Letting off steam

Trouble with hormones. Man cycling on the pavement of Midland Road, which has little vehicular or pedestrian traffic, a wide pavement and low kerb so you can fairly easily move on and off the pavement on a bicycle. Being in an arsey sort of mood, I think to myself “It’s a road vehicle,” and walk so as to force him to the edge of the pavement. He wobbles on the edge, passes me, and shouts abuse: “Slut!” he shouts. “Slut! Slut!” Quotidian human interaction…

Here am I on the green pills, which may or may not cause emotional lability, and my emotional reaction shows in my face and actions. Sometimes I am upset, and I start to cry (Oh God, I think, why can I not get this sentence out? Such frustration!) and sometimes I get angry. There is a rational basis, an explicable factual stimulation behind both responses, the world is not as I want it to be, do you want it to change too, can we make it better? The crying produces “there there” noises and offers of help and sympathy- still frustrated, I think No! Under this I am sensible- and the anger produces an equal and opposite reaction, or sometimes expressions of hurt from others which get sympathy and I am the Bad Person.

It is so frustrating! If only I could choose: calm, rational explanation; turn on the waterworks to elicit, “Oh! How can we help? What can we do?” Anger just at the right moment…

Arse excelled himself. (Quakers do not know whom I mean.) Now, when exactly the same circumstances are about to arise, I think, surely he will not do it again? Fearing that he will, I find anger and irritation rising, and wonder if I will be able to resist the sarky remarks which he just might take as a challenge. I know a soft answer turneth away wrath, and it is oestrogen I am on, and still.

Or, total bore whose topics of conversation with me, when I fail to avoid her, are what a wonderful Ally she is and what right-on opinions she has about LGBT (which I feel is my topic, and I don’t want to talk about it except when I do) and ghastly sympathy about how awful it must be to wear a wig, be unemployed etc. Actually, wearing a wig is like having your own hair: sometimes I love it, sometimes I think Oh God I look like a man! It looks like a wig! I look terrible! To which the appropriate answer- most women understand this- is “You look beautiful. Of course I mean that. I would not say it if I didn’t mean it…”

So I shouted at her, making my aim about which I was really stressed less likely to be achieved, making me less able to contribute to achieving it, and making me the bad person. Yes, I know I upset people. Sometimes I regret that, and sometimes I just regret the results.

Feuerbach, Medea

Beautiful

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

Grace Anarchy

It has been a long journey for me, away from my self-hatred and contempt. In the war within myself, religion has been on both sides. I love this:

It’s like we Christians love the idea of grace, but we don’t want it distributed indiscriminately- we want make rules about it and dole it out carefully and strategically. It’s like we’re worried that if everybody knows that she’s loved and accepted by God – it will be Grace Anarchy! I want that. I want Grace Anarchy. I want people to be free to be who they are. It makes sense to me that the free-er people are, the BETTER people are. I believe in people because I believe in God. I think God knew what God was doing when God made each of us.

Peter, who is over ninety, does not understand me. He asked me once whether F, who is lesbian and butch, was a man or a woman. I confuse him by arriving at the Quaker meeting in a cycle helmet then appearing later in my wig. Once, when I was overheated and he saw me without my helmet he thought I was a man. I was irritated. I thought, I do not want to explain to Peter. I could ask someone else to explain to him. So he came up to me, again, this morning, and said “I thought you were two people”. I told him I wear a wig, and took it off to show him. I did not start on being trans. Maybe later. Ernest, who is over ninety and nearly blind, mistakes my voice for a man’s.

It was much easier than I had feared. Just because he does not understand, does not mean he condemns. It has seemed to me he lives among so much that he does not understand, and I took that as an important lesson to keep as flexible in thought as I can, hearing the world view of the next generations: because I will still be around when the world is theirs.

My trust levels are low. I need to practise trust. It is alright. As I accept and trust others, I am freed. I could almost be glad that Peter asks: he is my example.

