Monday, 31 March 2014

The Spousal Veto

I probably should've put this here in the first place instead of splurging all over Facebook.  Anyway...

Same-sex marriage has been legal in England since two and a bit days ago, and there were ceremonies at midnight.  This might sound like a good thing. I should also point out that it's none of my business why other people get married, on the whole.  I can see the point of marriage from the point of view of supporting residence applications, for next of kin to be recognised and other things, and since that contract is out there, it might as well be used even though its history has been besmirched by the enslavement of women by men, which is what it was originally for, of course.  This brings up the issue of legal hermeneutics - whether the intent of lawmakers is to be considered when applying the law.  I suppose if slavery was still legal, there might be some positive aspects to it but who nowadays argues in favour not only of keeping slavery but actually extending it?

However, same sex marriage is relevant to me as a married trans person, unfortunately, because of how the law has been changed.  There is this thing called a Gender Recognition Certificate which gives people the same legal status as their chosen gender with the exception of inherited titles, marriage in the Church of England and sporting competitions.  None of those things are relevant to me anyway.  This GRC thing turned up in 2004 and required married couples to divorce first.  Although I find that idea fairly repugnant, I can at least recognise that it's probably quite important in this kind of society to take transitioning seriously, and therefore that undertaking as serious a procedure as divorce might be considered sensible in that it demonstrates commitment to what you're doing - how hard do you want it?  I don't agree with it of course, I'm just saying I can see the argument.  However, clearly a relationship which has been through as much emotional turmoil as transition tends to cause but could recover isn't helped by having that inflicted on it as well.

So as of last Saturday, the law changed.  The situation now is that a spouse must consent in order for their partner to get a GRC.  This is the Spousal Veto.  They get to choose whether you can have your transition recognised in law.  I think it's very clear why this is not sensible.  The "easy" way to get out of this is of course divorce.  However, imagine the kind of marriage in which that could actually be deployed.  To me, it doesn't sound like the kind of marriage which is worth saving.  Therefore, to me this sounds like the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction to which people adhered in the Cold War, which was also completely wrong of course.  You keep nuclear weapons so the other side doesn't get you, so they exist in order that they never be used.  The spousal veto is similar.  You have this threat of your spouse messing up your relationship, so you refuse to go there and instead just do the normal killing yourself thing that you're supposed to do anyway.  Solves the problem well, doesn't it?

While I'm on the subject of marriage, people often wonder why I'm married when I disagree with it at such a basic level.  Here's one answer.  I have no right to interfere in another's relationship, on the whole, which is one reason I oppose marriage in the first place - nowadays it's usually considered to be a formalised romantic relationship with which either organised religion or the state has interfered, so it is in fact a relationship someone else has interfered with.  This is so even leaving behind the baggage that it's a form of personal tyranny.  However, that means equally that it's not OK for me to interfere with anyone else's relationship at all, and since Liz's relationship with me is not my relationship with her, I can't interfere with that one either, even though it's our own marriage.  I still have to live with the guilt of having done something to which I'm implacably opposed, and I deal with that by seeing myself as her property, which is after all what marriage is supposed to be about.  This feeds back into the trans issue.  I don't belong to myself any more, so I have no property rights over my body.  Incidentally our marriage vows are deliberately asymmetrical but people who were there at the time seem not to have noticed or are keeping quiet about it if they have.  This means that my spouse does in fact, in my case, have a spousal veto, and always has had, over not only my legal transition but also my physical transition.

In some kind of BDSM fantasy world this might sound like fun and maybe for some people it really would be, but that doesn't float my boat and to me this is just a practical arrangement that helps me deal with the fact that I've inflicted marriage upon her.

So that's why I got married, although there are other reasons.  It's not connected to commitment in my mind though.  Commitment is something I do believe in.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014



This is not about choking and it probably doesn't give proper advice.  If you want proper advice on choking, look somewhere else, or ask this blogger, who's a proper First Aider.  My own First Aid training has lapsed.  In fact there's supposed to be new advice on what to do if a child chokes, which is covered here.

