Monday, 13 June 2016

Where does all the hatred come from?

Today, as I often do, I listened to the Today programme on Radio 4.

I remember two news stories in particular.

One was the Orlando Shootings. I cannot understand this. How someone builds up such depths of hatred. Or fear. Or whatever it is that drives them to do this. How a person can gun down people.

And there’s another part of me that listens to songs like this, (Great Imperialist State by Simone White):

There's a farmer in a distant country working on the land
A hat upon his head and a shovel in his hand
Till the soil plant the seed wait a while cut the leaf
And send another cup of tea to me

I'm a spoiled child of the great imperialist state
I cannot kill my meat nor grow the food upon my plate
I never walked a mile to the well, when the tap runs dry do tell
What will become of you and me

What will become of us, who will give us trust
Will you believe me when I say I never loved profiting from your pain
That I felt shame when I looked the other way
Woke up this morning, the revolution knocking down my door
Those capitalist pigs? No, they don't live here anymore
Slipped out the back door into my car how far can you drive how far

There's a farmer in a distant country working on the land
Food turned into flowers for the uptown florist stand
What you saved another paid to turn his soil into sand
The world will not deliver on demand

What will become of us who will give us trust
Will you believe me when I say I never loved profiting from your pain
That I felt shame when I looked the other way

You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRlEA0ZTxZ4

And I wonder how we tolerate and perpetuate the inequalities and injustices that are in the world.

I can think of no justification for what happened in Orlando.

I can think of no justification for the things that we tolerate.

I shed tears. And in the small ways that I am able, commit myself to make the changes that I can make that will one day help make a difference.

There was a time that I thought that the answer to the worlds problems lay in Jesus.

Which leads me to the next news item on the Today programme.

There was a news story that’s also mentioned in The Guardian, to say UK state schools get gender-neutral uniforms.

And comments from people that include:

It is so utterly wrong that we allow left wing nut jobs to dictate school policies.

or:

Gender change has never been so explicit. It looks to me a recipe for confusion for many young people who want to have sex with a member of the opposite sex but are denied by a law regulating legality at 16. Hormones for lads are raging for a few years before that. Some will take the first chance of a 'sexual experience' they can and may then feel controlled into that for life. And that is often a boy going with a boy. And many find they are straight and go on to have fulfilled lives

Gender change is as fashion.

or:

These nut jobs will be recommending "gender neutral" toilets and changing rooms soon enough...

I’m glad that not everyone agrees with these comments.

On the radio they interviewed a head teacher at a school that has introduced such a policy. And a lady who said she was offering a Christian viewpoint. Her view seemed to be that if any child is struggling with their gender identity, no matter what the specific circumstances of that child are, the only loving thing to do is to ensure that the child comes round to the idea and practice of living with the gender of their birth.

Andrea Williams, the Chief Executive of Christian Concern has said that this is not only pushing an agenda onto impressionable minds, but it also sets a dangerous precedent for other schools. She says:

To introduce such facilities – seemingly without parental consent – is highly irresponsible of the school. These pupils are of an impressionable age and are in the process of maturing physically. Introducing unisex toilets and uniform is surely to confuse them at the time when they are most in need of reassurance about their God-given identities as male and female.

"We are increasingly seeing boundaries being overstepped, and it is concerning that other schools may follow this example."

 

Personally I don’t believe that there is an agenda in schools to coerce boys into wearing skirts or girls into wearing trousers. I think it’s about allowing people the freedom to be themselves.

Over the weekend I read about Lily Allen and the impact that a stalker had upon her life. That led me to look into some of Lily’s songs, which I’d not done before really. I came across Fuck You  (Very Much). You can listen to it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4NHXvQEOok:

My own style shows more of an incination to engage in constructive dialogue. However … I like the song – it makes a point and, surprisingly, lacks any sense of animosity. And there are times when no amount of dialog seems to make any difference.

The words are something like this:

Look inside
Look inside your tiny mind
Now look a bit harder
'Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired of all the hatred you harbor

So you say
It's not okay to be gay
Well I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Do you get
Do you get a little kick out of being slow-minded?
You want to be like your father
It's approval you're after
Well that's not how you find it

Do you
Do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
'Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
You're losing control of it and it's really distasteful

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate and it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you,
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you,
Fuck you

You say, you think we need to go to war
Well you're already in one,
'Cause its people like you
That need to get slew
No one wants your opinion

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate and it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you

 

There was a thing that I came to believe in the days that I was a Christian. It was that change begins with me. In the end it’s unreasonable to expect the entire world to change if I’m not willing to.

