Why the Fuss?
(About Same Sex Marriage)
(written Nov. 2003)
HJ 56: Marriage Amendment
(written July 2003)
The So-Called Defense of Marriage Amendment
(written July 2001)
Written in answer to the question, ""If you are a gay man, why not just find a masculine woman, or if you are a lesbian why not find an effeminate man. Why be gay?"
I'm going to assume that you actually are curious, and would like a straight answer to your question (if you will pardon the expression!)
There are actually four aspects to human sexuality.
The first is physical gender, defined as having xx or xy chromosomes, and female or male primary and secondary sexual characteristics.
The second is internal gender identity. The unshakable, immutable self knowledge of being male or female.
The third is gender attraction, being drawn emotionally and physically to desire either males or females as mates and life-long companions.
The fourth is gender presentation, how well an individual fits the cultural stereotypes; whether they act in a manner seen as "feminine" or "masculine."
These four things do not seem to have as much to do with each other as our culture would lead us to believe. While the majority of people with xy chromosomes have male sexual characteristics, know inside that they are male, are attracted to females, and behave in a manner that is characteristically "masculine," this is certainly not true of all. Nor are all people with xx chromosomes obviously female physically, with female gender identity, an attraction to males, and "feminine" behaviour patterns.
All combinations of these four aspects can, and do, occur.
Nor are these facets a simple binary (on-off or male-female) system. Instead, they seem to be arranged more like a rheostat, with plenty of transition space in the middle.
For example, .7% of the people born in this country are intersexed. That is, they may have extra x or y chromosomes and so are not either xx or xy but xyy, xxy, or some other variation. Or they have anomalous genitalia, and don't fit the expected model for either baby girls or baby boys. These things happen for a myriad of reasons. But they are not terribly uncommon; in any elementary school with 500 students, the odds are that three or four of them are intersexed.
It is obvious that whatever physical gender we are born with, we are born with. We no more decide that than we decide what race to be, or whether to be gifted or retarded.
This also appears to be true of internal gender identity. There are thousands of people with the primary and secondary physical characteristics of males who know without any doubt that they are female. They know this inside, where it counts, where we all know ourselves. And there are people who seem to be females who know they are male.
Are they mistaken? From a physical standpoint, the answer would appear to be "yes." But from a deeper level, a "soul" level if you will, it's "no."
People with this problem, which is called "gender dysphoria," usually have childhoods from hell. They live in constant fear that they are going to be found out and exposed. They don't "feel" like boys to the other boys, or like girls to the other girls, and are often beaten and verbally abused by their peers. They are forced to live a lie every day of their lives.
Eventually, they may find that they are not alone. At some point, they may decide to take the step of having surgery so that their outward gender matches their inward gender. This involves months of counseling, hormone therapy, and eventually an extremely expensive operation. It costs a bundle, and insurance usually doesn't cover it. But it can save a person's sanity and their life.
Because, although external sex can be changed with modern medicine, internal gender identification can not.
So, are all male to female transgendered people attracted to men? And all female to male attracted to women? No. Remember, these things are not always connected in the fashion we have been lead to believe that they are.
Plenty of transgendered people are also gay. That is, even after surgery an MTF may be attracted to females or an FTM to males. So why have the surgery? Because they are females, in spite of what their bodies look like. Or they are males, in spite of their physical appearance. Because it feels like a birth defect, it feels unbearably wrong, and they cannot be free to be who they actually are until it is corrected.
Sexual attraction is similarly beyond any conscious choice. We are simply attracted to the people we are attracted to. Why? Beats me. Maybe it's pheromones, or the way our brains are hardwired, or experiences from past lives. I have no idea.
But attracted we are, most of us. (Some of us are asexual, and are never attracted to anyone. It's like a rheostat, and all possible settings are available, remember?)
For heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, it's an awakening. A gradual realization that there is "something" about that girl, or that boy, or girls or boys in general.
And yes, it far transcends the mere physical. There is also an emotional attraction.
Lesbians, like most women, as a general rule are attracted to who a person is more than to what she looks like. But something about the essence of the attraction is the femaleness (not the femininity) of the woman. I can really only speak for myself, but men don't smell right. They don't feel right. You can't have the same kind of conversation with them. They don't mesh correctly at the level where I need such an interaction to occur. (And I'm not talking about the physical here.) Some essential thing is missing.
A man is simply not the same kind of being as a woman, at levels that far transcend the physical.
This is why we don't want to just have sex with someone of the same sex. We want to have lives with them. Not a one night stand, but a lasting committed relationship. Not just with a person of the same sex. With *this* person of the same sex.
It's why lesbian relationships between a "born" woman and an MTF transgendered woman work, even if the transgendered woman has not yet transitioned (had surgery,) or cannot for some reason. The body is really secondary, for a lot of us. But the soul is the soul of a woman, and that is what we need.
Does this explain it?
To finish up the four facets; stereotypes of behaviour are also not fixed to any of the other three. That is, there are heterosexual men who are quite effeminate and even cross dress. Nonetheless, they are men externally and internally and are sexually attracted only to women. (I know two of them.) Similarly, there are women who dress primarily in men's clothing and hate cooking and yet are attracted only to men.
And, in all aspects, there are people who are not firmly one thing or another but whose personality lies somewhere along the line connecting the extremes.
I, personally, think that the sooner we can all learn to accept that there is nothing wrong with any of this, that people are simply different and that different is not automatically wrong, the happier we all will be.
I agree that the essence of peace is acceptance of diversity.
And I pray that we achieve it soon.