Got that?  This is not about choking or First Aid.  It's not likely to be good or up to date advice.  It's an example from an anecdote.

Having got that out of the way, I have in fact done First Aid courses, mainly because I'm self-employed so I am supposed to be the First Aider for this business, which the City Council have just claimed isn't "genuine and effective" so they can make us homeless.  Anyway, on one such course the tutor went through a series of things to do when someone was choking.  Right at the end of that list, and this is a last resort, is to blow into the trachea to force the foreign body into the right lung.  Incidentally, it'll go into the right lung because the bronchus leading into it is straighter - the left one points more laterally because of the heart being on the left side.  You're not supposed to do this unless you have to, apparently - you pursue all other avenues first.  In order to get it out, the patient will then need an operation, probably involving some kind of forceps although maybe not.  If you left it in there, the result would of course be pneumonia.

So this is a last resort.  It isn't actually desirable in itself because it means someone will have to fish around inside your right lung trying to remove a lego brick or something.  However, you will be alive, which is a plus.

So this is what I'm doing - exploring and trying every other avenue before I choose to regard the choice everyone thinks is the obvious one as viable and something I'll have to take.  It would literally unleash mayhem because I've made stupid decisions which trap me in situations and drag other people down with me if I go back on them.  I made those choices precisely so that they would have this effect if I went back on them, so I'm now confronted with the mess my former self has made here.  But, it's not a fait accompli - it's what I'll do if and only if the problems don't resolve any other way, unless something specific and terrible happens which I'm not going to talk about.

Anyway, something odd happened yesterday.  I got another plastic card in the post.  Here it is:

The reason this is odd is that my GP recently said I'd have to take my deed poll over there to get my name changed on my NHS records, but this has just happened without any direct interaction between me and the NHS which makes me wonder how.  Is it via HMRC?  The City Council? I don't know.  I do know that they haven't officially heard from me so I need to check this with them.  I also need to check that I'm still on the waiting list for psych assessment, so at some point I'll go over there.

The reason this interests me is that I've heard that Real-Life Experience is counted from the date of the name change, which was 14th January 2014, and clearly as of a couple of days ago the NHS seems to have registered that I have in fact changed my name, so this is potentially quite significant for me because if I really do pursue this, in under a year I might begin to have certain options which make me feel like I'm being really selfish and hateful to a certain person for even considering.

I wanted to say something else, and this is addressed to a specific person.  I'm not saying this isn't exhibitionistic or a narcissistic exercise, but that's part of who I am too and it needn't be a bad thing.  I think you've seen it before in me and I know you feel uncomfortable about it, and I'm truly sorry about that.  I also want to point out that whereas the shelf-stacking option would absolutely be a viable one if I could find such a job, and it may look easy from the outside to do that, or at least possible with persistence, it really isn't.  We've both explored that at great length and we don't know why it doesn't work or happen but we do know that it doesn't, and it would be a wasted effort to go there.  So instead of that, we do this.  I'm suspicious of panaceas, but also feel quite strongly that it's this problem which has blocked me.  Obviously I will now be confronted with other blocks, but my life was broken and it needed fixing, so this is what I'm trying to do.  My experience isn't telling me that I have any other options, and if you think about the way I live my life I'm not being more flamboyant online than I am in real life.  However, I don't think you're going to read this.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Home Ed As Womb Envy

In the past I've spent quite some time contemplating the oddity of the discrepancy between our own life as home edders and those of other families we know.  Whereas Liz and I tended to divide the time and activities equally between us in terms of direct interaction with the children, most other families who were around at the time seemed not to.  They were usually either single parents with interaction chiefly between the mother and children or more vaguely "nuclear" families where the mother interacted more often than the father.  I'm not judging here, just saying it was different and I know it's a generalisation.

It's very easy to use hindsight to mess with the reality of one's memories and thereby redefine one's identity, so I'm cautious in doing what I'm about to do, but I now think there may be an explanation for the discrepancy connected to gender presentation.

