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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.

Watch words: self hate, self harm, self destruct

  • Posted on September 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Now that the gender dysphoria bit is over, I am walking over some old ground, just picking up stones, those things that hurt the feet of people following after me. You see, I remember walking down Fulham Palace Road to the gender identity clinic the first time, knowing every step of the way had been trodden by so many like me, and quite a few with familiar names …

Well, in recent months, maybe this past year, there have been more and more sensible and informative media events about trans people. Some more competent than others, some quite personal and individual, others more documentary style and explanatory. But overall, quite a lot is being said that reveals us as pretty ordinary folk, living ordinary lives. The trans celebs who are noticed more are just saying the same as us as well, which brings us all down to a level, a commonality.

Suddenly if feels just OK to be trans, and here am I fussing over my privacy being broken at work! I transitioned before I got my current job, and it still felt like I was the peculiar one, so much so that I welcomed my work colleagues being warned in advance that a transsexual employee was on her way – so behave! And now I don’t want anyone to be told, whilst at the same time posting my photo on Twitter under #WhatTransLooksLike, which turns out to be terribly (confusingly) ordinary.

And yet.

And yet all of this ordinariness and growing acceptance (at least in general, and from a very poor start) underlines something extremely sad and tragic. And it is that for the majority of us it has been a mixture of terrifying struggle, self harm, self hatred, self doubt, despair, loss, depression and suicidal intent.

I want you to think: how much do you talk (or hear) about how society ‘tolerates’ trans people? Or about an increasing ‘acceptance’? At work, it seems people have been ‘accommodating’ of my being trans among them. Are these feelings you have, as a way of saying things are getting better? How do you think it would make you feel, if something about you meant that you as a person needed tolerance, acceptance or accommodation? Or knowing this, would you willingly place yourself in a position where this would even need to be so?


In a world that really accepted that some people are born trans, things would be completely different. Imagine, if you will, for a moment, that every child growing up was free to express their male-female-both-neither selves freely and without criticism. Imagine every adult simply knew this was the way things are. Imagine no penis-adult minded a penis-child wearing vagina-child clothes, and no vagina-adult minded a vagina-child avoiding vagina-child toys. How comfortable those children would be that the other children knew this from their parents too. Each could find their sexuality as they developed, and learn the differences between love for reproduction and love for friendship and love for life. It isn’t that families would cease to exist, or that adults settled in their gender would not pair up to have children. But just maybe, everyone would be a bit more comfortable doing what comes naturally. Fewer spouses would turn away from their beloved partners because it was all a mistake, had they known before. Maybe it would help break the sexism that pervades society, if it were not odd to find a woman with oily hands, power tools and an executive job, paired with a man in feminine clothes working as a childminder and organising dance events.

People on the trans spectrum may be one in a hundred, but that doesn’t make us rare, it just means most are invisible because they are suppressed.

I do wonder what proportion of trans people would be happy to be the woman with a penis or a man with a vagina, if nobody else minded either. Not all of us, because gender dysphoria runs much more deeply than this, and there is a level of inateness that predates any social expectation. But for some whose gender identity sits uncomfortably in the gender binary based on genital expectation, maybe, just maybe, there would be peace in growing up and living a normal life freely as they feel themselves to be.


Where are we with acceptance now? This is how it has largely been for people like me: if you feel you don’t belong with other penis-children-called-boys, you belong nowhere. You do not fit and you cannot explain it. Somehow people, especially parents and teachers, don’t want to know, because you screw up the way things are, and you make things awkward. You add something that has to be catered for and coped with. You are a nuisance to them and to yourself. If you are a vagina-child who doesn’t belong with other vagina-children-called-girls, people don’t notice quite so much at first. But underneath the tomboy is a place grown-ups don’t want to go.

Somehow there is an undercurrent to this view of you that is linked with a moral or ethical dimension. These are the rules that seem to come from nowhere, and just ‘are’ because they get repeated. What you feel is not quite right about you, in terms of likeness with others, becomes something wrong. People don’t like it because they think you are being deliberately different, that you have a choice. Some will say that it (the way you feel about yourself) isn’t natural. Others will say that their god says it’s bad, and bad that you should dare to even think it might be OK. That you must therefore change, and put all these feelings about yourself away forever. Hence the prevalent self hate, self harm and self destruct, mental and physical that trans people experience.

Worst of all, gender and sex have long been so confused a distinction that being trans has been viewed a sexual perversion, a bizarre psychological pathology. And if sex is naughty or dirty or bad (my upbringing taught me this), then being trans is doubly so.

