This is one of those thoughtful posts that has been brewing for a while…and was kick-started into life by a correspondingly thoughtful post (and debate) over on the Bilerico Project. Its about sexual orientation. Again. Which obviously means that its an issue that i worry at (though not about).
Its also about discovering a bit more movement on that front in ways which, hitherto, i might have been experienced as slightly disturbing.
And now? I’m cool about. Which is progress in itself.
Orientation is not pre-determined
Let’s start with how one “orients”. I am not and never will be a determinist. I have immense dislike for various (lgbt) attempts to “prove” that this or that aspect of orientation or identity is genetically “set”. Two reasons. First, because that really isn’t how genes and the like work.
Genetically “potentiated”, sure – and no reason for assuming its a level playing field: its genes that determine whether we are, at the lowest common denominator point, able to walk (deciding whether we get legs or not). But they don’t “determine” what we choose to do with those limbs.
Second, its tactically foolish. A massive hostage to fortune and a gift to the lgbt-haters…because it sounds like saying that we should have rights “because” its genetic…with the corrollary that if it turns out not to be, then, presumably, we shouldn’t?
Third because…well, to quote a name all too familiar to trans debate (!), Julie Bindel, infamous proponent of the view that lesbianism is or can be (political) choice, suggests that to claim inevitability simply devalues feminism and suggests that nothing can ever change much (if i’ve got that wrong, Julie, i’m sure you’ll let me know!).
So back to me and the personal stuff. I have changed in lots of ways. Some, i think are quite natural and direct results of the feminisation process – what i’d call the structural. Trans men and trans women alike all report a shifting (in opposite directions) of the way in which they “connect” with the world as hormones take hold.
I don’t think hormones determine behaviour, any more than genes do – and find suggestions of same highly insulting. I do think they potentiate – in trans women, making the shift towards connection that much easier.
Re-adjustment stuff: re-evaluating men
Some stuff, therefore, is not inevitable – but its very much brought about by the transition process. Other stuff seems to me to be about re-socialising, re-adjusting. And there its harder to draw a line. I know i’ve shifted in a more collectivist direction, as much as result of my experience of abuse and bigotry targeted at me.
I’ve given up privilege, and therefore have an understanding of issues from an angle i didn’t before…which moves me much more firmly into the feminist camp. Not “in order to fit in”: but because it fits with my life now.
And then there’s men. I’ve been amused over the last year to be accused by the usual suspects (blokes writing comments in the papers) of being a “typical man-hating feminist”. More prepared to listen to the likes of QuietRiotGirl, who spotted a somewhat male-sceptic slant to my writing and took issue.
But, too, that’s been a bit of a “moveable feast”. I began transition in a state of near paranoia about guys. I couldn’t really understand them. Found them scary – and that wasn’t helped by one or two genuinely threatening incidents.
First shift: stepping back, no longer having to act as one, i found them far more vulnerable. Sweet, even. I still much prefer female company in general – but i am finding new ways to relate to guys that seem like they could allow friendships, relationships, even, where none were possible before.
Physically? They remain not particularly attractive. Apart from the androgynous ones.
Otherwise, I dislike the smell and the bristle (and a lot of the conversation) – though oddly i dislike those more than the “naughty bits”. I’ve suggested – only half joking! that i could just about imagine trying out sex with this quite peculiar gender so long as my partner wore a paper bag over his head for the duration.
Social stuff: learning heterosex
Deconstructing that…i think what its mostly about is that i so much prefer interaction with people to the purely/merely physical
that the only way i could go with doing the deed, so to speak, is if i kept the social interaction to a minimum.
Too, I just can’t get my head around liking some of those features that many women seem to be straightforwardly turned on to. Those, along with things like the “biological clock”, struck me for quite a while as being much closer to genetically potentiated – a consequence of our reproductive biology – than other stuff.
I didn’t think that who one fancied could be socially mediated. At least not so far as to shift one’s gender attraction.
Or maybe i’m going to turn out to be wrong on that, too. Because socialising mainly with other women, including one BFF who seems determined to evangelise for the hetero side, i am bombarded with messages about who is fit, who is cute, and more besides.
I was amused, on returning from a trip to the fire station with the boy’s primary school class last week, to be asked by one mum (who shall remain anonymous!) whether there were any good-looking blokes on offer. (Actually, i think she put it a good deal more graphically than that).
I find myself, strangely, learning to like (?), at the same time, becoming jealous (?) of attention dished out to other women.
Weirdest of all, reading, as i love to, the problem pages of one of the glossies, i have found myself twice of late becoming what i would politely describe as “hot and bothered” over erotic description: identifying wholly with the female perspective in a male-female dyad.
Shifting, shifting. I shan’t even begin, here to touch on the consequences of finding myself far more “stone”, far more asexual than ever before. That’s for another post.
Perhaps the biggest, most surprising discovery for me is that sexuality, orientation is far more…socially constructed than i ever imagined. Which means that a ball is now rolling…and i am increasingly intrigued by where it might stop.