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Silence Exile and Crumpets
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Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Time Event
My Guardian piece on not being all that impressed by antimatter, and how SF made me jaded here
I hope to see as many of you as possible at the London ceremony at the Cruciform building, University Street WC1 at 3.

Whereever you are. hug people. We are all so fragile.

179 trans women were murdered worldwide last year. One would have been too many.
I may not have finished the Books of the Dead sequence
but this is the coda, I think.


The Persians conquered. After them the Greeks
Rome, Arabs. And the borders of the land
dried or were goat-eaten, turned into sand.
The tombs fell down, their roofs developed leaks

And what was in there rotted, turned to dust
became antiquaries' delights. Belief
in Isis and Osiris, and her grief
hunthing his body lost the people's trust.

One God replaced it. Yet I like to think
the souls of all those dead who made their way
through caverns, tombs and judgement got to stay
in western lands of reeds, where they could drink

the eternal waters of the River Nile,
and watch their cats stalk ibises, and smile.
I thought it was settled
(One or two of you may have seen an earlier version of this post which I deleted by accident)

I had pretty much made up my mind about the t-word.

After all, a huge majority of the trans community - including a lot of younger people - have decided that the word is hate speech, that it is unacceptable in any context, not just as a shout in the street, or a smear in the press, or something said on television. I never felt that strongly - of my four and a half decades in the community, it has only been in the last decade or less that I was ever made to think of it as an insult, rather than as a diminutive that could be used positively or negatively. I intervened in recent controversies because of matters of fact and accusations of untruth in a matter in which I, by dint of being around still, could speak for people who are in some cases a quarter of a century dead. I feel no tie to the word sufficient to make me oppose a clear consensus who are a lot more upset by it than I am.

This is why, though I love Kate Bornstein as a dear friend, I told her the other night that she should bow to popular pressure in this matter, even though I deprecate the attacks on her. I am not going to the stake for a word I don't especially like, even though I have felt bullied by some people's tone on this, especially when they seemed to be telling me that I could not have had experiences I had decades ago.

However, experience is all.

This afternoon, the London TDOR ceremony was incredibly powerful and moving. I got to do my poem - there was some wonderful music - the reading of the names was so affecting that the readers broke down a few times, especially when they got to the toddler in the USA murdered for not being butch enough.

A singer came on at the end - she is wonderful and a friend and I am not going to drag her name into it so that people who were not there can vilify her. She sang 'Good to Mother' and 'Changes' and a version of the old Peggy Lee song 'Woman' rewritten as 'Tranny'. One or two people may have been outraged, but most of the sixty or so people present were cheering, laughing and beating out the rhythm on our desks. There were tears of joy where a few minutes before there had just been tears.

So maybe it does depend on context after all. Maybe in the right context it can be life-affirming. That's what I experienced anyway.

Now shoot me

Later There is a point here which I had to think about during the comments, which is that my assumption that there is in fact a huge majority against the word because a lot of people in the blogosphere say that there is, is not a correct one. Actually, I don't know what the community thinks - I know the very varying views of my friends, and what I had come to think.

I unequivocally withdraw any talk of a majority - I genuinely do not know whether there is one or not. There clearly wasn't yesterday.

On a broader point, we need to beware - and I take my own position in this very self critically - of establishing orthodoxy through online communication. Apart from anything else, itis so very easy to be persuaded not that something is necessarily true, but that it might well be true, and that all the cool kids are saying it is.

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