So if I want the world to be less hateful, then I need to begin with myself and my own attitudes and actions.

It’s a surprisingly difficult thing to do, and it is still a work in progress.

I once read the G K Chesterton once responded to the question:

“What’s wrong with the world today?”

With a letter that simply read:

Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours, G.K. Chesterton.

I empathise with that thought.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Gender, washrooms and Bruce Springsteen

I recently received an email from my close friend Laura which included this link.

The text of this is as follows:

April 8, 2016
A statement from Bruce Springsteen on North Carolina

As you, my fans, know I’m scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the “bathroom” law. HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.

 

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Sunday April 10th show is canceled. Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.

This fills me with two feelings.

Firstly a sense of great respect for Bruce Springsteen.

Second. A sense of anger at the people that spend so much time and energy in making life difficult for other people. They want to protect society by preventing transgendered people using washrooms that match the gender with which they identify.

These people need to spend some time meeting with transgendered people. Talking. Listening.

Transgender people are just people.

We just want to be able to live as people.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Pink Punters and the Pink Room

Last Saturday a few of us that go along to Surrey Swans paid a visit to Pink Punters.
It’s the first time I’ve been there in quite a while.
There was Emma, Adele, Mia, Lucy and me.
We had a plan.
Make our own way to the Campanile hotel, just across the road from Pink Punters, to arrive at about 18:00. Change. Meet at the hotel bar at about 19:45. Have a meal at the hotel at about 20:00. Head for Pink Punters at about 21:30. Head back for the hotel by no later than 06:30 on Sunday morning when Pink Punters closes.
As the great poet himself said:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Read on to see if this applies to girls as well as to mice and men.
10:30 and Andrea begins to pack a suitcase. With a mere 5 hours before take-off she’s playing it safe.
This is the trickiest part of the day.
A big suitcase.
Black stockings. White stockings. 
Assorted knickers
White bra. Black bra.
Suspender belt.
Black tights. Tan tights.
There’s a theme of redundancy here, which continues.
White cardigan.
Red dress. Black dress. Purple dress.
Black skirt. Black top.
Flat shoes. Heeled shoes. More heeled shoes.
Boob. Boob.
Hair. Wig cap.
Foundation.
Powder.
Eyeshadow. Eyeshadow.
Did I mention eyeshadow?
Eye liner. Mascara.
Blush. Lipstick.
Powder brush.
Eye brush. Eye brush.
Blush brush.
Perfume.
Makeup remover.
Watch.
Earrings.
Bracelet. Bracelet.
Necklace. Necklace.
Ring. Ring.
Nail file. Nail polish.
Nail polish remover.
Nail clippers.
Cotton wool balls.
Cotton wool buds.
It’s a big suitcase.
Nails are polished before midday. Experience has taught Andrea that nail polish and being in a hurry don’t go together well.
The drive from Windsor to the Campanile hotel is pleasantly uneventful. Aside from the potholes on the quiet Buckinghamshire roads.
At reception by 18:05.
Bleep.
Emma is in room 115.
Andrea is in room 25 by 18:15.
By 18:20 she realises the big suitcase is devoid of moisturising cream.
It could have been worse. Both boobs and hair are there.
Makeup takes about an hour.
Purple dress.
White cardigan.
Tan tights.
Black medium heel shoes.
Phone home.
At the bar by 19:45.
Adele and Mia are sipping drinks.
Emma arrives.
Lucy arrives.
Food and conversation.
A trip back to 125 at about 21:30.
Black skirt.
Black top.
Not so medium heels.
Back to the bar.
The infamous 5 head out the door at about 21:45.
Two are wise.
The rest of us shiver.
There is a grassy patch to be crossed between the car park and the road.
No mud. But a requirement to tippy toe a little when wearing heels.
Where has the entrance been moved to?
Emma heads down the slope.
As a car heads up the slope a thought crosses Andreas mind
maybe the steps are there for a reason.
£7 purchases a little green ticket. Or sometimes a red one.
Handbags are checked.
Two guards smile and say hello as we pass.
Up the steps.
Entrance in exchange for a green ticket. Or a red one.
The dance floor is fairly empty at this time of night. Quiet. But not quiet.
We find the stairs, get some drinks and sit and chat a while.
We are amazed at the amount of technology.
The polar bear is no longer there. Replaced by a bank of technology.
The discovery of the evening remains undiscovered for only a short while.
The Pink Room.
Just to the right of the place once occupied by the polar bear.
A couple of girls from the hotel sit and chat a while. They are here for a hen party, but the hen has not yet arrived. The hen will be in white. The girls are in black. With little wings. They aren’t great fans of the wings.
Mia becomes a bigger and bigger fan of the Pink room.
Photographic evidence is a requirement, it seems.
So here is the Pink room in all of its pinkness.
Andrea
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Mia
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Guess who?
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Emma.
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Mel and Emma.
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Emma, Andrea, Mia, Mel and Molly.
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Lucy and Adele.
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Mia emphasies the need action. Flamboyance. Life.
We met Molly and Mel in the Pink room and spend a while chatting. They’re lovely. Like quite a few girls they go along to Pink Punters partly because it’s a safe place. A grope-free place. As well as being a great place to go.
The conversation through the evening is varied.
Films. Television. Music.
Home Insurance. Computers. Boilers.
Nightclubs.
Bodies. Friendship.
Addiction to Pink rooms.
The Pink Room.
The history of the Surrey Swans.
High heels.
The possibility of Surrey Swans themed evenings:
Goth. School uniform. Lingerie. The colour Pink.