Because the adults think this, their children, your friends and classmates think this too. You get bullied, or at best left out and seen by some as not to be included. This combines with your sense of not belonging. There is no way out, because no-one is talking about it, leastways not so as to allow that it’s natural or normal or permissible.

This, as I grew up (and is widely still the case), was an inescapable truth about myself: there was something bad and wrong about me, deep inside. Trans people simply knew there was nothing they could do to get rid of the disconnect between being a penis-child and a vagina-brain. Cis people, generally speaking, thought they could and should. And now this is changing, bit by bit.

What will it take?

If you are not sure whether this move or drift towards trans-as-normal is comfortable for you, think what it does to trans people growing up, and the legacy it has left to those of us rather older. I’m not seeking pity – far from it, only saying please understand, when you think you are being kind for letting us live and look differently, that your attitudes and reactions, if anything short of full acceptance as equal and normal, are creating inner traumas still.

I fully recognise that I did not grow up recognising diversity, that I too felt uncomfortable with everything LGBT because it is what I was taught to think and feel. What this means is that the denial I lived with, and above all the guilt, must have been there as I brought up my own children. My son thankfully was trans-aware probably before I was. And my daughter’s current inability to be associated with me in any way must in part be down to what I brought her up to think. I wonder what she will teach her children one day when they ask about their missing grandfather …

The words you choose shape the way we all think

  • Society is very tolerant these days of people with red hair.
  • I think we are becoming much more accepting of left-handed people.
  • I’m glad to say that nowadays we accommodate lesbians in the workplace a lot better.

Does anything strike you about these statements? If this is how we bring up our children, and how we speak to each other about red-haired people, left-handed people and lesbian people, they will intuitively understand that these three ‘conditions’ are suspect and not quite right, that these are people to be wary of, who are not quite what they seem (Wait until she takes her hat off! Did you see when he started writing? I went to her mum’s house once and she lives with a woman!).

This is exactly the inference we exchange amongst ourselves about transgender people. This is why it took me 55 years to realise that my self-hatred, my sense of guilt and shame, my constant self-destruction inside was completely unfounded and unnecessary.

Can you begin to understand this stone in the grass that I’ve picked up? Don’t leave it for someone else, above all someone else’s child, to cripple themselves on.

I can at last love myself, and indeed, I love my ‘new’ body for the first time. Shame about the five decades.

Never tolerate me. Never accept me. Never accommodate me.

I am. We are.

Just like you.

Suddenly, the suspended sentence …

  • Posted on April 5, 2014 at 9:19 am

I returned to dancing last night, my first opportunity in a month after playing in an orchestra for a concert, which occupied the same evening of the week. It was really lovely to see friends again, have a hug or two and dance, and dance, and sweat, and express and release. I had it marked in my diary as ‘2 years!’

On April 4 2012, someone, somewhere, date stamped my deed poll, and I became legally Ms Andie.

I’ve gone through other two-year markers, but this is the one that is taken as the starting blocks for transition and eligibility for true recognition in your own gender identity. Until this point, the assertion is that you are still in your birth-assigned gender, and that anything else is unproven. For two years I have been Ms Andie by name only, with the proviso that if I could make it through, I would have the right to apply to legally change my gender marker, including my birth certificate. It is true that, had I faltered, I would be referred to as a man, trying to be something I wasn’t. It has been just like a suspended sentence, and that period is now over for good.

A quick review then of living under a suspended sentence

I remember the day I simply gave up waiting for approval, and filled in my deed poll application. Downloaded forms, filled in and signed, no second thoughts about a very simple name, taken to a good friend to be witnessed, a small cheque and into the post. And the day it came back, date stamped stating that I was no longer entitled to be addressed for any official purpose by any other name.

I remember clearing my wardrobe and drawers. Some to the textile recycling, most to a charity shop. And the feeling of returning home to the absence of all the old trappings, my own clothes no longer crushed into the wardrobe.

This was the time when all intimacy in my life ended, and I have known none since. Family life (my daughter aside) continued for another six months, but I was no longer welcome in my own home. I made it through my son’s graduation in Falmouth, which was a big enough and public enough event, with all the other parents around, but no-one gave me a look or batted an eyelid.

This was the start of my assessment too. One month after the deed poll (yes, after!) I saw the first of four psychiatrists, in order to be assessed as to whether I was mentally or emotionally disturbed or whether, indeed, I was born transsexual. The suspended sentence began.

Soon after the deed poll I also knew I needed to find employment; being self-employed wasn’t guaranteed to provide an income for life on my own. Partly by chance I gained the opportunity to do some consultancy, and that turned into full-time employment within three months. It was the first time in 30 years that I was not a manager, and it has been both safe but frustrating. I found complete acceptance at work, and to be honest, looking at my photos from the time, I can see that courage and confidence was everything!

