Of States and Secrets

Studying Law when weighty questions are being asked in Scotland on (mostly misunderstood) matters of equality, human rights and the uncodified UK constitution is fascinating enough. Recently, I’ve also been preparing for legal action, quoting the Vento bands, setting damages for Injury to Feelings, down the phone to the ACAS mediator as my former employer seems to be running scared of the public humiliation of yet another Employment Tribunal case, preferring to settle out of court.

Fascinating though the 15th edition of Smith & Wood’s Employment Law is (I’d read about half of its 829 pages a few days after it was posted to me) it’s Stanton & Prescott’s 3rd edition of Public Law that’s more pertinent to the recent failed attempt by Holyrood to modify legislation passed by Westminster. I’ve observed previously the difference between the gracious restraint of legal discourse and uninformed party political rants on the (il)legality of the GRR Bill.

Brain whirling, I took time off my studies to watch J. Edgar, the Warner Bros biopic of the Hoover who headed the FBI for around half of the last century (not the previous and unrelated US president associated with the New Deal). Subtly directed by Clint Eastwood, its understated masculine gaze, verging at times on film noir, was enough to have critics calling it ‘controversial’ on release in 2011.

11 years on, One Nation Under Blackmail, Whitney Webb’s damning dossier of US politics, detailing and evidencing the ‘sordid union between Intelligence and Organised Crime that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein’, is far less coy about Hoover’s rumoured homosexuality and transvestism.

Where Eastwood hints, with scenes of the devoted son so distraught by his mother’s death that he dons her clothes in front of the mirror, and of a touching and tragically frustrated bromance between Hoover and his second in command and longtime companion, Webb (ch. 2 & 4) quotes eyewitnesses to the scandal of this infamous inquisitor and blackmailer frequenting the blue suite of New York’s Plaza Hotel, known as ‘Mary’, in wig and dress, pleasuring Tolson and having sex with ‘blond boys’ and with Senator Joe McCarthy’s righthand man in his persecution of suspected communists and homosexuals.

J. Edgar is a difficult film to watch, its portrayal of the public derring do of his ‘G Men’ busting mobsters and his private stoic restraint in matters of the heart undermined by the evidence of Hoover’s hypocrisy hiding in plain sight: that he was soft on crime and unconcerned about being seen in flagrante as he was simultaneously being blackmailed to go easy on organised crime and blackmailing anyone who could publicise his sexual predilections.

Two decades before It’s Time, the Scottish Government-sponsored Equality Network’s moving 2013 video campaign for equal marriage (featuring several of my old friends) there was a scandal involving senior members of the justiciary being blackmailed by the pimps of rent boys. With associated concern over the autonomy of their judicial deliberations.

It seems to me that a secret of a public figure, however well-known, does not help a nation. It festers and starts a canker at the heart of public life. Catalyst for either compensatory action or reaction, it can lead to extreme decision-making in a state of schizophrenic politics where the truth is shouted in silence.

At the height of the US ‘Red Scare’, reticence about disclosure of sexuality would be understandable. Now, certainly in any liberal democracy, being so candid might be uncomfortable or even embarrassing if the game of Let’s Pretend has been played for some time (Hoover never married but the convenient strategy of the homosexual ‘beard’ is well-known) however the health of the body politic may depend on it. For the sake of the people, and government policy, a responsible state official may decide that it’s time.

Rusty padlock covered in cobwebs on a wooden gate

Thanks to George Hodan for releasing his image Padlock into the Public Domain.

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It’s a Fake

They get the music right, and there is some big hair, cardies and drainpipe trousers—though none of the boys have Wham! style haircuts. Russel T. Davies continues with his self-hatred: the positive portrayal of older White men is limited to those who support the pharmaceutical narrative and whose sexual desire is (presumably) domesticated by having a partner. Older Black men lose points if religious, as that is shown as at least comic if not sinister.

