You are currently browsing the archives for January 2015.
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  • Posted on January 24, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Nothing to do with celebrating a festival of men! No, I’ve come down quite decisively on my sexuality … Rather, this is about making things happen.

As with many couples who fall in love, my partner and I stand in either of our kitchens from time to time, lost in a bit of wonder, and ask: why me, why you, why us, and how? Pure coincidence of course. Is it? We both know that even a month earlier would not have been a good time for either of us in terms of readiness, and neither of us would have frequented the typical dating places. There is little of logic, in terms of matching profiles in the traditional way, or even within our normal expectations. Neither of us will be Miss World (or even Miss Brighton) but what we see in each other is just the kind of beautiful we are each looking for and noticing. What we have, even challenges us in some ways, and we have to choose whether we are looking for a long-term relationship without known challenges, or a love that faces everything honestly. There is nothing simple about falling in love as an adult, just because you have the freedom and a bit of experience.

So how is it, after my rather doubtful expectations on this blog over the past few years, that suddenly I have someone to love deeply?

Well – I asked.

I’ve written before about my sense of guidance and being looked after, one step at a time throughout my transition. I learned something, and it isn’t about transition at all. I’ve changed in my sense of belonging in the world, and in the world in a wider sense. I’ve learned about now, and about trust, and a sense that I am not alone. Somehow I am connected with everything around me, and whether I have a guardian angel, or it helps to believe I have, or whether the connections with lives and events are simply more real than we perceive, doesn’t matter. I asked for someone to love, and when I was finally ready to give my all and freely, there was someone in a similar place needing to learn love with me.

What do I mean, ‘I asked’?

I don’t pray to anyone, I don’t have a god to appeal to. No, I just feel subtly heard, and I believe this affects me just as much as it does anything ‘out there’. Clarifying my needs and values in myself, helps me to see more clearly what is important and what gets in the way. I do actually believe that human life is not the only life with which we can connect, and that there are energies interacting. I don’t know whether that is unscientific, pseudo-scientific, or just a belief, but I do find my mind somewhat limiting, and have an inkling that there is a lot more than we can know.

And so I ask. I talk and I seek understanding. I feel it is perfectly valid that every time I go out I bless my home to be a place of loving-kindness, and that love be attracted to it, whoever and however that is. I bless my neighbours, and if all this does is to remind me to show loving-kindness, so be it. Meditation and good intent should be everywhere. It can’t be bad.


The word is often used to mean you meant to do something and then didn’t. But intention here is more specific. When I learned that I could dowse, I was introduced to purposive direction. You find a feature because you intend for it, expect it and become alert for it. I have seen sceptical people take the dowsing rods, set their intention and unexpectedly, find what they intend for. In electromagnetic resonance principles, it is ‘tuning in’. You can’t dowse without intention, and at the very least, in general, intention helps you to see things more clearly and intuitively.

And then there are the cards.

I have a deck of ‘angel cards’. They are illustrated, each with a concise caption, and come with a book to aid interpretation. You shuffle and cut and turn cards over, rather like tarot, with an intention: an unresolved question, a difficult decision, a specific need or situation. You consider what is presented to you and allow the message and image to find meaning. I don’t believe that a card with words from the divine is being presented to me like a message from the other side, or a word from a god. The cards are random and it is my hand that turns them. I do believe that they act as a prompt to my intuition and subconscious, however, and to that extent I find them useful. They are very well made, so I also believe that their selection, especially as they become smoother around the edges, is random. And so it was, as I considered whether in fact something special was starting to happen between my partner and I, that I used the cards. Was this just me imagining something? Was it wise? Was it mutual? Could this be real love taking hold? Over a couple of weeks or so, I turned to the cards several times, shuffling really well each time, and setting my intention before drawing a single card.

The first time, I drew the card with: ‘You already know’. So I thought carefully, settled into: what do I already know?

The second time, a few days later, I drew ‘You already know’. It happens. Maybe I did have a firmer idea of what was happening and what to do.

The third time, a week later, I drew ‘You already know’. Was my shuffling so bad? Was this card sticking out somehow? Or was I being reassured in my intuition? I shared this coincidence (‘about a decision’) with the group where my partner and I met, the week she wasn’t there, because we were talking about such things.

By the time we then ‘got together’ I turned the cards once more, to see if I could confirm this was right and good. I drew ‘You already know’.

