poem: the wisdom of the bard

 

the bard was wise methinks,

when sayeth he that ’tis not love,

that doth exclude admittance of

that which is feared, would push all loving from it’s gaze;

indeed – what thou fear most would not impede,

my meagre loving of yourself, with none of thee left on some shelf,

to be ignored, or left alone to dry and dust-clad days;

 so my love i say again – and happy to –

tho’ my poor pen

must stand in sted of arms which will amen,

to loving all of thee,

yes, all of thee, still now as then.

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poem: on a scale of 1 to 10

“So on a scale of 1 to 10

how bad is the pain?”

I wonder if the doctor thinks

I lack ambition;

10 seems so peculiarly small

to describe the sensation

of having the back of my skull smashed open

with a claw hammer.

Be generous doctor –

some days pain cannot be confined

to your disjointed understandings.

 

 

Why the #Genderquake Debate Must Never Happen Again (cn)

I wonder if – at the meeting where the #Genderquake debate was first pitched – anyone took a moment to ask “will this meet the remit of the agreement we made to responsibly eradicate transphobia and represent trans people respectfully?” As far as quite a lot of the trans community are concerned today – and has already been noted by Trans Advocate – the answer to that question is no. Indeed it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that Channel 4 have harmed, perhaps beyond repair, the trust of one of our most marginalised communities.  What happens next will define if Tuesday night’s debacle was a turning point toward the end of unchecked transphobia in our media, or the start of an even greater saturation of it.

Everything that was wrong with the premise of the format was put on blast when – on national television – a small clique of white women hurled verbal transphobic abuse at a black trans woman. Producers then failed to remove those responsible for the verbal abuse, despite Munroe Bergdorf requesting that those who were abusing her be removed. Grown women were allowed to shout ‘you have a penis’ and ‘you’re a man’ at a trans woman. A last minute chastisement came from the host and chair of the programme, Cathy Newman, as the credits were about to roll – but by then it looked like the lip service it was to Channel 4’s commitment to “..ensuring that transgender people … are treated with the same respect as non-transgender people.”

It was probably the worst of it, but there were several points where the lazy journalism that propped up the ‘debate’ made it difficult for Munroe, Caitlyn Jenner, Jen Powell,  Kenny Jones and Ash Sarkar to address the tropes, myths and flat out lies that Germaine Greer and Sarah Ditum were able to drop-and-run into the ‘conversation’. The myth of the desistance rate of trans children wasn’t picked up on for example; Greer was allowed to get away with the anti-Semitic dog whistle claim that there’s a shadowy group of people making lots of money out of ‘transing’ people; and trans men were described as frustrated girls trying to become men as a ‘way out of their oppression’ – in front of a trans man. To put it bluntly, Cathy Newman had no authority in the room, and it showed.

This was particularly obvious almost mid way through the programme – Cathy Newman asked Germaine Greer about one of the many transphobic statements she has made. I’ll be honest: it came across as if the first part of the debate was set up to lead to that moment – Greer’s rampant transphobia exposed on live television, and a defence demanded.

First, and despite her (frankly half-arsed) denial, yes: Greer really did say ‘lopping your dick off and wearing a dress doesn’t make you a woman’.  I for one, certainly think we can respect an 80 year old woman enough to hold her responsible for what she said when she was 76. Greer has a long history of vocally demonising trans people, and most often trans women:

“On the day that The Female Eunuch was issued in America, a person in flapping draperies rushed up to me and grabbed my hand. ‘Thank you so much for all you’ve done for us girls!’ I smirked and nodded and stepped backwards, trying to extricate my hand from the enormous, knuckly, hairy, be-ringed paw that clutched it… Against the bony ribs that could be counted through its flimsy scarf dress swung a polished steel women’s liberation emblem. I should have said, ‘You’re a man. The Female Eunuch has done less than nothing for you. Piss off.’ The transvestite [sic] held me in a rapist’s grip.” – Germaine Greer in The Independent: ‘On why sex change is a lie’, 22nd July 1989

But I digress.

I would imagine – given Greer’s track record – that the production team hadn’t factored in Greer attempting to deny that she had said what she had, in fact, said. It would have been helpful if Cathy Newman included the fact of when Greer had said it, but that’s perhaps the wisdom of hindsight: it gave Greer the opportunity of a poor denial, and the ‘gotcha’ moment that Newman and Channel 4 were clearly expecting slipped out of their grasp, along with any vestige of authority Newman might have had – the heckling of Munroe Bergdorf came in the wake of that.

Were the audience encouraged to heckle (or ‘interact’)? I would imagine – it was a live television event, and audiences listening to the panel respectfully wasn’t going to make for dramatic tension. Or viewing figures.

But the failure to own the goal that the C4 team were likely expecting to score exacerbated a situation which led to a black trans woman being verbally abused by a white woman, on live television – a situation which had been made likely enough already, due to the format of the show, and it was obvious how difficult, uncomfortable and frightening it must have become for the trans and non-binary panellists’.

