Monday, 27 November 2017

Historic child abuse update

Three years ago I wrote about the appalling abuse that went on at my school. Since writing, there have been several successful prosecutions of teachers who sexually abused children or who downloaded child porn – including sick torture porn. And several unsuccessful prosecutions, including one slippery character who seems to avoid jail every time he is taken to court. I think witnesses feel too intimidated to give evidence.

This post is not going to be any easier.

The local education authority has written to ask for help with their enquiry to prevent such problems arising in future. But in my view not only will this do nothing to cure the problem (which has been going on for over 50 years at that place) but it’s just another way of the authorities saying something has been done when, in fact, nothing substantial will have been done at all. Lone wolves will still be predators and, when caught, the school authorities will close ranks and cover their behaviour up again, probably more so as they can’t afford a second scandal.

In parallel, the national investigation into historic abuse by senior figures, especially politicians, is constantly experiencing delays and difficulties and has run through no end of chairmen without getting very far. I suspect the powers that be will kill it off eventually. The Prime Minister is being accused in some sections of the press of orchestrating a cover-up. There is never anything really resembling justice in any of this. Most of the perps are dead for a start.

As ever, the emphasis in all this is on sex, but sexual abuse is actually one manifestation of the abuse of power and not directly about sex. Puritan sexual mores are still a British obsession. My complaint – and that of many of my peers – is about the violence and abuse we were subjected to, of which inappropriate sexual behaviour was a part (though undeniably the worst part). Children as young as 9 kicked and punched and slapped, heads banged on walls and against each other, their clothes ripped by teachers. The evidence given in court regarding boys being subject to oral sex and sexual spanking rituals made me feel ill and angry.

Obviously, being transgender at a school for boys was especially hard, and I can think of a couple of other pupils in my time who might have been trans, too. In many ways it served to put me right off macho culture and when I went into higher education and there were girls there I felt a whole lot happier and more relaxed, although the absence of violence and abuse was the best thing.

Here are just three images from my time at school that are burnt in my mind and sum it up:-

- Aged 10, a teacher gets irritated with a boy and he is asked to stay behind after class while the rest of us go for the afternoon break. Ten minutes later the boy emerges, face twisted in agony, barely able to walk. He has been kicked in the shins so many times that he hobbles for days and has livid bruises for even longer.

- Aged 11, a teacher gets irritated with the boy next to me and slaps his face repeatedly and with such force that his nose bursts. I can still hear that loud crack of meaty adult fist on child flesh. This boy, incidentally, is the class bully, but I feel sorry for him. His father, also a teacher at the school, is the most evil man I have ever met; even after all these years, nobody has ever beaten him for malice, and I’ve met some nasty characters in my years. The dad did nothing but beat this boy at home with his belt. It seems that the boy had little to look forward to in life but brutality at home and brutality at school. No wonder he was a bully. I guess he reckoned that’s how you get on in life. But we all knew of his horrible existence and didn’t therefore hold his nastiness that much against him. It was as well to be able to fight, though, and once when he attacked me I replied with a left hook that knocked him down and became legendary. He certainly respected me after that. We had an uneasy friendship and, like I say, I felt very sad for him. I don’t know whether he has made good in life or has gone to the wall. Maybe it’s best not to enquire.

- Aged 13, a teacher gets his amusement each lesson by selecting a pupil to answer a question and then slaps that pupil's cheeks in turn until he gives the right answer. It hurt all right.

And on and on and on and on, not to mention the sarcasm and verbal abuse as well, the constant, never-ending threats and random punishments. At least you could go home in the evenings. Well, all apart from those pupils who somehow are cajoled into teachers’ homes and rooms to be sexually assaulted. A longer description of this place is given in my earlier post.

One of the reasons I haven’t had kids myself is that I wouldn’t want someone, especially my own child, to go through that. The friends I’ve asked about their schools didn’t experience anything like this, though. That makes me doubly angry.

I doubt I will waste any more time talking to the authorities about this. It’s authority that is the problem in the first place, and with a current political situation here as deranged as it is I know that kids of the future are going to be brutalised as well. I am beginning to feel that conquering evil is impossible.

Sue x

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Transgender battles go on

I’m very pleased to hear that several transgender candidates have been voted into office in the USA, notably Danica Roem in elections to the Virginia state legislature. What’s especially appealing here is that she ousted Bob Marshall, the incumbent and self-styled “chief homophobe” whose obsession with oppressing trans and gay people makes one wonder about his mentality. But then I have that kind of obsessive in my own family.

Also good news from Australia where a public vote has shown over 61% support for same-sex marriage. I’m delighted for gay Australians who might want to marry and gain the same legal rights as straight couples. Improvements in trans rights tend to follow on behind gay rights.

Now, I know I am not a US or Australian citizen so you could say that these things are none of my business. However, as we approach Transgender Day of Remembrance, a memorial to all trans people who have been murdered or who have killed themselves around the world, it’s hardly possible not to feel affinity with trans people in countries other than our own.

This week has seen especially vile articles in the British press attacking trans children and organisations that support them or try to understand them, another easy target for the bullies who dominate the badly regulated print media industry. The British print press is probably the worst in the world (unlike broadcast media). The government, on the other hand, seems to be taking a positive view of improved trans rights. That sounds good… but regrettably, this government is quite possibly the most dictatorial, destructive and nasty since Cromwell’s, over 350 years ago, and I feel uncomfortable with any improved rights for trans people being associated with measures being enacted at the very same time to reduce human rights, employment rights, parliamentary scrutiny and other frightening developments.

Being trans and out is difficult and scary. Thankfully many members of the public are supportive. But our enemies are cruel and unscrupulous. What a horrible era that’s erupted all of a sudden, so let’s be glad of any successes.

Sue x

Friday, 3 November 2017

Absent friends

Ages ago, back in early February in fact, my lovely friend Roz, whom I visited at her home in Orkney last summer, booked to come to London at the very end of October and stay with me for nearly a week. And then, mid-way through October, she was forced by circumstances to cancel. I'm very sad about this as we'd planned all sorts of stuff. I hope that all will work out well for Roz.

As a number of girls from the locality had been looking forward to seeing Roz for Sunday lunch, we decided to go ahead with that event anyway.

Long-term readers of my blog will be familiar with Salieri Italian restaurant in the Strand in the heart of London and it was there that Ange P, Sarah C, Emma W and wife Jackie and I met to enjoy a good meal and catch up.

After which, Emma and Jackie and I went to a lovely watering hole, the Chandos, just off Trafalger Square, and had a good long chat. Because of my illness, it's been years since we were both out in London as women.

Dear Roz was sorely missed, and we toasted her. For me, it was still delightful to be back in familiar company in familiar places again.

I mustn't forget to mention that I also saw Grace Johnstone and Mrs Grace last Thursday. Grace is the trans woman who wrote the short play Face2Face Time that I reviewed back in June. Originally we had intended to meet with Roz, of course. Sadly not to be, but it was lovely to meet Mrs Grace for the first time and rejoice that here was another natal woman who supported the trans community. Grace came out to her 18-year old son a few days before and was delighted with the positive response. I have a lot of faith in the younger generation of today.

A nice couple of meetups that made me very happy to be out as a woman again.

Sue x