sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Know what really grates my cheese? People still referring to homosexuality as a "lifestyle choice." Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine ones sexual preferences being really comparable to the specific way in which one lives. Living in a microhouse and growing all your own food is a lifestyle choice. Always dressing and acting like a fairy when you leave the house is a lifestyle choice. Getting all your clothes from Dumpster diving expeditions is more of a lifestyle choice than being gay, for crying out loud.

When did "gayness" become an entire lifestyle? What exactly is this lifestyle? Is there some kind of philosophy behind it? Did I miss a memo?

It gets on my nerves particularly because the very same people who call it a lifestyle choice (and thus make the assumption that all gay people live in ways so fundamentally different from so-called normal people) wouldn't call heterosexuality a lifestyle choice. It's still a form of sexuality, after all. Shouldn't it thus be given the same distinction?

Well, in the minds of most of the people who are still calling it a lifestyle choice, really, heterosexuality is the norm and thus there's no need to remark upon it by giving it some kind of distinction beyond "they way things should be."

There's also the implication that, in reducing it to nothing but a choice of lifestyle, all gay people are making an active decision to live the way they do and to be the way they are. They made a choice. Sure, they may have felt urges and desires for as long as they could remember, but the very second they thought to themselves, "I"m gay," they made a choice. A choice not to be themselves, mind, but a choice to live a different way. (You know, doing all sorts of deviant things like going to work, paying the bills, buying milk at the corner store...)

The assumption is also that in making that choice, they made the wrong one. And that making the choice to be heterosexual is just as easy as making the choice to wear black pants instead of blue, but those sinful homosexuals are too selfish and lazy to make that choice, and prefer living a life of evil instead.

This also discounts any examples of homosexuality demonstrated in nature, and I'm not just refering to dominance mounting here. I guess all those penguins and cats just made the choice to be sinful and Godless. And let's not even mention the level of hell reserved purely for bonobos!

There are so many implications carried by a seemingly innocent phrase, and not a single one is flattering. Hearing people say things like, "Yes, I have gay friends, and I disapprove of their lifestyle choice but I still love them," makes me grind my teeth and bite back the question as to whether these gay friends also happen to be public nudists or something. That would be a lifestyle choice. Being gay is just...

The problem with talking about this is that I can never quite decide what being gay, or bi, or ace, or any flavour of sexual preference really is. It's not exactly a choice or a decision, except in the decision that each individual makes regarding whether to pursue the urges that they feel or to try to ignore them. I wouldn't say it's genetic, since to the best of my knowledge, they have yet to discover the gay gene (or the bisexual gene, or the asexual gene, etc), and the fact at any point in their lives, anyone could suddenly have a flash on inspiration that tells them, "I like men/women/both/none," kind of acts against that. Would it being a mutation, or would it be something that could randomly get activated at any point? There are theories, but no real solid facts. Interesting statistics, but nothing definitive and predictable.

The best I can come to is that being of a non-heterosexual orientation just is. It happens. Whyever it happens, it happens. But unless someone can define the gay lifestyle, I don't think it can be called a lifestyle choice.

Some will, of course, define that lifestyle as being one in which a man enjoys having sex with another man. (Ever notice how it's men who take most of the flak here? It's like most people are content to leave homosexual women alone, for some reason. Unless the woman is bisexual, of course, and in that case she's just seen as a slut, or in denial of something...) But see my comments regarding calling heterosexuality a lifestyle choice for my counter to that. Aside from what's done in the bedroom (or wherever you happen to do it in the privacy of your home), what makes their life different from anybody else's? And to draw that fine a distinction is like saying that a person who reads mystery novels has a fundamentally different lifestyle than a person who likes to read memoirs.

I'll take things to a more personal level here. I'm asexual. It's a non-heterosexual form of sexuality, and therefore, by the standards of some, completely wrong and evil. But nuns and monks are fine, because they're just celibate. It's okay to feel horny, I guess, so long as it's toward the opposite gender, even if you don't do anything about it. Oh, except for the sects of various religions that teach that even that is wrong... Hmmm, looks like nobody wins here.

