Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Transgender Students in Schools in the USA

There’s an interesting new item at:

The article begins with:

In one short paragraph of a 34-page memo released on Dec. 1, the Department of Education articulated a clear stance on gender identity, saying transgender students in public schools should be enrolled in single-sex classes that align with how they live their lives day-to-day.

The memo is explicit that federal law protects students’ decisions made in accordance with their gender identity. “Under Title IX,” it reads, a school “must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrolment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”

It is, I believe, good news for all people that have open minds and hearts.

Surrey Swans, Police People and LAGLOs

Last Sunday Surrey Swans had a visit from a Surrey Police LAGLO, Jo along with Carol and Michelle.

You can read about it here. It was a really informative evening with over 20 people coming along.

I went along in a dress like this:




Which would have looked more like this if it had been a bit shorter:





Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Jennifer Gable

Here and here is a story of “Jennifer Gable, Transgender Woman, Presented As Man At Her Funeral” and “Friends anger as father dresses dead transgender daughter as a man in an open casket because he refused to accept her new identity”. It’s very sad that Jennifer’s father seems to have been unable to be happy that she had discovered her self and felt such an overwhelming need to bury her as someone that she was not.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Touched by the music of Martyn Joseph

Last Saturday I went along to a Martyn Joseph concert at Windsor Baptist Church.

I’d been to a concert of his at Nettlebed Folk Club a year or two ago and I think once in the dim distant past sometime … maybe at Greenbelt.

And … well … wow.

So many songs touched me. It’s not often that I have felt so moved at a concert.

Here are a few songs.

So Many Lies

So Many Lies–Martyn Joseph


The words are here. I think there is a typo in the chorus at the beginning which is actually:

So many lies, such a small world
So many lies, day by day by day by day
I say we find some snow, and throw it their way
So many lies, such a short day

I was especially touched by the words of the final verse:

I’ve seen it all
Got my mind fixed in the dark
Fundamental thuggery
With reserved places to park
But there’ll always be snowmen
And bright angels in boots
To kiss the world beautiful
And to raise up hell with the truth

Such a wonderful contrast between fundamental thuggery and bright angels in boots to kiss the world beautiful.

And then here is People Crazy Like Me.

People Crazy as Me–Martyn Joseph

Always thought a man should have a dream
To pick himself up when he’s hit the floor
A fundamental right to some equality
In case some old bigot comes knocking at his door

Always thought a woman she should have the same
With equal rights attached to her name
Maybe they could raise a little family
And pass the message onto somebody

I look around sometimes I see
People crazy as me

Always thought the needy should come first
Lighten their burden, lift the curse
And give the old something new
Like our grateful hearts for all they’ve been through

I never thought that we should see them sick
As we take away the hospitals brick by brick
And build our stadiums up so high
Got a little contradiction here in my eye

I look around sometimes I see
People crazy as me

Always thought a child should have the chance
To be embraced by love and with her dance
To make mistakes but know the touch of grace
And if you beat on them then you’re a disgrace

Always give the time of day to anyone
Don’t be ignorant and don’t you poke fun
Don’t just deal with those who can give you gain
You should treat everybody just the same

Don’t think we’re supposed to understand
Every card placed in our hand
But I think that we are meant to know
We are not alone, we are not alone

Always thought that we should live with hope
But never trample on those who just can’t cope
With righteousness not far away
A little bit of redemption gonna save the day

I look around sometimes I see
People crazy as me
I look around sometimes I see
People crazy as me


and here is Kiss the World Beautiful:

Kiss the World Beautiful–Martyn Joseph


and The Luxury of Despair:

The Luxury of Despair–Martyn Joseph


And He Never Said is here:

He Never Said–Martyn Joseph

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Gender Fundamentalism

The New American has an article here with the headline: The Transgender Con? Many “Transgender” People Regret Switch.

Interestingly when I read the article there was an advertisement for hormone therapy included.

The New American article led me to an article here in The Federalist, headed Trouble In Transtopia: Murmurs Of Sex Change Regret.

The New American also led me to which is put together by Walt Heyer.

I’ve read the two articles and some of Walt Heyer’s web site.

I was left with the impression of people that have decided that whatever their own personal experiences are, then everyone must be the same. With almost no room for diversity.

I was intending to put together some kind of a critique of this but came across this article headed Walt Heyer, the Fallacious Transsexual written by Alison Hudson.

Alison’s article is very full of insight …  which is shorthand for saying that I agree pretty much with all that she says there. That doesn't mean it’s correct of course … but read what she has to say and see what you think. The refreshing thing is that Alison doesn’t claim to have all the answers. Walt Heyer, on the other hand. Well he’s much more of a fundamentalist and crusader.

Some of Alison’s words:

I am not going to judge Heyer’s personal experience nor his decision to detransition. That’s a private journey and only he can be the judge of it. What I will take issue with, however, is the way he’s chosen to turn his negative experience into a crusade against SRS [Sexual Reassignment Surgery] and the transgender community.

his [Walt Heyer’s]view on the matter: perverted gender imposters and greedy surgeons are going to get your kids if you don’t fight back! Won’t someone think of the children?

The main ways that Heyer backs up his extreme position are overemphasizing the importance of individual studies, cherry-picking data, and relying on a fallacious black-and-white view of the debate,. These are tactics are straight out of the pseudoscience playbooks of the anti-vaccination and anti-GMO movements.

In a larger sense, all of these flaws expose Heyer’s true problem: confirmation bias. He has an agenda that he is promoting, and therefore he selectively presents and overemphasizes the import of anything that agrees with his view while dismissing science that does not agree. Ironically, he accuses his opponents of “ignor[ing] studies that do not support their fabricated false information.” I’m sorely attempted to invoke the “takes one to know one” defense here.

