Archive | July 2015

Dreams we Conceive

Nothing to do with being a crossdresser or trans, but it could almost be when you consider the lyrics.  We truly are the forbidden and unforgiven who keep our wounds hidden from view.

And of course it is just beautiful.

In a city after midnight,
‘neath the halo of a street light,
where the dreams die,
as the blood dries,
of the wounds we keep hidden from view.

In the safety of this darkness,
as it hides all time has tarnished.
The forbidden, unforgiven,
are secure here where no-one pursues.

But the night fades away,
and gives way to the day.
What else is the night to do?
As the dark steps aside,
with the hopes we confide,
and never believe that the dreams we conceive
could ever not ever come true.

Is life different after midnight,
with it’s new dawn, and it’s new light?
Inconsistent and indifferent,

to the things we were so sure we knew.

As you stood there, in the night air,
with such beauty; let the stars stare,
from their distance; you were different,
like a dream that no-one could refuse.

But the night fades away,
and gives way to the day.
What else is the night to do?
As the dark steps aside,
with the hopes we confide,
and never believe that the dreams we conceive
could ever not ever come true.

As you stand all alone at your station,
what if God doesn’t know where you are?
As you send out your prayers for salvation,
but afraid that they don’t go that far.

So you wait all alone in your darkness,
and there’s a train that drives on through the night.
And if everyone’s on it except us,
would it return for that single life?

In a city, after midnight,
‘neath the halo of a street light.

I post this for every crossdresser and trans woman who is in hiding tonight.

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Italian Lawmaker: Gays should change gender to marry

Paola Binetti - praying away the gay

Paola Binetti – praying away the gay?

Make the strange lady go away Mummy, she’s scaring me!

Paola Binetti, Italian “Union of the Centre” Party member and member of the Italian parliament’s Chamber of Deputies, thinks she has come up with the answer concerning equal marriage in Italy – gays should just change gender.

“Why do we need to pass a law on civil unions for homosexual couples, and to engage in a lengthy semantic debate around what ‘marriage’ means today?’”  Binetti asked in an interview with Huffington Post Italy, “Why must we embark on a bitter parliamentary battle on the value of the family, to decide whether certain reforms will strengthen it or weaken it further?  It would be a complete waste of time: all debate has now been rendered void by the recent verdict of the Supreme Court in the case of the individual who has demanded the right to change sex without surgical intervention.”

Yes dears, you did read that correctly – she did suggest that gay people need only undergo gender reassignment to get married.  Hang on for a bumpy ride, this is a woman with degrees in surgery and psychiatry.

“Sexual difference appears completely irrelevant. It is enough for an individual to claim not that they are a certain way or they look a certain way but merely they desire to be a certain way,” Binetti continued, “Just present your documents, declare how you feel and how you want to be considered and the die is cast.”

To steal a line from the BBC comedy series Blackadder Goes Forth, “I do believe the phrase rhymes with ‘clucking bell’.”

When I first came across this story, which appeared in The New Civil Rights Movement, I thought it had to be satire or a spoof.  Surely no politician could be that stupid? So I went searching the internet.  Sad to say that it is 100% genuine.

Some people really don’t get it, do they dears?  Hello Paola, gay men like men, lesbians like women – they are not interested in the opposite sex, and have absolutely no desire to change gender.  If any of my gay friends saw some muscled Adonis, say in a kilt, I could be  wearing my sexiest outfit – and they would trample over me to get to him.

Oh well, I suppose no-one can every accuse her of transphobia.

Her comments follow the European Court of Human Rights condemning Italy for denying same-sex couples their human rights by not offering them marriages or civil unions.

72-year-old Binetti is a devout Roman Catholic and a Numery member of the ultra-conservative and controversial Roman Catholic organisation Opus Dei (Work of God), which Dan Brown mistakenly called a “secret sect” in his novel and subsequent movie The Da Vinci Code.  As a member, Binetti has voluntarily asserted that she does indeed wear a cilice; a toothed metal belt worn around one of her thighs, to constantly remind her of the suffering of Christ (let me see; crown of thorns, scourged, crucified, spear in the side – nope, nothing there about wearing a toothed belt – they didn’t even break his legs because he was already dead).