Women gain points for being secular, metropolitan and preferably ethnic as well as for dedicating their lives to the service of (young) gay men. Mothers are mostly monsters but redeemed if fat, disabled or married to ethnic males. Davies gives himself the opportunity to address female self-sacrifice but basically gets a monster mother to blame a young woman for being a fag hag—without the show narrative taking responsibility for that accusation or showing the least interest in her personal life—and leaves it at that.

Brian Mullin, writing for the Los Angeles Times, finds that It’s a Sin doesn’t even advance the portrayal of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. I used to believe in that pharmaceutical narrative (I don’t now) but I take his point. Davies is very good at only one thing: the portrayal of young gay male jouissance. In this series he simply makes the equation that joy = death.

Davis also airbrushes drag queens, and their internecine war with m-f transsexuals, out of the 80s gay scene in which they literally played a starring role. Instead he’s opted for vaguely sketched cardboard cutouts of “trans” characters, dotted about the set, never centred and never defined. Lesbians are limited to sitting around tables agreeing with gay men and the main character (effeminate and never shown in the least attracted to women) is shown as ridiculous in pondering bisexuality—the only mention of that sexuality at the time of its major struggle for recognition in the lesbian & gay community.

The most grave sins of the series are those committed against Africans portrayed as backwards (with zero recognition of indigenous efforts to resist or even debate the social and biological harms done by corporate pharmaceutical interests from the global north) and, ironically, against young gay men.

This series continues the profitable trend of pushing drugs. Like all the other AIDS stories, It’s a Sin dismisses the proven connection of poppers (ubiquitous in gay discos then and widely used in gay sex) with Kaposi’s sarcoma and ignores the fact that 47 gay men didn’t just turn up coincidentally at a New York hospital all with the same cancer, Michael Gottlieb was studying low T-cell counts in two cities and actively recruited patients. All of whom were long term massive drug users.

The HIV/AIDS hypothesis (at least the Gallo version, there are others) has been the blueprint for all subsequent viral drug and test advertising campaigns—most successfully with “Covid”—and will be used again if the public are stupid and uninformed enough to swallow “Monkeypox”. Predictably, this latest series, like all the others, is being used to push for more public money for the pharmaceutical industry. So it can kill even more people. That’s not an act of charity. It’s a sin.

Cartoon graphic of two dark-haired men staring at an image of a pill bottle on a wall

Thanks to Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan for releasing his image Medical Insurance into the Public Domain.

The Real Greens

The trouble with the terms “greenwashing” and “pinkwashing” is that those using them may (perhaps) inadvertently do what they accuse others of doing: painting over structural issues that need to be addressed.

Pinkwashing is often used to denigrate the success of the LGBT community in Israel and there have been several aspects to this accusation:

  • Denying the issues faced by LGBT people in majority Muslim countries in general and in Palestine in particular.
  • Denying the freedoms won by the LGBT community in Israel.
  • Denying the possibility of a people under oppression to simultaneously oppress a community of their own.

Countering the first denial, Mark Segal of NY Daily News is quoted as stating:

If you have a need to prove your “wokeness” by assimilating with those who support the rape and death of LGBT people, you don’t know the meaning of LGBT liberation.

Countering the third denial, Al-Qaws, a group dedicated to gender and sexual diversity in Palestinian society, has a more nuanced statement:

Singling out incidents of homophobia in Palestinian society ignores the complexities of Israel’s colonisation and military occupation being a contributing factor to Palestinian LGBTQ oppression

My point is not to reduce the socio-political complexities to which the latter quote alludes to some kind of catchy soundbite but rather to emphasise that key word. Some issues aren’t simple—but that doesn’t mean they should be painted over in pink.

Or green. Cory Morningstar, on the blog Wrong Kind of Green, has written a detailed take-down of current media environmentalism entitled The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg. (For those who prefer listening to reading, there’s a beautifully-read podcast version.)

