To mark Autogynephilia Awareness Day 2022, I am posting one woman’s harrowing account of her experience at the hands of an abusive man.
For B., who gave me the greatest gifts of all — a firm grasp on reality and a deep understanding of the importance of child safeguarding, and for every child who will one day wake up from this social experiment wondering why so few adults held the line on their behalf.
Growing up, I had a personality similar to that which Abigail Shrier has since outlined in her book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” I was a highly-feminine presenting, “high-anxiety, depressive… [girl who]… fell prey to anorexia and bulimia [and] multiple personality disorder” after the autogynephile next door battered and raped me to the tune of three first-degree felonies the summer before my senior year of high school. My overbearing yet docile behaviors were often described as “too much,” and I experienced social isolation from being “different” at school, which I now believe may be due to austistic-presenting traits which are often ignored or misdiagnosed in females. My personality differences led me to spend time at neighbor’s houses more often than with peers, and I truly loved my built-in community.
I am pleased to publish this guest post by Stella Perrett, whom I first heard about when she was cancelled by the Morning Star because a cartoon of hers that the paper had published, had offended a few fragile souls. I blogged about it here. I also reviewed her book here. This is the very moving story of her unhappy childhood. Her website is here and her brand new youtube channel is here.
Do Dysfunctional Families create Dysphoric Children?
I was 11 when I decided I would never have children. I would not put any other child through the misery of childhood I had suffered. I kept this promise to myself for the rest of my life, until I got safely past child-bearing age.
“Gender-Dysphoria” in the 1970s was a term known only by specialist doctors. My Guardian-reading, Liberal-voting parents had certainly never heard of it.
Dr D.H. Montgomery, Director of the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital and his colleagues, had been treating their patients, (75% male, the reverse of today’s situation at the Tavistock Clinic), since 1965. An organisation called the Beaumont Trust, founded in 1971, existed to counsel men then known to everyone as transvestites (and still exists).
And that was it. To the general public, the subject was a mystery. The nearest we came to it was watching British comedians on TV who wore drag as part of their act Stanley Baxter, Dick Emery, Les Dawsonor pantomime dames on stage, in the Christmas panto.
But no one ever pretended they were women. We laughed at them at their parodies of women – and part of the laughter was because they were unable to look like women and it was so obvious they were men. Very uncomfortable looking men too, squeezed into dresses and stumbling around on high heels, with grotesque makeup. They were figures of fun.
I see and hear feminists today saying that the British Panto/comedic tradition of men dressed as women (and women as the Prince, the gender-bending went both ways in Pantomime) was always meant as an offensive caricature of women. But that is not how I remember it. We always knew we were laughing at their complete inability to imitate women.
My brother was not an overtly masculine child. He loved rock music and taking motorbikes apart but he was not sporty. He was a disappointment to our father, who had the typical dual personality of the psychopath: charming to strangers, abusive and authoritarian to his family. He fostered that whole “pilllar of the community” thing. When my brother stumbled around the football field in the rain, our father would shout from the touchline, “Come on, you sissy!”
It was me who eagerly went to watch football with him and collected stickers of every team in the British isles. It was me he took to see “boys” films in the cinema – Tarzan and cowboy films. I vividly remember being taken by my father at age 9 to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” – with it’s gay overtones, which would have gone over his head and which I was far too young to recognise – and feeling very uncomfortable at an almost-sex scene in it.
I realised even at my young age that was the main reason my father had wanted to see the film and maybe wanted to expose me to it deliberately. I was substituted for the son he actually had but didn’t appreciate.
He took us to the same barber for short-back-and-sides. I was allowed to dress in jeans, get dirty, leave the dolls in the cupboard and play with Action Men. Instead of girls’ comics, I asked for and got American war comics, Tarzan, Dracula, science fiction.
My mother was a victim of coercive control, a modern term only added to UK Law in 2015. Even as a child, I could see she was a depressed and intimidated woman. She chain-smoked and rarely smiled. I never saw any affection between my parents, only shouting and silence. Although very bright and artistic, she had abandoned her early interests as a young woman – she was a local clay-pigeon shooting champion, when few women were involved in that sport. She had travelled abroad as a “Queens Guide”, the top tier of Guiding, and had enjoyed it very much.
But I believe she cut her University life short to look after her dying father – an Edwardian concept of the utility of the unmarried daughter. Her potential was wasted. She exchanged her possible life for one of endless drudgery in marrying my father. I suspect she suffered from post-natal depression after the births of myself and my brother. She took refuge in housework and ‘good works’.