This is not the first time Paolo Binetti has made homophobic statements.  In 2007 she stated on Italian TV channel La7 that gays and lesbians needed medical care, maintaining that homosexuality is a disease.

As well as holding a senior position in the Italian government, since 1991 Paolo Binetti has been overseeing the work of the medical facility of the Biomedical Campus of Rome.

Be afraid, dears – be very afraid.

The Painted Mask of Ugly Perfection*

Ben Cohen - I would

Ben Cohen – I would

The media, society and body fascism

I was prompted to write this blog after listening to a discussion on a radio show.  It concerned a comic masquerading as a newspaper, The Daily Mail, fat-shaming former England rugby player, Ben Cohen.

In a somewhat catty article, Mail ‘journalist’ (I use the term loosely, dears) Jemma Buckley, amidst terms like “beefy” and “portly”, commented on pics of Ben during his holiday in Miami, stating “it would appear that Ben Cohen has been making the most of his retirement from the sports field”, “The former England star looked out of shape”, carrying a few more pounds than he’s used to”, and evenPerhaps the 36-year-old has indulged in one too many romantic meals with reported girlfriend Kristina Rihanoff”.

Saucer of milk for Ms Buckley.

Oh please.  So Ben has put on a few pounds, but know what?  He still looks great, he still has a physique many men would kill to have, and he is still damned sexy with it.  Okay, he’s not my type – I’m more fond of androgynous pretty boys (whom some would claim I ‘collect’ on social media, but I think that’s uncharitable), but even then, I certainly wouldn’t kick him out of bed in a hurry – and I doubt many of my readers would either.  If anything he looks better carrying a little more weight in my opinion.

The discussion on the radio was extremely interesting as it was traumatic to listen to, as it exposed that fat-shaming, and other abuse based upon bodily appearance are on the increase.  There was a call from one woman who said she was 6′ 8″ tall and with a broad-shouldered and sturdy frame and large hands, saying that she had suffered verbal abuse being called “homo” and “tranny”.  The poor woman is not even transgender – she’s cishet.

Probably the most disturbing aspect of this phenomena is that it is now affecting children, and we are not talking just teens either.  My heart went out to one grandfather who called in and was obviously in tears as he told how he noticed his 8-year-old grandson was continually sucking in his stomach, and when questioned it turned out the little chap, who apparently still has a bit of his baby fat, was being bullied at school for being fat.  We have a saying in Scotland, “Fools and bairns speak at the cross whit they hear by the ingleside.”, so I am immediately going to lay the blame for that one not just upon the bullies, but upon their parents, who if they are not actually bringing up little bigots (which I assume they are), they are certainly doing nothing to discourage it.

I reserved my rage for one – male – doctor who was interviewed on the show and who stated “This has been a problem with girls and women for a long time.  The last thing we need is to add men into the equation.”

So wrong.  So very, very, wrong.  Firstly, the said doctor seems to be suggesting that if it is a female phenomena, then that is okay, but woe betide it should ever become a male issue.  Secondly, perhaps because there have been serious problems with women suffering abuse due to image, then if it takes it affecting men for society to take notice, perhaps that is precisely what is needed for action to finally be taken.

It is 37 years since Fat is a Feminist Issue by psychotherapist Susie Orbach was first published, in which she taught women to be happy with their bodies, no matter what shape they are.  In the intervening years, not only has society apparently learned little to nothing, if anything, things appear to be getting worse.  And one shudders to think just how many women have died in the pursuit of the ‘perfect’ body, or the ‘bikini figure’.

How the hell are we still so judgemental in 2015?  As one who can recall Twiggy in her anorexic heyday, I would have thought we were past that long ago.  But no, we are now all expected to have the perfect image.

I have big problems with that term ‘perfect’.  Firstly, I would like those who speak of it to define ‘perfect’, because what may be perfect for some is far from perfect for others.  Secondly, ‘perfect’ human beings for me immediately conjures up images of the Nazi ideal of a tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed “master race”.  And I’m not being sensational here.  Any society which judges people for their image, is only a step away from excluding those who do not adhere to the set “perfect” image.  It is yet one more form of discrimination, and like all discrimination, deserves to be condemned and consigned to the dustbin of history.  I like to refer to it as ‘body fascism’.