The Pink Punters photographer visits us.
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We dance.
Lucy even dances in the very loud room.
We chat.
Before we know it, its 04:00.
The wise girls collect coats from the cloakroom.
The hen has arrived.
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We walk across a foggy Watling street accompanied by the girls with wings.
The makeup comes off and it’s 05:30 by the time Andrea climbs into bed.
The alarm set for 11:00.
The alarm goes off at 10:45.
Unfortunately, it’s the hotel fire alarm.
Half-dressed by the time the alarm stops, with no need to evacuate.
So, the schemes didn’t Gang aft agley.
All in all, a lovey evening, night and morning.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Bigotted out

I just read an article by Katy Guest in the Independent online here:

The headline is:

When it comes to transgender rights, there’s nothing feminist about being a bigot

The article begins with the words:

Like Maria Miller, who was interviewed in last week’s Independent on Sunday, I am shocked that arguments against giving equal rights to transgender people are coming from women purporting to be feminists. I am a feminist, too, and I can say what a politician can’t: it’s time to accept that bitching about transgender rights is the act of a bigot.

And ends with:

Finally, [some people say] “I’m entitled to my opinion”. You can hold the opinion that all trans people are mauve for all I care, but if you support legislation to deny healthcare, legal support or other basic human rights to mauve people then we have a problem. Please, feminists, listen to yourselves … then listen to Jeremy Clarkson and realise that you sound the same. Transphobia is not feminist; it is about as patriarchal as it comes. And if you really want to talk about men’s violence against women, who do you think is beating up all those trans women – other women? Meanwhile, while you’re busy Googling for evidence that trans people are rapists in disguise, men are still raping women. And, by the way, you are a bigot. Equality means for everybody, not just for women exactly like you.

Take a look at the article for the bits in-between.

At the moment there are 252 comments.

So, what do I think of the article?

And of the comments?

The article, and a fair few of the comments use the word bigot quite a lot.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines the English word as:

a ​person who has ​strong, ​unreasonable ​beliefs and who does not like other ​people who have different ​beliefs or a different way of ​life

The American definition that it gives is:

a ​person who has ​strong, ​unreasonable ​ideas, esp. about ​race or ​religion, and who ​thinks anyone who does not have the same ​beliefs is ​wrong

Merriam Webster defines bigot as:

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Actually, it’s a difficult word to use.

The word bigot I mean.

For instance, if I say to you “you are a bigot” – does that make me a bigot because I am showing intolerance to you?

Am I intolerant if I find it difficult to accept the views of people who I believe to be intolerant?

I tried a web search using the phrase “am I a bigot if I am intolerant of intolerance” and came up with this.

Which led me on to this

Which has the headline:

Close-Minded Man Not Even Willing To Hear Out Argument On Why Homosexuality An Abomination

Which I found quite amusing.

The article I mean.

Anyway, I’m going to get the word out of my system for this posting.

This sentence is the last place you’ll see the word bigot in this post.

The article itself attempts to highlight, and refute, a series of arguments that some people use in articulating why transgender people should be denied certain rights.