So you tell me. Asking? Manifesting? Intention? Guidance? It seems a better way than living under the burden of things never changing, of surviving rather than living. Whenever I think something off-centre, an idea that couldn’t be logically right but that would be good or beneficial, I just think ‘why not?’ and go for it. I don’t live a deluded life, and if I manifest something good, then I accept that my normal logical and analytical way of thinking isn’t all there is to know.

And I just continue living a life filled with gratitude.


  • Posted on January 21, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Events in Paris over Charlie Hebdo raised many issues about respect, offence, abuse and freedom. Freedom to cause offence? Freedom to be offended? Not quite the same as freedom to abuse, is it? Do we defend the abused but not the offended? When is offence abuse? It isn’t just about physical versus psychological effects, since neither is a lesser experience. Is it about degree?

I have spoken recently with friends over people we know, who accept a level of what might be regarded as domestic emotional abuse. Why do they put up with it, rather than name it and act against it? How can they feel more secure this way? It seems we all have ways of surviving, turning a blind eye (or the other cheek), buffering offence or abuse even to protect another, taking the blows so that perhaps children don’t have to. Much of the time we want someone else to stop the offence or abuse for us; we aren’t strong enough.

There will always be people who offend, deliberately or otherwise and with various motivations. We persist with our struggle to balance respect (perhaps calling it political correctness) with freedom of expression, because too easily we can end up oppressing social difference simply because we haven’t learned to embrace it.

Are we looking for respect, or acceptance, or tolerance from each other? (How are they different?) Where are the boundaries, even when we think we can find a balance, such that we can begin to speak of some being ‘over-sensitive’, others ‘thick-skinned’, or most, ‘normal’?


I have listened to interviewees and read media comment from people with very different views, and there is no simple answer. The background story of Charlie Hebdo as a satirical outlet is very different from the simplistic descriptions of its edgy cartoons that poke fun at anyone’s expense, which are too offensive to tolerate, or deserving of the violence perpetrated. More generally, we often don’t know the backgrounds from which those who offend and abuse come, nor from which those who feel injured by the actions come. So the responsibility lies with each of us, to show loving-kindness in all we do. And this may be expressed differently from person to person and place to place. One person may enjoy a jibe, whereas another is simply in a bad place and cannot – today.

This is the much-argued blame or responsibility side of the argument, and I would not defend any form of abuse or deliberate offence to hurt anyone. But let’s now take a view from the side of the potentially offended, abused and misunderstood.

I had a lengthy conversation with a colleague, comparing the hurt felt by some Muslims, with that experienced by trans* people, especially whilst going through transition. Sometimes it is humour, which everyone finds funny except them, possibly because it misrepresents reality, or simply makes it harder to be understood by perpetrating a stereotype. How different does it feel to be a Muslim in a secular country, where stereotypes reinforce a view of religion as primitive and unthinking, or a trans* person, where stereotypes reinforce gender identity as of sexual fetishistic origin? When the media get it wrong, either story can end with violence, and people suffer and even die.

I would argue that fundamentally we must always challenge stereotypes, wherever we find them, because we live in a world of great diversity and constant change, where our ideas have to also develop with better understanding of ourselves and each other. What is my experience of feeling offended; did I learn anything from it?


I have lost count of the exchanges between trans* people that discuss misrepresentation and how to respond to it. Do we complain, perhaps formally or even legally? Or make our case for change and improvement, through proper channels? Or write blogs and columns that discuss the problems that are felt, in an educative way that slowly nudges awareness forward? Do we end up complaining and objecting too much, and encourage each other to grow a thicker skin? Let’s face it, those of us who shake off the insults by being super-confident of our identities do get away with an easier life than those who crumble easily and become an easy target. Those of us who simply don’t frequent places at times where others feel more free to abuse or attack, avoid some of the worst threats.

But why should I have to grow a thick skin and avoid places I would like to walk, just because someone else has the freedom of expression to hurl abuse at me? Or why should I have to walk on eggshells for fear of offending another? Rather than being a rhinoceros, sitting carefully on eggshells under a shady tree and not going out (I love that picture!), I end up asking about how my life can be the best learning experience, rather than the most protected.

We tend to regard vulnerability as a weakness, a situation within which we can be attacked and injured; it is the gap in the armour, or the moment when a skin or shell is shed before the new layer has hardened.

But you cannot grow in an old shell, or bend easily in armour.


Maybe my years in transition did strengthen me, but not through hiding. I decided very early on that to be very visible and honest and to learn fast, might just be the best strategy. Maybe that way I would be more self-aware and responsive, to avoid the worst. That way I would be seen for exactly who I am, unmistakeably different from the stereotypes – or as I said at the time, ‘acceptably different’. At least someone somewhere, from time to time, might actually notice when I really needed help, and be there for me.

