Saturday, April 10, 2010

On Hermes and Gender Issues

I find it interesting that recently the issue of sexuality, sexual identity, and gender identity has come up at the Hellenic Pagan forum at Yahoo. Why? Because, as I said, Hermes seems to be taking me on a journey into my own sexuality, my own motivations for sex, my own identity as both man and homosexual. He is, I think, begging me to ask myself questions with regard to my own prejudices in this area, and yes, I have them.

I try to be a fair person, Zeus demands that we be just, but I also try to think things through on a level that some would consider logical, and others might consider antithetical to religiosity. As a result, I tend to come to conclusions that often put me at odds with the reality of our political and religious systems. Systems that often, at least on my side of the political spectrum, tend to want us all to be rather relativistic ( Not Einstein ) rather than dogmatic or steadfast.

One issue which, I have to admit, causes me vexation is the Transgendered.

What issues?

Before I go further, allow me to say this. I believe that each of us has the right, a right not handed us by a constitution but by higher authority, to make our own destinies as we feel best suits us. So when I say what I am about to say, do not think I mean that transgendered people should not follow their dreams or needs to become what they feel is the more authentic them. Indeed, I feel they should do that, I only question the wisdom of it in many cases.

Gender. What is it? Is it really attached to a particular way of dressing, of playing with dolls, of being “masculine” or “feminine” in the traditional sense? I think we all know it is not, that gender itself is simply a matter of biology. That if you have a penis and testicles and are not truly inter-sexed, you are male. If you have a vagina, ovaries, breasts, and are capable of birthing a child, you are a female. To many, this seems like too simple a definition of gender, but I disagree.

Gender Identity, however, is a much more complicated matter. A woman who looks like a man, dresses like a man, makes love to other women can be quite happy with being a woman. In fact, I know many women who are quite like this, They seem to, on the outside, identify with a more masculine paradigm, yet ask them and they will tell you, they like being women and would not change that for anything. I know drag queens and femme men who one could swear would rather just lop it off and become women, but ask them and they are happy to be men and love their penises.

So it is possible for a man to be feminine and still be happy with his cock. It is possible for a woman to be very masculine and still love her pussy. (Sorry to be vulgar, but I assure you, the connotation of these more vulgar words, their impact, is very much in keeping with the conceptual context here) Psychologically, these people accept in themselves their difference from the “norm” of their gender, and in accepting it, they become happy with what they have rather than obsessing over what they do not.

But this is also rather superficial, after all, gender identity is deeply rooted. It forms part of every single aspect of our lives, behavior, etc.

What is it that is different about people who seek to actually alter their gender at that superficial level in order to match that inner sense of masculinity or femininity?

I think what is different about them is that they also suffer from, and this is where I get people hating me a little, from a form of Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a psychological condition linked with anxiety that causes the person to obsess over a perceived flaw or defect in their appearance, or sometimes, an obsession with aspects or parts of their bodies, often causing them to damage themselves or seek out medical procedures that alter their appearance. People with obsessive “addictions” to plastic surgery, for example, or who have eating disorders because of their faulty perception of themselves are examples.

Transgendered people seem to fall into this category. They feel that they have qualities that fall into the other gender’s purview, and as a result, they perceive their bodies as flawed, and obsess over that flaw, meaning their genitals, until they have to remove them. (Yes, I know they are altered rather than actually removed)

Now, I think that sex change operations are a mistake. I don’t think that a person who has a perfectly healthy male body is actually trapped in it but is actually female. I think he is simply a girly man, and I think that such men should deal with the underlying issue of shame involved in being girly for a man, or manly for a woman, and accept themselves. But I know that is simply not realistic. I know that often people will want that fix, they want to make the change because they are convinced that is what will fix them.

Where I am concerned is in whether or not everything was tried before the surgery was booked. Did he or she go through all the therapy necessary? Has every possible complication been discussed? Has the potential for disillusionment been truly introduced and dealt with before hand?

If a man or woman has gone through it all, dealt with all the issues, been through all the therapy and such, and still feels that his or her life would be best served by having the surgical procedures necessary to change their outward physical appearance to make them into the other gender, then I would have to say go for it. And I will be respectful of your choice and be happy to know you are a happier person as a result.

But I am always going to seek to understand it on some logical level that, to me, does not exist yet. I do not understand it, and so sometimes come off as a bit coarse about the subject.

But the issue coming up now does remind me that we are all forced to deal with sexuality and gender issues in our culture. The Abrahamic attitudes toward gender force men to behave one way, eschewing anything that might threaten that status quo, and women another. As a gay man, I am always aware of this because straight men seem to have such a deliberately exaggerated reaction to anything gay. Two men kissing elicits a reaction that often makes one wonder what they are really trying to hide, or, perhaps, if they are really trying convince themselves that it is gross while at the same time noting that it is really no more odd than watching a man kiss a woman.

What does my gender have to do with how I love the Gods?

Certainly my sexuality has something to do with it. Being gay in the most gay of all pantheons seems perfectly fitting, but what about my actual gender and gender identity. How does being a man who identifies strongly as a man yet loves other men relate to my worship of Athena?

1 comment:

Ricki said...

You expressed yourself perfectly well and fitting, Hector. You were careful, caring, sensible and sensitive.