My mother had no automony. She once told me that she didn’t know if there was any money in the house if the “Man from the Pru”* came calling. She did not drive and never went out anywhere alone. Limiting someone’s financial ability and controlling their movements is typical of coercive control. I felt sorry for her but, because she did not protect me against his abusive behaviour, I also resented her for her weakness.
One day, my father came home from work, came into the living room, looked at us lying on the floor watching Star Trek on TV and said, “Don’t think you can do that when you’re 18”. As a child, you take pronouncements like that very seriously. I decided I would make sure I was not anywhere near him or his house by the time I was 18.
The couple of times I tried to speak about the bullying at school, he just laughed. I don’t remember any sexual abuse – I suspect he was too much of a coward bullies are. I do remember him exposing himself to me and saying, “What are you looking at”?
He insisted on bathing me and washing my hair, when I was old enough to do both myself. When washing my hair, he would deliberately pull it painfully. He used to put me in scalding hot water until I screamed with pain.
Maybe that was abuse? We would say so now.
My Mother colluded in it, so I thought this was how all parents behaved. I found my schoolfriends’ houses very strange by comparison – like visiting people from another planet because in my house, no one smiled, laughed, kissed, or cuddled their parents or siblings.
I was so alienated from my family that sometimes when I walked home from the bus stop after school, or any time I was walking home, I had a strong recurring vision that when I turned into my road, my house would have vanished and there would be only empty fields. I felt alone, like I would always have to achieve things by just my own efforts.
So in this atmosphere, I grew up believing – convincing myself –- that I was a boy. No one told me any different, I heard the word “tomboy” and just assumed it was their way of describing me.
My mother told me that I was always independent. On my first day at Primary School, she said I threw a tantrum because I wanted to go on my own, not with her holding my hand. When she asked me if I wanted a bicycle, I pointed to a rank of gleaming motorbikes and said, “No, I want one of those”!
At Primary school
I was bullied constantly and struggled to make friends. I reacted by being the ‘class clown’. I was always the one who disrupted the lessons by throwing the textbooks out of the window into the mud. I got into fights with boys in the playground, which I always lost because of my disability. A psychiatrist might have had something to say about that but I was not to see one until my teenage years, by which time I was already a “criminal”.
My mother kept me educated but ignorant by keeping me out of school a lot as an “invalid”. She was over-protective of my disability and took me for lots of medical check-ups. She had plenty of books at home. She bought me “The Lord of The Rings” for my 8th birthday. I read it in three weeks. My reading age was seven years ahead of my actual age – another red rag for the bullies.
I did not query the idea that I was a boy. I fully expected to grow up to have a beard, be six foot tall, grow muscles and join the Army at 18. This was so obviously the polar opposite of what I was actually like – five foot nothing and disabled, that it’s hard to know how I sustained it. By reading American comics, probably.
My mother encouraged me to join the Brownies, and later the Girl Guides; the adventurous aspects (camping, orienteering, going on the Ten Tors Expeditions on Dartmoor) validated the “masculine” personality I had developed.
I was traumatised by my first period. I had been told nothing, by parents or teachers. I was terrified I was bleeding to death. It happened at home and I remember my mother just laughing. Now I understand that to be nervous laughter but as a child, it seemed just dismissive. This extraordinary, central event in my life was trivialised and laughed at. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she then told me I would have to put up with this event every month for the rest of my life.
After that, I tried to ignore my schoolmates’ chatter about how their breasts were growing, fashion and boys. I continued to dress as a boy as much as possible and invented reasons not to wear the girl’s school uniform, not to do girly stuff at school.
Nowadays all this would be called primary gender dysphoria.
By the time I reached puberty, it was blindingly obvious that I wasn’t a boy, even to myself. My earlier belief had evaporated, leaving behind only resentment.
I have recently read Nimco Ali’s book (published 2019) “What we’re told not to talk about – women’s voices from East London to Ethiopia”. The ignorance about their bodies of some girls in backwoods communities in Africa and the Middle East, was no different to my ignorance, growing up in a “civilised” country, to middle-class parents, with all my so-called “white privilege”.
I had visual and aural hallucinations, I cried a lot in secret. I saw my future as a huge black mountain, which I somehow had to climb. At the summit, I believed, was the magic age of 18 and freedom.
…was a nightmare because there my life was dominated by organised gangs, whom I spent most of my time trying to avoid.
It was a rough school in a good area, with a good reputation. It had acres of sports fields, 2000 kids, shiny science labs…and a probation officer on-site with his own office. He was kept constantly busy with the naughty kids; thieves, bullies, rapists and arsonists, whom he represented in local juvenile courts and packed off to the nearest Approved School.
