A couple of days ago I found myself involved in an online conversation with a lady named Berry. Of course, I don't expect that berry is her name and I have no way of knowing that she is a lady.
She said she lives in Romania.
We talked a little about society and she asked me what life in the UK is like ... is it less rigid than it used to be.
I said yes ... it's different than it used to be. She seemed suitably impressed.
After a while I mentioned that I sometimes cross dress.
"What ... you dress like a woman?"
"mm ... well ... yes."
I pointed her in the direction of my blog.
A few minutes of silence.
"Are you shocked?"
"Yes. It makes me think of Goering and Boy George."
These thoughts make me smile.
Berry works as a chemical engineer. She plans to learn computer programming in her spare time. She asks about the programming languages I use and we discuss the merits of C#.
She is thinking about setting up a web site, but thinks that there ought to be a way of segregating the Internet. I think she means a way of fixing it so that serious stuff doesn't get all mixed up with personal stuff. Maybe a way of making sure that blogs written by tgirls don't get mixed up with blogs written by "normal" people.
She is a vegetarian. She says she is a naturist.
"You don't have any clothes on?" I ask.
She laughs in a "hahaha" kind of way, and we work out that she means environmentalist.
Being a tgirl is just as unnatural as eating meat.
She is mildly appalled at whatever has happened to England. Why should there be so many men that want to dress like ladies? It must be that someone or something is filling people with unnatural desires or stresses. Somehow forcing people into a way of life that is not of their choosing. She thinks that if people could get to understand this then they would be freed from the need to cross dress.
Now for an admission. I watch quite a lot of Star Trek. I know. In some people's eyes this is more weird than a guy taking pleasure in wearing stockings. Be that as it may, I'm reminded of a Star Trek Next Generation episode where they visit a planet that has eradicated the concept of gender. No masculine, no feminine. Or so it seems. One of the citizens of the genderless planet ends up working with Commander Riker. It seems that once in a while a citizen begins to realise that they actually want to be female or male. She wants to be female. Of course, they fall in love. But, those that discover gender have to hide. They have to pretend to be like everyone else for fear of being found out. Of course, she gets found out. She is treated. She is cured. She is no longer she.
I explain to Berry, that for me it seems the opposite. For every tgirl that I know it was the opposite. The pressure and stress is all about hiding it. Feeling guilty about it. Denying it. The freedom is in being able to embrace it.
I try to explain that not so long ago, society in the UK was so rigid that for a man to be dressed as a woman was kind of appalling. But that things, in that respect at least, are getting better ... less rigid.
Of course, a long time ago it was quite normal for a man to wear a wig and skirts.
I get the feeling that Berry and Andrea have different understandings about what "less rigid" means.
She seems to think that if stuff were more segregated then it would be healthier. After all, she says, urine and blood should not be mixed. I'm not at all sure about the relevance of this analogy to anything that we've been talking about. It sounds like the beginnings of a justification for apartheid.
Me ... I'm more of an integrationist than a separatist. I see things in shades of grey rather than black and white.
It seems that developing this greyness happens as people grow older and it's not restricted to hair colouration.
Of course, some would say that it is a bad thing. A loss of conviction. A sign of unacceptable compromise.
For me, it's an acceptance of diversity. A conviction that wherever there are two extremes, there are usually a whole load of places somewhere between the extremes. And it's not wrong to be somewhere in between.
I see gender in this way. If there is an ultimate macho male and an ultimate girlie girl, there are a lot of people that are somewhere in between. In fact, most of the people that I know are somewhere in between.
There are, of course, nice people and nasty people at all positions along this male ... female continuum. The fact that Herman Goering may have been a transvestite has no more significance than the fact that Adolf Hitler wasn't.
Ideas of extremes and of segregation are ideas that bother me.