Thanks to Janice Raymond, I have children.  Her book convinced me to keep my gonads where they were rather than copy the Wasp Factory's plot in that respect (IN CASE OF EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS, and yes I know but that'd be a spoiler).  Consequently, that combined with my GID-based feeling of certainty that I was sterile resulted in the wonderful blessings that are my daughter and son, the most fantastic, marvellous people that have ever happened to me.  In no way do I ever want to detract from how precious and awesome they are, and how grateful I am to God/the Universe/random chance and of course the woman who had herself cut open TWICE so they could be brought into the world without killing her and them, for me .  I cannot emphasise that strongly enough.


These children emerged from someone else's body, having grown inside her for nine months.  I contributed almost nothing to the physical process of bringing them into existence.  After their birth, she nursed them and although I tried to breastfeed one of them I didn't get beyond colostrum and regretfully decided that since the other body was biologically set up to do that, it was safer to hand that over rather than end up with a baby on formula.  I don't judge anyone else's decisions in that respect - that's where we were at the time.

I'm not going to describe everything I did to try to make up for that gnawing hole inside me which is the absence of a womb, and I know the presence or absence of such an organ isn't what determines one's gender.  Of course.  Nor am I going to be all self-centred and focus on some fantasy ideal pregnancy and breastfeeding scenario as opposed to the wonderful fact that these unique and priceless human beings now exist in the world.  All of those things are  a given.  They were given birth to - it's a gift, not a self-indulgent life experience like climbing Everest or walking to the South Pole.  Therefore maybe it should always be impossible for someone born with a male body to bear children - how are you going to get from that to a healthy, happy child being brought into the world without a degree of heartbreak, miscarriage and stillbirth which doesn't bear contemplating?

Nonetheless, my selfishness that made me cry "why did someone else bear my children" did end up being discussed at great length in counselling sessions in the 1990s which meant of course that their mother was taking care of them rather than me at the time, self-indulgent parasitic git that I was.  Enough of this self-flagellation.

Anyway, although of course I didn't carry the children inside me when they were of negative age unless you count my contribution to their nuclear DNA, and although I didn't breastfeed them much and when I did it all went pear-shaped, I couldn't get the child to latch on and so forth - complete pig's ear I made of that - I did accomplish the much less arduous task of wearing them, kiss-feeding them, using my finger as a dummy and various other things.  This is where the question of our unusual turn-taking arises with respect to the parenting, extended into home education, as it's often known.  I think I felt the need on some level to make up for not having done any of the things I thought I should've done by parenting them as thoroughly as possible later on.  I of course stand by my conviction that home ed is the right choice for the majority of families, by which I mean the option often described as such rather than my usual "everyone home educates" position, but I also think that in my case one of the motivations for doing it was the endlessly unsatisfiable yearning to have been pregnant with my own children, and that was a major factor in my decision to offer them the alternatives of going to school or not and to change that at any time, and in my relief that they never chose the first option.  That, I think, is the main reason why we divided tasks in the way we did and it's probably also a major reason why we're now still so poor.

So, the reason I as a father home edded my kids is womb envy, basically, but it was still the right decision for their sake.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Anti-Rotary Design Ethos

Only now can it be told.

Back in the day, which was of course the '70s, when things were last normal, I was still toiling under the yoke of my life-long button phobia, which only evaporated last year under the influence of rising oestrogen and declining testosterone.  I span various things off this, one of which was the parallel between buttons and wheels, and buttons and buttons as in fasteners and operating controls respectively.  I spared no mental expense in eliminating all things rotary and all things pushbuttony, and from this emerged a design ethos of sorts.

