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This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the "Story So Far" Page above this and the "New Readers" tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

That Unwanted Animal

The Past is Prologue

At University I was given a cassette by a girl I really liked and who remains a friend even today. She never liked me the same way in return, but dated many of my friends. On one side was the album Ok Computer by Radiohead but it cut off at No Surprises and the other side was Without You I'm Nothing by Placebo but cut off at Burger Queen. A perfect combination for my mood at the time. She once told me that she never knew which me was going to be there when I turned up places, that there were many versions of me. I suspect that this is why she didn't like me the same way I her and may explain the otherwise inexplicable gift of the cassette.

The Future

My favourite from the Saturday.

Now with added 'bob-cut'.
At the park on Saturday there were a group of youths of various ages interacting. It was on the edge of an area of extreme social deprivation, the worst in the county, and there were a few obvious mini-groups that had come together to a place with play equipment - they were there with no supervision (as one would expect) but exhibiting the kinds of behaviours that I recognise from where I used to the live, the sorts of interaction and language that one associates with mild neglect and poor role modelling. That is, fake bravado and insults as endearments with an edge of not understanding social interactions. One of the young girls there had communicated to me and the boys about our curious discussion about a path running off to the side of the field, she was younger than the Boy, older than the smallest, and keen to be nice. "Oh, there's a field there," she began over-hearing us, "and then there's a path out to the pub. I mean, out to the Rose and Crown. You can drink there. I've drunk there."

I ignored the drink part, "Oh, thank you, we'll have to go and look at the field."

"It's a nice field. But I know people go there to have sex. And someone buried a cat there because I saw them doing it. Well, my friend saw them. And they buried a cat. It's in the field."

"Certainly sounds interesting, we'll go and investigate, thank you, that was really helpful of you" and we started to walk away.

"And I've been smoking in that field."

And we left. You get the get the idea. I doubt very much the girl had been drinking or smoking, or that a cat was buried there. Her face was earnest, she wanted to be friendly and helpful but was trying so desperately hard to shock and disgust. And she had no volume control, this was all yelled, in the hopes of perhaps attracting the attention of others.

The actual park, but in March rather than this last
weekend, so very much in winter here.

That's the slide though. Oh, also, I guess still in
It was later that day, we were back at the park. The girl had gone, but many of the same group remained. They were bullying one boy on the slide, they had stolen his shoe and were kicking it round. Another group of boys, seemingly with the bullied boy, were clustered round the slide calling him a "gay-boy" and using this with one another because "boys ain't friends wiv boys". One of the boys retrieved the shoe, returned it to the original boy, who punched him and then they sat down together, called one another gay-boys and started a conversation about a Tik-Tok video they'd both watched. One of the erstwhile bullies joined in and was invited to sit with them. He shouted that a girl he'd just been talking with was a "tranny and gay-boy" for ill-defined reasons and then conversation turned to music. Another, older, boy and girl turned up their music but then joined the conversation and...

Get to the point, Joanna.

Okay, so, these were 'youth'. And they were clearly aware of terms like 'gay-boy' and 'tranny'. They were confused about them but they knew them. They ranged in age from Primary School (around ten or so) to GCSE (around sixteen I'd guess). Given the issues they were all clearly facing, from neglect (albeit benign) to possible signifiers of emotional abuse at the hands of trusted adults; from low-level poverty to being below the bread-line, I should not have been surprised at their use of slurs and their behaviour.

And that treacherous part of me inside said: "these people have no need for something as esoteric and alien as trans-rights: surely you ought to realise that the working-class don't care about that extremely first-world issue. Why do you care so much about something that would affect around 0.5% of the population?" It said: "You've lived 40 years already, what difference does another 40, 50, 60 make? And at what point does it become anywhere near as important to deal with as the issues facing these children?" And it added: "these are the future, these youngsters are the real Britain, UK, of the future. And look what they think about trannies and perverts. Homophobia, yes, and that is the future. Oh, and by the way, what an arsehole you are to 'other' them as working class and pass judgement on them at all, get over yourself you cosseted middle-class bougeois oppressive twat."


Ah, here it is. Not the one I know from beer - they retweeted this.

I'm not usually on Twitter, honest, but this one was sent to my
e-mail as a 'highlight' that Twitter thought I might want to see.