Okay, I got off track a little there. Let me get back on it.

My point is that ultimately, I don't want to have sex. I don't find much appeal in it. In terms of what's just seen on the surface, how am I indistinguishable from somebody who's just single at the moment? It's not like I make it a point to walk down the street yelling about how I don't want anyone between my legs, and most heterosexual females don't walk down the street yelling about how they can't wait to next spread their legs for a man. Stick the two of us side by side, examine our lives, and the differences you notice will not be ones relating to sexuality, I assure you.

But regardless, to some people, my preference is the wrong one. I made the wrong decision and should just learn to love the cock. How am I ever going to be a good wife and mother if I don't work on getting a man? I should stop being so lazy and selfish and just admit that I'm really a lesbian in denial.

Or... something. I guess. For all the sense that all makes.

But my sexual preferences, or lack thereof, is not my lifestyle, nor did I choose it in the way these people imply. Same thing with anyone who's homosexual, or bisexual, or pansexual, or-- I don't know, there are a hundred and one words to describe all the subtle shades of sexuality in the world right now, and I don't know them all. And to be just discarded as somebody who made the wrong choice, whose very way of living (even though it's the same way hundreds of thousands of people who are living the so-called right way do it) is an affront to others, is incredibly insulting.

Maybe people think they're being gentle when they call it a lifestyle choice. Maybe they think it's more polite than just saying, "You're doing it wrong." But it's on the same levels as saying, "People who are that way." It's putting a barrier where there ought not to be one, making sure that there an us-versus-them mentality to keep everyone seeing only the differences and none of the similarities. It's an insult. It's just a more subtle one than words like "freak" and "degenerate" are.

But given that the implication is the same, I can't help but wonder if the people who use such gentle terms are only doing it to make themselves feel better. They get to feel superior to those who'll just come right out and call a gay man a degenerate, but they get the rest comfortably knowing that they've done their job of expressing their distaste of something that's not really their business.

But if you say "person who lives an alternative lifestyle" to be gentler when what you really mean is "disgusting pervert," maybe you should stop and actually think about what you say before you say it. If you can't handle saying what you mean, then why are you trying to say it anyway?
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
This person has pledged that for each comment she gets to this post, up to 500, she will donate a dollar to a few organizations dedicated to helping GLBTQ youth. A few others have joined in and said that if she reaches this goal, they'll donate money of their own. The count is currently at $650 that could be donated to helping, and more comments and donations keep pouring in.

This is amazing. Even if all I can do is comment myself and help to spread the word a little, I'll do it. It took me 30 seconds to write a comment. It was possibly the most worthwhile 30 seconds I'll spend today.

The rash of teen suicides lately has disturbed me profoundly. The bullying these people endured, for no reason other than they they had an attraction to the same sex (sometimes even just potentially had an attraction to the same sex) is absolutely disgusting. There aen't many people I will wish ill upon, but the people who perpetrate this kind of utter bullshit should be punished, and punished severely.

This is a sore spot with me. I pretty much spent my life being bullied in one form or another. Not just because of my sexual orientation, though accusations of such did play a part in my torment.

Bullying, and what I endured. )

Why do bullies get away with stuff like this? Because nobody stops them. People counsel the victims to be more understanding and more sympathetic. Teachers have lost the authority to punish students half the time now, even when it's obvious that they're doing something terrible. Because people who are bullied a lot tend to stop crying out when they learn that nobody's going to come and help them.

Then, of course, there's the fact that some adults don't turn a blind eye to bullying, but go and watch it as a form of entertainment. Rei told me about an incident he saw uptown when he was in high school, where two students were beating the crap out of each other, and sure enough, other students had gathered in a circle to watch. But adults were in that circle too, watching in fascination or cheering on the fighters. Not trying to break up the fight. Not trying to get help. Standing and watching. Encouraging.

