On the whole I'm getting more and more at ease with this new life of mine. Very gradually - so gradual as to be imperceptable from week to week - I'm changing into a person that you'd take for an ordinary woman. I watch other people when out - kids especially, as they are so quick to pick up on anything odd or curious. But I never see a suspicious glance in my direction. And believe me, I'm inclined to be eagle-eyed about this!
I must be doing a lot right. Giving out strong female signals. Looking and acting in a way that for the time and place and the company is both natural and 'normal'. And I can only get better at it.
My last visit to North Devon has reawakened thoughts of moving there. If I ever do, I'll want to be immediately accepted as plain vanilla Lucy Melford, that nice retired lady who likes art and photography and eating out, and is at all times cheerful and chatty. I've no intention of getting into intimate situations, so the questions of My Past and My Anatomy may never crop up. And I'd like to think that if I get to know a few good friends well enough to speak about these things, it will be so far down the line of knowing them that they won't care. They might even confess that they guessed at once, but it didn't matter, because they liked me. And on current evidence I don't think that scenario is so terribly improbable.
But dark undercurrents might place all such plans in danger.
Politicians in Power have been getting restive again about their basic lack of control. The Prime Minister has made The Sick Society into his battle-cry.
For the moment the focus is on the Underclass Of Morally Bankrupt People From Broken Homes, who have No Stake In Britain. But I wonder how long it will be before a new or revived target for official governmental insecurity will be found, in an attempt to find a more subtle set of culprits for What's Wrong With Britain. After all, you can't lock up everyone. It costs too much. It clogs up the courts. It alienates too many people. Better and much cheaper to have a constant go at those who don't necessarily commit crimes, but can be blamed for having Unconventional Modes Of Living, and therefore of Undermining Society's Values. Like Travellers: gypsies. Like Immigrants: all foreigners. Like Job-shy Benefit Fraudsters: cheats and layabouts. People who Won't Do A Proper Hard Day's Work.
Or anyone who is an outsider to the Indignant Classes. Anyone who doesn't seem to Contribute To The Recovery, but instead Uses Up Our Limited Resources and Sets A Very Bad Example. Anyone indeed who can draw attention away from the ineptitude of government departments, and the politicians who are meant to be in charge.
You can easily see where this is leading. Today, let's revile looters with uneducated accents. Tomorrow let's revile marginal folk who like to keep their heads down, like transsexuals.
I'll admit at once that this all sounds a bit paranoid. But the danger is merely latent. If you start smearing one section of non-standard folk, it tends to taint others that the general public regard as 'much the same'. I recall a notorious instance back in 2000 when a female paediatrician (that is, a children's medical specialist) was thought by some ignorant local people to be the same thing as a paedophile, and was hounded from her home. Hounded because some stupid people misunderstood what different but similar-sounding words meant. But mobs don't take notice of dictionary definitions. Nor of ordinary laws. They seize on a notion, and then act brutally and without remorse.
All you have to do is point the finger.
Unscrupulous governments everywhere know this, and use mobs to do their dirty work. They don't need the elaborate panoply of a legal system to fix blame on scapegoats. They simply need to know how to inflame those uninhibited citizens who will take to the streets and commit violence. It's one of the lessons of history, that no minority is safe for long. No minority. At intervals, and in their turn, all minorities will have a finger pointed at them, and then life will get perilous. And of course it doesn't necessarily need to be a government finger. Some of the very recent riot victims must be wondering at how much blind hate and prejudice and resentment is simmering beneath the surface of multi-racial communities, populated by ordinary people like themselves. And how much more of it has yet to be expressed. And what could happen if the police ever relax their tenuous grip, and the thugs get a free hand to do what they want.
It just couldn't happen? It most certainly could. And anyone who stands out could become a target. Then, like the two main characters in the 1956 science-fiction film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, we could end up running for our lives.
They look pretty ordinary to me: but they were running from people they'd known all their lives, who were now against them.
So this is one of the reasons why I'm taking my ongoing transition so seriously. It may one day save my life. If I turn a corner, and I'm confronted by a gang of mindless angry cretins, I want to be instantly accepted as an unthreatening female. That won't save me from robbery or rape, but it might stop me being seen as a punch-bag for fists and boots, knives and chains, and whatever else a thug uses to bring down someone he intends to maim and kill.