One study: These men aren’t gay

They're not gayBeing gay isn’t a bad thing. Labelling trans-attracted and transamorous men gay, however, creates a host of problems for everyone. Especially because that label – that men sexually and or romantically attracted to transgender women are gay – doesn’t align at all with how trans-attracted and transamorous men actually feel. It’s very similar to calling a transgender woman a man…when she clearly is not.

I just received a 2015 study from a transamorous man, which appears to confirm the fact that men like us are not gay. While I realize science is hardly objective, and has often been used to discredit the LGBT community, I was inspired to read this study.

This study showed there is a great deal of overlap between the sexual tastes of straight men and men interested in transwomen, whereas there is very little overlap between gay men and the men interested in trans women. Here’s how the researchers put it:

[Transamorous and trans-attracted] men had arousal patterns similar to those of heterosexual men and different from those of homosexual men. However, compared to heterosexual men, [Transamorous and trans-attracted] men were relatively more aroused by transgender erotic stimuli than by female erotic stimuli.

I knew this all along of course. I remember seeing a counselor with past cis-gender partners for couples counseling, something I believed at the time had value and merit (I don’t now). After having seen me through several relationships, he suggested I see him alone a couple times. After that he recommended I see a friend of his, another counselor. This person tried to convince me to own the “fact” that I was homosexual.

That idea felt so naturally wrong to me. Not that being gay was bad, but because it just didn’t fit how I felt.

It still doesn’t.

Clearly, this is just one study. Still, you gotta start somewhere. It’s good to see science catching up. As the transgender community draws more attention to itself, I’m sure more people will start looking at the part of the community that gets very little attention…and a lot of vilification…from both the cisgender community and, sadly, the transgender community.

God: Transgender or something more?

God is transgenderPeople can be so obtuse.

There’s an opinion piece flying around the internet. It’s written by Rabbi Mark Sameth for the New York Times. The article, provocatively titled Is God Transgendered? posits that God is not a man or a woman, but is instead a blend of all genders.

I think this is spot on. But there are people around the internet who are aghast that someone who believes in God thinks God is not a “he” or any other aspect of the normalized binary.

Egads. What is the world coming to?

I’m not going to cover all the strange responses people are throwing about in response to this well-written and provocative piece. I will write this though: folks, the headline of the article was specifically meant to provoke you to read it. I think the headline is doing a great job.

What’s more interesting to me though is what the Rabbi has to say about gender as described in the old testament. It’s pretty thought-provoking. Read it for yourself:

“…the Hebrew Bible, when read in its original language, offers a highly elastic view of gender. And I do mean highly elastic: In Genesis 3:12, Eve is referred to as “he.” In Genesis 9:21, after the flood, Noah repairs to “her” tent. Genesis 24:16 refers to Rebecca as a “young man.” And Genesis 1:27 refers to Adam as “them.”

Surprising, I know. And there are many other, even more vivid examples: In Esther 2:7, Mordecai is pictured as nursing his niece Esther. In a similar way, in Isaiah 49:23, the future kings of Israel are prophesied to be “nursing kings.”

Why would the Bible do this? These aren’t typos. In the ancient world, well-expressed gender fluidity was the mark of a civilized person. Such a person was considered more “godlike.” In Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, the gods were thought of as gender-fluid, and human beings were considered reflections of the gods. The Israelite ideal of the “nursing king” seems to have been based on a real person: a woman by the name of Hatshepsut who, after the death of her husband, Thutmose II, donned a false beard and ascended the throne to become one of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.

The Israelites took the transgender trope from their surrounding cultures and wove it into their own sacred scripture. The four-Hebrew-letter name of God, which scholars refer to as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, was probably not pronounced “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” as some have guessed. The Israelite priests would have read the letters in reverse as Hu/Hi — in other words, the hidden name of God was Hebrew for “He/She.” Counter to everything we grew up believing, the God of Israel — the God of the three monotheistic, Abrahamic religions to which fully half the people on the planet today belong — was understood by its earliest worshipers to be a dual-gendered deity.”

Sameth also reveals something I’ve known for a very long time: that the bible is a hand-curated tome specifically designed to control the believing masses. It is not meant to accurately represent a Spiritual Truth. There are Spiritual Truths in it, but they are so obscured by allegory, metaphor, misinterpretation and the gap of time between when it was written and our current times, it’s really hard to figure out what those Truths actually are. I don’t know if the Rabbi meant to reveal all this obfuscation, but there it is.

If God – or All That Is, which is the term I prefer – was transgender it would mean he was originally one gender and “born” into a different one. Or some other aspect along the gender spectrum. All That Is has no gender and simultaneously is every possible gender imaginable. This may be too complex for “believers” to comprehend. But I find it interesting that the Hebrew Bible, at least according to this Rabbi, alludes to this reality.


Why I really like Transparent

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The cast of Amazon’s Transparent

It’s because the transwomen on there seem real, albeit in concentrated form. Unlike the L word and other shows intending to showcase LGBTQ and other minority communities, transwomen in Transparent aren’t super hot, gorgeous, waifs superfeminized and successful. They are trying to make their lives work for them against many odds while doing the best with what they have as far as their bodies and brains take them.

Even the cis-characters are tapestries of the human condition. Sometimes extremely so. In fact, Transparent is a kind of amplified version of reality – like all fantasy that is TV. It concentrates problems characters face to concentrate drama thereby enhancing viewership. It’s engaging if you don’t take it too seriously.

As a transamorous male, I enjoy seeing a more accurate portrayals of transwomen to the degree Transparent can portray them. It is fantasy though. It will never accurately portray what every single transperson’s experience is no more than the Huxtables on The Cosby Show could for all blacks. The trans spectrum, like the human one, is broad. Which means there are many successful transwomen working in the everyday work world, doing things ordinary people do, living relatively invisible lives. To watch this show then believe you know something about a transperson may be a fair assumption, but a dangerous one. Still, it’s a good start if you’re just getting your feet wet.

I don’t love transparent because of it’s accurate portrayal of transpeople. I love it because it’s good entertainment about a subject I care deeply about.