This includes arguments such as:

  • Trans women are not real women
  • Trans women should not be allowed into public toilets
  • Trans women must use men’s public toilets and changing rooms
  • Trans women belong in men’s prisons
  • How do they know they’re really female/male?
  • Trans women are not real women because they’ve had different childhoods from “us”
  • “They” have stolen our language and are forcing us to call ourselves “cis women”
  • I’m entitled to my opinion

 

I think the closing paragraph is quite telling. I quoted it above, but in case you missed it here it is again:

You can hold the opinion that all trans people are mauve for all I care, but if you support legislation to deny healthcare, legal support or other basic human rights to mauve people then we have a problem. Please, feminists, listen to yourselves … then listen to Jeremy Clarkson and realise that you sound the same. Transphobia is not feminist; it is about as patriarchal as it comes. And if you really want to talk about men’s violence against women, who do you think is beating up all those trans women – other women? Meanwhile, while you’re busy Googling for evidence that trans people are rapists in disguise, men are still raping women. And, by the way, you are a ????. Equality means for everybody, not just for women exactly like you.

You’ll need to work out what the ???? is because I said I wouldn’t use that word again in this post.

On balance, I go along with that last paragraph.

And then there are the comments that people left.

I find some of them are quite depressing.

There are 255 of them now.

I know I have biases.

I know that it’s possible for men to dress up as women for all kinds of reasons.

I know.

Honestly.

I know.

But you know, I believe gender is more complex than “them” and “us”. “Male” and “female”. “Woman” and “man”. It’s not just biology.

I know about how I feel.

Though I don’t always understand it.

I have spent time talking with people.

Listening to their words.

Sharing their feelings.

And I know that when someone says “I had an exchange with 2 trans advocates the other day, and they were the most vicious, cultists. Just how people describe them” they aren’t describing any of the trans people that I know.

Or when someone else says “I'm not taking over or appropriating, nor am I an activist. I just want to go about my daily business without feminists screaming at me to f off. But I agree wholeheartedly with you about crossdressers being part of the trans community. It's not pc of me to say so, but those are not transwomen.”

I think of the people that I know.

And think of myself.

And, you know.

We just want to go about our daily business without anyone telling us to f off.

And the impression given by some people that trans people who do not plan to transition are always motivated only by be some kind of sexual fetish.

Well.

I know that this is not true.

And finally.

I know that some people might see me as being like the Close-Minded Man Not Even Willing To Hear Out Argument On Why Homosexuality An Abomination.

But then again, I also might see them as being a bit like him.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Gender Equality

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything here. It’s not that nothing has happened. Just that other things compete for time.

I was prompted into putting fingertips to keyboard by an article I read on the BBC News Website entitled UK a long way from transgender equality, MPs say.

In a way it makes sad reading.

Almost always when chatting with friends, there is a general feeling that things are much better for transgendered people now than they were just a few years ago. But the article shows just how imperfect the situation is.

There’s a copy of the full report that the BBC News article refers to here. The full report runst to almost 100 pages. Here is the summary. It’s not totally bleak. But it doesn’t make for very happy reading. Let’s hope that it makes a difference over the coming weeks, months and years.

Fairness and equality are basic British values. A litmus test for any society that upholds those values is how far it protects even the most marginalised groups. Britain has been among the countries going furthest in recognising lesbian, gay and bisexual rights, but we are still failing this test in respect of trans people, despite welcome progress.

High levels of transphobia are experienced by individuals on a daily basis (including in the provision of public services)—with serious results. About half of young trans people and a third of trans adults attempt suicide. The recent deaths in custody of two trans women, and the case of a trans woman who was placed in a men’s prison, are particularly stark illustrations of the issues.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 was pioneering but is now dated. Its medicalised approach pathologises trans identities and runs contrary to the dignity and personal autonomy of applicants. The Government must update the Act, in line with the principle of gender self-declaration.

Trans people feel strongly that the provision on spousal consent under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 gives spouses an effective “veto” on gender recognition.

However, marriage is a legal contract between two consenting parties, the terms of which cannot be changed without the consent of both. We do, though, take very seriously the possibility that this provision may be used by spouses with malicious intent.

Protection for trans people under the Equality Act 2010 was a huge step forward.

However, the terms “gender reassignment” and “transsexual” in the Act are outdated and misleading; and may not cover wider members of the trans community. The protected characteristic should be amended to that of “gender identity”.

The NHS is letting down trans people: it is failing in its legal duty under the Equality Act.

Trans people encounter significant problems in using general NHS services, due to the attitude of some clinicians and other staff who lack knowledge and understanding—and in some cases are prejudiced. The NHS is failing to ensure zero tolerance of transphobic behaviour. GPs too often lack understanding and in some cases this leads to appropriate care not being provided. A root-and-branch review must be conducted, completed and published by the NHS.