It would be oh so easy to take the hyper-feminist view of blaming men and only men for this, but it simply is not the case.  Certainly the media must take a great deal of the blame, not only for telling women they must be slim, and posting pictures of models and celebrities who look, in their opinion, perfect.  But women must take some of the blame too.  Increasingly it is women writing the articles in rubbish magazines aimed at the female market, and of course, women read them, see the pics, read the crap articles and attempt to appear like the women in the magazines.

And of course, they never are going to look like them.  Not unless they have the financial acumen, and the access to resources such as the same personal trainers, hairdressers, beauticians and that most useless section of society, image coaches, as the celebrities employ.  And that is before they even have to splash out on cosmetics, clothes and jewellery which are well beyond the pocket of the average woman.  But even then, they are still not going to look like the models in the magazines for one simple reason – the photographs are tweaked, and always have been.  It used to be a matter of time-consuming and careful airbrushing of actual photographs.  Nowadays models can be made to look even more ‘perfect’ at the press of a few keys with software such as Photoshop.  So women attempting to look like the models are attempting to achieve the impossible.

“Ah, but Xandra,” I hear you say, “women wouldn’t do that if it were not expected of them by men.”  Really?  Think so?  Certainly there is some aspect it of that.  However, I reckon those of us who are genderqueer crossdressers and M to F trans are in a unique position to comment upon that.  How many genderqueer / trans women do themselves up and dress in pretty and / or sexy clothing to attract a partner or to please men?  Not many to none is my guess.  I highly suspect that most, if not all, like me do so for their own self-esteem and to feel good within themselves.  And you will probably find that cisgender women dress nice and do themselves up pretty for exactly the same reasons.  Even if they do get caught in the image trap, I sincerely doubt they are doing it for men.  Anyone who thinks that is but a step away from the claim that women get raped for dressing provocatively.  I would like to hear your opinions on this, sisters –  be you cis, genderqueer, or trans.

In 2004 the cosmetics manufacturer, Unilever, launched the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty after interviews with women revealed that only 4% of themselves considered themselves beautiful.  They then launched a series of billboard adverts showing regular women, not models, in plain white underwear.  Not one of the models was a day under 30, they were all shapes and sizes, some were quite curvy, the photos were unretouched – and they were all gorgeous.  The campaign was an enormous success in teaching women that all shapes and appearances are beautiful.  And while Unilever has been rightly condemned for also producing skin-lightening products and producing sexist adverts, the Dove campaign continues to educate women – and men – around the world.

Dove Real Beauty

Dove Real Beauty

I tell you dears, either as Xandra or my male alter-ego, I would happily bed any of these women.  And if some skinny supermodel is about, she make herself useful by fixing some coffee – assuming she has the brains to accomplish such a task (yes, dears, I can be catty too).

It is worth bearing in mind that not one single person on the face of this planet has a perfect body, or perfect appearance.  Everybody is critical of themselves in one way or another.  Some may have a few pounds (I’m no sylph myself) more than their body mass index, some may be short, tall, have freckles, a mole, boobs or a willy they are unhappy with the size of.  Some may have to wear glasses, some may have teeth which are far from perfect, some may suffer skin complaints.  Show me the person who claims to have the ‘perfect’ body, and I’ll show you a complete egomaniac, and I’ll look carefully and find something which does not fit in with the ‘perfect’ image.

And besides which, what is the point in having a gorgeous body and looks when you are ugly inside?  I would much rather have a regular person with a few obvious blemishes and treats others with kindness, than some arrogant Adonis or painted doll who is completely up themselves and judgemental of others.

And everyone is blonde, and everyone is beautiful.
And when blonde and beautiful are multiplied,

they become so dull and dutiful.
And when faced with dull and dutiful,
they let of a warning flare;
a battle-khaki personality,
wearing red underwear.
(The Beautiful South, Rotterdam)

I am not for one moment saying that nobody, female or male, should not diet or work to make the best of themselves if they want.  Everybody who does so however, needs to be sure they are doing it for themselves, not because of pressure put on them by others, and most certainly not because the media tells them they have to.  Certainly do not do it for catty cows like Jemma Buckley.