My friend confessed a compulsive obsession to me. I am so glad to hear it: it shows she trusts me. I am glad to be trustworthy.

Just for bloggers: I always use the useful editor, rather than the beep-boop, because the beep-boop does not always record posts, and is generally horrible. With The Penguin’s script, you can too. All links will go to the useable editor, rather than the beep-boop. WordPress is generally user-friendly, so its pointless, arrogant attack on its users irked me.

Eugénie Salanson-Marquise de Croix

What would you lose?

Not even a baker, just someone ranting on about how bakers who refuse cakes to gay couples are persecuted. So I asked her, what would you lose if you baked the cake? And she answered,

my fellowship with God.

She would be separated from Him and grieve the Holy Spirit. She would be demoralised. She would have sold out. In marrying, the gay couple are flaunting their sin and she must not approve or participate.

Wow. It is a poor thing to gain the World and lose my soul- no sanction or promise will beat that. She is like the brothers in 4 Maccabees. But gay couples are infinitely dangerous to her, carrying the risk of separation from God, because they flaunt their sin in other ways than by marrying- by handholding, or a peck on the cheek, perhaps. Imagine if she thought, well, that’s not so bad, really. Even such a thought might grieve the Holy Spirit.

And yet adulterous couples, marrying for a second time where the first spouse is still alive, do not bother her at all. She simply imagines that there is an excuse for such a marriage.

The thing about Eliazar and the seven brothers, though, is that they were subject to law. In Jesus, God is revealed as Love. However, she has an answer for this: love for the gay couple means proclaiming their sin, and shunning them as long as they persist with it. She “Loves” them by doing what anyone else would call hate.

She has an answer for everything. She is hermetically sealed from the Gospel. Her God is the God of Hell, delighting in torturing creation and calling it Love- made in her image, in fact.

I worried that she would be constantly needing to proclaim the sins of the people she meets, to avoid condoning that sin and betraying God; but only the gay couple, and only their sinful union, merit such condemnation. Everything else might have a perfectly innocent explanation.

This Slate article has a measured response to the ridiculous pizza restaurant which would not hold a gay wedding reception. And Gronda the Republican reassures me that not all US Christians are like that: I am just tired of these far right Christians giving other Christians like myself a bad name. I can’t help but believe that the my God That I know wants to welcome everyone into his arms including the poor, the sick, the sinner, the downtrodden, etc. no matter whether they are gay, from another religious background, the immigrant population, white or people of color or whatever. These far right peoples who call themselves Christians and spout their hate and bigotry are blocking this path and are doing real harm.HarpieI lock my bike to the bike-stands in the town centre, and affecting insouciance, take my wig from my saddle-bags, take off my helmet, mop my sweaty brow, and put my wig on.

Jayne thinks I should go into the toilets thirty yards away to do this. Someone might see me wigless and abuse me.

I have met a few arseholes who would abuse a complete stranger merely because I am trans. I will not fearfully constrain my life like this in case one is walking past Bright House and happens to notice me.

I met a man who had been walking through the station when someone psychotic leapt on his back and drew a razor blade across his forehead. He could have been blinded. Thereafter he was terrified to leave his house.

Hair

This is my new hair, which Tonia and I selected in Selfridges on Tuesday. It was a lovely day. I had a look at the ties in order to get a bit sentimental about my father. He would have loved them, though been shocked by the £125 price tag. There was a striking evening gown, with a beautiful chiffon top, and an image of C3P0 and R2D2 on the skirt, for £11,750. I asked about wigs, and was sent to the third floor to find human hair constructions for £450 odd, and only after pressing my enquiry found the small concession on the ground floor. This is Tantalise, in G20 + Wheat Mist.

Tonia 13 1 15

That is my own make-up, and perhaps that dark brown was a little unsubtle. So I had it done.

Rachel 2“Vanity, thy name is Abigail” said my friend Colin, repeatedly, and it is lovely to have so much to be vain about. Facebook comments include “Gorgeous” (x7), “Beautiful” (x7), “Very nice”, “Lovely” (x4), and “Wow” (x6).