We agree with the Chair of the NHS National Clinical Reference Group for Gender Identity Services that: “not treating people [for gender dysphoria] is not a neutral act—it will do harm.” We strongly welcome the trend towards depathologising trans identities.

There is a clear and strong case that delaying treatment for young people risks more harm than providing it. We are also concerned that Gender Identity Services continue to be provided as part of mental-health services, giving the impression that trans identity is a disease or disorder of the mind.

There are serious concerns about treatment protocols in Gender Identity Services, particularly regarding “Real-Life Experience” prior to genital surgery. However, we are unconvinced by the argument that the NHS should simply grant on demand whatever treatment patients request.

It is also important to build trans people’s confidence in the criminal justice system.

We welcome the Government’s willingness to strengthen hate-crime legislation. The existing provisions on aggravated offences and stirring up hatred should be extended to all protected characteristics. The Government’s new hate-crime action plan must include mandatory training for police officers on transphobic hate crime; and the promotion of third-party reporting. The Government must also work with the courts to tackle the issue of trans people being “outed” inappropriately in court.

Across the board, government departments are struggling to support trans people effectively, with the 2011 Advancing Transgender Equality action plan remaining largely unimplemented. The Government must agree a new strategy which it can deliver with full cross-departmental support.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Bournemouth, Bra Wars and Bleeding Ears

Friday morning at 8 o’clock as the day begins.

Usually Friday means work. This Friday it marks the beginning of an Andrea weekend.

The weekend really begins on Thursday night with packing. The suitcase is large enough to keep Andy in clothing for a month. For Andrea it’ll be ok for two nights. It’s the shoes. And the dresses. And the makeup. Hair. Boobs. And all those other essentials and not-so essentials. After the packing there are toe nails and fingernails to paint.

Friday itself … shave, shower, makeup and dress.

Tina arrives as Sally leaves. Dress and makeup.

Suitcases into the car. Leaving just enough room for the two of us. A neighbour is cutting grass and pays us no attention.

Legoland … Ascot ... Bagshot … M3 … M27 … A31.

We catch up as Tina drives.

Ringwood. Coffee and sandwiches at the Boston Tea Party. Cheese and ham for one, bacon bap for the other.

(This photo of Ringwood is courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Andrea needs to visit the ladies.

“Upstairs, through the door” says the waitress.

Andrea goes upstairs.

There’s a doorway.

And more stairs.

Andrea goes upstairs.

And through the doorway.

Looks right. Looks left.

There are no signs.

But there’s a door at the end. See it?

(This photo of Ringwood is courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Alas, the door is locked.

“Can I help?” asks a man who is sitting on the right … just about where the lady is sitting in the picture.

“Downstairs, through the door” says the man in response to Andrea’s query.

Andrea goes downstairs.

And through the doorway.

Looks right. Looks left.

There’s a sign.

And that part of the journey is over.

Tina has a much shorter journey.

A few more miles and here we are at Bournemouth.

We buy a few bits and pieces and reach the hotel at about 15:00.

Check-in, drop the bags in the room and a trip to the bar.

We order a maybe-not-so-girlie Guinness each.

Danielle pops over to say hello and welcome.

We are at the TV Extravaganza Weekend

There are just about as many TVs at the hotel as there are TVs at the hotel.

Round about 6 pm is the group fancy dress photo. For those with fancy dress. Very fancy.

The headmistress is especially eye catching.

Then dinner and the dance.

We are amazed at the number of  outfit changes that we’ve witnessed.

Sleep.

Breakfast ends at 9:30 am.

Andy could sleep until 9:00 am and still make it.

Andrea needs somewhat longer.

07:45 and the alarm sounds.

Just enough time for the transformation and to be at breakfast by 09:15.

Miss TV Bournemouth is to be followed by the Beau Belles.

Tina and Andrea help bolster the audience.

Dresses and interviews.

Swimsuits and interviews.

And then .. would I mind being a judge for the Beau Belle competition?

A Beau Belle might look a little like this:

 

We three judges ponder as each Belle is interviewed.

The scores are counted and Lindy Loo is crowned. The picture above isn’t Lindy Loo … it’s just one that I found courtesy of a Google search.

Tina and Andrea set out to visit Bournemouth Pier.

Chine Crescent.

Durley Chine Road.

West Cliff Road.

Priory Road … well maybe.

We’re thinking about the return journey. And the steepness of the hill.

So it’s a right turn down Beacon Road instead.