Above all, make sure you do it healthily.  There have been a number of cases recently of women dying through taking slimming pills, not to mention deaths through eating disorders continue to be a problem decades after they should have ceased to be through.   Frankly, when it comes to deaths or even severe illness through ‘image problems’ none is one case too many.


*Line from Berketex Bribe by the punk band, Crass.

Ugly Bitch Uses Bigoted Language in Attack on Toddler

Janet Street Porter

Janet Street Porter

Physician heal thyself, Janet

Hello dears.  I would like to make it clear to all my readers that I am a diehard republican; I want to see an end to monarchies, everywhere, and the British monarchy in particular.  I am not nasty about it, and I wish no member of the royal family any ill-doing.  That is not my way.  Please do not even attempt to post your arguments for retaining a monarchy, as I shall not approve them.  Undemocratic of me?  Yeah, how democratic is the monarchy?  I couldn’t care less if a monarch costs less than a president (which I sincerely doubt), I believe anyone becoming head of state by accident of birth is long-outdated feudalism which has no place in modern society.

And with that rant out of the way, I hope you all understand that his article is not in defence of little Prince George because he is sometingth in line to the throne; it is to defend him as a little boy, and to speak out on someone who claims to have socialist principles using bigotry to attack him.

Prince George, son of Prince William, celebrated his second birthday on 22 July.  On the woman’s magazine programme Loose Women on the UK’s ITV television channel, referring to a photo of George with his father, the panel all wished him a happy birthday.  All apart from celebrity journalist (?) and TV presenter, Janet Street Porter, who downright refused to do so.  Instead Porter shocked the panel by stating “Quite frankly he looks like a cross-dressing millionaire. He does, he’s a millionaire, and he’s got a girl’s blouse on!  All over the country it’s other two-year-old’s birthday’s, so happy birthday commoners!”

Some republicans were no doubt agreeing with Ms Porter, but not this one.   By deriding George because of his attire as “cross-dressing” and “he’s got a girl’s blouse on”, she has immediately chosen to castigate him because his attire appears feminine in her eyes.  And so what if it was feminine?  So what if it was a girl’s blouse?  He’s two years old, for christ’s sake.  How many toddlers play “dress-up” and don attire that is feminine, perhaps even girl’s clothing?  Quite a large proportion I would guess.  Show me the little boy who is not allowed to do so and I shall show you a child whose expression and individuality is being suppressed by ignorant, homophobic and transphobic adults.

And this is an important point.  Just who do Janet Street Porter’s words help?  Nobody but herself to make a cheap political point.  They certainly do not help the cause against homophobia and transphobia, as she is merely reinforcing ignorant, bigoted stereotypes and abetting those who ascribe to them.  She does not help LGBTQI children, as her words will be repeated by many bullies who pick on such children up and down the country.  She does not help the progress of changing cishet attitudes to the LGBTQI community, far from it she merely helps to entrench bigotry.

What if Prince George did turn out to be transgender or genderqueer?  Do her words help either camps?  Or do they merely further abet a monarchy which for hundreds of years has made excuses and downright lied about their own LGBTQI members, when it’s been obvious to all that some kings and princes have been FABULOUS!?  To this day there are apologists who try to claim that England’s King Edward II merely had a ‘loving friendship’ with his favourite, Piers Gaveston.  Hmm, except that Edward dressed outrageously, gave Gaveston – who was equally fabulous – all the queen’s jewels, and would enter court with Gaveston on his arm, while the queen walked behind.  And of course, we all know what goes on in the expensive fee-paying schools princes are sent to, yet the establishment and monarchists will flatly deny that any royal prince has never sought a ‘little comfort’ from another boy while at any such school.

And as long as the establishment, the monarchy and their supporters are pedalling such utter guff, they make being anything other than cishet appear abnormal.  And thus accusations of cross-dressing are used to smear others by ignorant and hateful bigots – like Janet Street Porter. She does no favours to socialism, because she has actively chosen to single out a 2-year-old and treat him as different from every other toddler, which is hardly a socialist principle.  Neither does she help republicanism because she has decided to target a child far too young to understand his position in the establishment.

Put Prince George in a nursery full of kids of the same age from council schemes and high-rise flats and he would no doubt play with them and make little friends (and little enemies), as any toddler would.  Children that young are like that – they have no side with them.