The reaction to greenwashing can also be rather simplistic and, similarly, has various aspects:

  • Denying the ecological issues of the planet
  • Denying the benevolent motivations of environmental protestors
  • Ignoring the possibility of both of the above co-existing with invented (or exaggerated) issues and with malevolent motivations

To stop communicating in double negatives, let me state clearly what I mean. While climatologists are divided on the question of there being a planetary temperature crisis caused by human (or animal) agency, no-one sane denies the obvious issues of air, land and water pollution by pesticides and other poisons and by plastics. Electromagnetic (high or low) frequency pollution is another source of concern.

Related issues are those of the cost-effectiveness of supposedly environmental alternative sources of energy and fuel—as well as the social impact of the market for conflict minerals (used in phones, laptops, solar panels and electric cars).

About all these issues my point is simple:

  • Unless supposedly progressive groups are prepared to grapple with the complexities of real intersectional oppression and liberation, they aren’t really progressive.

It’s not enough to pay attention to the wake-up calls of green celebrities; we also need to see beyond—to the marketisation of Africa and other repressive goals of the Great Reset.

It’s not enough to acknowledge the latter and ignore the very real problems of pollution.

It’s not enough to be aware of the dangers of Frankenfood and the sinister appropriation of the means of global food production by a very small group of plutocrats; we also need to acknowledge the unnatural and inhumane treatment of farmed animals—if not for their own sake then at least for the effect that their confinement, torture, forced assimilation of toxins and barbaric slaughter has on our own bodies and on our souls.

The so-called Green parties are allied with inhuman forces indifferent to the fate of most of the planet and its population—apart from some ecological pleasure parks strictly set aside for the elite. Let’s not pretend that meanwhile these plutocrats are all ethical vegans: they’re all guzzling meat pizza, fatty hamburgers and high sugar Coca-Cola.

In contrast, the resistance to global tyranny is full of people who eat healthily, exercise daily, participate voluntarily in various community projects and grow our own food.

We’re the real greens.

Cress growing out of soil held in a White male hand in front of the mesh cover of a plastic greenhouse.

Transe8

The Netflix series, Sense8, creation of Lana and Lilly Wachowski (formerly the Wachowski siblings, formerly the Wachowski brothers, creators of The Matrix) is certainly sensual. The eight characters in the Homo (Sapiens) Sensorium ‘cluster’ spend their time eating, drinking, taking drugs, fighting, crying, peeing, smoking, overlooking stunning panoramas, bleeding, lighting incense, playing music, almost getting killed – and, yes, an inordinate amount of time kissing and copulating. The alternation of boom and bust, tension and release, is the standard addiction strategy designed to up ratings. And I bet they’re really high. The budget certainly is.

Netflix seems to have a formula for its most popular shows and it goes something like this:

Mildly-marginalised able-bodied Middle-American White girl beats all the boys and the blonde Complete Bitch with the aid of her three less in-the-frame friends: Black (with European features)/ East Asian; gay/ trans; fat/ disabled.

The formula enables middle-class White female viewers, and those who “identify” with them, to see themselves as courageous and progressive – while completely ignoring their privilege – by blaming everything on men of any ethnicity (and any White woman they feel is even more privileged in terms of beauty or wealth). Onscreen, there’s typically a lot of the protagonist going “who, me?” while taking out her closely-typed Oscar acceptance speech.

The formula isn’t closely followed in Sense8 because there are (supposedly) 8 protagonists, all are able-bodied and attractive, and the representation is slightly more varied:

 M/ F/ M-FWhite US/ N. EuropeanHispanicEast AsianSouth AsianBlack African
CapheusM    X
KalaF   X 
LitoM X   
NomiM-FX    
Riley FX    
SunF  X  
WillMX    
WolfgangMX    