Leaving karate

File:Falls of Kirifuri at Mt. Kurokami, Shimotsuke Province LACMA M.2011.135.2 (1 of 2).jpgInsensibly, I moved from “I won’t go to karate tonight” to “I don’t go to karate”. None of my reasons would have been enough by itself. Even now, the shin guards are in the bag, ready.

There we are, dancing, kicking and hitting without hitting anything. I had just found what a difference hikite makes to my snap. When I punch or block with my left hand, I pull my right hand back, palm upwards, fist at waist-height. This seems counter-productive. The non-striking hand is needed for defence. Yet it feels as if it adds force to the blow. I don’t feel great aptitude for sparring (kumite) and while I felt I could get to Presence, or singleness of mind, in kata, I did not feel it in kumite. “Don’t be so tense,” people said.

I felt no hostility because I was trans, yet I did not like practising without my wig. I kept an old one, the hair flat, almost matted, for sweating into. Sometimes, I had to take it off, as a Gi is warm. Once, last Summer, I came home and ran a cold bath to cool off. I used to go round the community centre turning the radiators off. I was perplexed and disconcerted when S, who is about 4′ tall- ten?- went round turning them all on again, after. This felt like a challenge. How to respond?

File:Hokusai portrait.jpgCertainly not as, when we were advancing across the hall, turning, advancing back, and always turning back foot muarte so as to move down the hall towards the door, to crowd her against the less experienced children. That felt like bullying. Then we practice second kata together, I concentrate on hikite to get my blocks full focus, and she did it faster than I.

There were other reasons as well. £6.50 per evening, when the tutors are all volunteers, seems steep. Mick’s class on Monday evenings, with its difficult balance of keeping discipline yet entertaining the many young children who turned up, was too much for the children for my taste. That is great- start them at seven, and by fifteen they will be naturals, skilled for life- yet it was not the class I wanted. I preferred Andy’s high-priestly seriousness, his humour there as an undercurrent, carefully fitting moves together. Mick by comparison did not always seem to get quite how to make a sequence of blocks and blows. Andy’s class was where S. was.

I rather resented learning kata by standing in a line doing them. I can’t see what is going on, and I can’t remember the moves from one week to the next. I spent hours in my huge living room with the videos, learning Saifa, Bassai-dai and Seiunchin. I need to do one count repeatedly, and learn what each limb does, rather than running through the whole, however slowly. (The DVDs are still by the telly, not away on a shelf somewhere.)

Lots of reasons. I can’t get to grading on Sundays as the bus does not run, and I have something else scheduled for each second Sunday of the month. Mostly that girl, though.

Ludovico Einaudi

Here is my first Youtube video.

The z2H challenge is do something new. Mmm. I could do a video, but what of? Unless I pay for the video upgrade, I can only have a video here if I post it on youtube. A video here, I could just say hello, this is me and this is my voice, but not on Youtube, where I have no presence. I have nothing at the moment that I want to tell you about face to face, as it were. Piano it is, then.

This is with my own equipment, a DMC-TZ25 camera. If I started doing it seriously, I would consider getting a microphone, as the fidelity could be better. Windows Moviemaker should be able to shoot a film, but I can’t see how, and don’t have the button this otherwise helpful page indicates. There are downloads available, I might try them.

I am the performer here: it was important to have my head in the frame, though at its edge, and to wear a dress rather than jeans.

Performing I have nerves. I can usually play Giorni Dispari reasonably accurately, but make mistakes and perhaps rush a little for the video. I ended up with two almost-OK takes, plus aborted ones where I completely lost my way, or used the phone’s memory having lost my connector (actually I only thought I had) or realised half-way through that in thinking about other things, I had forgotten to put my hair on. I am unashamed of my body and my trans status- and I don’t want you seeing me wigless.

Oddly enough when I load to Youtube I can hear my videos, but not when playing them stored on my computer or on Dropbox.