Were women silenced on Tuesday night? You betcha. But it wasn’t the women who were shouting about penis’ who were silenced. It’s the trans girls, (and trans boys, and non binary children), and trans women (and trans men and non binary people) who were too frightened to come out before that programme aired, and for whom there will be precious little evidence that its safe to come out now: who heard Sarah Ditum make false claims of high desistance rates among trans children (again), and heard her (again) compare trans women and girls to violent predatory males, something which she does any time she’s given a platform to do so.

Channel 4 owe the trans community an apology, because it allowed trans people to be verbally abused and did nothing to stop it; and it owes them more than that – it owes them a renewed, and thorough, re-commitment to the promises that they so spectacularly failed to keep to on Tuesday night.

 

  • Eliminating transphobia in the media
  • Ending the provision of misinformation about transgender people in the media
  • Increasing positive, well informed representations of transgender people in the media
  • Ensuring that transgender people working in or with the media are treated with the same respect as non-transgender people in equivalent positions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

poem: ode to my queerly beloved

oh! to be

queerly old fashioned

with thee;

indeed, when thou hast shed the skin

of that pretense

which, long since, poorly had you worn –

thy truer self would agree,

that apt those words describe

what we have always been;

for well we know,

how strange the un-straight path

has weather’d us to normal seemed;

(indeed with strangeness we have taken

tenancy);

perhaps we could compare

our much imagined lunacies?

tho’ rather would i taste again

those queer, old fashioned,

truthful kisses.

poem: some nights aretha sings my blues

 

some nights Aretha sings my blues

when my hearts tried hard my the things you do,

when you’re trying to pretend that you’re like him too –

some nights Aretha sings my blues;

 

 some nights Aretha sings my love sweetly,

 i’m poured over with the rhythm of notes dropped neatly

behind the back beat that her voice sinks into me –

some nights Aretha sings my love sweetly

 

some nights are too many but what do i do,

when you’re trying to pretend that you’re like him too,

and my hearts still aches for this silly old fool –

some nights Aretha sings my blues.

poem: i did not fail to notice

i remember the day well,

when i first ran smack-bang-into

your unacknowledged

but very clear disdain;

for revealing what you had wrongly

assumed me to be.

 

you thought me a nice

quiet, well behaved hetrosexual

– but not even decently, coolly rebelliously gay-enough;

and discovering herself a little queer –

(too much for your taste);

i’m used to being a disappointment.

 

i masked-and-mirrored well, too much

and perhaps that did not happen without me;

but i’m not convinced that it is i, that owes the apology.

it is not i who is uncomfortable with who i am, and yet

its true that now i’m uncomfortable,

with this part of who you are.

 

so perhaps i shall, when time enough

has passed the sting of your disdain

from painful down to – well, and then;

and i will find within again the will try

and understand, without conforming who i am,

to something i am not.

 

neither pretended, or forgot;

and neither you pretending, but so verse might have

an ending, let me say –

i do not sigh with mean asides,

just weary, that myself might be enough

for someone, someday.

 

 

poem: father, son and holy ghost

’tis a truth thy know full well,

that love’s not absent of it’s mind,

or blind, to that which poorly you disguised –

indeed pretence was spotted long ago;

 hide not from love, that loves you even so –

and knows the sacred beat of thy dear heart,

and knows it still.

 

that ill fitting mask you wear,

that oft was dropped when fear of loss

commanded you to reassure – it never hid you well;

but well i know

that half hidden meant half seen;

and oft pursued –

with hope of keeping, what anger sought to lose.

 

anger is the ice that kept him cold enough

to stay away;

you never wore ice well – feign not the bitter frost

that held him sway.

For you are not so lost, and my years will tell

of all the love you give and give again;

for those who love you now, will love you then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

poem: mister angry

 

tis true you are not perfect,

but that’s not how you stay disguised;

for tis your anger still

that scrapes and blinds thee to mine eye;

and this you can’t deny,

when even now you test me out for lies;

 

and scrape the honours given

to force upon them some demise.

mister angry makes you bend and show your arse;

‘twould be funny,

were it not an oft played farce.

 

 

 

poem: good friday

meditation based on psalm 23, vs 5 

 

you prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies

and i look up, from the foot of your cross

and it is my sin that put you there

too oft from a sin that i chose

and yet you anoint my head with oil

and my cup over flow’s

 

 

you anoint my head with oil

my cup overflows’

and i look up from the foot of your cross

from your head and your wounds

your blood freely flows;

how could it be that blood of lamb slain

could free me of guilt, could free me of blame?

that you feed me as enemies taunt me with death

and that my cup, with your love, over flows?

and i look up from the foot of your cross

and my love overflows

Poem: proud, prouder, proudest

 

hide not from me who saw you

however well thy thought self hid;

when you seek me be proud of you,

in all you do, have done and did;

and will do – for love’s great cause,

will never cease, will never pause.

 

the shield you thought protection

can only shut out loves proud view;

cease now love’s long detention,

’tis long enough, they know it true;

there was no shame to hide,

and in mine eyes, you saw it so.

 

Kneading, richly weaving, vibrant growing

and it grows; hide not thine eyes from seeing,

what you know your heart doth know;

and let thy footsteps quickly carry thee –

to tend our soil and watch love grow

our family.