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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Past oddities

I remember a time in my twenties when I was going up Fleet Street reading a book and walked straight into a lamppost. Actually this has not been the only time such a thing has happened to me by any means, but this was the time I thought to myself - 'Ah, that's the sort of person I am', accompanied by a vague mental image of professor branestawm. And that may have led me to not focus too much on whether elements in my lifestyle were evidential of underlying oddities since I've always seen myself as overbalanced toward a life of ideas. Additionally I was quite aware of having a lot of privileges - race, class, money, gender,etc -  that I didn't mind using to make sure I was always working at something I've wanted to and to lead my life relatively free of a fair number of conventions. That something I justified to myself by trying to support communities I found myself in and to sabotage the roots of privilege as I saw them. How far that was true and how much a cover for simple self-indulgence, others can judge.
At this point perhaps I should give my relationship history. I have the feeling that most trans people lead relatively conventional relationship lives, excepting young transitioners, and presume that that comes from the trans condition being an overriding factor. Or people living other lives on the internet.
Myself I have not led a particularly conventional relationship life. It started off reasonably enough, a couple of brief girlfriends around 17 and then living together, marrying and being divorced by a woman, having helped produce my only child, all in a decade or so.But one or two odd things. It was an open marriage for the last few years, for one thing. And my emotional relationships with friends were more substantial than usual, in a non-sexual way. Through and after this I was also part of a sort of extended family scene with my best male friend at it's centre : a network of mutual friendship mediated by my friend, myself and 2 or 3 other people, including a small music circle, building people, esalen grads and others. That was a strong force in the next few years, though I had a number of short terms things. I've never really had or wanted some sort of one night stand. There is one real oddity I had in that I wasn't jealous ( as in not really knowing the emotion rather than simply not feeling too much of it). That always caused problems. I'd several times had a story from her that a girlfriend had slept with someone else,and responded normally with mild curiosity. Not a productive thing to do. And then there were the nights of endlessly discussing one girlfriends boyfriends sexual dysfunction and possible therapy which did get a bit boring, though he was a nice guy as I recall.
Anyway my 30's and early forties were taken up with brief and often very sexual things, friends close enough to verge on the romantic, a second marriage to a lovely woman who I still talk to, and another decade long relationship. The first few years of that were great, the last horrible and not really I think with any fault there. My best friend, who I'd been a major care giver for, suicided during a situation that was already highly stressful for me and my girlfriend who was also living with him and others in a shared house. She went back to europe, I followed going also to the foreign wing of the extended family.I hurt, I mourned and started to drink far too much as some sort of numbing. That's up to the same point of time as my last post.
A couple of further things. Since my 20's there'd also been a significant romantic thing with a woman who I tended to see at entirely the wrong times over a 20 year period - one or other of us being otherwise engaged. Don't think it ever destabilised anything, though can never be sure.
Hope none of this sounds like I saw myself as anything studlike. I've always tried to have a full measure of equality and sharing in relationships, be a general supporter of feminist issues within them etc, partly out of sheer distaste at striking a more primally male posture.
Friendships could often freight more emotionally than relationships and possibly I did always have somewhat more close female friends than male.
Does any of this really make for a secret trans history ? Really not sure because though I can see it as odd, it could be odd for all sorts of other reasons.
To end, another moment of self realisation, this time sans lamppost and sans the clarity of that other thought. It came during a time when I was socialising a lot in sf fandom and would go to the large monthly meetings. It came to me as I was sitting with a group of people who often spent these events at the same table with me. There was a woman who built large metal scuptures. Another who was going through her prime as a domina,( for some reason I've known a large number of dominas as friends) The third was a lesbian feminist taking a phd as part of her academic career, with whom I had a close relationship, emotionally,intellectually and stylistically (goth at the time). And it came to me that this was the kind of person I was, the sort to sit and talk and be comfortable in this kind of company.
Odd maybe.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Past secrets