Will is the aspiring son of a Polish Chicago cop and an all-American boy (unsurprisingly, spending much of Series 2 incapacitated and crying); Nomi walks into Californian loft conversions as if she’s very used to them, and is fluent in techspeak, so these are the two characters White American audiences are obviously supposed to relate to. Russian-German crime family bad boy Wolfgang and Icelandic druggie DJ Riley are their European equivalents. Spanish-Mexican Lito (Netflix has a huge market in Latin America) fulfils three functions: the White northern audiences can feel smug about their society being less homophobic than his; he turns all the orgies bisexual (or ‘pansexual’, as the kids will say); his battle for acceptance in family and society is convenient for Nomi to bandwaggon onto. Sun is a very cool Korean but, like the other characters of colour, her qualities (martial arts, emotional reserve, filial piety and big business) are stereotypical. So Indian Kala, likewise, spends her time shopping, feasting on curries and going to the Hindu temple. Kenyan Capheus (poor, dutiful son, battling to get HIV drugs) is more complex but the moment when that is revealed is when Nomi speaks through him.

And that is exactly my first problem with this otherwise highly-entertaining and lavish show. As well as the White characters having complex character traits not linked to their ethnicity, unlike the others, the globalist perspective feels more like colonialism. This isn’t only true in the writing. The very engaging Aml Ameen was replaced for Season 2 by Tony Onwumere, apparently because the former had ‘creative differences’ with the Wachowskis over the script. I can understand. While the first ‘get-together’ was stylish, the repetitions are not and the scene in the ocean shows there are much more creative ways of illustrating the joy of shared empathy. The portrayal of a White M-F middle-class American speaking through a poor Black Kenyan about courage and justice is chilling – especially when it often appears that Nomi (truncated Naomi for the anime-obsessed) is the mouthpiece for the Wachowskis. Sometimes this ventriloquism is very apparent indeed, as when a bisexual Black Kenyan woman states that she falls in love “with the person not the genitals” – a phrase infamously used by entryist White transvestites.

As for the topic itself. Non-local perception, usually categorised as clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience, is not the quirky remit of fortune-tellers and Spiritualist mediums but has a body of rigorous research conducted and published by The Society for Psychical Research as well as various governments, including the US and (then) USSR, since the late 19th century. More popularly, it is very familiar among rural traditional cultures (including my own where it is known as Second Sight) and anecdotal evidence demonstrates that many mothers, especially, have experienced unexplained knowledge of the emotional state of their children. The combination of all three abilities is unusual and the possession of another’s body is mentioned only in sinister cults. It is this combination of the familiar and the uncanny that I explore in my own series of mystery stories which have an empathetic protagonist in Bruno Benedetti.

My second problem is related to this topic. Empathy just isn’t like that. It’s not a closed circuit, and exclusive club. The empathetic heart opens to humanity and, yes, boundaries can certainly be a challenge and one can get emotionally overwhelmed but it’s not just some kind of embodied Zoom chat with designated participants. I’m not claiming to have the same ability as that portrayed in this series. Like many people, I’ve experienced a milder form of empathy and spoken to various audiences about these phenomena that I believe to be very common, though some people are more sensitive than others, but this kind of communal selfishness is unheard of.

My third problem is deeper. Anyone not still bewitched by mainstream media knows that the current global panic – with its massive profits for big tech, big data and big pharma – is planned to head toward the 4th Industrial Revolution and a future of Human data-harvesting for AI, eugenicist population reduction, constant surveillance and cybernetic transhumanism. When Nomi & Co. speak disparagingly of our species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, and hint that their, superior, species will inherit the Earth, I can’t help wondering if I’m really hearing the voice of the Wachowskis – talking about how their dream of transgender people controlling the means of human reproduction. And wiping out the competition more effectively than a meteor.  

Red-haired young woman with laptop and global data stream of text and images

Thanks to George Hodan for releasing his image Internet and Multimedia Sharing into the Public Domain.

