Monday, 3 October 2011

Issues that won't go away

My post on perfect presentation and its problems certainly caused a stir that I didn't anticipate.

You know, I wouldn't have minded if I'd got just one response on the lines of 'Yes, I see what you mean, and I agree that as a practical policy you just have to live with any problems, make the best of it, and not agonise too much'. Which is exactly what I do. Look at my pictures. You can see it's true, right there on my face.

Instead that post generated over twenty comments, and went into self-belief territory that wasn't at all in my mind when I composed the post.

To set the record straight, please take the following as exactly how things are for me:

1. I believe that I was born with a female mind.
2. But I was also born with a masculinised body, and accordingly designated 'male' from birth.
3. Everyone duly treated me as a little boy, and I myself grew up with that notion in my mind.
4. The notion was reinforced by every aspect of my young life, and I couldn't avoid thorough male conditioning. That meant I couldn't learn to be as girls were. That's why some have said that I don't 'think like a girl'.
5. Certainly I felt 'different' from pre-school times, and that feeling persisted, but I couldn't analyse it nor put a name to it. I was child; I accepted everything I was told; and the concept of gender dysphoria didn't exist in the UK at the time.
6. So I simply ignored any oddness or variance or discontent that I felt within my mind. Of course this created tensions within. But my temperament was at root easy and accepting and cheerful, and mostly it didn't show. I was awkward during my teens, but all that was put down to 'just being a teenager' - a phase I'd grow out of. I believed it too.
7. Essentially nothing changed for over five decades. Interior tension; exterior calmness. I got on with my life in ignorance of the smouldering volcano inside. Many people thought me the very model of a nice man who cared very much for others, and was happy with himself. I was moderately or highly successful in many things that I did in male mode.  I finished my working life as a valued if not especially talented colleague. I was thought a bit too individual to be a team player, and not ruthless or clever enough to be a real force, but otherwise an effective and conscientious senior worker who fostered harmony and creativity and got the job done well. There was actually some doubt whether I'd be allowed to go when the chance to retire early came.
8. In July 2008, at age 56, and three years into retirement, I suddenly recognised my gender dysphoria, and after a short pause to ponder the dreadful practical implications, came out and faced the music.
9. The rest is mostly chronicled in the blog, all 263,000 words of it.

The main parts of my transition are over, but the elements that will take time - unlearning male conditioning, learning the finer points about being female - will take years to accomplish. But that hasn't stopped me making a life for myself, and I think it's a pretty fulfilling one. And there's plenty of room for improvements and fresh experiences too, which will come. I'm optimistic and content, even if I wish that there had been a lot less pain on the way here.

I'm not hung up on deep questions, and I'm sure that the general public doesn't give a monkey's about my exact self-view, and any reasons for it.

They are much more interested in how I come across to them, and whether they are drawn to me on account of a pleasant personality, or some act of kindness that I have showed to them. You have to earn regard and respect by how you inter-relate with other people; you don't earn it by bombarding them with arguments and assertions that may be true, but fail to make their day nicer or easier.

So I'm not stridently out there insisting on my true womanhood. Not to the general public, not to the trans community. I hope my innate femaleness is reasonably obvious from the blog and my photos, and from the impression I have made when meeting people (including by now several other bloggers). But if anyone wants to dismiss me as simply a hybrid or a deluded saddo, well, so be it. I'll think about why they take that view, but essentially I'll just move on and live my life, as indeed we all have to regardless of what is fair or right or just.

And as for having everything thoroughly worked out before surgery, you can't. The ramifications of transition are too extensive. All you can do is consider the obvious issues, and leave the rest for much later. You cannot know how your views will change after the event. So there will always be many unresolved issues that ideally you'd have sorted out before surgery, but did not. Hopefully they are all in the realm of philosophy, and have no direct bearing on day-to-day living.