“An old dog will always love you, though you sometimes make mistakes.
God bless the little children, while they’re still too young to hate.
Ain’t nothin’ in this world is worth a single dime,
‘cept old dogs and little children, and some watermelon wine.”
(Tom T Hall, “Watermelon Wine”)

So, seeing as she is so perfect, so holier-than-thou, I decided to do a little digging about Janet Street Porter.  Seems Ms Porter isn’t short of a few bob herself, with one commentator stating that she is worth around £6 million.  What we do know is that she has three homes.  Oh such great socialist principles.

So Janet, dear, should you stumble upon this and are reading it, given that you have so much money, for fuck’s sake go spend some of it on decent dental work done.  Not only do you look like a fucking horse every time you open your mouth, it affects your speech and you sound like you’re chewing a fucking toffee every time you talk.

And surely someone with your assets could afford a plastic surgeon?  Go get a fucking nose job, for fuck’s sake.  The last time I saw a nose like that was at the Museum of Flight, where I saw Concorde.  I mean, really, how can you even kiss someone with that monstrosity in the way?  Not that anyone would ever wish to kiss an ugly hag like you.

At least you could do something about that hair of yours.  No!  Dyeing it that shade of red does not help, it only makes matter worse.  As for the top you were wearing on Loose Women, I am sure my mum had fibreglass curtains just like that in the 1970s.  And with what appear to be jogging bottoms, showing off just how big your bum is?  Really?  Do humanity a favour and go see a fashion expert, because – dang!

Not nice, is it dears?

Of course, I don’t mean a word of it.  But it shows that if I choose to, I can be a far bigger bitch than Janet Street Porter, and I will only use that bitchiness when I think someone deserves it.

And the huge difference is?  I would never be a complete bitch to a 2-year-old toddler, no matter who their family happens to be.  Unlike Janet Street Porter, I am simply not that mean.

Finally, Prince George’s his top is not a girl’s blouse – the buttons are on the right, but then it has long been commonplace, especially among the gentry, to dress their little ones in clothing which appear feminine.  Indeed, 150 years ago little boys were still being dressed in dresses until they reached school age.

Oh, and he is simply adorable in that pic.  But then, I’m not seeing two members of the royal family; I am only seeing a very happy wee boy, who obviously loves his daddy, and who is well-loved in return.

Belated happy birthday George, from Auntie Xandra.  xx

George and William

George and William

Black officer who helped KKK supporter says policing is helping people ‘regardless of beliefs’

SC police chief shows the true way to combat hate – with kindness.

“An eye for an eye only leaves the world blind.” (Gandhi)

Kindness Blog

Black officer who helped KKK supporter As hatred and racial intolerance engulfed a South Carolina rally over the weekend, a poignant picture of a black police chief helping a man who was wearing a swastika T-shirt emerged on Twitter.

The sick man, according to reports, had suffered from heatstroke and was being helped by Leroy Smith, the director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Black officer who helped KKK supporter The powerful photo, captured by Twitter userRob Godfrey, shows police officer Leroy Smith helping the unidentified KKK supporter out of the sun

Smith’s display of love and humanity in the face of hatred went viral, already getting retweeted thousands of times in the course of a single day.

Leroy Smith said in a statement that the photo, taken at a Ku Klux Klan rally, captured “who we are in South Carolina” and represents what law enforcement is all about: helping people “regardless of the person’s skin color, nationality…

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The Transphobic Ignorance of the Wee Free Moderator

Andy Murray - definitely cute, but not trans

Andy Murray – definitely cute, but not trans

Scottish clergyman’s distinct lack of Christian charity

The Reverend David A Robertson was recently invested as the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, a small church in Scotland which carries a very big voice.  With a membership of 13,000, it has long been renowned for their strict Presbyterian views, Sabbatarianism and ‘dour’ outlook on life.  To say it is a controversial denomination would be an understatement.

Not least controversial among its members is Reverend Robertson, who while trying to claim that he reaches out to all, has at times made statements against the LGBT community, atheists and secularists, which can hardly be described as full of Christian charity.  In his latest article in his blog, The Wee Flea, (a small, irritating, disease-spreading parasite – how very apt) however, I am sure many of my followers shall agree he goes way too far.