In addition to these flaws, there’s the simple fact of Heyer’s general anti-trans rhetoric. He uses terms like “delusional” and “gender-imposters” when referring to transgender people, and calls transgender advocates “gender non-compliant activists” and “pushers of sex change.” He’s clearly not interested in an open dialogue, and certainly not interested in changing his mind.

Ultimately, is Heyer right about trans being purely a mental disorder? The scientific jury is still out. But his approach to defending his position is full of the worst sort of pseudoscientific flaws. It’s selectively edited, riddled with fallacy, and shackled by a concrete anti-trans agenda. It’s hard to take his conclusions seriously when they are so poorly argued in so many ways.

And here are some of Walt Heyer’s words taken from his blog here:

Transgenders want laws that protect them so they can provoke others with their often flamboyant, even obnoxious, behaviors. They want legal protections as transgenders so they can freely provoke, taunt and bully non-transgenders, secure in knowing they are protected from any consequences.

A bit further up he does say, in a smaller and not-so-bold typeface:

We are not talking about the transgenders who prefer to remain under the radar, blending in unnoticed. This discussion is about the gender non-compliant activists who want to be in your face, not blending in at all.

I guess that, like Alison:

I am not going to judge Heyer’s personal experience nor his decision to detransition. That’s a private journey and only he can be the judge of it.

But none of the transgender people that I know want laws to protect them so they can provoke others.

They are just people that are trying to get by.

Does that mean that there are no transgendered people on the planet that have obnoxious behaviours?

Of course it doesn’t.

People who are transgender are a diverse bunch.

People are diverse.

And so are their needs.

The real problem that I have with Walt Heyer is that based upon the experiences of some people, he develops an entire ideology that he seeks to impose upon all people.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Indoctrination and Intolerance … the places where Fundamental Christianity and Islam Meet?

I came across an article in the Sun Daily of Malaysia here.

The headline is:

Idris Haron: Resolve transgender issues through education

The headline sounded kind of groovy.

But then I read the article:

Posted on 15 November 2014 - 05:27pm
Last updated on 15 November 2014 - 06:42pm

ALOR GAJAH: Issues relating to transgender should be resolved through educating society on the trend, said Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron.

He said for society to understand issues on lesbianism, homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender, efforts must be taken at the early stage through education.

"It is good if we could introduce the subject either through social learning or religious classes to emphasise that such behaviour is prohibited in Islam.

"Should they be inclined towards transgender, and they are aware that the act is against the teachings of Islam, they would restrain from such activities," he told Bernama here today.

Idris said a system should be established to curb transgender activities and ban Muslim men from dressing as women in the country.

"Although being transgender is considered a human right and curbing transgender activities is deemed an abuse of human rights, action must be taken as transgender activities are a threat to Islam and the state," he said. – Bernama

RH Reality Check has an article here with the headline “Why Conservative Christians Fear the Affirmation of Transgender Identity” that mentions:

At its annual meeting this past June, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)—one of the largest Christian denominations in the world—passed a landmark resolution on the issue of transgender rights, making its stance on trans* people an official part of the doctrine.

The resolution says, in part, that SBC’s leaders “condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against [transgender individuals].” But they also resolve that no efforts should be made to “alter one’s bodily identity (e.g. cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery) to bring it in line with one’s perceived gender identity,” and that they “continue to oppose steadfastly all efforts by any court or state legislature to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy.”

In other words, even as the SBC ostensibly condemns physical aggression against trans* individuals, it has resolved to support state and institutional violence against the same people.

So maybe fundamentalist Christians and Muslims may not like the same things, they maybe hate some of the same things. United in their intolerances.

I almost wrote something beginning “it’s surprising that these days it seems that it is religious people that want to be legally exempt from treating people with equality, fairness, justice and dignity.”

But then I reflected a little.

And really, looking at the history of fundamentalist religion, it seems that this has always been the case. Fundamentalist religions of all kinds have a tendency to persecute anyone that is different from them. And where they can get away with it, that persecution has often times been merciless.

I’m not of the opinion that all religions are inherently bad. Or that all religious people are bad.

But, as time passes, I become more and more convinced that all kinds of fundamentalism are not just misguided, but that they have an evil influence upon people.

It seems that when a fundamentalist talks about education they generally mean indoctrination.

Toilets, transgender and transphobia

We’re hoping for a visit from a LAGLO from Surrey Police at the Surrey Swans meeting that is scheduled for November 30th

I emailed my Surrey Swans contact list to ask if anyone had any questions that they would like to have discussed.

A question that I’ve received reads like this:

I hope to come along, as always, but in case I don't then the question of toilet facilities is something which comes up quite a lot.

Obviously in private premises then a quiet word with a manager should clear up most situations, but in public situations I understand that there are no legal hurdles to overcome when using a ladies convenience when presenting as a woman (or crossdressed or . . . or . . etc) but what would happen should a genetic woman object and make a scene?

If I need the loo and go to the men's conveniences then this is the most likely place to be attacked, so . . . apart from personal responsibility for ones safety could they comment about loos.

I’ll post the answers when I have them.

I just recently searched Google News using the search word transgender. And the subject of bathrooms / toilet / loo facilities comes up a surprisingly high number of times.

There’s this from the Rush Limbaugh show. The discussion is about the city of Cleveland, Ohio and the person that called in to the show says:

the city of Cleveland, Cleveland city council, I understand that this has been an issue in other cities in recent days, although never went national.  Cleveland city council on Monday, I believe it was, was having a debate with the transgender community here.  I attended the meeting.  What they want is the right to use restrooms in public areas -- bars, restaurants, sporting events, and the like -- and I just wanted to get your take on that, because that's an up in-the-air issue here.  The Cleveland city council didn't come to a decision, so now they're saying it's gonna be going to the Supreme Court.  I would imagine the state Supreme Court

And then here the Miami Herald has the headline “Transgender discrimination ban prevails in Miami-Dade panel, despite opposition” and says:

Raw emotion and invocations of biblical damnation over a proposed ban on discrimination against transgender people dominated Wednesday what was perhaps the fiercest debate Miami-Dade County Hall has seen this year.

