The Oddity of People

Jul 2, 2009 | Personal

I read a lot of news on feminism, and as a side effect of this, I read about gay people.

That doesn’t sound right to me. The word ‘gay’ used as an adjective to describe people who prefer same sex relationships always sounded wrong to my ears, as if its undertones were ‘flippant’, ‘silly’, irrelevant’ and so on. ‘Homosexual’ sounds too formal, too clinical. ‘Queer’ sounds like an insult, as it’s often used as such where I come from.

I struggle with words. ‘Gay’ will have to do for the time being.

I also read about transgender people, because I am interested in human gender and sexuality. It fascinates and astounds me that people can be born ‘in between’ genders, identifying one way in their head but biologically opposite, or born without gender at all. How marvellous and diverse it is! My own cisgender nature (as I believe it’s called) seems so pedestrian in comparison.

But many people don’t appreciate this, and it mystifies me on many levels. I wonder at the walls they have built inside their heads, that the very idea of (for example) a woman who is not biologically female repulses them. I struggle to understand how they could feel this way about another human being who never chose for their nature and body to be so opposed.

I posed a question to a friend of mine; a man who I believe to be quite forward-thinking and accepting. On seeing an attractive woman, and feeling attraction towards her, how would you then feel on learning that she is transsexual?

He said he would be repulsed. I then posed a further question: Are you repelled because of her, as a person, or are you repelled by your own previous attraction to her?

Now that was more difficult to discern, and if I recall right, he had no answer. But it made me think a little on why he felt that way, and I may have a reason for it.

He, being a cisgender male, is attracted to females; his attraction is a purely physical thing. He sees an attractive woman and unconsciously ‘fills in’ what he does not know about her with a convenient fantasy, i.e. that her personality/taste/desires/etc mean that she is available for sex. Learning that she is transgendered shatters this. As the sum of her biological parts is all that matters (all else being imagined), the living, female soul inside her skin is ignored and, for him, she is immediately defined by her incorrect genitalia. His attraction saw only a thing to be either possessed or not possessed; the discovery is akin to picking up an apple, and imagining that it will taste good, only to find out that it is rotten and worm ridden inside. A thing that was imagined to be desirable, suddenly revealed as a thing which one has been taught is vile and disgusting.

I would not condemn anyone for feeling this way. My thoughts on it are that they are a product of their upbringing, cultural influences, and predisposition, just as I am. But it is something that needs to be challenged every day, so that people will learn to look past the meat and see the soul within. Feeling this sense of revulsion about another person because of what they are is wrong, and it throws barriers between people where there should be none. What if my comrade meets someone who could be the love of his life, his soulmate – and he cannot love her because she is transgendered?

I hate the thought of something like this getting in the way of happiness. I suppose I just want people to stop condemning and vilifying each other because of things that are out of their control, and that really don’t matter much except to those who are exceptionally irrational and opinionated.

It’s a distant dream, I know, but it’s something noble and pure that I can believe in.