In his article, End of Term Report, Rev Robertson – sounding more like American evangelist Pat Robertson – states;

“And the thought also struck me – if Andy Murray begins to realise in a couple of years that he is not going to win any more mens tournaments, why can’t he just do a Bruce, say he feels like a woman, call himself Andrina and enter the women’s Wimbledon and get the prize money that way?”

Well, I can think of several reasons why he would not undergo gender reassignment, not least of which is the fact that Scotland’s wonderful Andy Murray (tennis playing star for those not in the know, dears) is not transgender.  If he were, I have no doubt that he would have done something about that many years ago.  I would also guess that his relationship with his long-term girlfriend Kim Sears and their recent marriage would never have happened.  Indeed, if Andy were transgender, I reckon Kim would be somewhat disillusioned (and given that he’s such a pretty boy, so would I).

The reasoning behind Davy Baby’s thinking is that he cannot and will not accept that being transgender is natural and normal.  Rev Robertson lives in a black and white world where if someone is born with a vulva, they female, and if someone is born with a penis, they are male.  He refuses to accept that gender and sexuality have more to do with psychology than they do any biological factors, and that both are decided in the womb.  As far as he is concerned, his God made us to be male and female, and that is the end of it.

And of course his argument immediately falls flat on its face when one considers babies who are born intersex, with both male and female genitalia.  If that is the work of his God, then there goes the conservative Christian black and white view of the world straight out of the window.  Hmmm.  Male and female created He them, perhap?

So the question is, faced with an intersex baby, would David Robertson have that child operated upon to define one gender (and thereby supposedly undoing his God’s work), or would he leave the child until they were old enough to decide themselves if they are male or female?

If he did the former, he would be defining that child’s gender for them; not the child, and not his God.  If he did the latter, then he must admit that gender is a psychological construct, not a biological one.  And if that is the case, then the same goes for not only intersex people, not only transgender people, but every person on the face of the planet.  Bottom line; there is no such thing as a female vulva or a male penis; bodies come in all shapes and sizes.

Regular readers of my articles will know that Malta recently became the first country in the world to make gender reassignment on intersex babies illegal.  If a tiny country which has been steeped deep in the Christian faith for two millennia can take a such a huge leap forward, it makes one wonder what is wrong with the rest of “Christendom”.

And the point of his blog?  I’m not sure but it appears to be about public lavatories;

“If we can’t have gender specific toilets why should we have gender specific sports tournaments.  That’s the madness of the modern world.”

Except of course, it is not most trans people who are asking for gender-neutral toilets.  Firstly, gender-neutral toilets are dangerous; they actually marginalise and identify trans people as trans, and thus make them far more likely to be targeted and attacked by bigots.  Secondly, gender-neutral toilets actually deny the gender of the trans person.  The inference is that transgender is neither male nor female, but somewhere in-between.  Strange as it may seem, the vast majority of human beings still want to use gender-specific toilets; men want to use the gents, and women want to use the ladies, and whether the individual in question is transgender should make absolutely no difference to that.

In fact, the only people who appear to be calling for gender-neutral toilets are those who think they are doing the right thing, but are not, those who are uncomfortable with transgender people using the same facilities as them, or those who do not and will not accept that transgender people are the men or women they identify as at all – the latter including people like Reverend David A Robertson.

Notice also the reference to Caitlyn Jenner in the above paragraph, and Rev Robertson’s insistence on calling her by her redundant birth name.  I am not surprised at this, as in a recent podcast for the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, Reverend Robertson and his co-host cruelly derided Caitlyn Jenner, continually referred to her as “he” and “him”, used his birth name, called him “the pit of our culture in society”, “gut-wrenchingly nauseating”, and “It is part of the attempt to dehumanise humanity, to take away from us not just sexuality, but to take away from us gender.”  The link to the podcast also carries an old photo of Bruce Jenner with a banner superimposed on it with “Call me Caitlyn” across it, and the words “Right, Bruce in the corner.

I would not normally give this squalid little man the publicity he so desperately craves but I feel that his latest ignorant and transphobic outbursts, which border on hate speech, cannot in this instance be ignored.  I know that friends of mine here, including Christians and those of other faiths, shall be utterly disgusted at his words and shall assert that he does not speak for them, nor the Christian faith in general.