Advocates of a more inclusive society, including transgender men and women who spoke of how difficult it can be to find public acceptance, were outnumbered by conservatives who, in a show of force, assailed the legislation as immoral and a threat to public safety. Two likened South Florida to Sodom and Gomorrah.

What proponents called a civil-rights issue was boiled down by opponents to a mundane task that blurred the divide between men and women: going to the bathroom. A law protecting people like him, a transgender man said, offers the “dignity to pee in peace.”

Here the National Post has the headline “Parents suing Vancouver School Board over new transgender policy that lets students use any washroom”.

The Eastern Wake News says, here, that:

Wake County school administrators want to help transgender students avoid being bullied as they undergo what may be a difficult personal transition in the very public environment of school.

Wake, like other school districts across the country, is trying to accommodate the small but growing number of students who don’t want to go by the sex assigned to them at birth. From providing locker room and bathroom facilities to making sure of the right terminology to use, Wake administrators say they want to develop specific training to deal with bullying related to gender identity. has an article that mentions:

GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) — Gloucester’s school board has delayed voting on a policy involving restroom facilities for a transgender student, until its December 9 meeting.

“Though I was assigned female at birth, that’s not the case. I’m a boy,” 10th grader Gavin Grimm told

Grimm, who attends Gloucester High School, came out as transgender over the summer. At school, he was initially told to use the nurse’s bathroom, then he was allowed to use the boys restroom.

The 15-year-old told, “However, there have been some parents in the community, or rather adults, that have had a problem with this. So, I’m fighting for my right to use the correct restroom … the men’s restroom.”

Back here I wrote about an experience of my own:

The only not-nice incident of the weekend occurred here.

Veronica visited the Ladies and a guy that was very much the worse for wear in terms of excessive alcohol consumption … began to bad-mouth her. For no good reason.

There was a member of the Weatherspoon’s staff close by at the time who called a security guard over and the man was escorted from the premises.

When we left, the guy was still outside the building with a few of his friends.

He was abusive to everyone and if it hadn’t been for the efforts of his friends in holding him back, I guess all kinds of things could have happened.

It seems that the people that have the hang-ups about this issue often are either simply uninformed or have some kind of a faith / religious region for their views.

The religious views seem to b0il down to the belief that God hates the whole concept of transgender. Maybe He loves the person … but they’re going to end up in hell regardless. It can be difficult to have a rational discussion about gender with a person that has decided that it is wrong because the Bible or the Qur'an (etc. etc, ) says that it is wrong. Period. So it can also difficult to have a rational discussion about gender, transgender and human rights with such people.

I personally know quite a few transgender people. So far I have never met anyone that deliberately wants to offend or upset people. They just want to get along with living.

I don’t know a single transgender person that goes to the bathroom / restroom other than for the purpose that the bathroom / restroom is intended.

My guess is that neither do the people who have problems with the idea of transgender people using the restroom.

Of course, I don’t know every transgender person in the world. But I find it difficult to see any real motive for the hang-ups that many people have about the use of restrooms that don’t, in the end, just boil down to being an expression of transphobia.

Monday, 27 October 2014

In which Tina gets alarmed and Andrea finds a use for a house brick

There was a Surrey Swans meeting last Sunday … you can read a bit more about  Surrey Swans here.

I arrived at about 19:15. Sam was already there. Mark and Vikki arrive soon after.

Tina and Laura arrive a little after 19:30.

Tina says hello to Sam and Vikki.

And then.


Is it a fire?

Some kind of an attack?

Whatever it is … it pierces ears.

The truth of the matter, I think, dates back to Sparkle in July 1012.

It was here, I think, that Tina and I received a free “Defender Cooper Torch” Personal Safety Alarm with Independent Ultra Bright White Torch with a 130dB Siren from members of the police force.


An image of


We have the black ones.

I think I would have preferred the puppy.

Mine is in a drawer. Still in its box.

Tina’s is attached to her handbag.

Well it had been.

Until the evening of Sunday 26th October 2014.

It could have been Sam. Or Vikki. Or the table.

Whoever or whatever.

The alarm is on the floor.

And we are alarmed.

Andrea picks it up.

There’s a little hole at one end where a pin used to be inserted.

Now that there is no pin the alarm is doing its job quite effectively.

On the floor there is no sign of a pin.

Andrea takes the alarm outside and wraps her hand around it, wondering how long the battery on these things lasts.

We search Tina’s handbag.

Tina checks the floor near the table.

And returns.


And pin less.

Wrapping a hand round the alarm makes it a lot less noisy.

But it could go on for a long time.

“Let’s take the battery out”.

The alarm case has tiny little screws.

Whatever else is in Andrea’s handbag tonight, there is no tiny little screwdriver.

But there in the corner of the yard is a stack of not so tiny house bricks.

Andrea looks at Tina.

Tina looks at Andrea.

And soon, the alarm is no more.

Though it did take three weighty whacks.

We discover that silence is not golden.

The Ultra Bright White Torch continues to shine.

But the silence is definitely welcome.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

So what does the BIBLE tell me?

A few weeks ago I took out a trial subscription to Netflix.

To be honest, mostly I’ve been watching Andromeda.

I have, however, also watched for the BIBLE tells me so.

I was very moved by it. If you get a chance to see it then I highly recommend it.

