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Sunday, July 8, 2018


 If I am starting up writing here again, possibly best to give a potted biog etc
I'm Sophia Emily Raphaeline, I run what some people think of as one of the world's great bookshops and others that weird place in Kreuzberg .

Cis life
Born in the fifties, hothoused as a child. My mother came from a northern UK working class community and had managed the feat of actually being accepted for university but other 1939 events disrupted such. Hence born to become a project pushed to a reading age of 6 when I was 2 etc etc*
Grew up in and around with strong counter culture values which hopefully still maintain. Went to an english public school, academically gave up on literature and did a joint hons phil/psych at London with sufficient further training to go into branches of cognitive psychology but instead went for occasional property projects and newspaper reading/producing for multinationals and govt. and various private lives. Most years were spent in long and short term straight, reasonably good sexual/romantic relationships with an RA slant, married twice. Buddhist and anarcho syndicalist if I had to come up with stuff for belief systems and of course an avid sf&f reader with suitable beard.
Started Another Country bookshop about 20 years back. It's an english language one in the middle of Berlin and one of the better known world bookshops, chiefly because whilst it might not have the best selection or cater to the more exalted canonical tastes it has a certain character of its own. Fame but no fortune since it's a not-for-profit.

Trans life
About 12 years back I was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and given 3 years to live.
6 - 9 months in and my condition seemed a lot better, though irreversible as a basic. Now it's compensated, meaning that it's damaged and messing up with some stuff but generally consistently muddling through, though this can alter anytime.
1 year in and I changed, dramatically. I, along with 60% of those males with cirrhosis had been undergoing some feminising body features because often the liver damage takes the form of changing testosterone to estrogen. But then I went through an overnight set of changes in terms of perception and some rather basic underlying cognitive structures. 3 months later decided to transition and 3 months after that started. Of course there was a degree of choice in terms of manipulating hormones to try and reverse things, just that it felt  it would be something like standing up to an avalanche and telling it to stop.
I have some training and interests in psychology and in the far past would associate with others who were reseaching their own altered states of consciousness. So when I found myself in such a state I wanted to chart it, to understand exactly how something is impacting on me, treating myself as an experimental subject. So first I was simply checking that nothing had happened like a small stroke  checking myself in terms of physical capabilities and various tasks , puzzle cognitive abilities measures, creative activity changes, going through well worked routines. With few initial results. But every day I was waking up in a different and changing world, along with a deep sense that the changes they evoked in me were somehow purposeful.
Two weeks in and gender was a thing. Becoming everything. It felt like being retuned, like being realigned in some set of deep, fundamental ways. And it was a world where women were far more intelligible, far clearer to me than men. Because I was seeing things the way they were, running an operating system that seemed now aligned more and more with their's. So I had to change and did.
Part of the processes I went through then were like many other trans woman's, the struggle with passing, all the issues to learn in a woman's world. But part was a huge internal change and irrespective of identity have always tried to chart such. It's what I do, I explore, I make rutters, it goes beyond gender. Whilst it's still changing in unexpected ways, think basic neurological changes were mostly done around the four year mark, with social changes ongoing. I'd shed my connections to a personalised past, I changed name, presentation all the while staying at the centre of the community here. And talking to all around and trying to make sense not simply in questions put in terms of vagueness like 'am I a woman?' which for most cases is firm yes,but more around what am I now ? I was a man, now I'm a woman and a being with sufficient agency to use aspects of both from time to time, but all still taking shape.
Basically just another queer, genderqueer RA trans woman who sees transness in terms of being neurologically intersex, one of the hordes. But having the advantage of a rare perspective and training sufficient to explore that in detail, from a cognitive perspective. My pronouns are she and her, and zie and zir. My upcoming birthday will be my 10th, my 21st and my 66th.

Generally I blog about various things with a prime focus of seeing how my own narrative fits with others to understand the nature of transition. Not transition in the general performative way but the transition from testosterone to estrogen based neural systems and how and why these reflect in social gender structures.

*This I take as one of the major reasons why I reacted to hormonal change so violently. I see gender identity formation as first of all arising from the individual's awareness of commonalities with others of the same gender leading to an identification which becomes an integral part of socialisation that in turn helps that identity to be firmly fixed. Whilst I never identified as female, my hothousing made me sufficiently distant from others in terms of commonalities at that critical age that the gender identity process was somewhat attenuated in my case.Not that I ever saw myself as anything but male.

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