As for Andy Murray, I have no doubt he would not lower himself to reply to Robertson’s comments.  But if he were pressed to do so, given that his head coach, Amélie Mauresmo is openly lesbian (and soon to be a mum), and Andy in 2013 stated that there would be “no problem” with an openly gay tennis player, methinks he would be first to condemn the Moderator’s poisonous words – and to voice his support for Caitlyn Jenner.


The Wee Flea, End of Term Report, can be read here:

https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/end-of-term-report-some-reflections-for-summer/

Quantum of Solas No. 32 can be found here.  The part about Caitlyn Jenner starts at 5:35:

http://www.solas-cpc.org/wp/2015/06/quantum-of-solas-32/

The curious case of Johnnie Campbell

An account of a 19th century Scots married transgender man.

On 29th November 1871 one Doctor Allison was called to the home of Thomas Early in Pinkerton Lane, in the town of Renfrew, Scotland, where their lodger, Johnnie Campbell, had become seriously ill.  Dr Allison lost no time in diagnosing smallpox and intimated that Mr Campbell must at once be transferred to the infirmary.  Johnnie Campbell was steadfastly against this but Dr Allison was adamant that no person in his condition could be permitted to stay in shared dwellings, and that he needed immediate hospital treatment.  Upon this, Johnnie Campbell asked that he could dress first.  It was at this juncture that Dr Allison asked “Is it because of sex?”, to which John Campbell admitted yes, it was.  Dr Allison spoke with Mrs Early, asking if she had any clothes the patient could dress in for transfer to hospital, as it turned out that her lodger was in fact a woman.  The said clothes were borrowed in which the patient was dressed and admitted to Paisley Infirmary as Marie Campbell.

‘Marie’ Campbell was born in 1850.  The location is unknown but from the age of 13 had been dressing in male attire to keep “clear o’ thae blackguard men”, because of being “misused” in her youth, and using the name John, or more commonly the Scots form, Johnnie.  In 1869 Johnnie Campbell was living in East Calder, West Lothian, and married one Mary Ann McKennan, the two then settling in the nearby town of Kirknewton.  They were apparently happy for a few months until Campbell deserted the then-pregnant Mary and her two illegitimate children.  He travelled first to Howden-o’-the-Brig (now Howden), near Tranent, East Lothian, where he was employed as a surfaceman between Ormiston and Dalkeith, Midlothian, on the Newbattle Coal Company’s railway.  Thomas Early had worked alongside John on farms in West Lothian, and when the latter and his wife decided to move to Renfrew to work the shipyards, he invited John to go with him.  Here Johnnie Campbell gained employment in the shipyard of Henderson, Coulborn & Co, where he was put to work on the forge.  His three teammates and his foreman soon held him in high esteem, remarking upon his intelligence and ability to turn his hand to any task alloted him.

Mrs Early later stated that in the five years she had known Campbell, it was only ever as a man.  However, she claimed that her suspicions were aroused with how ‘handy’ he was around the house, particularly in sewing and mending the clothes of other lodgers.  Johnnie however apparently behaved like any other man, and even had a short affair with a highland girl called Kate Martin, whom he would take on trips to Edinburgh and who stayed at the Early’s home some nights, with Kate sharing her bed, and Thomas Early sleeping in the same bed as Johnnie Campbell.

It was when Johnnie, alias Marie, Campbell was admitted to Paisley Infirmary that it all came crashing down.  While ‘Marie’ was still in hospital, the resident Medical Officer, Doctor Lewis, received a letter from the Inspector of the Poor of Kirknewton, stating he had received information about the patient Marie Campbell, and that he believed her to be one Johnnie Campbell who had been wanted by the parish authorities of Kirknewton since 1869.  At the request of Dr Lewis, the Inspector visited Marie in hospital, with Mary Ann McKennan.  The latter then positively identified Marie Campbell as the “Johnnie Campbell” she had married in 1869 and who had subsequently deserted her.