And here is Tina, with the pier in the background.

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And a windswept looking me.

 

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Then back to the New Westcliff via the newsagent.

It’s time for a change of attire and the barn dance.

Which is where the wars begin.

I don’t recall the name of the dance.

It involves moving round in a big circle, passing people,, hand to hand, who are moving the opposite way.

Once in a while you stop. Hold hands with the person you are about to pass. Raise hands and arms in the air and each spin around.

Andrea discovers that her bra and boob combination were not designed with this manoeuvre in mind.

The boobs escape.

Thankfully the dress that she is wearing saves the day. Or at least it saves the boobs and they don’t make a clean escape.

Walking around the circle isn’t so much hand to hand for Andrea any more as she fights to return her breasts to captivity.

The sweet thing is that though people realise why Andrea isn’t able to shake hands at the moment, no one is at all phased.

Soon it’ll be time for cocktails.

Makeup needs replacing … well … at least from the nose down. The chin bristles are beginning to make their presence felt. They need to be removed.

I wonder? Can I manage to make up half a face?

It goes like this.

Makeup remover onto the neck, cheeks, chin and above the lips.

Shave.

Re-apply foundation, powder, blush and lipstick.

And it works and saves ages … no new eye shadow, liner or mascara

Half a makeup.

Cocktails and the group photo.

The conversation is broad.

Conchita.

The general election.

Immigration.

The fact that one of the girls isn’t able to leave her house dressed as a girl because there was a period when trans-phobic youths would throw bricks through her window.

Dinner and then the dance.

Complete with a Turkish male belly dancer.

We retire to the bar.

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Nikki drops by and poses for some pictures on the bar.

Which leaves sleep and breakfast.

We stop by at Mudeford.

We almost stop by at Beaulieu.

At Lyndhurst we have a sandwich and coffee.

A fair amount of time is spent in the loo, recapturing boobs that have somehow escaped again.

At home it’s another half a makeup before heading to Surrey Swans.

There are a few less people than usual but there are quite a few girls that are relative newcomers and it’s really lovely to talk with them a little as well as with Emma, Carol and Tina.

On Monday I begin to realise the perils of clip-on earrings.

On the phone with an itching earlobe that I rub a little I notice the red stains on my fingers.

I think it’s the first time I’ve had bleeding earlobes.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Unconditional love and the death of a teenager

There’s a story in the news today about Leelah Alcorn. It’s in the Independent here and the Daily Mail here.

The articles mention that 17 year old Leelah committed suicide and that a contributing factor in this was her Christian parent’s inability to accept Leelah’s gender identity.

Leelah’s mother says that she loved her son unconditionally, but seems unable to use the word daughter.

I’ve spent a while reading through some of the comments that readers of the Daily Mail article have made.

To me it seems that there are some very harsh things being said.

Some people believe that all religions are evil and intolerant. That the influence of religion on people is always bad.

And some religious people make comments that seem to confirm this stereotypical view of religion.

As often seems to be the case, a surprisingly large number of people seem to think that there is a single one size fits all solution to dealing with transgender issues and religious beliefs. Unfortunately the one size fits all answers that are offered by different people are different.

There was a time when I viewed myself as being a Bible believing born again evangelical Christian. Not a fundamentalist. But I believed things like the apostles creed.

There were some things that I found difficult. The idea of hell, for example. And the concept that even though God is love and God loves everyone, it was likely that the vast majority of all people that have ever lived would be spending an eternity in hell.

I think that when people believe this, the result can be that they do a lot of seemingly unloving things with a motivation of what they believe is love.

If a person believes that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are bound for an eternity in hell then it might seem loving to do almost anything that would save them from it.

In some ways I think this helps me understand the feelings and actions of Leelah’s parents.

But, it doesn’t stop me feeling and believing that they are wrong. Just as I believe that I was wrong. In offering Leelah what they believed to be “unconditional love”, they seem to actually have been attaching all kinds of conditions to it.

There’s an article that’s worth reading: What to know, say and understand.

In fact, not all Christians share the views and beliefs of Leelah’s parents. It depends upon how they interpret the Bible.

I know Christians that don’t associate homosexuality and transgender with “sin”.

I also know other Christians that say that people with such views are not Christians.

I’ve never actually met a Christian that takes these words of Jesus literally:

"He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise."

But I have heard Christians explain why they should not be taken literally.

These days I don’t see myself as being Christian. Some would associate this with dogs and vomit, pigs and mud. My own feelings are more complex than that.