Thursday, April 3, 2008

The measure of a man

Thomas Beatie, the pregnant man, gave his first television interview today on Oprah, perhaps you watched it. He and his wife seemed to be extremely loving, nice, well adjusted people, simply living their normal, everyday lives like the rest of us. And like many loving married couples they have decided to have a baby, big whoop.

Contrary to what we have heard from other transsexuals, Thomas didn't seem to have the ubiquitous, epiphanal "I am in the wrong body" moment of clarity. He instead seems to have more decided, over the course of several years, that in order for the world to treat him the way that he felt, he would undertake this transformation, allowing him to freely live in a predefined gender role more suited to his lifestyle. In other words, he describes his transition as being entirely about gender, and not at all about sex. And while this is most likely not the same for all transsexuals, certainly not according to their written accounts at any rate, it felt honest, genuine, humble, unassuming, and effortless. This is who I am, and that's all I have ever wanted to be. No explanations, rationalizations, apologies needed. Shouldn't we all have the right to define ourselves in whichever way that we choose? It seems so simple. So commonsensical.

It didn't surprise me to hear that many in the transgendered community looked unkindly at his situation. People on either side of (whatever) the fence do not take kindly to those who walk the line between the two. I can easily see them feeling like he is trying to have his vagina, and eat it too, so to speak. But again, why do this to each other? As a group they have collectively traversed the unforgiving terrain of the gender/sex landscape and made it to the other side in tact, only to try to once again put themselves in ready made, knock off, little boxes. Playing normative, the way little children play house. It's fascinating the expectations that we put onto other people based on the identity labels that we have assigned to them in our heads.

His situation, however, does seem to beg the question, what does it take to legally change your sex these days? A double mastectomy and some testosterone injections? That is all? Really? Is this all that stands between gay couples and the more than eleven hundred legal rights of marriage? (Which isn't to say that I am necessarily pro gay marriage specifically, as I am, in fact, anti marriage in general. I am convinced that the only path to true equality, and freedom from discrimination, is to make marriage solely a religious institution, and have every couple, heterosexual and homosexual alike, be joined in legal civil unions. That's just my two cents.)

Again, I am left to commend Thomas and his family for sharing their story, in order that we all might better navigate our own lives that much more easily having heard it. The lesson of self awareness. Self respect. Of unconditional love. Cheers to that!

4 comments:

Pamela said...

I, too, wonder about the changing of genders on a legal level. Because if it's pretty vague then queer folk all over have an easy way to get the same rights those straight folk have!

this is such a great post...i love you!

gabrielle said...

it is fascinating all the inner turmoil of 'you don't fit on our side' bs in the queer community. it's just like 'max' not fitting in with all the lipstick lezzies on 'the l word'. they're all: you're a man! you don't belong here.

i mean really, should we be arguing over fitting in ---- HERE? c'mon! we've all suffered enough, right?

Cheyenne said...

Anyone who is able to have his/her vagina and eat it too deserves to do so!

Adam said...

I love the word "commonsensical".

Also, "have his vagina, and eat it too, so to speak" made me laugh out loud.

Great post, very well considered and wonderfully articulated.