With the start of work, the same week, I started self-prescribed hormones and testosterone blockers. Carefully, and researched, but yes, against the rules, because I knew that clinical attention was going to take a long time. It did; in fact it took a year before I was able to gain prescriptions. Several very widely-spaced trips to London and the gender identity clinic, dragged me across the two years entirely beholden to the judgement of others. It was like being called in to check the terms and compliance of my probation. There were no hiccups in terms of my feelings about myself, and no doubts ever expressed over my declared identity, just a lot of time, misleading expectations, and ultimate failure to deliver timely clinical interventions.

Back to June 2012 though, and I hit rock bottom just two months after the deed poll. I felt destined never to be truly regarded as a woman. Or indeed as a man. Rather, it hit me hard that I had to face the rest of my life being nothing. Excluded from normal human expectations, I felt it was better not to live at all. I knew that I may never be truly loved and cherished ever again. I might have been right; I’ve just learned for now to live with it. In therapy at this time, I made a promise to myself not to kill myself, and I have a token of that promise in the form of a piece of quartz crystal I was given, that stays at my bedside.

And just two months after this I knew, for my own safety from myself, I had to move out on my own. This was the worst time of all, and I’ve written enough about it. But I found a lovely place to go, very quickly and easily, and by October I was living on my own, stranger to my family, confirmed in permanent employment, and learning to rebuild a domestic life in my own style. I would not have done this at all well without the help of just a few, and one particular, close friend.

It took until the end of the year to actually have my first appointment at the gender identity clinic, but being a woman in the world, feeling the effects of hormones, and finding my feet with no shadow of the past dragging me back, was wonderful. I had a public poetry reading at the South Bank, a very lonely Christmas, discovered dance, finally shed the prosthetic aids (boobs and hair) took myself back to counselling to straighten out my grief and loss, went through a very instructive episode of pneumonia all before appointment number two in London. By this time (May 2013) I was feeling so completely naturalised in living my gender that having to submit to these consultations was annoying. The third (not until September 2013, was deeply irritating). But the May diagnosis did at least get me the prescriptions.

Summer brought me into regular Five Rhythms dance, from which I have never recovered. It is my deepest expression of self amongst some of the nicest and most genuine people I have met, and a season of small-group workshops in the autumn was an added privilege.

Autumn 2013 saw me cleared for gender confirmation surgery, and the story of how I am now fast tracked for July treatment is in recent blogs. I finally sold the marital home, bought a flat nearer to friends, and settled. Three months ago I was divorced. From now on, it’s just me.

So much more has happened, but all these things have been with a sense of very normal living, a deep gratitude for being finally ‘allowed’ to be myself, finding great happiness in that, and knowing day by day that I’m ‘getting there’. Not easy, and I have been a real pain to even my best friends at times, but I am where I should be, not just where I want to be.

Judgement over

What this blog is about, is simply that all these major changes have happened under the banner of the suspended sentence, termed variously as ‘real life experience’, ‘living as a woman’ and so on, as if it were all temporary, subject to change and approval before I could ‘really’ claim to be be myself, a woman, and not just transgendered or transsexual. It is as much an affirmation that I have not changed, I have just found myself.

April 4, 2014; finally the suspended sentence …

… is over.

Why words let us down and become oppressive

  • Posted on February 9, 2014 at 10:30 am

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Maybe it’s because I have worked writing, editing and proofing technical documents and research reports all my career. What is in our head finds words so that we can share our thoughts. The trouble is, the words are also in our heads, and got there first, and carried meanings that may be precise, but equally may have been misunderstood already when we learned them. Or they may be imprecise words, from a time when understanding in society was not as rich as it is now. There are many reasons why my meaning for a word may not quite be another’s. Then there are specialist meanings: when a word in a legal context, for example, means something more particular than in regular use.

Who owns a word and it’s meaning? I wrote a blog back in July 2012 (Semantic Hegemony, if you know what I mean) that still reads quite well, if you have time. We all think we mean what we say, but often offend when it leads to unintended misunderstanding.

Conversations of this ilk have, this week, included the legal definition of ‘bedroom’ in the context of the ‘bedroom tax’ (for non-UK readers, this relates to housing benefit to cover rent on a property deemed to have surplus space, assessed as the property having a non-essential bedroom). There is no legal definition. In an empty property, the room may be regarded as a bedroom. With a bed in it, it certainly is; but put a dining table in it and it isn’t. However, sleep on your sofa, and your lounge is a bedroom.