What I found was that I didn’t avoid hurt, or grief. I didn’t become inconspicuous and I didn’t altogether avoid abuse or feeling offended. Instead I felt it all, and allowed myself to feel strong, because my authenticity meant much more than others’ views or impressions. I needed the feelings, I needed the sensitivity; I needed to hear myself above the noise, not drowned by it. Even now, I am quite sure there are people who see me as not normal, not one thing or another, and who have opinions about it. But I don’t have a thick skin, and I don’t stay under my tree. I am vulnerable because it’s the only way I can grow, and the only way I can know love.

I really do dance as if no-one is watching; I do love like I’ll never be hurt.* And I do this with a passion, because the alternative is not really dancing, it’s only a performance; and the alternative is not really loving, it’s only a romance or comfort.

Being diagnosed and treated for gender dysphoria has been the single biggest thing in my whole life, not just as upheaval, but in learning myself. I can be offended, be the butt of jokes, I can be misunderstood and abused. I can be hurt. This is what other people will always be able to do ’to me’. If I don’t see it as offensive or abusive, but instead as only revealing another’s weaknesses, or incapacity to respect or understand, then I don’t need a thick skin. I can see them and I can see myself, and I can know where the real authenticity lies, and I can learn and grow. I can break the stereotype.

In summary, yes, I can be hurt, physically and emotionally. In writing, in cartoons, and with real stones. But I have to be hurtable, because that’s what it takes to be truly me. I don’t ask to be defended, only that you understand your responsibility to live with loving-kindness.

And it is in this context, as I learn love afresh, that I keep myself vulnerable, honest and eyes-wide-open. I shall be hurt along my journey, I shall heal, I shall grow. All the way to the end. But above all, I shall love.

All of it is an honest poem about what it means to fall in love long after your teens, seeing the realities and embracing the rich opportunities that love has to offer if you are prepared to be vulnerable.


* William Purkey (I won’t comment on my singing.)

All of it

  • Posted on January 21, 2015 at 12:42 pm

We shall know grief—
which is a funny thing to say
while we laugh, pause at anxieties,
only to smile them away.

We befriend joy—
which is to say not just fun
as our smiles drift from serious eyes
because love has begun.

We feel this rain—
not as birds on a lake unwet
but soaking into our consciousness
threads of how we met.

We shall each grow—
breaking husk and ground, with stems
thoughtless of seasons, and wear both
dew-drops and frost-gems.

We become whole—
in grief, joy, sun, frost as equal food
knowing somehow nothing less is true
nothing else as good.


2015 © Andie Davidson

Learning about love

  • Posted on January 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Looking back, two words feature more on my blog than any to do with transition, and they are ‘love’ and ‘understanding’. I’m beginning to know why. Being trans forces you to dig deeper than most people ever have to, into what it means to be alone, or isolated, misunderstood – or loved. And until you understand what it is to be loved, loving another never quite feels verified. How do I know I am really loving another person, not just being there, being kind, doing what might help them to like me, stay near me? Maybe you can’t.

And me? What about the business of loving myself? I was told in no uncertain terms at an early age that to love oneself was arrogant and hubristic. Humility requires no love, and is correct. Humility gets you to heaven. How does that compare with Pride? Or indeed with being out and proud as different? Perhaps there is a big lesson in loving yourself, if you have to come out as anything marginal in society. Certainly you must dispense with any imposed ideas of shame for being as you were born.

At the core of Buddhist philosophy is the very practical idea that loving-kindness (metta) starts right in your own heart: ‘may I be happy; may I be well’. I practised another meditation recently that added ’may I be peaceful; may I be loved’. I like that. How can you love another and radiate that out, if it has no home in your own heart? I wonder if you even learn what it is to love yourself, until you have confronted what it means not to. I believe I needed to have my years alone, during which to not just grieve, but come to understand more of what makes love real, beyond liking, security, deep friendliness, affection. I missed these last four things enormously, because they are so important in making us feel included and belonging. We really do need them. I find them amongst writers and dancers, but never take them home, knowing they are there tomorrow, tonight. But they will be there next time we meet, and I shall feel reassured as a result. But loved? Do I deserve it? Have I earned it? What and how must I be in order to be lovable?

And suddenly my thinking is in quite the wrong direction again. You never earn love. You are never good enough. You never deserve it. Like dark energy, it is simply there. All that matters is how you choose to interact with it. You can let it pass through you, or be the attractor that draws it, or by not being something around which the energy must flow. Love does not wrap you up, it permeates you.