There’s a trailer for it here:


The synopsis on the web site says:

Does God really condemn loving homosexual relationships? Is the chasm separating Christianity from gays and lesbians too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? These questions and more are answered in this award-winning documentary, which brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture – and reveals that religious anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a misinterpretation of the Bible.

Through the experiences of five very normal, Christian, American families – including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson – we discover how people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child or family member.

Offering healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity, this landmark film “boldly takes on a loaded topic and examines it both intellectually and emotionally; the result may well leave you blinking away a few tears.” (Seattle Times)

Some words of Desmond Tutu here:


I can't, for the life of me, imagine that God would say:

“I’m going to punish you because you are black. You should have been white.

I will punish you because you are a woman. You should have been a man.

I punish you because you are homosexual. You ought to have been heterosexual.”

I can’t. I can’t for the life of me believe that that is how God sees things.

If you read the comments that people have left along with the above video clips there are the usual polemical attitudes.

Some blame every problem in the world on religion. Some remain adamant that if a person is gay then they are hell bound.

I think the same people might well say the same kinds of things apply to transgendered people.

And of course, I think that life isn’t so simple.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Pre-Swans Pictures

Last night was one of the regular monthly meetings of the Surrey Swans.

There were about 19 of us, 6 of whom were newcomers. It was really nice to meet them, and the not-so-newcomers as well, of course.

I took a few pictures just before setting off and here are a few of them.








Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Harrogate again with Tina and Malcolm teaches Tina some Geordie

I select the same suitcase that I used for a 16 day holiday. It’s just about big enough for a weekend away as Andrea.

Shoes, makeup, wigs, boobs all take up space.

Tina arrives at about 9:45 on Friday morning and we set off at about 10.

The traffic starts off ok. Gets worse. Even worse. Then better.

We pass a few of Eddie’s girls.

Take a detour round about Doncaster.

Pull into the hotel at about 3:20 pm.

A chat with Kay, who organises the weekend followed by check-in and selection of seats for the gala dinner.

The room is large with a nice big bathroom. Nice big mirror.


It is hot.

Very hot.

The sun shines directly into the room.

No air conditioning.

Local legislation forbids messing around with the safety catches on the windows.

After a shower, shaving takes a while.

Foundation takes a whole lot longer.

I guess that most guys have never tried applying foundation cream in a hot hotel room. Whilst perspiring.

However, weather you’ve tried it or not, you’d maybe guess that foundation and perspiration don’t get along so well at all.

Starting on the right, I pat it onto my chin.

Round my mouth.






The perspiration doesn’t make a sound, really. But it’s there.

On my forehead.

Running down my face occasionally.

In the mirror it isn’t looking too good.

Perseverance isn’t always the better part of valour.

There is a time to retreat and regroup.

I’m going to have to start again.

At which point I discover that my makeup remover is in Windsor, whilst I am in Harrogate.

Tina to the rescue!

The foundation comes off and Andrea starts all over again.

As time passes I learn new things.

The foundation is more robust than I thought.

This time I do the lower half of my face.

Apply the powder.

Brush off the excess.

As the perspiration drips I can dab it off without totally destroying what’s there.

I get into the habit of using tissue to dab away the moisture as I continue with my face.

Eventually it’s done.

Not at all perfect. But I guess that it never is. Even more imperfect than usual.

Unwisely I use two shades of eye shadow as well as  eye liner and mascara.


Lipstick and gloss.

By the time I’m dressed complete with hair I feel as though I am melting.

Time for dinner.

We head for the bar and find seats near an open window in the restaurant.

Slowly it starts to feel cooler.

We chat with Sarah and her partner from Stirling.

Coffee in the lounge.





We chat with Jean in the bar.

Saturday we have breakfast.

Makeup is much easier.

We look at a few of the things being exhibited in the hotel reception area. Wigs, jewellery and clothing.

A friendly guy from M&Co has a chat with us.

My ankle is sprained from walking on a stony beach on holiday.

Rephrasing that.

My ankle is sprained from falling over on a stony beach on holiday.

We drive into Harrogate and park the car.

At Debenhams we take the elevator to the first floor and admire the handbags. And dresses. And skirts. And blouses. Pretty much everything.

Nothing especially takes our fancy.

We wander around in the summer sunshine.

Superdrug provides me with makeup remover.

We have a drink at Wetherspoons.

A sit down and chat in the shade.



And a stand up in the shade.


And a walk back to the car park.



Back at the hotel, Tina buys me a birthday Pimm’s.



And it’s time to prepare for the gala dinner.

It’s very hot.

But not so hot as Friday.


The food is great.

The karaoke is amazing.

I’m not planning to dance.

But I can’t resist.

Flats replace highs and we boogie. Ankle holds up well.

The dancing ends and we retire to the bar.

There are a group of golfers from the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area staying at the hotel.

As we sit chatting we’re joined by one of them.

He’s intrigued.

Never seen anything like it.

A hotel half full of of guys who are girls … or girls who are guys?

He has lots of questions.

Tina slowly learns to understand Geordie.


How often?


Gents or Ladies washroom?

Who else knows?

How do they react?

How does it feel?

His name is Malcolm.

What does Tina’s lass think of it all?

And my lass?




Times like this seem important to me.

The whole weekend.

The opportunity to communicate.

To demystify.

To de-stereotype.

Building bridges of understanding and acceptance.

Thanks again, Kay, for putting it all together!

There’s also an account of last years trip to Harrogate here.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

It’s not what you say it’s the way that you say it

Here are a few comments taken from here on the article in The Guardian entitled: Against Me's Laura Jane Grace slams Arcade Fire for transgender video that I already mentioned in an earlier post here.