What do you think? And, why would it take over two hours to upload a four minute video to Youtube?

Ritual

Nine_order_of_angels 1What is incense for?Nine_order_of_angels

-It smells nice.
-I heard that they buried bodies in the floor of churches, and it covered up the smell of the bodies.
-Yes, there was that church in Bath where the floor was subsiding, and they had to remove a lot of bodies.
-It might need to cover the smell of the living!
-In the 1960s, it covered up the smell of pot.

-I thought it was prayer, an aroma ascending before God, said the Retreatant. Brother Herbert just smiled.

It smells nice and it gives you something to do. I used to serve at the altar: we used to walk perpendicular to the walls of the church, North-South or East-West, never diagonally. It makes the sanctuary special, other-worldly, different from outside; it is a way of showing respect, in that I do not walk the obvious way but a different way; it lets me do a 90° turn, and make my cassock-alb swing, which is theatrical for the watchers: it makes it special for me, but also for them, and deepens the experience of approaching the sanctuary from the nave.

It is the same with the thurifer, priest, and boat-boy who carries the Navicula, a metal container which holds incense. Preparing the thurible beforehand, with charcoal, then opening it, putting on the incense, swinging it correctly so it neither burns too quickly nor goes out, all the ritual around that, then censing the altar, priest, servers and congregation, is great theatre-business. Where I worshipped, we rarely or never used such things, but one of my earliest memories is being in a different Episcopal church with the procession going in, the colours and the robes. I might have been around four.

Brother Herbert’s reading was on faith coming from worship, and not the other way around. My summary, through my biases- opening up to God/the Other/ Reality by performing ritual and saying ritual words; and thereafter comes theology. It is like writing a poem, and then along come the dogmatists, to make a system or Understanding of it which can be taught and learned by rote; and then, some worship the dogma rather than the Reality.

-I heard “you have to take your dogma out for a walk”, show it round to a community, test it out with them.

A paradox! In the Eucharist, we recite the Creed: the Nicene Creed, which unites the churches, and standardises the dogma. (Again, Brother Herbert just smiles.)

We shall not cease from exploration. Relationship to The Other/ Infinite/ Whatever may grow, along with reading about it, as long as the words are a spring-board rather than a box, curtailing us. I said something like that, and the Retreatant nodded and smiled enthusiastically.

I was struck when sprinkled with holy water, on the top of my head: I did not feel it, and this brought on regret that I wear a wig, stronger than I have felt for some time. Then I reflected on the oddness of that: sometimes I regret, when I see the beauty of another’s hair, sometimes I think well it’s not all that bad, really, when I hear them complain about it, because few are entirely satisfied with their hair; perhaps this is a new reason to regret my need to wear a wig, and so the regret becomes acute again. I had thought I had come to terms with it.

We also discussed the Tao Te Ching. We love the Tao. It is a cosy little spiritual club we have here, quite delightful.

Encounters at Buddhafield

campsite

After a hot and sweaty ceilidh,Tara I am standing outside the marquee with my wig in my hand, and a small girl approaches me. She could not be more than six.

-Is that a wig? I say, yes, it is.
-Why do you wear a wig? I show my pate- very little hair grows there.

“Put it on,” she says, definitely, imperatively. “Now, a boy might kiss you.” She turned away, leaving me, well, awestruck.

“41 is a prime number” announced a high, clear voice. How old is he? I asked his aunt Lucy, whose tent was near mine. I had approached her for a chat, and we had chatted easily of life and stuff. She spent days cycling here. “Five in three months’ time,” she said. “His father’s a mathematician.”

When I told that to R, she disapproved: we pump children so full of information, nowadays. Though she was reading very early. I was impressed at his ability to take in such a complex concept. Earlier I had watched him climb onto the canvas of the bell tent, stretching the guy ropes. Initially he was leaning on the guy, then straddling it, then finally climbing on the canvas, looking over at Lucy and me, three yards away. When he was lying on the canvas, feet off the ground, she told him authoritatively not to climb on it. She explained she needed to sleep there, and did not want the tent pulled down. And when he reached out to touch the guy rope, later, looking over at her, she told him not to. “I wasn’t climbing on it,” he said. No, but we need to sleep there.