Any slightly autistic, quiet, disabled, artistic child like me was beneath the radar of the teachers. Their interest in your future was non-existent. They either did not notice the bullying or tacitly encouraged it.
The teachers were ageing hippies. Fifteen-year-olds joined them for cider-drinking sessions in local pubs in the lunch hours and after school. Our married Head of English was more or less openly having an affair with a sixth-form girl, which was treated as a huge joke by the other teachers. (Years later he became Tony Blair’s Labour government’s education adviser and this scandal came out and he lost his job).
I learned very little there, except how to skive off and drink beer in secret, sowing the seeds for decades of alcoholism.
When they herded us into the science lab one day to watch that film of a baby being born, I was among the ones sat at the back, laughing and kicking our heels, ignoring it, except for occasional horrified glances at the screen, and giggling.
I continued to behave like a boy. I did a “boys’ subject”, Technical Drawing. I liked “boys’ sports”: boxing, football, motorcycling. But because of my disability, I was deemed not capable of the more exciting activities like school trips, canoeing, athletics, or swimming. My resentment at these restrictions festered, especially when I saw my brother being allowed to take part in them.
To control the headaches, backaches and misery of my periods, I persuaded my mother to get the doctor to prescribe me the contraceptive pill. No one told me what effects this might have. I guess it suppressed my oestrogen and gave my natural testosterone more of a chance, which may have enhanced my feeling of inner “masculinity”.
No one ever told me that it was not wrong or unusual for a girl to reject the extreme femininity they were expected to adopt and saw around them everywhere. The endless fawning around boys. The girls’ magazines like Jackie, which glamorised girlie clothes and behaviour. School dances, which I avoided like the plague. The constant talk of going out with someone and marriage.
It was a confusing time. Male pop stars dressed androgynously. Male footballers wore long hair. Men played at looking like women – without the misery we had to put up with – and were lauded for it. Just like today. The internet has only increased their visibility 100%.
I rebelled by wearing clothes, which might have labelled me a Goth (all black, leather, chains, Dr Martens) if there had been any other Goths around to recognise me! I finally met and made friends with one, in the relaxing, but bizarre, surroundings of the mental hospital I was in at age 16!
This resulted in my father’s angry comment, “You can’t wear black for the rest of your life”! To which I replied, “Watch me”!
I fantasised about killing the bullies at school, and my father. I thought about death and suicide every day.
Being disabled was a large part of this but I have since wondered: Could this constant frustration and rage have been anything to do with using the pill without a break? Certainly it has never left me, except that after the menopause I seem to have calmed down slightly!
In order to change my appearance, so I did not look like my Father’s side of the family, I wanted dental surgery to cosmetically repair my over-bite. I pestered my mother to request this from the dentists who made my braces (it was a fad for parents to make children wear braces in the 70s, almost like a fashion accessory). I was refused, on the grounds that my bones were still growing, and they could not perform such surgery until after I was 25.
This is interesting, since children today are being okayed for drastic “trans” surgeries from 16 onwards. I eventually had both jaws broken and re-set in my early thirties. A major surgery, which took months of painful recovery.
It’s interesting to compare my desire for cosmetically altering facial surgery with the modern cohort of girls with gender-dysphoria, and their desire for surgeries, which similarly separate them completely from the persona their parents brought them up with or desired for them. You can’t do much more of a “F…you” to your parents than wanting bits of you removed or altered, to physically make you no longer the child they raised and remembered.
By the time I was 15 the bullying became too much and I carried a knife to school for protection. I didn’t make it past the first weeks in the Sixth Form. I dropped out and went to what we call “the school of hard knocks” instead – psychiatric hospital and then prison. It was for a minor offence, which nowadays would have led to probation or a short time in a young offender’s institution.
But I was so desperate to escape from my adolescence that I successfully hammed it up as a mad psychopath in order to get locked up for as long as possible, so that I could safely reach the magic age of 18 and my longed-for “freedom” and autonomy. In those days, Prison Governors could, and did, add days or weeks to your sentence for minor disciplinary offences, so you only had to refuse every order to get a longer time inside.
Nowadays, I would have been hamming it up as a “boy”. Teenagers are good at acting out their delusions.
The four years I spent in those establishments as a guest of Her Majesty were the happiest of my life up to that point.
To cut a long story short: I rode motorbikes (my childhood ambition), spent 20 years in the construction industry, travelled abroad on my own and presented as androgynous all my life. In my 20s I campaigned for Gay Rights during the AIDS crisis, sent my hard-earned cash to the women and children fund of the 1984 Miner’s Strike and mixed with lesbians and feminists in London.