Disgusting.

I hate bullying. I hate bullies. People can come up with as many excuses for the bullies as they like, say that they're scared or insecure or lonely or that they were probably bullied themselves once. But that does not erase what they do to people. That doesn't mend wounds or heal scars. It doesn't stop anything. It just convinces the victim that even the adults who are supposed to help them care more about the bullies than the bullied.

Then there's the fact that often things get overlooked in children what would be reported to the police in adults. Physical abuse, mostly, but also harassment of various kinds. There's a wonderful line from Mercedes Lackey's Burning Brightly that expresses this sentiment very clearly. I can't remember the exact quote, so I'll paraphrase a little but it's something like, "I mean torture, not pushing around. We'd call it torture in adults, and I see no reason to call it any less in children."

Because let's face it: if an adult was walking home and two slightly younger adults came around the corner and threatened to beat them, that's cause to get the police involved. If heavy or sharp objects were thrown at an adult by an adult, that could be reported to the police and the perpetrator would get quite well punished for it. Sexual harassment is cause to get the police involved at any point, but it often gets overlooked in younger people unless an adult is involved. Anything else is just "kids being kids," even if the end effect is the same.

That's why I want to speak out, not just against the bullying of GLBTQ youth, but against bullying in general. Nobody deserves it. Too many people overlook it. It causes as many scars as a knife does, only most of the scars caused by bullying are the kind that nobody looks at because they're psychological, emotional. I survived being bullied. Barely. If I'd cut deeper or taken more pills on that first suicide attempt, I wouldn't have survived bullying. Many people would have contributed to that death, none of them once thinking that it would go so far because to them, it's all fun and games.

My pain, somebody else's pain, was a game. It was fun. It was funny.

It's not a game. And just because I'm still alive doesn't mean I came out intact on the other side. The habits these people got me into have yet to be broken down. I don't know if they ever will be. Some things are so deeply ingrained that they're completely a part of me now, like my crippling social anxiety and my frequent inability to speak to strangers unless I exert a lot of willpower and suffer for it later.

Their games have ended. My life has not. And even if I still suffer for it, even if the memories still hurt, I've found the strength to speak out for those who can't. Not just the people who tragically took their lives because they saw no other end to their pain, but those who are so used to silence, so used to nobody paying attention unless it's to hurt them. For them, I speak. For them, I stand up. And for them, I listen when somebody else may not, because I know all too well what it's like to have my please for help fall on deaf ears.
sarasvati: (bite me)
A drug for pregnant women that prevents lesbian daughters.

... Yeah, you read that right.

The theory behind this is that a tiny and inconclusive study in Sweden may have shown that this drug reduces the rate of girls being born with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which other studies have linked to "ambiguous genitalia" as well as higher rates of homosexuality and "masculine behaviour" in females, and apparently some doctor in New York thinks that this means that if pregnant women take the drug, the chances of them giving birth to a lesbian get drastically reduced.

A quote from this doctor: "The challenge here is... to see what could be done to restore this baby to the normal female appearance which would be compatible with her parents presenting her as a girl, with her eventually becoming somebody's wife, and having normal sexual development, and becoming a mother."

I think I'm going to go be sick now.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Today I read an interesting post about not fitting the transgender mold. It struck a chord with me, since I am also someone whose physical sex does not comfortably match their mental gender, but I also don't fit into a nice mold hat somebody else has pre-shaped for transgendered people.

I looked at the DSM-IV-TR definition for gender identity disorder, the see the criteria that must be met for a diagnosis of GID or gender dysphoria to be given. They are as follows:

1. Long-standing and strong identification with another gender
2. Long-standing disquiet about the sex assigned or a sense of incongruity in the gender-assigned role of that sex
3. The diagnosis is not made if the individual also has physical intersex characteristics.
4. Significant clinical discomfort or impairment at work, social situations, or other important life areas.