Falling in love is a strange thing, and as an adult you know that it is a muddle of chemistry, and that some features of this phase will pass. What then? Was being in love, love? Was it just the rocket booster getting you into love orbit? What is the love bit inside the being in love? What does love feel like, and how do you know that you love another at all? I have tried to analyse love many times in the three years this blog has been going, and I still feel that if your idea of love is simply that the other person completes you, makes you what you want to be, then yes, this is loving. But it is fragile and dependent and conditional. Most of the time it will make do for most of us. It makes us feel safe, secure and cared about – while it lasts. If we lean wholeheartedly into the other, and they step away, we fall. Sometimes we fall very hard, muddied with bitterness and resentment. If we don’t lean, we live with a degree of mistrust, a reserve of balance, a slight distance. Are we not then fully trusted, and do we not fully trust? Some will say that you never can really trust another person, and you must preserve yourself against betrayal for your own safety.

I read an article recently that reported research saying that the three words a relationship partner most wants to hear are not ‘I love you’, but ‘I trust you’. And another than said the two things that hold any stable relationship together are not sex or money, but kindness and generosity. How can you say ‘love’ without these things? It isn’t the whole thing, of course, but these things reveal a bit about the nature of love between people.

I still like Iris Murdoch’s statement, that love is the extremely difficult realisation that someone other than oneself is real, still very meaningful and probing. Look at the person you say you love, or wish you could say you love. Are they as real – as a person, an individual, a being – as you are to yourself? It’s a good test, a good checkpoint, when you are growing love for another. Are you looking to receive, be excited, comforted, secure? Or are you looking for what you can open up in the other, by being yourself, and giving?

And I think that is really where I am at the moment, understanding that love is something that grows and develops and can be nurtured. Jump in with a lofty definition of love, and it can seem very daunting to think of it as attainable. You’re full of feelings and emotions, searching for words that express them, and somehow afraid of saying either too much or too little. Does ‘I love you’ sound like an aspiration? Or too high an achievement in the early stages? Are you afraid of diminishing the meaning in case you want to mean more as the relationship develops? There is no ‘Instant love: just add oxytocin’. There is only a belief and trust in the other, within which you can choose either to import a preconceived idea of love – or go organic, and take care to grow something that might be quite unique, that can keep thriving, developing, deepening and giving.

I like ‘organic’, it sounds fresh and anticipatory, full of surprises, free of labels and definitions. Maybe it is time to stop analysing love and simply let it develop, mindfully, carefully, generously. All I know right now is that something mysterious is going on in and between my new lover and me, that is begging description but without borrowing any existing labels. They would all be a poor approximation.

I think we are both learning about love.

Dis-believing: religion and the transgender person

  • Posted on January 4, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Did I tell you that I almost entered the ordained ministry with the Church of England? I had a training place all lined up and I had the approval of the bishop – everything.

I’m not proud of it, but I was struggling to overcome my gender issues, interpreting them as sex issues, and engulfed by guilt and shame, because I felt my religion defined me as sinful and wicked for being like I was. Religion would fix it, I thought, but in fact religion was causing the problem. Deciding not to follow this ‘vocation’ was not really to do with my issues, as I shall describe in a moment, and I drifted out of church things anyway, and got married. Friends assumed we were still religious, but we were both moving away.

I shall never forget the young man in a church baptism service, standing at the front confessing his sins in tears. He was not much younger that I was, and my wife and I had been invited to the service by friends. We were seated in the rear balcony, looking down on proceedings. The young man was confessing to his god and the congregation, with promises and undertakings, with repentance and shame, about wearing women’s clothes. I’m sure he meant it. I desperately hope he found his authentic gender despite all this. I was collapsing inside with the guilt and shame for what no-one else knew about me. I could have been that young man. Nobody must know. Especially not after this spectacle.

In fact, my departure from faith, after a very evangelical spell in my teenage years, was only to do with common sense and learning. That I remained guilty and ashamed thereafter was the psychological tattoo of religion, which I found so hard to erase. Where I parted company was in my critical thinking. I kept finding that I was ‘asking the next question’, and going places where other people with faith wouldn’t dare to tread. If something just did not make sense, or seemed irrational, requiring ‘faith’ to trump reason, I could not follow. That kind of faith is not strong, it is incredibly weak. It might feel a comfort or a reassurance, but if it cannot sustain reasoned argument without engaging in wholly internalised circular arguments (e.g. the bible is the word of god because it says so – even if you don’t know what a word of god looks like), then it has no link with reality, only with doctrine or dogma.

