Trans Feminism

There has been a lot of discussion about the place of trans people in feminism and in some ways I can understand it. Cis women experience discrimination because society identifies them as women while trans women experience discrimination because society refuses to identify them as women. On the face of this it seems like two very opposite forms of discrimination. How can one group support people who are experiencing such opposites of discrimination?
However, in many ways both forms of discrimination are a response to the question what is a woman. When a trans woman is asked to live ‘as a woman’ can she work in construction or science? Can she wear trousers? Must she wear make-up?
Women’s bodies and women’s roles are under constant scrutiny. When boys are looking up girl’s skirts at a school in Milton Keynes, it is the girls who are sent home to change into more appropriate clothes. When women are fully covered they are being oppressed. When women wear make up they are lying to men. When women don’t wear make up they have let themselves go.
In my view, the actual discrimination faced by both cis and trans women is that neither are living up to societal standards of what a woman should be. When trans women are told that they are not female enough, cis women need to be challenging the notion of ‘female enough’ because it applies to them as well. Feminism needs the voice of trans women to remind us of how far we have to go. To remind us where the challenges remain. To remind us that femaleness is still being judged on the clothes being worn, on the jobs being held and on reproductive ability.

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Living Life

There is an episode of Red Dwarf in which the crew wake up and find that they have been in a virtual reality game and that everything that happened on Red Dwarf was part of the game. As they talk to the technician who is helping them out of the game, they realise that they have been playing it wrong. Instead of having happy, successful lives with all their dreams coming true, they having been living in isolation, struggling through.
Sometimes, I think maybe that is what life is like. At the end of time, you look back on your life and realise that you did it wrong. You wasted too much energy on hate and negativity and missed out on all the joy that was there for the taking.
CS Lewis asked how solid would you be if your life was separated into all the moments of your life and only the moments where you were really you, only those moments where you grew and helped others grow were kept? How much of you would be left if the hate and anger and bitterness were removed? Would there be enough of you? Would you be solid enough? Would you be a ghost?
There was a man who said that he wanted to provide a way for people to live life…fully live it. Not just exist in it and have life happen to them, or have life happen around them but to have live life. To have all of their moments to be moments that would be saved at the end of time.
Sometimes I do things which aren’t me. They aren’t going to be featured in the moments of my life because they have nothing to do with my life. They are the moments when someone else’s life has been imposed onto me or when I have taken their life and prioritised above who I am. I think that I am helping them, I think that I am being supportive but I’m not. I’m not helping them to be them and I’m not being me. No one is benefitting.
Sometimes, it is easier to be someone else. Easier to forget that to be you means fighting against something, someone, everything. Sometimes it is easier for the bits of you that cause problems with the bits of the world to go away.
But there was a man who wanted all of everyone’s moments to be moments when they were fully alive. And he showed us how to do it. How to be fully yourself even when the rest of the world wants you to crumble under the weight of their priorities. Even when you feel buried under all the other things you think you should or ought to be.
Bad things will happen. Good things will happen. But to be you in all situations is living.

What if I stumble

At work, we have hot desks which means that although we mostly sit in the same sort of area we don’t have an allocated desk. This is because we are in and out of the office so often that it doesn’t make sense for us to have allocated desks. I am based in one location for four days a week and another for one day a week and then I do visits throughout the day with some occasions hours/days at the third office base.
Because of this there are some people we may only work nearby once or twice a week. There is one woman who sits near me about once a week, but not always. One time I was debating with another colleague – one who I sit by regularly. I won the debate and my colleague said ‘will there ever be a time when I argue with you and win?’ I responded that I only got involved in arguments if I could win. The woman laughed and explained that the last time she had sat near me I had said the same thing to someone else.
I suppose it is something I do throughout my life – I am successful in things because I do them knowing that I will be successful in them. I am currently undertaking a masters with the open university in childhood and youth studies. I’ve had no problems with the modules directly related to working with children and young people, however, really struggled with the unexpectedly not children focussed module about continued professional development.
I know that I am excellent at working with children and young people. I am able to build relationships quickly, take an interest, remember things and challenge behaviour. I have studied and have the relevant book knowledge. I have no doubt in my ability to work with children and young people in a variety of situations.
However, I have no idea what my abilities are. I don’t know how it is that I build relationships quickly. I don’t know what it is in me that means that when I took a week off work a young person refused to talk to any of my colleagues and instead, waited for me to return. I don’t know what I’m doing.
Perhaps, that is the reason why I found the module on continued professional development difficult. How can I develop myself as a professional if I can’t reflect on what I do? How can I develop strategies when my most successful experiences seem to have come out of nowhere? How can I continue if I don’t know where it is that I have started?
When I was a teenager some WEC missionaries visited my church and were involved in the youth club that I was volunteering at. They were shocked to find out I was only 15/16 and said that I should consider a gap year with WEC when I was 18. I think it was the first time that I realised that maybe what I was doing was something, was a skill, a talent, a thing.
In some ways I think it is important that I continue to recognise that I have no idea what makes a visit with a young person effective. I have no idea when my words will resonate. In the end, the skills, talents, success isn’t down to me. How can it be when I don’t know what I’m doing? There is something greater at work, something more than me that leads to an easy rapport.
However, that doesn’t mean that I should just walk into visits and hope that whatever it is will do its magic and everything will be ok. I don’t understand how it works so maybe it works better when I have a plan, resources, knowledge. And that is the reason why the boot of my car is full of resources and activities so that I never walk into a visit empty handed – even if I never use them when I’m in there. That is the reason why I put so much effort, research and planning into each visit. To make sure that whatever it is that helps me working with children and young people has the best chance of getting used.
And sometimes it is the game of top trumps or table top bowling that opens discussions, sometimes its a willingness to discuss minecraft, vampires or lego. Sometimes its my nails, my shoes, my hair. Sometimes its nothing, just a case of being in the right place at the right time and being willing to listen.
I think sometimes, it’s saying I don’t know what it is that I’m meant to be doing, I don’t know why I’m here but I’m here and I’m willing to do my best in this situation. I’m in the debate and I don’t join if I can’t win.
There are gifts that are given by God. There are situations that are used by God. There are things that are made sacred by God. It is my responsibility to make sure that the gifts I was given are in the best condition to be used. It is my job to make sure that I have gone into the situation and it is an honour to be able to reveal the sacred to others.

