Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"People who reveal, or announce, that their gender is variegated, rather than momchromatic or plainly colored in the current custom, have always presented difficulties. Not only is our society distressed by masculine women, feminine men, and the androgynous; even the big man who embroiders, or the wife and mother of three who has a black belt in tae kwon do, a buzz cut, and no makeup in her gym bag, stirs a frisson of discomfort... I sometimes think that our culture is like the Church in the days of Galileo. We will not see, and we will silence and mock, even banish and punish, those who say that wat is, is."

"Normal" by Amy Bloom is subtitled "Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude." I found it an interesting account of her interviews and experiences. The book didn't really change my beliefs regarding transsexuals or the intersex, however I hadn't really spent any time contemplating hetersexual crossdressers; I'm far more familiar with drag queens and kings. I have to say, by the end of the book, I wasn't feeling especially interested in making the aquaintance of most of the characters she describes: they all come across in her narrative as narcassistic, mysognistic, conservative Republicans. Not my kind of people. In her interviews with experts, there is a suggestion that the crossdressing is both a compulsion and sexual in nature; the groups that the men and their wives have formed instead stress that the men are expressing their feminine side. However, Bloom describes the wives as being very unhappy, going so far as to say that their husbands' crossdressing is painful for them. She reports one wife say, "For twenty years he couldn't help with the dishes because he was watching football. Now he can't help because he's doing his nails. Is that different?" I wonder what support and accomodation these men are giving their wives, considering their wives seem to be giving an extraordinary amount of both. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be curious to read more about the subject and see if Bloom's findings are common.

"Not monsters, nor marvels, nor battering rams for gender theory, people born intersexed have given the rest of the world an opporunity to think more about the odd significance we give to gender, about the elusive nature of truth, about the understandalbe, sometimes dangerous human yearning for simplicity-and we might, in return, offer them medical care only when they need it, and a little common sense and civilized embrace when they don't."

Primum non nocere

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