To The Transgender Recipe, Add A Dissociative Ingredient. Mix well.

A Facebook thought that became more than a thought.


This post is not a picture of a cute cat. It’s not the thousandth “Trump isn’t very nice” post you’ve seen today. It’s not “What nice or too hot weather we’re having.” It’s not even one of my posts with twenty pictures of the amazing things I see and look at on my wanders or a rejoicing in sitting alone by the sea. It’s not about a TV show or some brilliant community project in Newcastle. It’s not a grumble about conservative religion (such as was in a post someone shared yesterday that made me quite sad) or my showing off that I’ve beaten the world in the solving of a meaningless Japanese puzzle. There will be no soft toys in this post or excitement about social activities or some strange creative group I’ve been sampling. And it’s not a semi-competent poem or short story.

It’s a thought. About gender. And about identity. Mine, not anyone else’s. There will be no generalising here from a specific case.


A little over five years ago, a couple of days after first saying hello to myself as Clare I wrote something. At that time we knew practically nothing about transgender issues. Only what it was feeling like in this head – and we had almost no understanding of that either. Everything was written with as much honesty as we could muster and was intended only to be seen by Beth. It was written from a place of entering into unforeseen experiences rather than from any scholarly or knowledgeable basis of the way things were “meant” to work.

That written thing was about some of what it felt like in this head with regards to gender. Two days after recognising myself in a mirror and calling myself Clare for the first time.

Soon after I laid aside that writing. Because the way it was written isn’t really how transgender things are meant to work. Everything I read told me so. Instead I formed conclusions about myself based not on those initial instincts but on textbooks and testimonies of others. It wasn’t a case of finding an identity (Clare) in how things were for other people but theoretical reasons for that identity, at least in part, found in the words of others.

The language was of one personality taking over and an imprisoned personality screaming for release. Of a protector who became a usurper. There was a lot more to it than that.

Recently I’ve looked at the writing again. Because maybe it *IS* how it works for this brain. The language – without understanding or anything else – is pretty much the language of dissociative splitting. I spent years rejecting the writing as something written by someone who didn’t understand the most basic theory of what transgender might mean. I simply thought I’d got it wrong.

But perhaps the person who wrote those words was more in touch with a hidden reality than he/she thought.

I get the real sense that among the rather more complicated than believed mess of what’s inside this head there is still a very unhappy male personality. And that one day he’s going to have to be met again in some way.

Does this confuse the whole transgender thing or does it just confirm it in an unexpected manner? I think the latter. I think one source of trauma from childhood was the consistent, skillful masking and crushing of the female – just as was written five years ago. That is at least one obvious source. It’s still potentially a scary question even though we believe the answer isn’t scary at all.

Five years ago I was at the point of thinking impossible thoughts. Here we go again! Does impossibility ever end?

How’s this for a thought?: “The usurper, because the conditioning is so strong, would have no conscious awareness of the real person beneath.”

Or this: “The usurper, active in life, cannot even conceive of his own falsehood or of a separate personality within. It’s so impossible, unmentionable, unthinkable, that the usurper can only live knowing that something is wrong.”

I (or he or we or she or whoever else!) wrote those words five years ago. We could have written something very similar today. Holy crap. The section that sentence is in is written in a way that shines one light on what’s going on right now. I’m going to need a lot more lights.

Five years ago we had no knowledge of transgender issues. Seriously, whoever you are, transgender or cisgender, you almost certainly have more knowledge than we had then. We also had no accurate knowledge of the things we’ve stumbled across with the psychologist recently.

The writing contains things that show an obvious lack of knowledge and an obvious lack of having had five years to think about things. But perhaps it contains some instincts and subjectiveness that will turn out to be more correct than he/she/they could ever have imagined.

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