Many transgender women assert that there is no connection between gender, sex and sexual orientation. I disagree.
Transsexuals [as defined by Harry Benjamin Syndrome] often claim that they are and always have been women. Some say that their male genitals are simply a birth defect, others claim that there is no birth defect and that they're no less women because of it.
Some transsexuals dismiss everyone else across the transgender spectrum (cross-dressers, drag queens, gender queer, shemales, and fetishists) as unrelated to them, while other transsexuals include them as a unified community.
Whether we need to be categorized in definable boxes is debatable, but on paper it may be relatively easy to identify and categorize the many types of transgender people. And by those definitions, easy enough to dismiss any connection between them -- no one would mistake a transsexual (Isis King), a sissy (Stephanie) and/or a drag queen (RuPaul), for example.
However, there are misconceptions about all of them. For example, one of the more common misconceptions is that a transsexual is a transgender girl that has had gender reassignment surgery, when the truth is that the surgery is merely a treatment for the condition, not a prerequisite for it. The mainstream also often concludes that any “man in a dress” is gay.
There are many misconceptions; many myths and misinformation across the spectrum of transgender subgroups. Yet although something is believed to be true, doesn’t always make it so. And what also complicates the situation is that while one person might have better insight than another regarding a third person's gender, none can ever really know without a doubt what is true, except the person themselves that is in question.
Moving on, the party line these past ten years -- by all types of tranwomen -- has been that gender and sex are totally unrelated. I would suggest that this may not be entirely so.
I’m not suggesting that if you’re a transgender woman that by default you will be attracted to men, or women, other transwomen, or have any particular defined desires. But I am saying that -- in many cases -- the way in which we interact sexually may have direct revelations as to our true gender.
Growing up many of us don’t really recognize that we are different from our peers; we might have a sense that something is off, and of course we know that our desire to cross-dress isn't quite right, but don’t see anything beyond that. It wasn’t until I came out -- at the age of forty-three -- that I began to see thingsthat went unnoticed decades before.
Despite being an athletic guy growing up, and quite comfortable being physically male, my conflict was that I didn’t think like one. In the locker-room(s) with my football teammates [in high school and later in college] I would laugh along with their jokes, but in many instances didn’t get them.
In early 2000 before coming out, I was with a girl I was dating who told me that “you process information differently than any man I’ve ever known.” Years later I would revisit those remarks in search of its meaning.
Although I’ve always been visually attracted to women, as a trans-girl living 24/7 I never dated them; I dated only men, with whom I was very comfortable. And as trite and delusional as that might sound to some, it felt more natural for me.
By 2004, unable to transition -- for reasons I won’t go into here -- I totally reversed course to once again live as a man 24/7. I thought I could just ease into being a semi gender-fluid gay man. I loved the company of gay men, and had many gay friends, even though the men I dated had been mostly straight, or at least straight-acting.
Yet, suddenly, dating men didn’t work for me. I still liked hanging out with them, but no longer sought dating, or, deflected those interested in me. Why with the simple change of my outward appearance would I no longer be able to connect with, or even desire those that I had previously been intimate with as a trans-girl? I’ve always said that our outward presentation was merely the taxi that carry “us” around. Is there more to it?
Could it be that the connection no longer worked for me because men now saw -- and related to -- me as male, as opposed to female?
In this instance, my sexual orientation and the act of sex itself were intrinsically linked to my gender identification and/or the presentation of it. Outsiders would quickly interpret that as me being gay and unable to engage out of "drag." Yet, not only was I unafraid to identify as gay, I did identify and tell people I as gay at that time. So fear of labels had no impact on me, or my actions.
There are many cross-dressers and/or fetishists out there for which sexual gratification is their underlying motivation to cross-dressing: they get dressed, get hot, and get off. Then they return to their normal male lives. But how did they feel just after the orgasm? Relieved, satisfied, embarrassed, uncomfortable, disgusted?
Transsexuals will tell you that they never experienced that: they knew they were girls before they even knew what sex was. And that might be true. But from my own experiences, I experienced all those crossdressing experiences, only to start living a girls' life where sex and/or self-gratification no longer drove my actions.
When I came out I did so in the crossdressing community, and therefore had many crossdressing friends. I would listen when they spoke, but just like those earlier years in the locker room, their words didn’t resonate for me. And once again, I was surrounded by people that looked like me, but weren’t of me, and it became -- in time -- apparent that I wasn’t a crossdresser like them either.
It was only when I settled into the “out” girls’ life that I adopted, that I was able to compare my internal feelings and external interactions with women and men. Those interactions in turn provided pulled the rug out from under everything I "thought" I then knew about gender. It was only from the various stages of gender presentation, as well as sexual interaction -- as a man with women, men, and as a transwomen with men, that I was able to untangle the web: I wasn't a gay man, a gay cross-dresser, or a straight man, but rather a heterosexual woman.
So while I would agree that what determines one's gender has nothing to do with their sexual orientation, and while some may have a firm handle on their gender from an early age, there are others of us for whom the deep secret of our gender is connected to and revealed by our sexual desires and interactions.
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