Friday, March 25, 2011
I Kiss Girls
It's a testament to the enduring strength of the misconstrued marriage between gender and sexuality that if someone identifies as "homosexual", they are typically characterized as identifying with their opposing gender. Hence, gay men are expected to be effeminate "fairies" and lesbians are assumed to be butch "dykes". Perhaps we're making headway in changing that conception, but what of individuals who conform to their opposite gender - that is, guys who act girly and girls who act manly? Do we not tend to assume that their sexuality is characterized by the heterosexual match to the gender they identify with (and thus the homosexual match to their physical "gender")? Thus effeminate men are gay (they portray themselves as girls because they like guys) and butch women are lesbians (they portray themselves as guys because they like girls). But this isn't necessarily the case, either.
As for my personal experience, I am, at least according to my sex organs, male. Yet I identify more as a female, psychologically. But in my case, my desire to be a girl (leading to dressing like a girl and acting like a girl) is merely an extension of my multi-faceted interest in girls (which includes a romantic/sexual interest). I want to be a girl because I like girls, not because I like guys and I want to conform to the heterosexual attraction dynamic (which is ironic, because insofar as I consider myself, practically, to be male, I do identify as heterosexual). But since I have male plumbing and I like girls, it's far simpler for me to identify as male, even though that kind of ignores the way I feel, about being a girl.
Really it's a matter of conflating one's sex and gender, and using terms (heterosexual, homosexual) that refer to both one's sex/gender identification and target of attraction simultaneously. Those terms say something about both the person being attracted and the object of their attraction at the same time. But it gets further complicated when we bring that confusion between sex and gender into play. We assume that most people's sex and gender match (if they have male plumbing, they're male; if they have female plumbing, they're female). Consider me - if I identify with my physical sex, then I could be considered heterosexual, but if I identify with my preferred gender then I would be homosexual (a lesbian). So which do I choose? The easiest thing for me is to avoid both terms (and the associated stereotypes), and just tell people the simple truth - that I kiss girls. It says nothing about what I am (which is a very complicated matter), and only about what I like (which is honestly quite simple).