I'm not intersexed, so far as I know, so that cuts out the issue of number 3. The feeling that I don't identify with my physical sex has been recognised for years, and signs potentially relating to it can be traced back to childhood, so I believe I fit number 2. I do get profoundly uncomfortable when somebody addresses me as "lady" or "woman" or "girl", because in a single word they are fitting me with all kinds of qualities that I don't have and don't agree with. I fit number 4.

I don't fit number 1. Why? Because the "other gender" that it needs me to identify with doesn't technically exist.

I consider myself agendered, which roughly means I don't associate with being male, female, or even androgyny or third-gender. Third-gender is closer to what I feel than male or female, but it still doesn't quite fit. When I think of myself as having no gender, it's like a sense of peace comes over me, comfort with the definition and the realization that yes, this is right for me.

How does one transition into nothing? How does one find a doctor willing to help somebody become neuter?

I tried to tell a therapist about my gender identity problems in the past. I tried to explain that I was certain that I wasn't internally male, but I didn't feel female either, and disliked everything about myself that made me female. Her response was to encourage me to spend time in the local gay and lesbian community, assuming that my gender problems came from a lack of connection to my sexual orientation.

I'm fine with my sexual orientation, by the way. I'm asexual. I do not have much of a sex drive. I can become aroused, I am capable of orgasm, but the thought of having sex or engaging in sexual activity leaves me cold and uncomfortable.

I've met plenty of people who don't believe me when I say these things. They believe that I'm repressing my gender and sexuality, or that my lack of connection to a gender or sexual identity means that there's something wrong with me.

I tried, when I was younger, to be a good girl. I tried to be interested in makeup and boys and fashion. Oh sure, I found some boys cute, and had the usual teenage crushes on a few male celebrities, but that was about as far as my femininity seemed capable of going. I bought a single tube of lipstick in my teenage years, and I used it so little that I still have it. My first boyfriend was somebody whom I was more interested in fantasy RP with than any actual romance. He told me he loved me and I told him he was too young to know what love was.

Younger still, I was accused by male friends of being a boy, because I had sports toys and outdoor games more than I had girl toys. I denied it. I wasn't a boy. I didn't know then that I wasn't a girl, but I was sure enough that I wasn't a boy. I played equally with Barbies and Lego, with Polly Pocket and my soccer ball. My Barbies were often escaping from wartorn countries or on the USS Enterprise, and with Lego blocks I built up towers and then threw crude planes at them to see how many planes it would take to bring the building down. (Few children could get away with that now, I bet.)

In high school, I tried to explain to friends what I wanted in a relationships, that I wanted "the perks but to avoid the responsibility." They insisted that what I thus wanted was a fuckbuddy. I didn't have the courage or words to tell them that the responsibility I wanted to avoid was sex and the drama surrounding it, and the perks I wanted were the nonsexual parts of a romantic relationship.

I didn't know the words then to describe what I know now. Asexuality. Genderqueer. Neuter. Nonsexual. I know them now, and I know they apply now, and I suspect they applied even then.

But no matter how many years I know the words and recognize the signs, that means nothing to a lot of people because I don't fit the mold. I don't fit into the F or the FTM boxes, and so my story isn't worth much and will probably never be given due notice.

The first transgendered person I ever met was an mtf lesbian. I didn't even know then that there was a mold she broke.

I find it painfully funny sometimes that although good work has been done to break down the gender binary, we're still stuck in it. Women can transition to men and vice versa, but only that. Women can transition to men and be given therapy for it, given hormones and surgery to make their bodies fit what their mind tells them should be. Men can transition to neuter, to androgyne, and only "make lifestyle choices", and are pretty much left to deal with it on their own, or at best are encouraged to further explore their gender and sexual identities until they finally decide on one or the other.

It can only be one or the other. It can never be in between or outside, or else it isn't real.

