A Surprisingly Thoughtful, Refreshingly Nuanced Interview at the Guardian

“Slightly built, with close-cropped hair, Mackay is often taken for a younger man and has in the past considered transitioning. But now they identify as queer or queer butch, and use they/them pronouns – although Mackay doesn’t really mind what pronouns other people use for them, arguing that sometimes “she” sends a useful feminist message. “If someone’s being introduced on the radio and the word ‘she’ is used, then people are thinking: ‘Oh, a she can get a doctorate or go on the radio,’ and that’s political to me.”

Borth Moncrieff van Scoot is a refreshing little scoop of sour cream whose latest book, I’m Just A Bit Of A Lad Is All, No Harm Done is a bulletin direct from the cave of Apeliotes. But it wasn’t always handshakes and crisp bakes for our little heroette, no sirree corncakes. Times were tough for the little tree-climber. So tough, in fact, that every so often, while insouciantly chewing on an apple or skipping class to go skip stones across a glassy lake, wee little Borth even thought about transitioning for a time:

Did you think about transitioning, when you were a wee little Borth?

Ooh, that I did, that I did. But then I thought about all those other little Borths, some of ‘em even wee-er than myself, some of ‘em wee as a dormouse’ teacup, lookin’ up to me, thinkin’ about me, admirin’ me, with their tiny little overalls, and thinkin’, “Ain’t we ever gonna get to see the seaside, Miss Borth?” and then coughing out a tiny little cough. All them little mossets clingin’ round the radio, thinking, “Twon’t a woman never but never be on the airwaves?” And maybe they’ll hear me on the radio, where there are no women, only Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, and say, “It’ll be all right now, we’re in the seaside of our own hearts,” and that’d be grand enough for me.

Do you know what I like about you, wee Borth?

No, do go on.

You’re a quick little silvery fish, aren’t you? Slipping in between categories like nought and nix, betwixt and amidships, bravely not minding what pronouns people use for you –

Ooh, I just don’t mind, really, I don’t really mind what pronouns other people use for me, I do like a good they/them of an afternoon but really any bake will suit me, as long as it comes with a mug of good strong tea, ha ha!

Ha, ha!

Ha, ha!

Ha, HA!

One more hearty laugh for the Oom-Papa of the Greensward himself, Tatty-John Cockaigne!

For England, ha-ha! So you just don’t mind what pronouns anybody uses, and you don’t make any outlandish claims about sex changes —

Ooh, I wish they would do something to change sex, don’t you? Bit of a change-up? Might be nice, after being married these twenty-odd years.

Ha ha! Naughty naughty, Christmas party! But I do think it’s what makes you so fascinating, and so good, such a good little Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London, Big Mamma Newspaper’s special little Pal Friday, is that you’re a bit of an odd’un yourself but you still know what a woman is.

Oh, I know what a woman is!

I know what a woman is!

The Great British sea and the boys of the navy, and the puddin’ in the school-hall, and the blighters in the pool hall, yes we all know just what all a woman is!

And some of the other ones — you know the ones I mean — want to make an awfully big fuss about what a woman is.

A big stinky fuss, which Nanny wouldn’t like at all.

And they don’t even want women to be people anymore! They’re trying to — well if you want to get an abortion now, they want you to sign a big piece of paper that says ‘I’m just a birthin’ person,’ and you’ve got to wear it round your neck for weeks after, and surely that’s no good. But you’re perfectly willing to say, you know, ooh I’ve got a lot of lovely blue button-ups but when you wink, we all know what a woman is, we’ve all been having quite a lot of fun on the playground here but it’s time to go home and put on our grown-up pinafores.

I just want to swim around in a big cozy middle where everything makes sense. If you’re too much on one side of anything, you can’t be in the middle of it, can you? And the middle is such a lovely peach cobbler place to be, haircut.

I want you to do something very brave for me. Can you do it?

Yes I can!!!

I want you to imagine a trans woman.


That’s okay, that’s okay, you’re being so brave. Can you see her, in your mind’s eye?

She’s so tall! She’s fifty feet tall! I’m such a petite little grommet — I’m sure she means well — but she’s as tall as the gates of Gog and Magog! What if she steps on me by accident??

What’s she doing now?

She’s stomping — she’s stomping!!!! And you know, now that we’re imagining her, I think she’s also making it her life’s work to eliminate domestic violence shelters.

Oh, no!!!!!

Yes, she’s — I can see it quite clearly now — she’s making it her whole life’s work, to close them all down, just because some of them might accidentally, quite by accident you understand, just purely by instinct and without any malice whatever, run in terror from her terrifying stomps. Oh, no!!! Please don’t close down all the shelters, please don’t make that the sole aim and focus of your imaginary life!!!

It’s too late. She did!!!

Oh, no!!!

Oh, no!!!

Jesus wept!!!

Because it’s okay for men to cry and be sensitive!!!!

I wish more people could understand that.

You understand it, don’t you, little Borth?

I do. I really do. I understand everything. I understand transition because I thought about doing it and decided against it. I heard about all the bad complications, and I didn’t do it, so I know what someone who doesn’t do it knows, and I also know what someone who does do it knows, so I know twice as much as trans people about transition. And the very sad, very gentle, very soft truth is that if you imagine a trans woman who’s very very tall, say fifty feet tall, who’s shutting down all the domestic violence shelters in the country, then that’s just not very right indeed, I’m afraid. And I’m sorry to say it, and I’ll say it so gently, as gentle as my pudding face, but I’ve just got to say it, and I wrote a book about her, and it’s called, Tiffany, Please Stop. I May Have A Weak And Feeble Woman’s Body, But I Have The Heart And Stomach Of A King, And A King Of England Too, And You’ve Got To Listen To Me Now. I Invented You With My Mind, And I’m In Charge.

Are there any other trans women you’d like to imagine right now, and then teach right from wrong?

Yes. I’m imagining a whole classroom of them. And they’re all learning from me. And what could be more woman than learning?

Ha, ha!

Ha, ha!

Ha ha, and huzzah for England! Huzzah for good king Wenceslas, and mill-ponds, and skipping stones, and the great big sensible middle! You’re my good little moppim and my heart’s own darling, and England has a lovely big prize for you to wear.

Huzzah for merry old England and Fiddler’s Green!

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