Along with one from Mae Dean about getting an appointment to
update her driving licence in her name and with her gender.
Opinion pieces are always of interest. And there is a Party Conference going on, a Labour one. Supposedly a progressive party, an MP from it tweeted that she was being attacked for knowing that only women had a cervix. Her Party leader was asked if it was transphobic to say that only women had a cervix and mealy mouthed some politeness that "it should not have been said" and some people I actually know from beer reviews have quote-tweeted this with the commentary "Dear God". An opinion piece about the leader of this supposedly progressive party suggested that they ought to state some policies. In the comments several people claimed to be working class and suggested that what thius progressive party needed to do was "row back on this trans-rights nonsense, talk more about taxation and cut benefits that fund people choosing poverty over work" to much agreement. Even those arguing against welfare cuts simply ignored, or outright agreed, that the "trans-nonsense has to stop as it detracts from the very real problems and issues facing the UK."

The Health Secretary used the question and answer to suggest that the leader of the opposition was ignorant of basic science: only women could even have a cervix and to say otherwise was patently absurd. Much of the progressive media was awash with people being very upset that a female MP had been attacked on Twitter for stating the blindingly obvious and suggesting that the trans-issue had become a little too much of a big thing.

And that treacherous part of me inside said: "they're right, you know. This is how it all begins." And it smiled and said: "you think this is a good time to identify with the losing side? How many good people hid their sexuality, identity and religion - everything that modern culture says ought to be expressed - when they saw what was coming in the 1930s in Fascist Germany? They were later hailed as heroes for that, you know, not those that went and got killed for 'staying true to themselves' - and anyway, there's no genocide being suggested. You've lived for 40 years without making too many waves - it's destroyed your marriage already, is that not enough?" That part of me looked at me as I walked into town this evening to get some things to hang in the loo to clean it and some veg for a meal tomorrow dressed in my butterfly t-shirt and stuffed bra and asked: "is this worth the price you've paid already? No, it isn't. And this is without making any moves."

Vegan Games

Everywhere is sold out of these.

Not that the Japanese version would be
all that helpful.
Last night the Boy and I attended Pokemon at my favourite local vegan gaming cafe and I got talking to Veronica again, the trans-woman there, and she went out of her way to make it clear that I could ask her anything and she would do her best to answer. She pointed out that the Boy was perfectly comfortable around her, that he knew she was trans, and so I shouldn't feel bad about coming out to him. She knows my eldest and pointed out that she was likely to be supportive - after all, she was bi and therefore already in the right camp - and she wondered aloud why I might delay at all. She assured me that waiting lists weren't that long, she had got on hormones within seven months of coming out to her GP when she was 18, her breasts were thus all natural, and she had regular meetings and check-ups with the gender clinic. Indeed, she got extra support through therapy because of the ASD diagnosis along with the gender issues so I could likely look forward to the same.

I shared about coming out at work and she asked how long it would be until I socially transitioned at work, that it was a good idea to do so quickly rather than wait. I pointed out that the advice from my Union was to wait until a holidays to give the school chance to change documents and prepare for the potential of a media onslaught. She nodded, this was good advice, so after Christmas then? Luckily, the Pokemon games interrupted. Veronica was nothing but positive and kind, well-meaning, but by the end of the evening I was struggling a bit - information overload? I actually couldn't make out what she, or anyone else, was saying for one extended part of the night - not something with which I usually struggle, and all the noises were melding into one big roar. Not a loud one, but enough to obscure words and meaning. It's been like that on and off at work too.

The other issue to relate here is that I didn't actually have any questions. I mean, I did about getting on hormones but... I didn't know how to ask that question in the way that I would get the answer I needed - that is, how to ask so that people would be able to offer the information I was looking for. The same issue I have noted at the in-person support group - the last meeting was a fun one, to be sure, but apart from memes and sci-fi and novels I'm not certain that I learned anything that I found useful. No, let me rephrase, anything that I want to find out right now.

And that treacherous part of me inside grinned ear to ear: "who do you think you are, anyway? Do you honestly believe that you'll go on hormones? You, who can't contemplate taking a paracetamol for a splitting headache and baulks at the concept, the concept, of taking vitamins to supplement a diet?" I didn't have an evening meal yesterday, and my lunches are back to being rushed and not well-balanced to try and save my tooth - whose temporary filling failed completely on Monday night and whose new temporary filling, though holding, is much less expertly applied. "It's been 40 years, you've been teaching long enough that your career can vote and go to University, is losing the beard not enough? How do you think you'll manage if you try play-acting as a woman? Do you really expect that students will call you 'Miss', do you think you can call yourself 'Miss'? You still add 'Mister' rather than 'Mx' when monologuing for goodness' sake. the word you're looking for is 'delusional'. You're welcome."

The Experience

Here's a photo I have on file that rather
proves the point I'm trying to make regarding
fetish and dressing.