Trans of the City

Of course I cried at the end of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, a limited series just released on Netflix based on those books of that author. The showrunner Lauren Morelli “cultivated an all-queer writers room”, according to The Hollywood Reporter. And it shows. Out of the eight main characters, three are trans – or are portrayed as such. (But no plot spoilers!)

I’d reread the books, again, after a year spent around San Francisco and Sinaloa (across the water from Baja California). I was living in community in an area of multiple deprivation in Edinburgh, working in a nursing home. I found the former more challenging than the latter and the series was a form of solace. I’d read them in the bath, by candlelight, with incense and essential oils, switching off from my unhygienic passive-aggressive alcoholic flatmate, my actively-aggressive neighbours, and whatever craziness was happening on the racist and drug-ridden housing estate.

Some years later I felt I understood the main character more when I dated a guy who introduced himself as “a female-to-male transsexual”. (Even though Anna’s transition was the reverse.) No-one prompted me with pronouns, in those days, but my guy was ‘he’ to me and that was fine. I’m a bisexual man; nothing about him threatened or repulsed me. We were great in bed; it was just all the other times when his insecurity, selfishness and obsessive personality were so trying.

But, like the Netflix series, we’re all limited – and I’m certainly no saint. The limitations of the series are obvious when you expand the view to the minor characters (especially including the 1960’s vignette). Most of them are under the trans umbrella. Let’s remember that the books were written by a gay man – so he, like me, is not.

It’s no news that trans is the new gay. And, to give the all-queer writers their due, there is some portrayal of the tensions between young intersectional queers and the older White queens; and between individuals who transition and their partners who have a new identity thrust upon them – one that includes them. I wonder how much input Armistead, who “also spent time with the writers”, had.

Director Alan Poul says:

“There were lots of different voices with a lot of different opinions so it was a very vigorous room but[,] at the same time, nobody had to explain queer 101 to other people in the room.”

I welcome this series, despite its limitations. The character of Anna Madrigal (wonderfully portrayed both by Olympia Dukakis and Jen Richards, in her earlier incarnation) may believe in magic and utter the occasional spiritual insight but her appeal is always in her compassionate humanity.

So it’s a pity that, in this very politically correct series, the issues of coercion and ideological purity aren’t addressed. “I know I’m not supposed to feel this but…” says Margo, the partner of Jake, who transitioned and who censors her speech when she says, “I miss when we were lesbians”. And the only mention of the issue of safe female space, based on sex not gender, is a clear invitation to laugh at the dumpy older lady being sarcastic about having to share an open plan unisex bathroom with 15 other people in the intentional living community that Michael is (not) considering joining.

There’s a lack of honesty here. Something that this all-queer writers room didn’t address. And that’s a shame because so many of us, in what could be termed the queer community, have been moved to tears by these books – and also moved to contemplation of ourselves, our lives and our civil situation – and so moved to action.

These are my fears for the future:

  • That we continue to divide into intolerant camps policed by an unordained and unelected priesthood of ideological purists
  • That we refuse to consider each ethical issue separately and continue to lump them all together in an all-or-nothing party politics of right or left
  • That we are so unrestrained in our virulence towards each other that we ignore the backlash that our enmity must certainly cause, as every action provokes a reaction

Here are my hopes:

  • That we each take responsibility for our words and actions, and their lack, and the effect they have on others
  • That we learn to value the truth that someone else expresses, even if it conflicts with our own
  • That we hold each other in a gaze of compassion

Catherine Zeta-Jones, playing Olivia de Havilland, in the memorable TV series Feud: Bette and Joan, said these words:

“Feuds are not about hate, it’s never about hate; feuds are about pain.”

I find I’m a better human when I allow myself to feel my pain, when I’m conscious that I’m not the only one in pain, that it’s an inevitable part of the human condition. Every single character, in all incarnations of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, is in pain. The best ones, in their best moments, temper that pain and even heal some of it when they remember that and reach out in recognition – rather than in rage. Or simply respect that someone else’s pain may be, despite our best intentions, unfathomable.