This isn't a video about a transsexual girl, not to me. It's about a transvestite girl. Transvestites aren't welcome in the TG community by many transsexual girls, who resent the sexual aspect mudding up their waters. It's quite odd when you think we're their natural cheerleaders.

received the following response:

Transvestite is to transgender people what the N word is to black people. Please do not use it. I believe the term you were looking for was drag queen. Or transgender (which is a broad term that can refer to a host of types of people, from drag queens to cross dressers to transsexuals).

to which I replied:

Actually, I know many transgendered people that aren't at all offended by the term "transvestite".

to which another replied:

As a trans woman, I am deeply offended by anyone that tries to call me a "transvestite". The term is ONLY properly applied to cis folk that like to dress as the opposite sex for personally gratification, not as part of their actual identity.

I can understand that someone identifying themselves as a trans woman is offended by people referring to her as a transvestite.

I am, though, a bit saddened that a trans woman doesn’t realise that a person that identifies themselves as transvestite might feel offended by someone who refers to them as simply cis folk that like to dress as the opposite sex for personally gratification, not as part of their actual identity.

Maybe it depends a bit on exactly what the word gratification is intended to mean.

But many, many of the people that I know that identify with the term transvestite would also say that it is part of their actual identity. It isn’t just about some kind of gratification. It’s a means of self expression.

Maybe there’s a  difference in meaning of the word transvestite in the UK compared with the USA. Since The Guardian is a UK-based newspaper – as am I (UK based, that is, but not a newspaper) I’ve stuck with the UK meaning of the word.

Here are a few definitions from the Gender Dysphoria section of the National Health Service Web Site:

Gender terminology

Gender dysphoria is a complex condition that can be difficult to understand. Therefore, it helps to distinguish between the meanings of different gender-related terms:

  • gender dysphoria – discomfort or distress caused by a mismatch between a person’s gender identity and their biological sex assigned at birth
  • transsexualism – the desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by the wish to have treatment to make their physical appearance more consistent with their gender identity
  • transvestism – where a person occasionally wears clothes typically associated with the opposite gender (cross-dressing) for a variety of reasons
  • genderqueer - an umbrella term used to describe gender identities other than man and woman - for example, those who are both man and woman, or neither man nor woman, or moving between genders

I think the term for a variety of reasons is important here. Maybe many transvestites also fall into the genderqueer category as well.

Actually quite a lot of people don’t fall into such neat categories at all. 

People are often more complex than that.

Also, this article is interesting: Transvestites and cross-dressing at netdoctor.

To be honest, I can cope with people that use incorrect terminology through ignorance. I’m using the word ignorance in a non-stigmatic kind of way here. If a person has never been told something then how can they be expected to know all about it?

Quite often it’s not the actual words that people use that are hurtful and offensive. Always it’s the way that the words are used and the context that they are used in that makes all the difference.

I thought a lot before using the word “Always” in the sentence above. But I think it’s the right word.

I think that’s the reason I find it difficult to understand why some transgendered people have had such a big problem with the video, and even more difficult to understand the way in which some have expressed their dissatisfaction.

Whatever the video is, I’m sure in my own heart that the intension was good.

But if I had been involved in the production of it I could easily have felt quite offended at the following comment. It uses smooth words, but they have sharp edges:

Yet another attempt by segment s of the cisgender community to marginalize transgender folk. The band's spokesperson made matters worse by slapping whitewash on their video by trying to claim this was really about a gay boy and his father. Caught in a lie and no way out must be very uncomfortable for the band, right now.

Creative license is one thing. Outright lying to save ones "pride" is another. The trans community has every right to be outraged by this latest example of denigration and the subsequent attempt by the abusers to cover their tracks.

Maybe I’m being too picky/fussy in all of this.

What do you guys, girls and genderqueer folk think?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Spiderman, transgender, tolerance and Indigo Girls

As a follow on to my thoughts about We Exist, Laura mentioned this to me:

Arcade Fire Respond to Laura Jane Grace's 'We Exist' Criticism. which includes a link to this: Arcade Fire Interview: 'We Exist' Sends Message to the Mainstream.

Having read through them I have to admit that I’m surprised at some of the comments made by people.

In a world that has a desperate need for acceptance, understanding, love and tolerance … such vitriol.

I know that all people are never going to agree on all things. And there’s scope for discussion and argument about it all.

But there’s a way to disagree about things.

I’m not sure that the way some people are disagreeing here is actually helping anyone very much.

The intensions of the video are, I believe, good.

Maybe it could have been done better.

But there’s a better way of disagreeing with people than by bad-mouthing. Isn’t there?

Reminds me of an Amy Ray song that I’ve mentioned before. It’s a great song. Truly.

Indigo Girls–Second Time Around

Second Time Around

by: Amy Ray, Indigo Girls

The second time around, you know it really got me down
Sister don’t you judge it, just keep it to yourself now
And if you ain’t got nothing good to say
Don’t say nothing at all

I got bitten by the bitter bug, and now I just can’t get enough
Of ill will and my own conceit
I’m weary of the world it seems
I’m weary of the world, weary of the world it seems

It’s sort of always gone my way
I’m just a little bit off these days
Like I’ve had hard knocks all my life, like I’m a Bible belt wife
Like I didn’t see it coming, like I didn’t walk in willingly

See, I never want to sing again
La la la like a butterfly
Without my wits about me, without my heart in line
Third times a charm and this is mine

You said you heard Loretta sing and felt the loneliness seeping in
The cowboys made you uneasy, you’re a god-fearing lesbian
So you learn not to yearn and you take it on the chin again

Here’s what I find about compromise-
Don’t do it if it hurts inside,
Cause either way you’re screwed, eventually you’ll find
You may as well feel good; you may as well have some pride

Come August we’ll go to Cherokee and hear Loretta do her thing
Pack it into the Indian casino and make the hillbilly scene,
Kick up our heels and join in

Are you my ally or my enemy?
Do you have self-loathing or empathy?
Can you keep me in your prayers, sister,
Can you keep me in there somewhere?
And sister if you ain’t got nothing good to say…
Don’t say nothing at all.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

We exist

Earlier this week Laura emailed me a link to a video of  the song We Exist by Arcade Fire. Thanks Laura Smile

It’s here.