Marie / Johnnie stated that Mary Ann McKennan had known full well of her biological gender when they married, but there was a “mutual understanding”.  Mary Ann denied this, claiming that she only discovered Johnnie’s gender a few days after the ceremony.  She stated that when Johnnie had deserted her, she had told the authorities that her husband was a woman, but having two illegitimate children, the Poor Board considered her a ‘woman of ill repute’ and thereby nobody believed her.  Mary Ann subsequently gave birth to her third child (obviously also illegitimate) and had experienced difficulties registering the birth.  KIrknewton Poor Board, being all heart as they were, refused to give aid to Mary Ann on the basis that her child was not that of the man she married.

Johnnie, now being forced to go under his birth name of Marie, Campbell was arrested by Paisley Police on 24 January 1872 and, having recovered from smallpox, was transferred to the Edinburgh County Constabulary, who charged him with contravening the Registration Act by making a false entry by using the name John Campbell in marrying Mary Ann McKennan.  The subsequent fine was paid by a subscription from Johnnie’s former workmates who stated that while disappointed at the deception, “a more kindly and obliging worker never was engaged in the yard”.

One newspaper stated that it was an “Unhappy termination of an extraordinary career”.


So, what make you of that dears?   Personally I am not believing for one moment that Mary Ann McKennan did not know of Johnnie Campbell’s birth gender when she married him.  I hate to judge dears, but this is a woman who already had two children out of wedlock and we are expected to believe that she never questioned her husband not getting his tackle out on their wedding night?  Please dears, that is stretching credulity to the limit.  Seems far more likely that Mary Ann, who obviously liked sex, was fully aware and liked her muffin buttered on both sides.

I’ve no doubt that some will say that Johnnie Campbell was a typical man for the fact that he walked out on his wife and family.  Wait a minute, however.  The fact that Mary Ann fell pregnant proves that she must have been sleeping with another man while married to Johnnie, and that may have been what prompted him to desert her.

I’m also not entirely convinced that Thomas and Mrs Early were not aware.  They had known Johnnie for five years, even lived with him, and he carried out traditionally feminine roles.  Meanwhile, in a shared lodging house (where apparently it was not uncommon for Johnnie to sleep in the same bed with another man), nobody saw him undressed, or noticed that he never shaved?  Who is kidding who here?

The case is as fascinating as it is tragic, however.   Not least because when one reads of historical newspaper reports of trans people, the one thing which is striking is the lack of prejudice.   Look at how one newspaper merely referred to the sad loss of Johnnie’s career.   Compared to the modern age, it appears that the people of the 19th century were actually quite tolerant of trans people.  Consider how Johnnie’s workmates even paid his fine – an act of charity towards a trans person one would be hard to find today.   The people of the 19th century may have considered them a curiosity, but otherwise there is a distinct lack of the hate and venom which trans people experience today.   Consider that Johnnie Campbell was fined for breaching the Registration Act, nothing more.  It was only when some people behaved in outrageous sexually immoral behaviour – such as in the case of the music hall entertainers Fanny Park and Stella Clinton, who actually prostituted themselves – that Victorian society came down hard on them.  But even then, while Fanny Park stayed in Edinburgh for a short while, she was largely accepted for who she was.  One is given to wonder then if this apparent acceptance was a Scots phenomenon?  Which would be rather unusual for what was and remains the most Presbyterian nation in the world.

It seems obvious to me that Johnnie Campbell was indeed a transgender man.  I’m not saying women can’t do it, but working in heavy industry such as railways and in dockyards is bloody hard – even my male alter ego couldn’t do it (but then, he’s, to use a guid auld Scots phrase, “a big Jessie” anyway) and any woman even considering it in the 19th century would have been thought to be insane, not that many would.  We can only assume then that Johnnie was indeed a man.  He knew it, but he also knew if the world knew the truth, he would never be accepted as one.

And cases like that of Johnnie Campbell deserve and need to be highlighted.  For by pointing to historical instances, the LGBTQI community can further assert that all forms of gender and sexuality are perfectly normal, as instances throughout history clearly illustrate.

Footnote:  In researching this article I only found one instance of Johnnie Campbell being miscalled, and it is a terrible one.  The Morning Chronicle for 29 January 1872 refers to him as an “Englishwoman”.   Puir Johnnie.  There’s nae need tae misca’ him like thon.