The words that tax us most in trans* land are still ‘sex’ and ‘gender’, not least because in a simple, neat world there are only male and female, and each only feels sexually attracted to the opposite. This underlies almost all social and cultural thinking, globally. Anything else is an interesting (or repulsive) deviation. It also underlies the idea that a trans* person changes their sex or gender. We do need to speak of change, because it is an enormous change to present for part of your life one way, and for the rest as something different. But the change is a perceptual one; we do not change sex and we do not change gender. The only problem is a social one, that led us in the first place into having to live a particular way until we were able to assert our authentic selves. That derived from identification-by-genitalia, itself fraught at the fringes.

And all in a way that repeats once more the limitations of language. Our words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are not fit for purpose. By using these words in the ways we think we know what they mean, we cause discrimination. By discrimination, I mean we distinguish one from another, make something different by exception: this is that, and this is other, so that it can be treated differently, less privileged and unequal.

I have been struck this week by minority assertion. The obvious examples have been in Russia, where activists have been arrested and beaten for singing their national anthem under a rainbow flag. There, under recent law, being anything other than heteronormative is lumped together as predatory, along with paedophilia. It is absurd, as well as cruel and barbaric. Activists are people who assert that non-heteronormative, non-binary states of birth are part of the normal and expected diversity of all human life.

I was struck also by a speech by an Irish drag queen (self-defined as a gay male, rather than transsexual) about institutional homophobia. In the link above, do watch and listen, do also watch senator David Norris at the end of the article. The core message is that every time one of us born not fitting the simplistic, religion-enforced, model expressed by the words sex and gender, is set aside in any way, we are being oppressed. Because one person is one colour does not entitle them to diminish someone of another colour. Because one person has four working limbs does not entitle them to diminish another with anything less. Because one person is a man attracted exclusively to women does not entitle him to diminish another who corrected their social situation for anything different. Because one person is a government minister, or priest, or lawyer, or religious leader, does not entitle them to diminish another who has a different take on life.

Inherent sex, sexuality and gender, by any definition, are not the domain of an elite to define a meaning that separates out anyone whose genitals or gender identity don’t fit their personal or cultural view. Anything else is oppressive.

This week also saw a spat on CNN between Piers Morgan and Janet Mock (if you’re unclear about either, get Googling). Both are public figures, one a journalist full of ego and self-justification, the other a very successful advocate for young trans* people who is working against social exclusion, othering and bullying. Why should a young person come to prefer suicide to life in the face of social attitudes perpetuated by ignorance and intolerance? If those doing the bullying had not been brought up with the cultural expectations of sex and gender being so unrepresentative of reality, they would not be bullies. Bigotry is very simple: the need for certainty combined with an inability to learn and understand. Janet Mock knows this place well, and was interviewed about the launch of her book Redefining Realness. What she didn’t know at the time was that the broadcast would be captioned ‘was a boy until age 18’, and that Morgan would treat her throughout as a man-become-woman with complex (implied, deceptive) sexual relationships. The result was acrimony and insults from Morgan on Twitter, and a panel on Morgan’s subsequent show to discuss whether Morgan was a victim of cisphobia.

In all three cases, Sochi, Ireland and CNN, the whole point is that those in a dominant role can sit around and discuss any other group, and make decisions about them, without listening or learning. This is abuse. White people may not sit around deciding the identities of those of any other colour. Roman Catholics may not sit around deciding the fate of abusers or the abused, without listening and learning and acting with justice. Men may not sit around discussing by themselves the rights and equalities of women; this is oppression too. Heteronormative senators or ministers may not sit around deciding the fate and rights of gay or lesbian people and their relationships. Journalists, panelists and experts may not sit around deciding the fate and rights of non-binary conforming or trans* people, without listening and learning that this is not a behaviour.

One other statistic I came across very recently: 61% of transgender people refused medical intervention attempt or commit suicide. That’s higher that the 46% of trans* people in general.

I don’t want to appear ‘one of the oppressed’ because I don’t personally feel that, and this may seem a bit of a rant. Nevertheless, anything that makes me feel that I have to assert the validity of being trans* in society is oppressive. When I came to consider suicide, it was out of the realisation that to be authentic, to be a woman with a trans background, in all likelihood would mean the end of any committed intimate relationship for the rest of my life. My feeling and horror in those dark hours was that as far as the rest of the world was concerned, I was neither a man nor a woman, and was therefore excluded from the privileges of either. And the reason? ‘Sex’ and ‘gender’ have simple meanings, don’t they? And therefore I am not really what I say. That upsets everyone stuck with hetero and binary. I have become likeable, even lovable, but untouchable.