The lyrics to the song are:

We Exist

by: Arcade Fire

They're walking around
Head full of sound
Acting like
We don't exist
They walk in the room
And stare right through you
Talking like
We don't exist
But we exist
Daddy it's true
I'm different from you
But tell me why they treat me like this?
If you turned away
What would I say?
Not the first betrayed by a kiss
Maybe it's true
They're staring at you
When you walk in the room
Tell 'em it's fine
Stare if you like
Just let us through
Just let us through
Na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na
They're down on their knees
Begging us please
Praying that we don't exist
Daddy it's fine
I'm used to 'em now
But tell me why they treat me like this?
It's cause we do it like this
Na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na
Maybe it's true
They're staring at you
When you walk in the room
Tell 'em it's fine
Stare if you like
Just let us through
Just let us through
Let 'em stare! Let 'em stare!
If that's all they can do!
But I'd lose my heart
If I turned away from you
Oh Daddy don't turn away
You know that I'm so scared
But will you watch me drown?
You know we're going nowhere
We know that we're young
And no shit we're confused
But will you watch us drown?
What are you so afraid to lose?
Down on your knees
Begging us please
Praying that we don't exist
You're down on your knees
Begging us please
Praying that we don't exist
We exist!
We exist!
Down on your knees
Begging us please
Praying that we don't exist
You're down on your knees
Begging us please
Praying that we don't exist
We exist!
We exist!
We exist!
We exist!

Na na na na na na na,

na na na na na na na,

na na na na na na na
Maybe if you hang together
You can make the changes in our hearts
And if you hang together, you can change us
Just where should you start?

The song is from Arcade Fire's album Reflektor, and is "about a gay kid talking to his dad." To me, the video kinda illustrates that the same kind of thing applies to the whole LGBT community.

Pandora Boxx added an interesting comment at YouTube:

This is a powerful message marred with hateful comments but it just shows as far as we've come the journey ahead is a long one.  Thank you Arcade Fire and Andrew Garfield for doing this video.

Having said that there’s an article in the Guardian here with the headline:

Against Me's Laura Jane Grace slams Arcade Fire for transgender video.

And the quote:

'Maybe when making a video for a song called We Exist you should get an actual 'trans' actor instead of Spider-Man,' writes the singer.

Together with some interesting comments here.

I’m not so sure that I’d say that Laura Jane Grace exactly slammed Arcade Fire. She just asked a question.

For myself, I think it would have been great if a transgendered actor had been featured in the video. At the same time I have no problem with the fact that a non-transgendered (cisgender – I only just learned this as a word) person feels enough about something to feature in a video like this. So I go more along with Pandora Boxx than I do with Laura Jane Grace.

Oak Hill College and religious experiences

A little while ago I shared a few thoughts about Oasis and the Evangelical Alliance.

Round about that time I also read a post entitled “Steve Chalke or the repentant Rosaria? Whose religious experience?” by Mike Ovey at Oak Hill College.

The blog post reads like this:

Who’s the most unlikely convert you have ever met? Of course, given the ravages of sin in our hearts and minds any convert is nothing short of a miracle, a new creation that only the original creator can bring about. All the same, there are some whose place in life seems to make it especially hard to hear the gospel, and when someone in that position does become a Christian, one stands amazed at the power of God’s grace in encountering them and bringing them home to himself. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield comes into this category. Engaged, as far as one can see, in a stable, long-term, same-sex relationship, and with a glittering academic career premised on a radically feminist approach to Women’s Studies, her life was turned around as she encountered the gospel explained patiently, and faithfully, over a comparatively long period. Her lifestyle, beliefs and relationships changed (and one can only guess at both the huge emotional and the professional cost here) and she came to a living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, which she recounts in her book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Now why should that present Steve Chalke (hereafter ‘SC’) with any difficulty? I imagine in one sense it does not, because no doubt like any other Christian he rejoices at a sinner coming to repentance, as Christ enjoins in Luke 15. It does, though, present a very severe difficulty in view of his recent writings on the Bible. In fact, it indicates a fundamental incoherence. Let me explain why. The Bible, SC comments, is ‘written by fallible human beings whose work… bears the hallmarks of the limitations and preconceptions of the times and cultures they live in, but also of the transformational experience of their encounters with God.’ Quite consistently with this, SC does not have a closed canon of Scripture, because human beings outside the canonical authors have transformational experiences of God. The implication that SC draws is that the canonical Scriptures can be displaced in what they teach and say by the transformational experience of other human beings. Now consider that in the case of Rosaria. Changing the patterns of your sex life and your professional success is about as radical a transformation as you can manifest in Western culture. Does one think that Rosaria has had a transforming encounter with God? On this evidence, yes. And how has she been transformed? She has been transformed in terms of what she thinks about issues of gender and sexuality and how a human being may enjoy a saving relationship with God, through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ in which, among other things, he brings forgiveness through the cross and delivers us from God’s judgment. And here the problems start for SC. He has written in favour of same-sex relationships and has denied that Jesus bears the penalty for our sins as our substitute through the cross, reacting particularly strongly against the notion of God’s wrath towards sinners. Both of these positions – what SC accepts about same-sex and what he denies about penal substitution concerning God’s wrath – are of course extremely popular in modern Western culture. In submitting to the Bible over same-sex relationships, and over what it teaches on God’s wrath at our sin, Rosaria has accepted countercultural positions and lived them out. She has emerged from her cultural surrounds to embrace a countercultural position: this looks like transformation. Now clearly SC thinks she is wrong on these issues. In particular, on penal substitution, he thinks those who teach it and who believe it are saying the wrong thing about God by teaching about his anger, ‘telling the wrong story about God’, as he once put it. Naturally, this entails a negative evaluation of the transformational experience of someone like Rosaria. One possibility, naturally, is that SC thinks she has not had a transformational experience of God at all. Another possibility is that she has genuinely met God but simply got him disastrously wrong in her own encounter with him, so that she is ‘telling the wrong story about God’. Either way, the obvious question that springs to mind is, ‘How does SC know?’ How does he know either that she has not had any genuine encounter with God, or that she has vastly and tragically misunderstood her encounter with God? Now it is absolutely right that we should not take any claim that someone has had an encounter with God simply at face value. Apart from anything else, 1 John 4:1-3 tells us to test spiritual experience. The issue is on what basis one does that testing. The classic answer is that one tests these claims against the canonical Bible, on the basis that God does not contradict himself. But clearly, SC cannot use that benchmark because he thinks the Bible is contradictory and quite possibly that it is wrong in places. So how does he know that the transformational experience of Rosaria on these issues (who is not alone in being transformed to these positions) is wrong? Presumably SC thinks his own transformational experiences of God support his position on same sex relations and the wrath of God. But when SC’s argument is that believers like Rosaria are wrong on those issues, it does seem to require that his own transformational experience is better than theirs or that his personal understanding of God is better. It sounds very egalitarian to talk about people retelling their transformational experiences of encounter with God with no closed canon of Scripture. But rather like the animals in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, it seems that some people’s transformational experiences are more equal than others. But which ones? And how do you know?

