Sunday, March 16, 2014

Myths About Sexuality, or: Oh, wouldn't it bea* loverly?

  1. Everyone is heterosexual. Sure, we all cognitively understand that more diverse sexualities exist, but then why do we keep insisting that everyone who is NOT heterosexual must come out as such? We raise our children to believe that they're straight until they may or may not figure out otherwise and that's just inefficient.  Not to mention silly.
  2. Bisexuals are just greedy. Greedy or legitimate? Let's have a round of applause for the bisexuals for navigating the grey areas between sexual absolutes. And speaking of:
  3. Women are more sexually fluid than men. Now, I am not a biologist so I cannot speak to biochemistry and the good old hard science of how we're wired, but from the sociological perspective that I am trained in, masculinity is much more precious and fragile than femininity in our society, so much so that the slightest deviation from the heterosexual, heteronormative, male love we've all grown to know so well results in an automatic, irreversible transfer to that terrible gay side.

    Allow me to wax poetical for a bit on this last one.

    "Come out!" cry the teeming masses as soon as the latest "straight" member in their midst is found to have kissed or copulated with someone who dares to have the same genitalia as them. "We will forgive you!" they scream from their churches and their non-fear as they walk down the street holding the hand of the person that they love. "We will accept you! Cam is our favorite character on Modern Family!"

    One of the many reasons why Andrew is the best brother a lady like me could ask for is that, back in the days when I myself identified as a gay man, my sexuality would occasionally come up in conversation when he was with his friends. Perhaps a friend of his suggested that he had a great ladyfriend and would Andrew's younger brother be interested? Upon which the following conversation would ensue:

    Well, no, he's gay.

    Oh my god, that's so cool!

    Oh, do you have a sibling? Oh, they're straight? Holy shit, that's awesome!

    ^Isn't he just the greatest?

    Now from all of that we can deduce this last one:
  4. Men who come into contact with other penises are forever gay. This is the one that I've been struggling with the most lately. See, the problem with our current [mis]conception of sexuality is that our little roster of possible sexualities inherently denies the possibility love to all of us loverly intersex and transgender people.

    To really engage in this conversation, I recommend everyone watch this incredibly intelligent conversation about these issues, from which I derive the inspiration for this post. But here I will just go over the gist of it. I will use transwomen who love men as my specific example as I explain these issues because it is nearer to my experience. This is in no way to deny the other completely legitimate experiences of lesbian and other-kinds-of-queer transwomen, transmen, anyone else on the gender spectrum, or intersex people.

    Okay. So if you're a straight man, you love women. It sounds simple enough. The trouble is, many transwomen—who are no less women than those born with vaginas, XX chromosomes, etc.—experience a systematic and routine denial of their womanhood at the hands of their governments, their medical systems, their societies, their friends and families. So for those "straight" men who are actually comfortable enough with their own sexuality to love a transwoman, they will often keep the relationship a secret for fear of discrimination. Because, whether due to the astronomical medical costs or just the individual desire of each person, many transwomen do not surgically remove their penis and testicles. And as we know, the presence of two penises in the bedroom means you're gay as the day is long.

    Hence our first conundrum: how can straight men love transwomen without being forced into a sexuality in which they do not belong?

    Similarly, what about gay men? Personally, I haven't known to whom I should romantically market myself in these last few months, because gay men—like those I have dated and loved and who have broken my heart and who have filled me with joy until I felt bigger than Lake Michigan—love men. And if I, who was born into a government and medical system and society and friends and family that have all told me my entire life that I was a man until recently when I told all of them that they were wrong; if I, who as a man took comfort in the gay community and found love and support in their open arms when I thought that was the extent of my identity; if I, now an ex-gay of sorts, want, as all humans do, to love and be loved, how am I supposed to reach back into that community now as a translady? High degrees of anti-femme discrimination within queer communities certainly don't make it easy.

    And now our conundrum becomes a little scarier: if straight men can't love transwomen and gay men can't love transwomen, who can?

    In the midst of what has been a very busy weekend, I met a guy I thought was super cute. Much to my surprise, he thought the same of me. I don't know how he identifies sexually, and frankly, I don't really care. Coming out as transgender has made me realize how constraining and oppressive these words can be, even "gay," which many of us take to be progressive and affirming.

    I quickly became deliriously happy as this new romantic prospect formed in my mind. Such delirium was not new to me, of course: I have a long hirstory (no, that is not a typo) of diving in headfirst at the slightest sign of affection towards me.

    But this time 'round I finally realized why: with so many people and organizations always having told me that I am illegitimate or that I do not even exist as a person, these little affirmations become matters of self-worth versus despair.

    "Yes, I see who you are, and yes, I think you are beautiful, not in spite of your gender identity, but because of your gender identity (and all the other wonderful facets about you)."

    It is difficult to explain to a mostly cisgendered audience the weight of the first time that someone called me "linda," the femininely conjugated version of the adjective "beautiful" in Spanish. It happened in a pizzeria in Buenos Aires, and it felt as if a small anvil had been placed in the center of my chest, grounding me and my transgender identity in a real, tangible beauty that I had never known.

    I do not know what will happen with aforementioned super cute boy. A date would be a nice place to start. I only hope that I can maintain the strength to separate what I know to be true about my own bea*uty and what the rest of society will tell this or any other man with whom I may ever become romantically entangled.

    My recommendation for all of us? Let's stop using words like "straight" and "gay" like they're the only two options out there. Let's create new categories and use them until we can get to a place where we don't need categories at all.  Let's make a point to say "marriage equality" instead of "gay marriage." Let's remember that there are transgender and intersex individuals who hold as much a right to love and be loved as anybody, and let's give them the linguistic and the personal space to do so.

    Oh, wouldn't that bea* loverly?

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