Firstly, wheels.  Here's a wheel:

On a shopping trolley this one.  This would not be acceptable in the '70s.  For some it was the Age of Disco.  For me it was the age of No Discs.  Everything had to be replaced by air cushions and hovercraft.  All surface vehicles had to glide on a cushion of air.  When it was later pointed out to me that even hovercraft, or Surface Effect Machines as I thought of them, the ground effect being too specific and defamatory since it's not merely ground but also water, quagmire and molten lava over which such contrivances can sally - even custard - themselves relied on rotary devices such as fans and propellers, my response was to come up with the peristaltic hovercraft, which frankly was a device which lifted itself by breaking wind.  This induced waves of pressure through tubes to aim jets of air onto the surface and behind the craft to move it around and keep it levitated.  Not a wheel in sight.

I extended the anti-wheel principle to all rotary components, including for example the cogs of clocks, the spools of cassette tapes and even volume and other adjustment knobs.  Knobs needed to be slide controls - longitudinal movement was fine, just not rotary.  Cassettes were to be replaced by solid state storage devices with no moving parts - this has effectively at long last come to pass now in the form of memory cards and sticks, although hard drives and Blu-Ray still exist - not part of the Urean utopian future I'm afraid.

Secondly, buttons.  This meant not only the fasteners but also any round devices or gew-gaws of any kind, including push buttons.  Since I was afraid even of using the word "button", I used to refer to them as "knobs", since twisty things, rotary though they were, were more acceptable.  I have a few thoughts about this, mainly along the lines that they represented skin lesions to my subconscious minds and therefore I extended a natural aversion to a novel situation.  Think blisters, pustules and boils - that's what buttons were like to me.  This was part of the huge spectral structure which used to rule my life.  Now peruse these:
A couple of computers from a few years after this.  The one on the left is the well-known ZX81.  The one on the right was the first thing I ever bought with my own wages, the Jupiter Ace.  The keyboards deserve a closer look:
(Apologies for this rather thrown-together montage but it's rather accordant with the image of the second keyboard, I think you'll agree).  In fact I'll do 'em again:

This is a typical early-'80s home computer keyboard, the famous "chicklet keys", crucially (for me) consisting of a series of push buttons projecting through a sheet of plastic - in other words, buttons.  It interests me, incidentally, that there seems to be an element of the horror of penetration here.  By contrast, here's the ZX81 membrane keyboard:

This has none of the buttony horror of the Jupiter Ace.  Instead it's just a sheet of plastic overlaid on a grid of wires which when pressed come into contact with each other and send a signal to the gubbins of the computer.  A "touch-sensitive" membrane keyboard, still occasionally found elsewhere such as in cheap safe keypads, but without the terror of penetrative keys.

A second principle not illustrated by these keyboards is the question of round controls, neither of which are had by these, unlike some other devices.

So, in Ure World, also perhaps known as the Caroline Timeline, the following principles applied:

  • No wheels, cogs, propellers, fans or any other rotary contrivances.  Instead, linear induction motors, peristaltic jets, magnetic levitation and the like.
  • No push buttons.  Instead, flat surfaces bearing rectangular legends which are either touch- or proximity-sensitive.  In other words, you just need to gesture in their direction to trigger the necessary action.  This is from a guy who suffered seriously from skin hunger incidentally and felt guilty about it.
  • No rotary controls.  Slide controls instead.  This could've been combined with the last but never was in my pre-teen mind.  I have no idea why.
  • This extended, as some people might be aware, to a whole complex of stuff about clothing from which I have only now freed myself.
Why am I bothering you with all this?  Well, to point out really the degree of restrictive structure and grid-like imprisonment which used to occupy my unwillingly male brain.  All this stuff, and this is only a small part, now forms an amusing game, but back then it was deadly serious and there was no known way out.  It's just weird that this whole thing, of all things, should have any connection with stuff like hormones and feelings, but somehow it did.  I never guessed it would just evaporate under the right influence.

Now I just look back, shake my head and think "what the heck was all that about?".

Saturday, 8 March 2014

s sc c ps i y z zz ss a er ir ur yr s z 

sisas sisaz sisers siserz sisirs sisirz sisurs sisurz sisyrs sisyrz sissas sissaz sissers sisserz sissirs sissirz sissurs sissurz sissyrs sissyrz siscas psyzaz - well, you get the idea.