I had to endure several abusive relationships, including escaping domestic violence, taking a man to court and getting him convicted in my 40s. It wasn’t until I reached 50 that I found a nice man to settle down with, who also never wanted children and I finally beat my alcoholism.
I’ve tried various types of therapy over the course of 30 years: none of them worked. It’s only now I’m post-menopausal (without HRT – no extra oestrogen for me, thank you very much!) that I feel as “masculine” as I ever wanted to feel when I was young. I can finally look in the mirror and see the person I thought I was, as a teenager. Would today’s availability of “transing” drugs, hormones and surgery have helped me? No. Because my body dysphoria did not mean I would have been “cured” by doing more to imitate a boy than I already did, wearing their clothes and doing “boy stuff”.
Some actual counselling as a teenager would certainly have helped, not “Oops, carrying a knife for protection? Do Not Pass “Go”, go straight to mental hospital”! But by the 70s, state schools no longer had the traditional mothering presence of the school matron, who used to provide a private office and a comforting ear for unhappy children to talk to.
As an adult, I have had many rewarding experiences. I’ve achieved things I wanted to do, seen places I wanted to see, I’ve gained qualifications. I’ve run a business, I’ve had recognition as an artist.
I have been a proud union member all my working life and a union activist and representative in my workplace, until I retired in 2020, after my public cancellation. I’ve even made friends. Something you never think, as a disturbed teen, you will achieve.
Yes, it’s been tough. But life itself is tough.
The ‘cure’ for me was not medical intervention – the cure was very simple and something, which no one ever explained to me, something which is available in abundance, to all of us: TIME.
British terms: ‘Skive’ to bunk off school.
‘Man from the Pru’ (the Prudential) a visit from the Household Insurance collector
‘Do Not Pass GO’ reference to the family game Monopoly. “Do Not Pass GO-Straight To Jail”!
I used to love and support the Pride but the reaction to last year’s protest by lesbian feminists in London and the behaviour of lesbophobic Men’s Rights Activists in response to peaceful protests at various Pride events around the UK this year has appalled me – and I’m not the only one. From across the pond, Lara Adams-Miller saw the tweets reporting that marchers had shouted at lesbian protesters and produced an awesome thread, which I am pleased to reproduce here with her permission.
She’s got a good piece on Medium too. Speaking Truth to Power in the Era of Trans Rights Activism
Edited to add: Lara has just produced another awesome thread here.
Sickened by footage from Leeds today. Some lesbians do not ascribe to transgender ideology. That should not prevent them from having a community or being proud of their orientation. A lesbian of any political leaning or philosophical outlook is still allowed to be a lesbian.
These lesbians want one thing: a community of homosexual females. Refusing them that is an act of hate. It’s a new era of gay-bashing, one that only affects the women. Do you want to know why so many lesbians are “terfs”? Watch the videos.
It’s 2019, and a group of lesbians may not demonstrate. Lesbians can’t march, can’t stand together safely in the streets, and this, to you, is progress. A person born a girl, grown to a woman, cannot celebrate the fact that she loves other women.
“Trans rights are no threat to lesbians.” Not so long as we agree we don’t exist! Not so long as we call men women, say that lesbianism includes penises and that women-only spaces are exclusionary and hateful! Fuck. The entire situation is about threats.
Our lesbianism is now subject to male approval. How is that okay? Men telling us when and how we’re allowed to choose only our own sex to date. We’re being forced to call our sexual orientation a GENITAL PREFERENCE as if the women who draw us are no more than vaginas.
Lesbians are becoming “terfs” because you won’t leave us alone and just let us be lesbians! We want spaces for our community, and sovereignty over our definitions of ourselves and our identities. Men have rewritten the definition of “lesbian,” and we’re not supposed to mind??
We don’t want to hurt trans people, but we’re not responsible for the “gender affirmation” or mental health of (mostly male) strangers! Why is that such a radical boundary? If they can’t be who they are WITHOUT erasing who we are, then they ARE a threat to lesbians!
If transgender people can’t feel “valid” without invalidating us, then they are a threat. If protection of their self-esteem is worth more than our right to gather, march, and speak, then they are a threat to lesbians. How can people not see this??
Lesbians don’t want to hurt anyone, not even their feelings. But we are sure as fuck not going to put an end to actual lesbianism just to show how nice we are! You have no right to ask it of us! Live your lives, march, love, play – just leave us to do the same!