I left the following comment:

Dear Mike,

I read your post with some interest, but I’m not at all convinced that you are being fair to SCs position.

It would have been helpful if you had included some links to the things that you say SC has written.

I believe that the argument that you attempting to present is based upon the experiences of people that have had experiences that agree with the beliefs that you have.

I get the feeling that you’re ignoring the experiences of almost everyone else in the world.

I believe that the vast majority of people that have ever lived have not experienced “a living faith in our Lord Jesus”. In fact I believe that they haven’t been given the opportunity to do so.

I’ve heard arguments that are used to explain this. But they haven’t convinced me.

I believe that almost everyone alive today would find it difficult to understand how anyone could believe that a book such as the Bible wasn’t written by fallible human beings. That it doesn’t contain inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

Since these vast numbers of people don’t have any influence upon how you view the Bible, I’m not so sure why the transformed lives of a small number of people (small when compared with the vastness of human history) should necessarily affect anyone else’s opinion.

I’m convinced that the way people look at the Bible and how they interpret it … the way that hermeneutics works when it comes to the Bible … depends overwhelmingly on what they choose to believe about God. Or is it what God choses to reveal about Himself to them?

Perhaps it’s all about faith.

I’m fairly certain it isn’t all about rationality, logic or science.

Everyone picks and chooses how they interpret the Bible.

I suspect that SC wouldn’t agree with a lot of the things that I believe. But I believe that he would likely listen to my thoughts and be willing to be swayed by them.

I’ve come across Christians who are not at all willing to listen to alternative viewpoints and be in any way influenced by them. They seem to have the answers and have closed their minds to alternative possibilities.

And, I’ve come across Christians who believe that almost every human being that has ever lived will end up spending eternity in hell. And some of these Christians seem to spend more time explaining why this is the truth than they do in attempting to rescue these millions of lost souls.

Ultimately, I think that for you to suggest that there is some kind of an error in SC’s thinking without accepting the possibility that your own thinking is equally likely to be errant is … well … unreasonable.

Of course, I may be misinterpreting what you are saying, in which case please let me know.


Andrea Wright

And it said:

Thanks! Thank you for posting a comment on the Oak Hill blog. All comments are read and approved before they're posted, but that usually happens pretty quickly.

Since nothing has appeared there it looks like my comment was disapproved.

I left an email address but didn’t get any kind of message saying why it wasn’t approved.

Ah well …

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Shack … life changing or confusing


A little while ago a friend recommended The Shack to me.


The Shack


It’s a book that was written a few years ago now.

I recently finished it and am thinking that I need to do some thinking.

So here are some thoughts.

First, if you get a chance to read it I wholeheartedly recommend it.

It’s a work of fiction.

The main characters are a man, Mack, his family, a few of his friends and God.

On a camping trip Mack’s daughter is abducted and murdered. Her blood is discovered at The Shack.

This event marks the beginning of Mack’s Great Sadness.

For him The Shack comes to embody a whole lot of bad stuff. Anger at himself. At God. At life. Almost all that is bad.

Then one day Mack receives a letter from God. It’s an invitation to meet up at The Shack

And so Mack spends a few days with God – Father (Papa), Son, (Jesus) and Holy Spirit (Sarayu) - at The Shack. The place of his Great Sadness.

And his life is changed forever.

Although The Shack is a work of fiction the words “spoken” by God are intended to reflect the person, character and intentions of God. So it’s intended to be more than fiction. It’s a sort of picture of the author’s view of the kind of Person that God is and the kind of relationship that God wants to have with people.

Many people have gone on record as saying that the book has changed their lives. Try using Google or Bing or the search engine of your choice and see for yourself.

I found the book to be very moving. Tears running down my cheeks type of moving.

Whilst reading it … and now having read it … I’m left wondering.

Is God really like that?