Boundaries tested, boundaries stated, all beautifully done. How difficult to raise a child! I still don’t feel ready for that effort. It feels that my emotions would be too quickly engaged in the No. As I had breakfast at my tent, I listened to a man tell his son The Truth, addressing him as “Son”- the fatherly fount of wisdom- and then saw that the boy had indeed gone to lie in the sleeping-place as threatened, and the father had to tell his wife The Truth. And she told him The Truth.

Then there was Finch, whom I saw in his sling, and wondered at how small he is; then we knelt in the women’s space tent for a workshop, and cooed over him. Hands! Toes! Face! He was seven days old when the camp started. So tiny! He was eight pounds when he was born, a good weight- but babies grow so quickly, one rarely sees one that young.

They’re all boy, aren’t they? I said, admiring, and we talked of how difficult that can be. In a workshop, the facilitator referred once to choosing a partner and working with “him or her”. At the end, when she asked for “challenges”, I said this challenged me, as it excluded me. I am both, and neither. We talked of it, after. I think I let her off too lightly- gender binary is all-pervasive in our culture, and I was at pains to point out that it was not her I objected to, but the cultural assumption, and that her workshop was wonderful. I did not make clear enough that dividing people into “man” and “woman” oppresses both, and that anyone may choose to distance self from it.

Neither

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/Assortment_at_Mount_Misery_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1500914.jpgI am neither man nor woman, and it hurts. It hurts Now.

On Saturday, it was too hot to dance with my wig on. Even before we started dancing, the school was too warm- so I took my wig off, and tied a scarf round my head- and it was too hot for that. People I had never met before got to see the male pattern baldness. It is one thing to be read as trans, but that- is as if I am not really trying to appear female. Which I am. I do not want to look like a man half dressed up.

Lots of women want to “look their best” and the sense that they do not is cruel to them- and it is particularly cruel to me. I have seen the fear on the faces of women who have not got their foundation on.

And lots of people feel they “do not fit in”, and I really, really don’t. I wanted more to fit in with my mother’s expectations, her conservative ideas, than my peers at school. Usually a child picks up his accent from his classmates, but I got mine from my mother. (Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, raised in England, is another example.) My sister spoke a different accent at home from at school, and when I visited her in Edinburgh and she met me at the bus station a nursing student friend said, “S, you’ve got your English accent on,” the one she used to phone her parents.

So I created a Shell, a rationalist persona to fithttps://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/Thomas_Gainsborough_-_Mary%2C_Countess_of_Howe_-_WGA08407.jpg in, and held my rage and terror out of consciousness.

“Why is my life so hard?” sang Paul Simon. Yes, yes, I know. And- “Who will be my rôle model?” Always difficult, but the obvious ones for me were men, and they did not fit at all. I hated many people, for they were wrong too. It still feels a bit weird picking a female role model. I was aware of other transvestites in my twenties, and they were furtive and persecuted, and rightly so for they were disgusting. Chief Constable James Anderton had them arrested, when they went out in public. Watching telly together, in our teens, I said, “Oh look, a man in a dress. What do you think of that?” And my sister said, “I can’t imagine anything more disgusting. That turns me right off.”

I am neither.

I am terrified.

Lana Wachowski is that role-model, for younger lesbian! TSs, hat tip to Mindy.

There is a negotiated path, of transition. It takes determination and courage, and two years or so after taking the plunge one is awarded with a Gender Recognition Certificate, which says “The above named person is, from the date of issue, of the gender shown”. So if I “marry” it has to be a man, I could make a “civil partnership” with a woman, and those M-Fs old enough to have a different retirement age get the woman’s. And if people object to me in the women’s loos, the law is on my side. And- being a “woman” does not entirely fit me either, though it is a great deal more comfortable than being a “man”. I am neither.