"Easily the sort of image that supports the
concept of AGP, isn't it?"
In the end my understanding of myself is grounded in the sexual. I have related here extensively over the years that, yes, much of the dressing that I have done throughout my life has ended, or included, masturbation and bondage. Just imagining having longer hair, or hair like Trinity in the Matrix is enough to get me hot'n'bothered enough to get physical and reach the end; using the standard tissue to deal with the result and bin it. Just like it always has been. Maybe it always will be. "Don't you like that though," says that treacherous part of me inside with a soft voice, "you can admit that you bloody love having a good wank, can't you? That moment of climax. Not going to have that if you go on hormones, not going to be able to do that if you want to truly live as a trans-woman. And that, the wanking, is what this is really all about, isn't it?"

My only interaction with a sex-therapist was way back in late 2011 or early 2012. I wrote about it on this very blog. He asked me to explain what happened and what I thought about when I masturbated. It was a particularly unsubtle reference to AGP, something I was only dimly aware of myself at the time but keen to distance myself from. That is likely to come up again. And, honestly, I don't know how I don't fit that diagnosis - even if it is arrant nonsense, people believe it. And those people are gatekeepers to NHS and medical support. What if it is just a form of fetish - or, at least, enough of a fetish that it doesn't matter what else there is.

"You've lived the way you have for 40 years, struggled, but not moved. Would any change be worth the price paid?"

On Sunday my father's talk as we went for a walk revealed a man who had done much of what he wanted to do, and whose biggest regrets were in his own mind and not related to actual reality. He felt he had amends to make with me, and I never found out for what, because the concept is absurd. He kept a letter I wrote at the height of my teenage angst and impotent anger that insulted him and his wife for nearly twenty years before I managed to convince him to get rid of it. He read it every year on the anniversary of me sending it, torturing himself with the half-formed stress of a teenager who fancied himself good with words. A man who went to Oxford, found women to love him around every corner so that he could choose his partner; who out-performed his own father on every measurable metric.

By contrast... by contrast I was that teenage boy with the angst and self-important belief that I could wield words. I went to University, where two of my lecturers questioned whether or not I was degree material. At my Masters one of my two lecturers took me to task and pointed out that I was studying for an MA and would I not be better doing something, anything, else as I clearly wasn't cut out for this level of study and, frankly, he questioned how I managed to achieve a 2:1 in a BA (he suspected I didn't deserve the Hons addition). In teacher training one of the two course leads questioned whether I had what it took to be a teacher and the other said I could go through the motions but she felt I lacked the passion - like I was going through the motions without really knowing why. Imposter Syndrome but through inertia. "Why is your assertion that you're a trans-woman any different to your assertion that you wanted to go to University or be a teacher? Your body is male in every defineable way, your DNA screams male in every way science can judge and you code masculine so effectively that you avoid getting attacked and mugged by eyebrow alone. Even if you're not going through the motions, do you really think you would cope being seen socially as female?"


  1. F*** AGP 🙂 The evidence around it and the research methods used to create it, have been wholly discredited. Please, don't engage with it.

    As to working class kids who are LGBTQ+, to listen to Paris Lees' story of growing up in Hucknall is... difficult. Even the radio friendly version of bullying, versus the much darker truth of abuse. I think, Paris did what she could to survive. People move, people change, and the genetic factors that influence our gender and sexuality give not a toss if we're working class, middle, or otherwise.

    So, for folk who ask how do rights benefit people, I would say a culture of acceptance helps all. Accepting LGBTQ+ people, people new to the country, the poor, the disadvantaged: that rising tide lifts us all. I think it says it's okay to be you, okay to be different, and accept that.

    To look the other way and say "it's okay to punch down at those folk", it fosters a society where those at the top - money, birth, violence, etc - rule and that rarely ends well for the bulk of us.

    1. I know that AGP is nonsense. I know that fostering acceptance helps everyone. I know that rising tides aid everyone and everything. All of this I know logically, because it is true.

      Doesn't hurt to have it repeated. :)

      But... yes, I was wobbling when I wrote this. Careening.

      I sometimes forget that my careening affects others too.

      Luckily, Clare Flourish exists. And, importantly, so do you.

      That treacherous part of me inside is getting devious and nasty because the rest of me is finally, finally, embracing who I am and the implications of that are settling in to my psyche.

      This morning I spent a good few hours debating deleting this post, maybe I chose wrongly in leaving it up...

    2. Well, if we wobble, that's okay isn't it? I mean we're human and we have good days and days that could be better. Plus, to share our stories - even if it's not always rainbows and kittens 🙂 - it's is what happened. When we read about the reality of things, rather than the glossy social media 'my best life', does reading help give us a truer picture of the world?

    3. Thank you for the wisdom, it is felt.

      I am torn though, my own wobbles have historically been a reason for losing friends, preventing connections and causing ructions with family and people I respect deeply.

      However, yes, reading others very much helps building pictures of the world.


All comments are welcome, I have a thicker skin virtually than I do in real life!