Is it true that people can be friends with God like that?

There was a time that I became a Christian. March 3rd 1973 at 144, Forest Road, Loughborough in Leicestershire.

So, in some ways, The Shack didn’t say much to me that I hadn’t been aware of at some point in the past.

And yet there are new thoughts. New interpretations of things. An emphasis on relationships. On being rather than doing. Love rather than judgement.

It stirs inside me a kind of a longing. A wishing that it could be true.

Over the past few days I’ve been doing some thinking about that.


I wonder … if God is really like that, then how come so few people know? Why is it such a big secret?

The Shack did top the best sellers’ lists for a while. So in a way it isn’t a secret at all.

So I wonder why so few people believe that God is like that. And why it is that I struggle to believe that God is like that even though I wish the He were.

Here the beginning of some of the things that I have problems with.

At this very moment the main thing is about why does God  hide the truth about Himself from people the way that He seems to do. Why is it so difficult to know what the truth is?

There are Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses … the list goes on. And there are lots of different brands of Christianity, of Islam … and so it goes on and on and on.

And then taking Christianity as an example.

Many Christians believe in heaven and hell. That people who don’t give their lives to Jesus end up in hell. For ever. That hell is a place of eternal punishment and torment. Everyone deserves to go to hell. It’s divine justice. Yet it’s easy to avoid hell. Just believe in Jesus. Divine grace.

Oh but … you might also need to not be gay – or at least not practicing gay. Or transgendered. You might also need to be a Catholic. Or is that a protestant? Or to be baptised. You might need to read only a particular translation of the Bible. Or believe the apostle’s creed.

Or maybe you need to be a Muslim?

There’s a sense in which maybe a lot of the above might not matter. Maybe you do only need to believe in Jesus … although that should probably be … believe in, trust in and rely on.

But if that’s the case … why so much disinformation and confusion. Lots of apparently very sincere and well-meaning people seem to disagree over all of this.

If any of this stuff makes the difference between heaven for ever and hell for ever and it affects everyone, then why is it so difficult to work out what the actual truth is?

So, OK, why am I asking these questions? And honestly, there are a lot more to be asked.

I think it’s because I’d like to know the answers.

So if you know them … I’m listening.

There will likely be more questions to follow.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Oasis and the Evangelical Alliance

Today Sally mentioned that during the service at the church she goes to it was mentioned that Oasis had been removed from the membership of the Evangelical Alliance.

The Evangelical Alliance say:

It is with sadness that the Evangelical Alliance have discontinued the membership of Oasis Trust.

Having heard the concerns expressed by the Alliance’s board and council as to what has been perceived by some as a campaign to change the Church’s historic view on human sexuality, the Oasis board did clarify their position as having ‘no corporate view on this matter’.

However they were unwilling to fulfil the council’s request to adjust the content of their website/resources and social media output to equally profile the traditional Christian view.

After many months of prayerful discussion, the Evangelical Alliance council concluded that a relationship between an organisation and one of its members in which the member felt it could not comply with a reasonable request from council, was not tenable.

The Evangelical Alliance council remain deeply respectful of the work and achievements of the Oasis Trust and have a strong desire to avoid any unseemly dispute and to speak well of each other.

Oasis say:

"The Board of Oasis is deeply saddened by the decision of the Evangelical Alliance to remove Oasis from its membership. We would like to take this moment to restate our profound belief that the ethos, values and mission of Oasis sit firmly within the evangelical tradition.

"The Evangelical Alliance made its decision following comments by the Founder of Oasis, Rev Steve Chalke, calling for an open and generous acceptance of people with sexualities other than heterosexual as well as to affirm and support all those who seek to live within faithful, lifelong, monogamous relationships. When making these comments, he argued that they had come from a deep understanding of the overarching message of scripture and has subsequently written about the importance of moving towards a more affirming, compassionate, rounded and thoughtful approach to the Bible, humanity and sexuality.

"At no point has anyone within Oasis tried to impose the Founder’s view on Oasis staff, volunteers or church members (let alone anyone else) and, as such, the board of Oasis continues to give Steve their full support in his quest to seek an open and honest conversation amongst the Church on these issues and on how to restore society’s confidence in the Bible more generally.

"Since the publication of his article ‘A Matter of Integrity’ in January 2013 the Oasis board has been in an on-going conversation with the Evangelical Alliance.  At their request, we have made several changes to our online content and believed that we had reached a point where both parties could be satisfied that our relationship would continue.  We are, therefore, disappointed  by their announcement  but will continue to seek and enjoy a warm relationship with the breadth of the Christian Church in Britain and across the world, forming partnerships to lift people and communities out of poverty and exclusion, and seeking to demonstrate the love of God to all through practical service."

I spent some of this afternoon reading around this. And ultimately was left with the feeling that for many people that categorise themselves as being evangelical Christians there is no room for debate about certain topics. Or perhaps there is room for debate. But there is no room to hold a viewpoint that is different than the one defined by the correct and true view.

I was also surprised to find so many people still write stuff arguing about the infallibility and inerrancy of the bible – even when they aren’t just saying it has to be that King James version.

I’m left with the feeling that the days the evangelical are numbered. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

A few pictures

Here are a few pictures taken at Surrey Swans on Sunday.

James, Sinead and Lexy:


James, Sinead, Andrea and Lexy.


Monday, 24 February 2014

The video ….

Back here and here I wrote about the making of the movie.

There are actually two versions. The shorter one, which was presented as the piece of course work and the “Directors Cut” which includes additional footage taken at Surrey Swans.

Well … here’s the “Directors Cut” …


It’s another little piece in the jigsaw of life.

Many, many thanks to James, Sinead, Lexy, Vlad and Xander for all their hard work in putting the whole thing together.