Armistead and Christopher at the wedding

Photo of Armistead and partner Christopher in cameo shot from Gay Times

Categorical mistakes

Coming across an RC priest-bashing piece of journalism the other day (while reading something worth reading from the same source – not from the same writer) I was struck by how much we still haven’t learned the main lesson of Aristotle: things tend to fall into different categories. In this piece of lazy reportage, one adult makes multiple attempts to invite another adult out socially. Apparently the newsworthiness stems from their gender (both male), their age gap (50 and 29), and the vow of celibacy of one of them. The writer in his profile describes himself as pan-sexual, so readers would not expect the presumed homosexuality of the presumed romantic intent of the invitations to be considered deviant and therefore newsworthy. We have the word of the recipient that he’s been textually ‘bombarded’ and a quoted text, which the writer and recipient apparently take as the depths of depravity: “don’t be shy”. I’m already bored.

So why was this unnewsworthy reportage written? Is it, for all the professed liberalism of the writer, playing on the presumed homophobia and ageism of the reader? The 29 year old (who has previously accepted social invitations from the 50 year old) describes the older man as “creepy”. Would this 29 year old male describe unwanted (presumed) romantic attention from either a female (of any age) or from his own generation (of any gender) with this term? The writer does not challenge this judgment.

Although ageism is growing in popularity among young White men and is especially endemic to the gay White male milieu, the end of the piece presents the real hook: clerical child abuse. Now that’s newsworthy! It’s just not relevant and necessitates the mention of some other Scottish RC priest entirely unconnected to this non-story. What’s the attempt at connection? That the priest, in his first and successful attempt at inviting the younger guy out, said he remembered him as an altar boy. No, it’s not the best line but he was maybe out of practice. Does the 29 year old say that, when he was a boy, the priest bombarded him with social invitations or in any other way harassed him? No. Is the writer therefore covertly collating adult (presumed) homosexuality and paedophilia? Yes.

What the writer is practicing is covertly homophobic, ageist and sectarian. What he professes to be practicing is moral panic over child protection; when the media-savvy ‘victim’ is 29.

This instance of a lazy categorical mistake (that conflates homosexuality and paedophilia, or an adult age gap with paedophilia, or multiple unwanted social invitations with sexual harassment – I admit it may be considered harassment) has repercussions. A middle-aged man, struggling with his vows, is publically embarrassed and his livelihood endangered. Do such journalists care? Riding on the wave of the moral panic over the O’Brien scandal some years ago (which did not concern children, yet child abuse was always mentioned) the Herald ran a similar story (there were a few cosy dinners before and after the adult male layman felt harassed by the priest in that particular story) and accused a priest of hypocrisy – without checking their facts. Held in high esteem by his parishioners, his RC parish church is one of the few in Scotland in which homosexuality is not condemned from the pulpit and remarried couples find a warm welcome.

This week in the news we’ve seen the categorical confusion of a bright boy with a terrorist – because of White Christian prejudice over his religion and the colour of his skin.

A few years ago categorical confusion led to the chilling murder of a man on the London Underground, because police couldn’t tell the difference between someone coming from a hot country and a suicide bomber.

It is an evil thing that we do when we confuse categories and choose to believe the thing worst possible about someone. This is not what the presumption of innocence is about, it forms no part of the social contract, it’s cheap thrill journalism and it has nothing to do with true religion.

For a reminder of what good we can do, when we refuse to confuse categories, read this account of what happened when a young, bearded, Arabic man in a scarf and khaki camouflage clothes, walked into a liberal Christian church, wearing a backpack, a few days after the terrorist attack at Glasgow Airport.

clock-1373644964Hyl

Thanks to George Hodan for releasing his image “Clock” into the Public Domain

Trans Trouble

A recent controversial decision (now overturned) not to book any drag acts for Glasgow’s new Free Pride celebration has left many feathers ruffled. Not least those of the organisers who have admitted that they ‘made a mistake’ but decry the backlash which has included negativity towards the event itself. The ‘mistake’ appears to have involved more ideology than bureaucracy and has generated new debate on an old topic:

  • is male cross-dressing offensive to women in general and to trans women in particular?