Yes, I feel quite strongly about the role religion plays, but I can’t apologise if you are offended. If you have the kind of faith that makes sense with everything else you experience and see in the world, well and good. But if your religious faith damages another human being through being dogmatic and infallibly ‘right’ about your faith’s idea of what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, then I would say your faith is misplaced.

Certain eras of the Judaeo-Christian religious movement have majored more on mankind’s sexual urges than on love, generosity and equality, for all their doctrine on the love of god. The fallout has been incalculable, resulting in laws the world over, over centuries, spread largely by missionaries and christian dogma, that have led to the deaths, or physical or psychological harm of countless human beings. The legacy of religious persuasion about human sexuality or gender (including plain misogyny) continues to cause immeasurable harm.

Why am I bleating now? I didn’t lose my faith, I rejected it. Not for the social good that does come out of other aspects of religious community, but for the social harm it also does, founded on internal propositions on its own origins and importance. I’m bleating now because religion has come once again into the spotlight over conversion therapy, inspired by false morality, to psychologically torture transgender people rather than help them. It was once true for non-heterosexual relationships, and in parts of the world it still is violently true. Time and again LGBT hate finds a skewed reasoning based on religious ideology. So why do non-believers feel that being LGBT is ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’? My view is that the legacy of religious morality underlies a lot of it.

Given that you do not require a god to know that taking another person’s property is socially undermining, why do you cite a god to tell a transgender person they should not exist, and that it is wrong to declare their own gender? What right have you to hold your book aloft, misquote or misinterpret a few words in it, decide that the person was made by your god, and that your god does not make mistakes?

And then to call your god a god of love?

I may bleat, but I am not a sheep following a flock.

Let me touch both extremes. At one end there are some hugely bigoted christian movements in the US, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, or the American Family Association. At the other end are those simple little congregations and ministers that would hesitate to allow one of their number to transition openly and hold any office or public role. Very different, but neither able to see themselves as the contradictory entities that they are. All of them influence people unable or unwilling to think independently, with compassion and understanding. They provide a ready-made framework for the lazy ethics of unthinking people.

And so it is that this week the Internet has erupted worldwide over the suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year-old from Cincinnati, whose parting blog on Tumblr expressed her despair, attributed to parental fundamentalist belief that their god does not make mistakes and therefore, the world being only as they see it, Leelah was simply deluded. Leelah, to the end and after, was their god-made boy.

My goodness; what outrage I feel about the role of religion in damaging human life, through spurious unreasoning belief. The influence of religion, past and present, pervades social attitudes towards a clinical condition, a state of being at birth, that we call gender dysphoria. And those attitudes lie behind the appalling suicide statistics among trans* people, the social disadvantage they suffer, and the violence – physical, psychological and emotional – they experience.

OK, so you’ve got this far, perhaps protesting under your breath all the way. You are accepting of diversity in sexuality and gender, you are Christian,or Jewish or Muslim (capital letters), you have faith, and your idea of god does not regard LGBT humanity as being a lifestyle, but of nature, god-given, not even nurture. Well done you. But I question why you need a god at all to develop your morality. Is it not worthy enough to stand by itself as shared common social sense?

And what have you to say ‘from the inside’ to believers who continue to harm fellow human beings through unreasoning beliefs? Do you feel you have any responsibility to speak out? Or do you feel you can’t because you share a god and therefore owe some loyalty? Tell me a good price in human life, for not calling out faith that is not love? For this declaration that a human state of being and nature, is a sin? For not protecting trans* people like Leelah Alcorn from extremes of your own religion in the name of your god?

Why is my tame little blog suddenly angry against religion? Just resentment at what it did to me? Of course that must be present, but more, I am angry that religion retains such a pre-eminent respect whilst holding a legacy responsibility for the continuing harm it causes. I feel angry because society does not have to be like this, because religion is a choice, a lifestyle choice, whilst LGBT identity is not. And because the lifestyle choice is what causes the social damage, not the identities of human beings who need to express their authenticity and truth.

So yes, I do think that religious morality has a responsibility here, for recognising its legacy and the harm still caused, and especially because for some reason it commands respect within a largely secular society. You cannot have faith and tolerate harm in the name of it, whoever it is by, or wherever in the world. If your god creates or makes people, your god creates transsexual people too. Speak that truth, and respect us. Leelah will not be the last by a very long way, so maybe it’s time for your confession and repentance instead.