cuddle that teddy bear. I know it would feel good, if I could burst the barrier of judgment and shame.

Pride, shame, honour, desire

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.

Resisting shame

There are three ways people attempt to overcome shame. We move away from the stimulus, by disappearing into our own lives; move towards it, by trying to prove ourselves, attain perfection, people-please; and move against it, by using anger and trying to shame others. All of these dig us into the hole deeper, and move us farther from our present selves. They remove a little of the pain, only for it to come back later.

(What is the alternative to being present in the moment? Being stuck in the past, in failed past tactics for dealing with problems.)

These strategies do not work. They attempt to disconnect from the pain, but we must feel it, accept it and let it go. With a woman who tries to do her down, Brené Brown repeats her mantra: Don’t shrink and be small for people, don’t puff up and get arrogant and cocky, just stay on your sacred ground. Actually, that sounds quite perfectionist.  In shame, trying to respond rather than react after the woman pushes her buttons she says to herself do not talk, text or type. She has to bring matters to consciousness and soberly assess what the facts really are.

She says, face the shame and heal it with conversation; and with laughter, not as defence or deflection but recognition that I am not alone in this.

I am ashamed of my ways of dealing with shame. My mother taught me to people-please, to pretend to be the way I ought to be; to hide away; to be perfectionist. I am hiding away in my reclusive state, and ashamed of it, because I should not need to.

Much of this has been unconscious. It is all what I do, or what I ought to do, just the way the world is and reality is. I need to bring it into consciousness because otherwise I do not see what a burden it is. In order to go out to work, to face the world again, I need to turn my life around, and like a supertanker with a relatively small rudder I see what a big deal that is. Suddenly that expression is particularly meaningful. It’s huge.

Shame at my effeminate self made me attempt to make a man of myself, joining the territorial army (just about the place I least fitted) and then a woman, by having my testicles removed. It would have been a small price to pay to be normal, to have nothing to feel shame about, if it had worked.

Shame keeps me hiding away.

From Dr Brown’s assessment, self-esteem, considering my gifts and qualities, will not ameliorate shame by itself. Now, it seems that I am ashamed of everything, of all that I am and that I do, and even that I should be so shamed and so incapacitated by it. I fear being shamed if I go out, and then ashamed of not going out. These are powerful buttons for others to push. I am ashamed of what I do to resist feelings of shame. I am ashamed of my life, of the little I have made of it.

I deserve better.

Jigsaw

You’re one of the most impressive people I’ve ever encountered. Ooh, tell me more!

I am wise and loving. I know this. This is my nature. I am highly intelligent, by which I mean I make connections; sometimes I am tired or have a blind spot and make them more slowly, sometimes I am practised and on a good day, and make them quickly.

On the phone to the Samaritans, I recounted some of my tales of rejection, difficulty, and trouble at work. I have had a difficult time, and it has broken me. While some people are more resilient, many would be badly hurt by my experiences. And I feel more withdrawn and less able to go out and engage than I was five years ago, when I last worked. It feels as if I am trying to put together a jigsaw, and the pieces and patterns on them do not fit.

In adulthood and in childhood. My mother was controlling, and she communicated her fear to me. We must present a face to the world which is nothing like the organismic self underneath; and we hide away whenever possible, taking refuge in prescribed roles where unavoidable, and in privacy at other times. Her shame and terror made these things into absolute rules for survival in my own mind. While other people don’t care about my eccentricities, particularly, hiding them was paramount for me.

Brené Brown’s free to watch video is for counsellors rather than clients, but I found it useful. How do you protect yourself from the pain of shame? It is the experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging, she says, and we respond to that pain as we respond to trauma. The only people without shame are also without empathy and the capacity for compassion. There is no significant correlation between shame and self-esteem, because shame is an emotion and self-esteem is a cognitive construct. So repeating my gifts as above is positive, but does not reduce my shame.

We suffer in absence of connection, and after lack of motivation stopped me seeing people on Sunday and bad weather stopped me seeing one person on Tuesday I was feeling this badly. I have not seen another human since Thursday. I joked to Poppy, the Samaritan, that if I were an orangutan that would be OK but for any other great ape, and most primates, it’s bad. Yet I feel weak and needy because I need connection. I should be self-sufficient. I beat myself up about that, as about many things.

I need connection, and I have a drive to hide away, driven by shame.

Shame is not guilt. You feel guilty about behaviour, shame about self. I did something bad, not I am bad. Humiliation has the same physiological response as shame, but we recover because we do not believe we deserve it. Feeling embarrassed is less traumatic, because as you feel it you know you are not alone.

Shame correlates with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, bullying, aggression and violence. So trying to shame someone out of addictive behaviour does not work.

Shame is reinforcing- there is something wrong with me; individualising- it’s only me; pathologizing- I’m broken. If we can bring these things into conscious awareness we can counteract them.

I do that. I must change in order to get out and use my gifts for the community, benefiting others and fulfilling myself. How must I change, I ask. The jobcentre client adviser wants to put me on a new scheme, but did not say what it would do for me. I feel if she thought I would desire what it might do, she would tell me more. She said “You want to go back to work, don’t you? Because some people don’t.” And I thought it is more complex than that. I fear I do not have the resilience or motivation. I don’t feel motivated or resilient. I grope for understanding of this wherever I might find it, such as a documentary on anorexia- the woman knows she has the condition, yet eating anything terrifies her as it will make her fat. They are not being manipulative, getting their parents to look after them again, and they cannot snap out of it. They die of it- or exist, in suspended animation beneath the waves. As for me, I cannot just conjure up resilience and motivation with a few mantras. I can tell myself of my gifts to build self-esteem, and try to notice emotions making me hide away as my mother taught me.

Resilience is critical awareness: Demystifying- I understand how shame works; contextualising- it’s bigger than just me; and normalising- we all struggle.

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