Go

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

I’ve been thinking about this passage a bit recently. It is used a lot. A verse that describes the mission brief that Jesus left first for those who had followed him and then on to each generation.

And it is a crazy thing to be asked to do. Therefore go. Go. Go away from this holy land that your ancestors took so long getting to and building. Go. Leave the land you have been promised. Go away from the temple where your God lives. Go from your homes, from your families. Go.

And make disciples of all nations. No longer is this message just for one nation. Go to all nations and all people.Leave not only the place where you are comfortable but also leave the culture you are comfortable with. Go to all nations. You have been blessed to be a blessing.

There are then stories about how the disciples went about carrying out this command. They sold everything they owned and shared everything. They practiced equality among people from different backgrounds. They equipped and sent out missionaries. They took opportunities that they were given to share the gospel with everyone they came across. They spoke to leaders, they spoke to groups of women meeting at the river, they met in the homes of the wealthy, they sang praises in jail.

They changed. They adapted. They moved.

They disagreed and held meetings to seek God’s will in new situations – decisions about big changes to things they had held onto as solid parts of their faith such as circumcision. And then they left it behind.

And then I think about this generation, about me. Sometimes we think about where it is we have to go but sometimes I think where do I need to go from? What do I need to go away from? What is it that I hold dear? Can people still be disciples if they don’t believe or do something I feel is important? Can I change? Can I adapt?

Coming out

If I went to my parents now and told them that I was gay (I wouldn’t do it here because my dad reads this blog and finding out in a blog would be a pretty sucky way of finding out) I am certain they wouldn’t throw me out of the house, they wouldn’t disown me, they wouldn’t ignore me. I know this because they’re my parents and they love me and they support me. I’m sure that I haven’t turned into the person they thought I was going to be when I was born and they don’t love me in spite of this, they love me because of this.

I don’t understand parents who claim to be loving while turning their backs on one of their children because of something so insignificant. You can believe that sexuality is chosen if you want to ( I’d think you were wrong but you can believe it) but then many other things in life are chosen.. Career choices, where to live, to go out on Friday nights and get drunk or eating left over curry for breakfast.

And I suppose there are parents who would abandon their children due to their career choices but those parents will have missed the point.

It is sad when parents turn their backs and it is terrible when people claim that a loving God would turn his back, a God we call father. God is our creator and our sustainer. He is love to everyone and the idea that would abandon his children is slander to his nature.

Jesus came to give homes to the homeless not to create homelessness. He came to set the prisoners free not to create more. He came to the orphans not to create more.

A day like today

I feel like Picard when Q invades the ships

Like Janeway trying to follow the Prime Directive while stuck in the Delta Quadrant

Like resistance is futile and there is only the struggle to stabilise the Omega Particle

There are times when each day seems like a constant assimilation mission

All people care about is the Rules of Acquisition

Sometimes its like being in the Mirror Universe

A search for Species 8472 only to find that fluidity space is more difficult to navigate than first expected

Sometimes life is like trying to follow the temporal time directive when all you want to do is save the world from tribbles.

Driving like its hard…

Recently I went on a speed awareness course. Most of it was very dull, however, what was interesting is that statistically people are less likely to speed near to a school. This is due to the perceived risk of children being unpredictable. People are more likely to have an accident close to home. This is due to the perceived lack of risk on familiar roads which allows your concentration to drift.

Familiarity is a dangerous thing. Sometimes things need to be shaken up so that we actually see the things that we have taken for granted, the things that have been lost in translation, the things that may jump out at us and destroy everything that was once so comfortable and easy.

Here in the Rubik Cube, we had get adapt to a new way of existing because everything we had known before no longer existed. The rules that were familiar had led us to into dangerous territory and we had not spotted the problems until it was too late to fix it. But without the rules life was scary and unpredictable.

We like certainty and predictability and we try to create it even where there is none but sometimes trying to force it blinds us to the problems we create alongside it.

Often, in an attempt to keep things predictable we create problems for people who do not fit into the ways we have created. In the social model of disability, people are impaired, not by their own disability but by a society which refuses to enable them. People are made blind if society does not allow them to wear glasses.

Next time something is comfortable or safe, perhaps it is time to think who is being discomforted or disabled for my comfort? Next time something is uncomfortable, perhaps it is time to think who is being comforted or enabled in this environment?