If anyone doubts whether I sufficiently weighed the important issues before I had my surgery, then they should consult the monumental series of posts I put together in September 2010, five and a half months before going into hospital, collectively entitled The Twelve Accusations. I think those posts will amply demonstrate that I thought hard about many aspects surrounding transition. If you are interested, and haven't read them yet, then I think you ought to now. But bear in mind they were written pre-op, and that in little ways my thinking has developed over the last year, and will continue to as fresh situations come to my attention. One learns constantly from real life.

Enough said. I've more trans stuff to air, but I'd rather post up lighter topics for the next few days!


  1. I think you explained yourself most eloquently. Not that you needed to.

    You always inspire something in me with everything you say. Keep on keepin' on.



  2. You say "earn regard and respect by how you inter-relate with other people". Why ignore Cynthia's comment then? A :D would have been enough.

  3. Ellena, your comment seems to be addressed at another comment before your own that has been totally deleted, otherwise what you say doesn't make sense. Is this the case?


  4. Lucy, I was refering to one of your statements in this post here. What is your selection criteria as to which comments you acknowlege? I just thought that a short thank you would have been nice. You usually behave very ladylike and proper.

  5. Well, if there was anything in Cynthia's comment that I haven't observed it would be her remark that I need not explain myself. I don't read this as a rebuke, although yes, one can go on and on just a bit too far! I will plead 'guilty' to being a word merchant. But despite this, I will explain myself again and again in the future as fresh events shape my point of view. And I will share these things if I think they might be of general interest. That's certainly one of the basic functions of a blog - wouldn't you agree?

    Now, back to what you said. You quoted a sentence of mine about how one earns regard and respect, and you appear to be saying hat the way I handled the many comments on that post on perfect presentation fell short of what was polite or properly grateful.

    I'm afraid I can't quite see what you mean. The comments section on a blog post isn't a debating forum, nor even a discussion platform, and nobody is under any obligation to acknowledge what others say. That includes myself. There is no rudeness involved if I stay out of it. I may end up acknowledging one or two contributions, but if I do then it mustn't be supposed that I considered the rest unworthy or trashy.

    I don't moderate what is contributed. I don't pre-approve anything, or exclude those who hide behind avatars, or delete comments I don't like. So comments can range from the friendly and encouraging to the menacing and bizarre.

    I leave the strident ones in, so that people can get a measure of their authors and judge the worth of what they say for themselves. On the 'deception' post, there was one lady in particular who dominated the comments with several long contributions about herself and how I ought to be thinking. I didn't thank her, because on the whole I didn't think she understood me, or was telling me anything especially useful. Nor did I attempt to argue with her, partly because I didn't want to encourage her. Even without feedback, she was going to have her say! Well, I let her have it.

    One person did say something especially useful and helpful and I acknowledge that, though not directly to her.

    On other less contentious posts, I more than occasionally thank people for commenting.

    Am I still missing the point? If so, please put me right, in a private email if you wish (see my Profile for the email address).

    By the way, 'inter-relating with other people' primarily means - in my book - what happens when you meet them face-to-face. Electronic communication is secondary. I do however make a big effort to speak in typed words as I would if we were discussing something in my house over a nice cup of coffee.

    And in proper English too: I don't use those ambiguous combinations of letters and punctuation to make a smiley face. Or any other shorthand device in place of carefully chosen words that are intended to convey my precise meaning, the meaning intended for the actual person(s) I'm speaking with and no-one else - which I'd say is one of the features of good inter-personal contact.



This blog is public, and I expect comments from many sources and points of view. They will be welcome if sincere, well-expressed and add something worthwhile to the post. If not, they face removal.

Ideally I want to hear from bloggers, who, like myself, are knowable as real people and can be contacted. Anyone whose identity is questionable or impossible to verify may have their comments removed. Commercially-inspired comments will certainly be deleted - I do not allow free advertising.

Whoever you are, if you wish to make a private comment, rather than a public one, then do consider emailing me - see my Blogger Profile for the address.

Lucy Melford