If I don’t have to tolerate someone for being cis, why do I need tolerance for being trans? If I don’t need to be accepting of someone cis, why do I need acceptance for being trans? Am I waiting for a gift? I do feel accepted, which is a whole lot better than being tolerated, but often it is on the terms of the other. Is this a form of oppression?

I shall leave that with you, without judgement, because we still all need to think about this one a whole lot more.

Dancing free

  • Posted on August 31, 2013 at 11:00 pm

This week’s main blog was a bit philosophical, and stemmed from a conversation I’ve been having about gender essentialism and the determining factors in gender identity.

But that isn’t where my life is at, and it has been a really varied week.

It began in fear of feeling suicidal again. Just that deep gnawing, unrelenting fear that I have arrived in a place where I can never find another who will love me. That there never can be an intimacy again because everyone out there only feels safe with (or at least strongly prefers) a partner of determinate gender with a determinate history. And I shall and can never be that.

It is the most awful feeling of being an utter outcast in the world of love and intimacy. And yet love and intimacy is like air to me. I am suffocating right now, simply for want of love. It is framed in an awareness of friends who know just what to do. They go the places they used to (before the last relationship), they go on dating sites, the other parties know what to expect, and they start sifting. Kiss enough frogs and they will find their prince/ss. There are rules, they follow them roughly, they will succeed.

I have no such place, no such expectations, no such rules. I am not just suffocating, I feel utterly lost.

Even my garbled squeaks for help on Facebook were largely ignored, except a very dear friend actually called me to see I was alright. It didn’t take much, but it meant everything to me.

Come midweek, and I had an interesting and understanding chat with someone over the difficulty I have, in being asked or instructed to dress (mostly) male for a particular reason. In the above context, it might be understandable that I find this psychologically a very risky thing to attempt. But it also transpired that my transsexuality is not immediately apparent to everyone concerned, and despite my willingness to speak of it, the slight feeling of flattery added a hint of a silk purse in this sow’s ear.

I cannot say that this time is an easy one. The anxieties over buying a flat and selling a house without being there, and the last weeks of being married slipping fast away, don’t sit well with feeling the outcast from human intimacy. Believe me, being torn out of the love of someone you’ve spent your life with simply for being what you are, is the most gut-wrenching event you can go through. This blog is no longer a means of communication between us either. Now it is just me and you, continuing the exchanges of ‘life beyond diagnosis’. There is no play, no pretend, no fighting-to-keep, no misunderstanding, no fear of ‘what if I am?’. And no more believing that I could ever live a dual-gendered life, even for the best reasons on the world. This is the certainty of being born with gender incongruence, and the consequences. It matters, it really matters, that I am not a man after all. And yet, despite the fact that I live and move in this world, everywhere, without any question of not being a woman, albeit a different sort, when it comes to finding romance and love, maybe I am not a woman enough. Is everyone just looking for genitals?!

It is a raw time in some ways. And so I was glad to finish the week and head off for a Friday night of dance. Five Rhythms, or similar events in the summer break, means two hours solid of barefoot, expressive dance, with interactions with random other dancers as partners for maybe ten or fifteen minutes before dancing solo again. There is no speaking, only very free dance. I was determined to dance out my anxieties, fears, resentments, and the horrors of being unlovable. It’s that yawning awfulness that maybe some while ago I had the last loving sexual encounter of my life.

And I think if I really did know that, if that was a certain outcome of becoming my very best – as this – I seriously would want to end right here.

But we won’t go there, because it’s a horrible and scary thought, and what I really wanted to say was that someone, out of the blue, touched my spirit after the dance. I had a few beautiful encounters during the dancing, but it was sitting in the circle afterwards when this person, next to me, shared their own sudden realisation that being different was OK. F**king OK!! With a determination to let go of a lifetime’s angst at the behest of others, and be that ‘being of light’ that we all can manifest. That touched me, because I had gone that night to drive out the bad, rather than simply to let it go and move into a place of dynamic living.

We went on to have a long chat about the similarities in our life experiences, and suffice it to say, if she had said she’d been sent by an angel, I would have believed her. It wasn’t sympathy, it was possibilities, out of understanding each other, that life as we each need it, is possible; that it can be claimed if only we let go and trust.

What a week, after returning to my roots last week (A stitch in time) and facing living alone again. I put it down also to hormonal cycles, though it may be coincidence! It reminds me that I still walk close to the edge sometimes, and that I must simply trust that higher powers that may have kept me safe in every other way, can help me find real loving again sometime ahead.

So thank you to three people this week who have helped pull me back from the brink. If any of you are reading this, you make a difference to me just by being a bit more than just accepting. I am strong, but even strong people sometimes fall over edges. It’s the gravity, you know.