A really good explanation of the meaning of cis, thanks to queeriodical (see comments below head/parapet, about 10 comments down)

A reminder that twitter is a public forum and that everything is seen by everyone who wants to and (any of our) dark humour/offhand remarks may not be read in the tone they may have been intended. I’d rather that didn’t stop people posting occasionally raging remarks, of any kind, from any part of the political spectrum, I think the debate sparked by raging remarks can be really useful. But it does make me stop and wonder how free I personally will choose to be on twitter in future.

That asking people to please identify themselves, by their own names (if at all possible), as I do on my blog, twitter, and facebook, elicits some lovely honesty, both in people using their own names and in explaining why they are not. And some total disregard for that request.

That my saying I often find academic terms alienating and difficult seems to have caused some people upset. I was the first in my (extended) family to go to university. Therefore, when I left home at 17 to do so, I was the first person I ever knew to go to university. It was terrifying. (And exciting, of course, but mostly terrifying.) I found very quickly that there was a huge world of middle class people I knew nothing about and who knew far more about how we were ‘supposed’ to be at university, in studying and in life, than I did. I felt like a fish out of water. I was lost. And then I found some similar friends, also lost fishes, and we formed our own group of lost people and made our way through together. I got a pretty shitty degree because I was really only interested in the two drama papers I was able to do and in making theatre at every opportunity – when I wasn’t doing that I was working (coffee shop at 6am, washing dishes at 10pm, and sometimes cleaning houses in between) to pay to be at university. It was only in the last few years that it finally occurred to me that the kids from wealthier families weren’t working part time as me and my mates were because their parents were paying their rent, paying for their books, giving them allowances – this honestly had never occurred to me until about 5 years ago! I don’t say that as a sob story, working part time while studying and full time in the holidays was standard for the group who became my university friends (also working class kids who were, according to their families, ‘making good’). I am a little surprised when people are dismissive of these honestly-expressed fears, and call it ‘academic-bashing’ (as has been said on twitter). Frankly it feels quite brave for me to say I find some of the discussion hard to follow, it’s taken me until almost 50 to publicly admit this, and I absolutely believe it is to do with my upbringing and the working class parents who brought me up who felt that higher education (their term) was for me, perhaps, but not for them.
I understand that access to university and tertiary education has made huge leaps (in the UK and NZ, the only two countries I know about from personal experience) in the past 30 years, and so it is possible my fears and feeling of alienation are not experienced by working class young people today. Possible. I find it a little odd that admitting to (what I perceive to be) class-based insecurity should be so easily dismissed by those who have said “it’s easy to look it up”. I agree, looking stuff up IS easy. Feeling free with terms, feeling as if one fully understands them, ‘gets’ them, is another matter entirely.

That I’ve written many many times before, on this blog, about LGBT issues (about my belief that everyone has a duty to come out for eg, which sometimes has been read as a provocative stance), about class issues, about race issues, and about this government and others. About war, about rape, about violence against women. And I have NEVER had this much response ever before about any of these other issues. Which I find a little sad. I think all these issues, including the one discussed below, are hugely important and I wish they ALL stirred the same depth of feeling.

That there may well be a huge difference between younger and older feminists. The younger feminists responding to me expressed surprise (some politely, some not at all!) that certain terms and writers were new to me. And the ones who suggested I had a lot of reading to do to catch up are probably right. I’d also suggest that older feminists (including the women a good 30 years older than me, in my mere middle age!) are also worth listening to, and that any catching up might be two or three way, rather than just us older ones reading what the younger ones are reading. I’m hoping to begin work on a theatre project about older women as Elders in the next few months, and I’m really excited about the possibilities that discourse with and listening to women 10, 20 and 30 years older than me might bring.

That not any one person ever speaks for any one group. As evidenced by the varied views from people identifying as trans in the comments, and the varied views from people identifying as left – but taking different stances – also in the comments. I think we’d all do well to try to remember this more. I try to write and speak as if I am only speaking for myself, from my own experiences and pov, I will make more of an effort to do so in future.

That I do believe dialogue is the only way forward. Ever.

That I’m glad I have my Buddhist practice to remind me both to listen and to try to be compassionate – AND to speak from my heart when I feel moved to do so.

I’m really grateful for ALL of your responses. I have been trying to approve the comments as they come in, and have been doing so since they began rushing in last night, both here and on twitter. But I’m now back to writing a new novel at the same time as directing a play, so please be patient if your comment doesn’t appear as soon as it is posted. (As ever, I reserve the right to NOT approve a comment I think may be offensive, but I have never done so yet, and you’ll see there are plenty disagreeing with me!, so as long as we stay off the name-calling and swearing, I think we’ll all be fine.)

And finally, a plug. Here’s the book I mention in the blog below that’s been so widely read. Now that you know it contains a trans character, a major plot twist is already given away. Sorry about that. It was written from 1995, published in 1997, so I’m sure it’s fairly out of date about many things now, not least the lack of twitter!
Anyway, I also use my blog and twitter and facebook to promote my work – this is Beneath the Blonde.