It's little wonder, then, that I used to joke about my gender and sexuality making me a nonentity. To many people, I am not real. I am not valid. I do not exist.

TL;DR - I am [personal profile] sarasvati, and I am a "bad trans person."
sarasvati: A silhouette of a man riding a dolphin, with the words "Part of everything" underneath (inexplicable)
After watching a National Geographic documentary on sex and gender, I became aware of the hijra, one of the many gender variants that are recognised in other cultures even if not openly accepted and well tolerated. This spawned a search for more information on gender identity, and I came across this link on Wikipedia: Girlfags and Guydykes.

This struck a chord in me, since I used to refer to myself, long ago, as being a gay male trapped inside a bisexual female's body. This was, of course, when the closest word I knew to defining my sexuality was "bisexual." I prefered neither men nor women over the other, but didn't feel any particular attraction to males or females at all, when push came to shove. I was much more interested in the parts of a relationship that didn't involve any sexuality at all.

I remember trying to convey this to friends in high school, but not being articulate enough to say it properly to people who weren't patient enough to fully listen to my explanation. I said that in a romantic relationship, I wanted the perks and closeness of being part of a couple, without that pesky responsibility. I didn't have the words or time to explain that a big part of the responsibility I didn't want involved having sex, or any of the consequences and annoyances that came in sexual relationships. But the people I was explaining this to jumped instantly to the conclusion that I didn't want a relationship, but instead wanted, in their terms, a fuckbuddy, and refused to listen to my objections.

It wasn't until relatively recently that I encountered the term "asexuality", and the more I looked into it, the more I realised that it was the right word to describe what I felt.

While struggling with gender identity (I never liked being nor thought of myself as female, and I certainly wasn't male), I came across the concept of being agendered, of not really having any gender at all. A few people tried to get me to use the terms "third-gender" or "androgyne", but I refused. They didn't feel right. Claiming I was of a third gender implied that I felt some connection to a gender at all, and calling myself androgynous implied that I was a mix of both male ("andro") and female ("gyne"), and I was neither.

I got comfortable with the concept of being someone with no particular gender identity who didn't want sex. I used to make jokes about it, saying that since so many people defined themselves by their gender or sexuality, I was a nonentity, but friends objected to that too, saying that the joke was too close to my old attitudes of not feeling important and trying to be invisible. I stopped making the joke for their sakes, though if truth be told, I still think it's amusing.

But here's where the girlfag/guydyke issue comes in. I do have an attraction to gay male relationships. This goes beyond my interest in fandom. If I ever picture myself with a romantic partner, I often picture them as being male, and in many ways in that picture, I too am male, or at least have more masculine features. (This can be accounted for, I suppose, by stating that the masculine features I have in that fantasy are the lack of breasts and a vagina, which ties in with my gender identity.) But I do not feel, in my mind, that I am male.

I feel wrong calling myself a girlfag, since that implies, for one thing, that I'm a girl. I'm not. Tests involving thinking patterns and personality traits typically expressed in either gender often show me as being right down the middle, between the two, and if there's a slant in one direction, it's a very slight slant to the female side of things. But despite the discomfort inherent in the word itself, I can't deny that the attitude applies to me.

I also can't deny the fact that I find females crossdressing as males to be very attractive, either. Where does that fit into the equation?

This is why labels are both useful and terrible. Useful, because they help us identify ourselves and given names to feelings that we can't always articulate. Terrible, because there's no label for every cirumstance, and as humans it seems we feel a burning need to explain everything and to put it in a neat little box. I won't change myself to fit somebody else's mold, and I don't feel right using a label that doesn't properly apply to me.

Maybe I should start looking for my ideal romantic partner in an asexual homoromantic male who doesn't mind being with someone who's physically female but mentally right down the middle and outside at the same time. Or perhaps an asexual homoromantic female who identifies as male who doesn't mind being with somebody like me.

Can you imagine what that personal ad would look like?

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sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Sarasvati

August 2011

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