Perhaps the strangest change is how I look back on my life. The bare facts remain in memory but the meanings are now so elusive. What kind of a man was I to slip so smoothly from that chrysalis ? Can I lump my various discontents together and say that those were really gender constraints ? Do I have a secret history, one I was never aware of, that now becomes visible in retrospect ?
Anyway, to start with facts. I was born in London in the early '50s, brought up on the SE outskirts and then moved back in for about 20 years. My parents were prosperous middle class, my father an east end boy made good in business, my mother a teacher. I was a hot housed child ; the sort that had read most of Shakespeare and had a fair grasp of 19thC novels by secondary school. My mother had been precluded from going to university to read english by faulty timing,( entry scheduled in 1939 ), and was determined that I should vicariously fulfil her ambition. I attended a minor public school as a day pupil and, given that it didn't change from single sex before I left, am possibly now the oldest old girl extant.
I was an odd child in many ways. I rarely had a fixed group of friends and had no love for male competition. At about 11 I stopped putting much effort into school work because most was too simple. This was not an attitude which found favour with my parents, who promptly shipped me off to an educational psychologist who further perplexed them with an IQ test - generally I've been a lot closer to 200 than 100. I'd also worked out that school sports were really evolution in action, and devoted considerable efforts to avoid the most obviously homicidal ones,rugby,cricket etc. I did join the school cadet corps and on a camp at the age of 14 the sixties really opened up through the benevolent actions of a couple of members of the parachute regiment who were happy to sell some of their marijuana to a group of schoolboys.
And that helped usher in a lot of difference. In terms of the values and life style I had in later life, much came from '60s counter culture. Necessarily somewhat of a weekend freak, still remember Grosvenor Square, the concert in the park, etc etc.There was music - I had a friend whose father was an assistant bank manager. He got hold of the tickets his manager didn't want that were received automatically because of owning a box in the Albert Hall, so nearly every rock concert there... I helped groups involved in helping draft dodgers get to europe, read Oz and IT religiously, got clothes from  Lord Kitcheners Valet and Biba and shared a dealer with the Pink Floyd. Academically I gave up literature after half a degree and then got a bsc phil / psych. Qualified as a teacher, did some further courses and work as a therapist and then ran my own business for the Thatcher years reading newspapers. I produced homemade newspapers from the nationals and internationals based on relatively complex briefs for multinationals and government. For a period Maggie would be reading my selection on waking, but I really do disclaim any responsibility for any consequencies. Lived opposite Di but would often hang out in Irish or Carribean neighbourhoods.
And then there were the other things. Always had some kind of property involvement from renovating my own places to helping out with a couple of family owned housing. My drug life was limited in quantity but high on quality and engagement. Mental exploration through psychedelics was a serious thing, and I mixed with a number of psychologists and magic chemists of similar persuasion. I don't particularly like to go into spiritual values, so simply I was buddhist by philosophy, an initiate within the western hermetic tradition by practice.
Relationships I came to late. Lived with and married one of my first girlfriends, divorced with one child. Never been anything but straight sexually, though experiencing the occasional threesomes and the odd group. Some of my very best friends have been dominas, but I never really made that scene. Never went for one night stands, never hugely into PIV sex, and my friends have been more female than male, and included a fair number of lesbians, though few gays.
When I think of trans precursors, there are a few things. I've always felt isolated from a lot of people around me, certainly never placed a value in being macho or on identifying as male whilst I did on having feminist attitudes, went for emotional rather than sexual connections.Conformist is a word never used about me, eccentric only too frequently - think you have to be English to understand just how insulting that is. One of the most fulfilling relationships of my 30s was with a lesbian separatist. Still and all, never crossed my mind that I wasn't male. Were times when I found it hard to think of myself as human, but then I'm a serious science fiction /fantasy fan/critic so....The only time I can actually remember ever wanting to be a woman was in order to attend Sara Lefanu's feminism in sf course from which my anatomical sex barred me.
Never had any desire at all to cross dress. But was one of the Kings Road exotics (just before punk hit the scene) and my clothes sense has always been different. A good friend, who's now a fashion blogger, once told me when I complained of people looking at me when I wasn't trying to make any sort of fashion statement that '****, you are a fashion statement'. Never had to wear anything for business more than a couple of times a year so it just...evolved that way. I'm rather more conservative now, and do not, for example, wear antique kimono jackets on the street.
I guess that goes up to the late 80s, early 90s, so to be continued...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

While the iron is lukewarm

Besides interpersonal dramas, the main reason I haven't posted anything recently is a succession of different mobility issues and being on and off pain killers, a state of mind that I find sabotages writing. And the days when I've had pain free walking capabilty, I've usually done just that. But it's about 6 outside and here I am with a quick roundup.
One thing I've been spending a lot of time on has been looking back on being a guy and the various cognitive differences. I've shied away from that in the past for a number of reasons. Chief, though, was the totally irrational fear of somehow slipping back. The sudden nature and relative involuntariness of my initial hormonal transition leaves me wary about such. Interesting process now, though, working out how all those pieces of armour laced themselves together.
Things get a lot more normal now. I celebrated my 14th birthday recently - it seemed about time, and hope to make 16 by next halloween. Physical changes still happening ; less and less body hair, boobs fitting nicely in a 42C, when I'm not dieting, and some mild redistribution of weight still. As to rather more desirable physical alterations, I'll be changing my liver specialist soon, for a number of reasons, and hopefully the next one will be slightly more amenable to surgical options.
Also actually trying using a bit more makeup. I've used eye shadow, occasionally mascara but normally dying lashes, and moisturiser on a constant basis, but rarely anything else. It might not really be age appropriate behaviour, but most of my friends are about 30 years younger than me and most are insistent that I don't buy into the cosmetics industry.  But the occasional bit of variety is fun.
Clothes and I'm steadily moving to solids. Ocasionally browns but more usually black with red and or green. Always a bit of a surprise that I can wear those sorts of colours which I'd normally avoid as a guy. I wear skirts about 50 weeks a year. My place is only a courtyard walk from my flat so apart from odd forays to the local shops I dress for indoors and as flamboyantly as I choose, though I go extreme in that way far less often than when I was a guy. Still difficult to gauge who I'm really dressing for, in the way of sexual orientation. Really need to get out to a few queer places, or more preferably have the occasional queer trans night at my place.
And I suppose also considering the more spiritual aspects of transition. Rereading 'Splendor Solis' rather avidly and examining how my prime significator seems to have moved from Tammuz to Nuith, chariot to star.
 Reading and, from a trans perspective I'd really recommend China Mieville's 'The city and the city'. Never very much liked the author. New Crobuzon was a nice creation but hardly 'Ambergris' and The iron council' has been on my shelf of evil books for ages. But this time with a less original idea and none of his usual bells and whistles he's written a really quite engaging novel with a metaphorical city of especial trans interest. And a warning for fantasy readers. People are saying R Scott Bakker has really improved with the first two of his second trilogy. He hasn't. Another warning for more conventional readers. The sun does not shine out of Miranda July's ... prose.
Hopefully a coming outish post next time and soon.