When I first thought of writing this blog post, I thought of contextualising drag queens with the venerable heritage of (holy) fools and the Commedia dell’Arte – now that everyone has a different opinion of exactly what sort of bodies stood in confrontation with the police, and how they were dressed, at the prime location in the mythical origin story of queer resistance known as the Stonewall Bar. Then I realised that some deeper issues were at stake.

Firstly, and at the root of the controversy, is the ideological confusion of epistemology and ontology. I would say ‘perception and reality’ but the latter term is philosophically empty (as it means such different things to different thinkers) and the former is confused, basically because the common use of fashionable varieties of mentalism (such as social constructivism) applies theories of Universal Mind to justify the acceptance of ‘consensus reality’. If you want to know more, read Alchemy at the Chalkface: Pirsig, Pedagogy and the Metaphysics of Quality. It’s a work of intellectual heresy and the amount of unlearning required to read it benevolently is too large for a blog post.

Secondly, what I am going to enlarge upon here, is the issue of language. To be more exact, the issue of categories: man, male, woman, female, trans, cis, gay, lesbian, strait (this is how I spell it), bent (that’s why), bi, sex, sexuality, gender, intersex, asexual, queer, etc. I have two suggestions:

  • Let’s stop juxtaposing the nouns ‘woman/women’ with ‘male/males’. The former are human terms and the latter include beasts (and technological connectors). This juxtaposition is sexist and women would rightly complain if the reverse was used: ‘man/ men’ with ‘female/females’. Not convinced? Try this: ‘men, writing about relationships, tend to focus on value; females tend to focus on intimacy.’
  • Let’s locate a person on three different axes, not just two:
    • Gender
    • Sex
    • Sexual orientation

This suggestion needs some explanation.  Due to the first confusion, ‘sex’ has been conflated with ‘gender’, both asserted to be socially assigned by the fiat of the (male or female) midwife: ‘it’s a boy/ girl’. The usual motive cause for such speech acts (the infantile genitalia – ask a midwife, I’ve quite a few in my family) is ignored as ideologically inconvenient.  No, don’t go into a rage, I’m not an essentialist. So we are left with only two ways to describe someone. Therefore a drag queen may describe herself as ‘a cis(-gender[ed]) gay man’.

It ain’t necessarily so.

Rather than this binary understanding of ourselves, either/ or, wouldn’t it be more liberating to us all to be allowed (yes, allowed, because censorship is rife about these subjects) to describe ourselves and those we know in a fuller way?

If we allow that both transvestism and transsexuality are related but differing forms of transgender then we may also allow that the difference is to do with sex and gender and not with sexual orientation.

So, imagine someone locating themselves as being ‘mostly male in sex, mostly female in gender and mostly attracted to women’. Here I’m suggesting using male/female as adjectives and man/men/woman/women as nouns, although that ain’t necessarily so either (‘women writers’/ ‘man buns’). Less ambiguously (not everyone wants to be liminal) someone might say, perhaps in a bar or online, ‘I’m sexually female, gendered male and attracted to men.’ Now I’d even go so far as to suggest that those two descriptions could be rewritten thus:

  • I’m mostly biologically male, mostly socially female and mostly attracted to women.
  • I’m biologically female, socially male and attracted to men.

But that may ruffle a lot of feathers!

What do you think? Is this helpful? Tell me on Twitter (why? because I have RSI and limit my activity online and feel rude if I can’t respond to diatribes, and because diatribes often leave the subject behind and go off on tangents and get very rude and unclear) or direct me to a blog post you’ve written about this subject.

map-marker-vector

Thanks to Rf Vectorscom for putting ‘Map Marker Vector’ in the Public Domain.