Women – actual biological women – who are solely attracted to other actual biological women EXIST. And there is NOTHING wrong with that, nothing that needs expanding or enlightening. If you don’t agree, then you simply do not support rights for homosexual women, aka lesbians.
So if you’re cheering on the people who blocked that march, who said it wasn’t okay for women to carry a banner that said “homosexual female,” that’s your right. But realise that you are directly opposing gay and lesbian rights. You are a trans ally, not an “LGBT” ally.
If you think homosexual women are worth so little that we can’t even EXIST if it makes transgender people feel excluded, then you don’t give a shit about lesbians, and you don’t give a shit about women. Our bodies and our lives are not community property.
We support transgender people being safe, being respected as human beings (even if we disagree regarding their claim to be a sex they weren’t born to) and having supportive communities to turn to. I don’t have to agree with them philosophically to want that for them.
But I will NEVER agree that men identifying as women have a right to deny women like me our own spaces, our own identities, our own communities. Whatever they think we are – they have NO RIGHT to isolate and silence us. They have no right to erase us.
These actions aren’t those of a human rights’ movement – they’re the doings of toxic masculinity, of abuse and control. You shouldn’t have to agree with me on transgenderism to see that. These are women marching for sexual freedom, being physically bullied and blocked by men.
You don’t have to oppose transgenderism or self-ID or any part of gender ideology to see through these tactics, to call them out. You don’t have to think lesbians are right about trans activism in order to recognise why we see it as a threat.
Wouldn’t you, if you were one of us?
Published on this site 05.08.19
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Back in January 2018, Venice Allan organised the first public meeting in Scotland about proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. Naturally, the meeting – held in Glasgow – was subjected to the usual disruptions by trans activist bullies, as was the meeting organised by WPUK in Edinburgh the following month. Reports since then (many linked to from my politics page) have mostly left me feeling less than optimistic about the situation north of the border, in spite of some fantastic work by courageous politicians and other campaigners.
But that changed somewhat this week, with the news that the Scottish government wasn’t, as expected, charging ahead with its draft Bill on gender ‘reform’ but would be re-opening the consultation. At last some good news and a testament to the hard work and commitment of feminists and allies.
Then I was alerted to a great wee Twitter thread by an SNP supporter which, frankly, filled me with joy and I am very grateful to Gavin Barrie, aka @jammach for permission to reproduce it here.
Claire Graham, who currently tweets as @intersexfacts, is helpfully compiling a list and I thank her for allowing me to reproduce it here – or rather, the first dozen items on it. (Quotes from articles linked to were selected by me.)
1. Gender neutral toilets – transphobic.
“Chelsea Dyapa, a third-year philosophy student, said she thought the policy was discriminatory because it could potentially be too costly to implement, limiting the number of gender-inclusive facilities campuswide.”
Here is an account, posted on Twitter recently, of growing up feeling different, wondering at times whether she was meant to be a boy. I found it very moving, I expect some will find it resonates strongly. My grateful thanks to her for allowing me to reproduce it here in the form of a guest blog post.
I have only really spoken about this in real life to a handful of people and vaguely made reference to it here but The Times report today has brought this thread on.
That and periodically I get a spat of young lesbians who follow/like my posts. Or ask for help in DMs.
I spoke about this in a group chat with some other lesbians and there is one – literally one – in real life who knows the full extent of this because it just seemed so irrelevant to my life today. Or even in the last <15 years.
People frequently make comments about how GNC (gender non-conforming) kids will likely grow up to be gay/lesbian. I was extremely GNC as a kid. I played sports, I hung about with boys, I cried if I was put in a dress.
I was told at some point that I was a girl and needed to like ‘girl things’.
I’m grateful to the author of the account below, which was posted on Twitter a few days ago, for granting permission to re-post it here. I don’t know who she is. It’s a sign of the times that she feels has to remain anonymous.
I don’t know if anyone will ever read this. I’m a new account with very few followers. If anyone sees this and considers it worthy of an RT (retweet) I’d be grateful: I so much want to be heard, if only this once.
See, I joined Twitter a few months ago in a different ID, to discuss Labour politics. I like lefty Twitter. I’m happy there. I’m a party member. I knew nothing about the GRA (Gender Recognition Act) debate at that point; but did see mentions of transphobia. Naturally, I was against that.
I saw as well mention of horrible bigoted people called “TERFs,” and obviously I was against them too. And when I learnt what TERF stands for, I was surprised. What’s happened to feminism over the last 20 years or so while I haven’t been paying attention? Has it got nasty?
I thought, I’ll investigate further.