“Bobbing in the waves of bewilderment and lucidity”
These words are from The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson which I bought in the spring of this year (4th April 2016). They characterise the poet George Oppen and I have appropriated them to succinctly explain my state of mind as I go through a remarkable and challenging transition. Oppen was sadly in late mental decline. I am still swimming happily if occasionally buffeted.
Nelson’s book has played a vital, and personally reassuring, part in what a close male friend has described as my “trip”. That word trip has nuance.
Her book is not only an elegantly written memoir, it is a profoundly intelligent academic work on her relationship with a fluidly gendered partner and deserves a place on the shelves of any individual that cares about love, sex and gender.
My blog, first put up in 2014 has now morphed from the introspective political thoughts of a male constantly on the edge of uncertainty into something unequivocal. It is now particularly dedicated to my small immediate family who might sense that one person’s liberation is another’s loss. In response to that possible fear I can only state that what is emerging in my life I will share through love and respect.
The sidebar logo gives you an indication of what is going on. Broadly this is the journal of an unfolding exceptional personal challenge.
2017 will see my first timid steps towards a dramatic transition which I could barely contemplate even 5 years ago but which I first contemplated more than 60 years ago. I hope it will help put to flight the notion, widely held, that gender transition is a modish, self regarding pre-occupation of millenials. It is not modish, not self regarding and it is important to society that this issue is out. Had I had the professional intervention now available I guess that I would have been looking at transition during my early 20s.
During the late 1950s I sought some snatched solace in the prurient pages of, say, the News of the World and The Sunday Pictorial. News of April Ashley’s sex change was an endless quest while I sped towards puberty, uncertainty and ultimately personal disgrace. I took time away from my family hidden in a large cupboard, doors closed providing optimum darkness and escape. Being in the wrong gender drove me, quite literally, into the arms of another boy at age 10 and in this relationship I fell in love, and assumed, most happily, what I knew was my natural role. That of a girl. He was Jim and I was Janet and from that point forward, truthfully, I have never seen myself, precisely as anything else other than female. The consolation that it might be a simple aberration gave way to the serious fear of fetishism and most worryingly a failure in mental stability and moral responsibility.
Jan Morris’ 1972 book Conundrum I read for the first time this year but she had been a beacon for me from the time of publication and I should have read it earlier. In February this year when I first pleaded my case for NHS intervention with my local GP at his small, country practice I found myself blurting out that I wanted to die a woman. Most interestingly in Morris’ book she had reached a point where she would either die a woman or die by her own hand as a man. She writes more eloquently than me and I have no intention of surrendering my life, but I fully understand that point of frustration. How many people have died of gender dysphoria I wonder. There will be no records.
Beneath a banner insisting “radical individual freedom”, I am on the march against the immured minds of the rabid right wing with their “take back control” certitude which has gripped us during 2016.
What of the “rusticant”; the author of this blog? This genderly indeterminate human being is indulging in a more intense, self imposed, rustication, imminently to move deeply, more authentically, into countryside. Albeit a little closer to the sea.
Anybody passing this way – please leave some footprints at my site.
Next year, hopefully before the spring, I will have embarked on the early stages of a professionally monitored programme at the Laurels Exeter, Devon .
about the sidebar
All posts prior to this one are at least 12 months old. The “about the rusticant” link has been slightly updated and gives insight into rustication; among other things! Hilary Mantel gave me the verb “to rusticate”. I lay claim to the new noun (not in the dictionary) “rusticant”.
I have been working on a story which needs to be revised and delivered from a different gender perspective!! Christ knows when I will be able to get that sorted. But I will be moving tantalisingly close to the setting of the whole scenario. Seddon Faag lives.
am i out?
I have been “out” and it was wholly encouraging and joyful.
At this stage I will not name too many people. But I make an exception for four men, because exposing myself (forgive the choice of words!!) to people of the same gender was the biggest challenge. So Nick, it was a personal joy to have you on my side at Spitalfields Market in February talking about Thomas Hardy and offering a hand and affirming friendship. Most recently Al from Australia, who in between chats about the upcoming Rugby test against the Wallabies, managed to grasp and converse about gender fluidity. Dave the oldest friend of these three – a man who literally sprung me from custody in the old Yugoslavia – this year entertained me at a couple of posh restaurants in London with his inimitable precise conversation peppered with expletives while lauding my freedom in the modern world.
Finally the fourth man is my son who is a tower of strength. I could not be more proud – dignity, understanding, and unwavering support for his dad who is on a formidable journey which started 60 years ago and now has an end in sight.
Thanks, Jacquie for your concern and love . Probably you are equally bobbing and bewildered; I offer my deepest respect. Two other remarkable women who have invited me in from being out – I don’t know what to say. Tears for the Danish Girl and scarves flying in the wind.
Love to all. This is simply the beginning and will be shared widely.
…for John. Respect for your counsel, wisdom, friendship. Without you I would not have made it this far. Hope you are amazed.